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NHL 2014-15 Season Thread  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Thu Oct 16th, 2014 11:30 am
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CanadianHorseman



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( SIGH ) Nice job NBC.




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 Posted: Sat Oct 18th, 2014 07:29 pm
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lobo316
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Milan Lucic  will be forced to pay up $5,000 after the Bruins forward was fined by the league Friday for making an obscene gesture at fans in Montreal near the end of the Canadiens' 6-4 victory Thursday.

The Boston Bruins forward taunted the crowd and then mimicked raising the Stanley Cup while entering the penalty box.

Lucic, who had been roundly booed throughout the game by Habs fans, was upset with a penalty he received for boarding Montreal Canadiens' defenceman Alexei Emelin, who turned his back against the left boards just before Lucic hurtled him into the boards.


Emelin was not injured on the play but the penalty eliminated a chance for the Bruins to notch a tying goal as they were forced to defend on a penalty kill with under two minutes left to play.

Lucic did not speak to the media after the game.

Lucic has not been well-liked in Montreal since last year's playoffs, when he threatened Dale Weise in the handshake line after the Canadiens eliminated the Bruins in seven games.

He picked up a boarding penalty with 80 seconds left in Thursday night's game, then was given a misconduct for complaining to the officials. He also flexed his muscles to the Bell Centre crowd from the penalty box.



Montreal Coach Michel Therrien applauded the decision.

“I didn’t see the gesture but I heard about it. The league did what it had to do. As a professional athlete you have to respect the fans and the sport. Respect and humility are very important.”

He said that such behaviour would not be tolerated on the Canadiens.

“It has never happened and Ihope it never happens. If it occurs we’ll have a long talk with the party involved,” he said.

Habs defenceman P.K. Subban also said that he didn’t see gesture.

“Regardless of whether I saw it or not, there are 50 cameras in the building that will capture everything that happens. We as players are responsible for our actions. Whatever you do is going to be a reflection of yourself and your organization, players are going to be held accountable for their actions, you have got to know that," he said.



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 Posted: Sat Oct 18th, 2014 10:59 pm
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lobo316 wrote:
Milan Lucic  will be forced to pay up $5,000 after the Bruins forward was fined by the league Friday for making an obscene gesture at fans in Montreal near the end of the Canadiens' 6-4 victory Thursday.


It was a BS call with less than 90 seconds to go in a 1 goal game but Lucic still has to control his emotions better then that. By the way - it really pisses me off that Boston plays Montreal 4 times this season and each time Boston plays the night before while Montreal gets at least 2 days rest before 3 of those 4 games. 


Game 1 - Boston at Montreal ( Thursday October 16th )
- Boston played the night before in Detroit
- Montreal played 3 days earlier in Tampa Bay


Game 2 - Boston at Montreal ( Thursday November 13th )
- Boston plays the night before at Toronto
- Montreal plays Tuesday ( Nov. 11th ) at home vs Winnipeg


Game 3 - Montreal at Boston ( Saturday November 22nd )
- Boston plays the night before in Columbus
- Montreal Thursday ( Nov. 20th ) at St. Louis


Game 4 - Montreal at Boston ( Sunday February 8 )
- Boston plays the night before at home vs NY Islanders
- Montreal plays the night before at home vs New Jersey



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 Posted: Sun Oct 19th, 2014 02:29 am
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For some sort of supposed tough guy, he really acts like a little bitch.



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 Posted: Sun Oct 19th, 2014 02:58 am
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freebirdsforever2001 wrote: For some sort of supposed tough guy, he really acts like a little bitch.The NHL's version of Seth Rollins.  Talks a lot of shit when his posse is around but get him by himself and he's a fucking pussy.  That being said I think he's a fantasy must own player. 



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 Posted: Sun Oct 19th, 2014 04:01 am
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Angelic Assassin wrote: freebirdsforever2001 wrote: For some sort of supposed tough guy, he really acts like a little bitch.The NHL's version of Seth Rollins.  Talks a lot of shit when his posse is around but get him by himself and he's a fucking pussy.  That being said I think he's a fantasy must own player. 
I know both of you guys know the game of hockey so I'm going to assume that you are both just f*cking around here because you can't seriously be questioning Lucic's toughness. You can question his on ice composure, his skating or even his offensive abilities but questioning his toughness is moronic. You'd be better off questioning Chara's height. 



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 Posted: Sun Oct 19th, 2014 04:18 am
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CanadianHorseman wrote:
I know both of you guys know the game of hockey so I'm going to assume that you are both just f*cking around here because you can't seriously be questioning Lucic's toughness. You can question his on ice composure, his skating or even his offensive abilities but questioning his toughness is moronic. You'd be better off questioning Chara's height. 

It's so cute how mad you get when someone says something critical of a Bruin.
 



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 Posted: Sun Oct 19th, 2014 05:04 am
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CanadianHorseman wrote: Angelic Assassin wrote: freebirdsforever2001 wrote: For some sort of supposed tough guy, he really acts like a little bitch.The NHL's version of Seth Rollins.  Talks a lot of shit when his posse is around but get him by himself and he's a fucking pussy.  That being said I think he's a fantasy must own player. 
I know both of you guys know the game of hockey so I'm going to assume that you are both just f*cking around here because you can't seriously be questioning Lucic's toughness. You can question his on ice composure, his skating or even his offensive abilities but questioning his toughness is moronic. You'd be better off questioning Chara's height. 
It's always fun to on a Bruin, especially being a Habs fan.  I can't stand Lucic but in fantasy if I can pick him I do as i did in Brodie's league.  Even as a Habs fan I think Subban is a showboat punk who's poor defense is constantly being exposed.  I stumbled across the following when I was doing some reading on Lucic in the last 24 hours that I didn't see when it first came out.  I find it hilarious;


http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.ca/2014/04/milan-lucic-is-irredeemable-thug-who.html




Saturday, 19 April 2014He did this.

Irked at having been cleanly bodychecked by Danny Dekeyser, he responded in a dirty, underhanded way, spearing him from behind in the groin.  Which is shocking, but not really surprising, seeing as he already pulled the same dirty deed on Alexei Emelin a couple weeks prior to this.  And, in the grand tradition of the Bruins, or Andrew Ference and Zdeno Chara and Claude Julien, lied about it afterwards, denying he'd speared Alexei.  No way no how.

Like when he ran 170 lbs. Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, then lied how he only had time "to brace himself" before contact, pretending he didn't take two extra steps to deliberately knock him out of the game. 

Some analysts will slurp Milan Lucic, about how tough he is and what a good player he is, but that's just the twisted narrative of the NHL, where great transgressions are glossed over, and Zdeno Chara is a 'leader'.  Tough is one thing.  Tough is Jarome Iginla, or Scott Stevens, or Larry Robinson.  Tough is Chris Chelios, playing hard in every rink, against every opponent, all the time.

Milan Lucic fakes being tough.  He's mean, he's nasty, he's big and strong, but he's not tough.  He's a bully.  He cheapshots, he picks his targets, but he doesn't play tough.

Milan Lucic will run away from Georges Laraque, claiming that his coach told him not to fight with him.  So Milan scrupulously follows his coach's instructions.  When it means not having to take on someone at least as big or strong as he is.

Which leads us to believe that Claude Julien never specifically told him not to crosscheck Dominic Moore in the face.  He was free to do that.  Go for it Milan.  Don't mind the fact that you outweigh him by fifty pounds.  All's fair and all that jive.  You don't want to mess with a fourth-liner like Georges Laraque, don't waste your time, but go ahead, mess up a fourth-liner Dominic, fill your boots.  Eric Brewer, size him up, make sure you're not taking on someone you can't handle, but if it's to your advantage, make juvenile mouthpiece Jack Edwards so happy he wets his pants.

But when you bite off more than you can chew, when Zdeno Chara isn't around to save your bacon, and you have your hands full, as when you foolishly took on Colton Orr and it wasn't to your liking, by all means, run away from him, and hide behind the referee.

I've had it with the faux-tough Bruins, who beat on Jaroslav Spacek and Raphaël Diaz, but are wittle purring kitty-cats when they're up against George Parros, Douglas Murray, Brandon Prust, Ryan White and Travis Moen.  They're opportunists who gang up on hockey teams who want to play hockey, but cower when they're facing Chris Neil and Matt Kassian, or Colton Orr and Mark Fraser and Frazer McLaren.  Don't think we didn't notice how well-behaved you were against the truculent Leafs during the playoffs last year, Milan.

Again, I'll call on the NHL to scrupulously enforce its own rules.  Spearing another player in the groin should be something that isn't tolerated, in terms of defending its image, in terms of player safety, and in terms of fair play.  Milan Lucic is a repeat offender, with no valid defence for his actions.  Just because the referees didn't call a penalty shouldn't whitewash his actions.  It's time the NHL entered the 21st century, made use of the video evidence, and threw the book at one of its most egregious cheaters.Posted by Normand Harvey at 00:42 



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 Posted: Sun Oct 19th, 2014 08:57 am
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That's hilarious. I forgot he did the cock-spear.

There was an epidemic of spearing the groin around that time as I recall, with Lucic leading the charge...like there were maybe 3 or 4 in a month.

"That's Nuts!" you might say...

Last edited on Sun Oct 19th, 2014 08:58 am by khawk



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 Posted: Sun Oct 19th, 2014 07:53 pm
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Sorry Bob, but Lucic does act like a whiny bitch.



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 Posted: Fri Oct 24th, 2014 12:02 am
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Toronto vs Ottawa game has been rescheduled for Sunday November 9th.



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 Posted: Fri Oct 24th, 2014 12:32 am
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from today's sportsnet.ca:


Elliotte Friedman's NHL News and Notes 


Spending the last few days researching TJ Brodie’s now-completed contract extension leads to one inevitable conclusion: if you’ve got a good, young blueliner on your roster, hold on to him like he’s a Sparkling Elsa doll during the upcoming Christmas rush. (Ask your daughter.) Difference makers on defence will be very hard to find.

Before the Flames signed Brodie, he was scheduled to hit the market as a 27-year-old on July 1, 2017. Spend a little while on capgeek and see how many other established defenders are scheduled to be 27-year-old (or younger) unrestricted free agents in the next five years when their current contracts expire.

I counted seven: Cody Franson, Alec Martinez and Jeff Petry (all 27 and UFAs next July 1); Luke Schenn (26 in 2016); Victor Hedman and Dmitri Kulikov (both 26 in 2017); and Cam Fowler (26 in 2018). That’s not much, and there’s no guarantee all of them — especially Hedman — go up for bid.

Who would you take over Brodie in that group? Hedman? Sure. You can debate Fowler. Anyone else? He compares very favourably.

Let’s expand the list to those who would be under 30 in the next five free-agent classes, assuming they do not sign in advance.

2015: Marc Staal (28), Mike Green and Andrej Sekera (29)
2016: Erik Johnson (28), Keith Yandle (29)
2017: Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk (28)
2018: John Carlson (28)
2019: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ryan Ellis and Jake Gardiner (28), Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson and Tyler Myers (29)

We’re not even at one per team.

What this list doesn’t take into account are younger players who still must play through restricted free agency. For example, Detroit’s Danny DeKeyser and Vancouver’s Chris Tanev both have three more years of team control. The former will be 27 and the latter 28 when UFA status hits on July 1, 2017. The Red Wings and Canucks have ample time to extend through their prime years.

Brodie’s agent, Anton Thun, and Calgary GM Brad Treliving began talking in August. It was important to the Flames that the defenceman’s salary not eclipse the $4 million Mark Giordano makes in 2015-16, the final season of his current contract. That’s why Brodie’s actual salary next year will be $3.9 million. (If everyone here had a real sense of humour, it would have been $3,999,999.99.)

As the season began with Brodie averaging a point per game in more than 25 minutes of ice-time a night, the Flames undoubtedly realized $4.65 million per was great AAV. As the Canadiens learned with P.K. Subban, as the player’s leverage rises, so does the cost.

If you took Grade 10 economics, you know it’s all about supply and demand. Defencemen who can move the puck are in demand. The supply? Very limited.




30 THOUGHTS

1. Another part of the conversation about free-agent defenders: is Subban poised for a long run as the NHL’s highest-paid blueliner? Doughty, Karlsson and Ekman-Larsson are signed through 2019. Alex Pietrangelo is tied up until 2020, Duncan Keith to 2023, Ryan Suter to 2025 and Shea Weber to 2026. Brent Seabrook is unsigned after next season, and should do very well, but he will be 31. The one guy who stands out is Hedman. Respect for his game is growing exponentially. If he wins a Norris Trophy, how close does he get?

2. Wednesday night, The Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman reported district attorneys requested additional follow-up from police in the case involving Los Angeles defenceman Slava Voynov. They have until Dec. 1 to decide whether or not to lay charges, as the player’s attorney, Craig Renetzky, was widely quoted as saying there was no crime. Could Voynov remain suspended for five weeks if nothing happens before then? The only answer I could get was, “Don’t assume anything.”

3. At this time, Voynov is suspended with pay, staying on the Kings’ cap. There is a chance Los Angeles receives salary relief if this takes time, as the NHL has “reserved the right” to re-visit the situation.

4. Depending on how this goes, we could see the first test of a new power given to Commissioner Gary Bettman in the 2013 CBA. The section “Discipline for Off-Ice Conduct” reads as follows: “Whenever the Commissioner determines that a Player has violated a League Rule applicable to Players (other than Rules subjecting the Player to potential on-ice discipline), or has been guilty of conduct (whether during or outside the playing season) that is detrimental to or against the welfare of the League or the game of hockey, he may discipline such Player in any or all of the following respects: a) by expelling or suspending such Player for a definite or indefinite period; b) by cancelling any SPC that such Player has with any Member Club.” In a worst-case scenario, Bettman could void Voynov’s contract, which has almost $22 million remaining. There is an appeal process.

5. Boston and Buffalo did talk quite seriously about Chris Stewart, but it doesn’t appear at this time to be a match. According to other teams, the Sabres want two young players (or a young player and a draft pick) for the winger and couldn’t reach an agreement with the Bruins. Buffalo won’t make the move early unless it gets what it wants.

6. Those same teams believe Buffalo’s asking price for Tyler Myers is so high because of a worry he’ll go to a better team and make them look silly for trading him.

7. Jim Rutherford came right out and said he wants to keep Marc-Andre Fleury as his goaltender, and there’ve been some early talks to see where everyone stands. Things aren’t that far along, yet, but the goalie will be 30 when his current deal concludes. If the Penguins don’t want to extend him through the end of his career, the term that makes most sense is four years. That way, he could get another contract before the penalties that come with those who sign after age 35.

8. Team Canada asked Martin Brodeur if he had interest in playing for his country’s Deutschland Cup team next month in November. He declined. Apparently, the invitation was also extended for December’s Spengler Cup, so we’ll see where everything sits at that time.

9. One exec on the Oilers: “They are making (fewer) trade calls than you would think.”

10. When Viktor Fasth went down with a groin injury, Edmonton felt it would be a two or three week timeline and decided against adding another goalie. Ilya Bryzgalov would have been a simple add, since he’s been there and appeared in Minnesota’s camp. Ben Scrivens is validating that decision. In his last three games, he’s stopped 82 of 87 shots (.943), two of them very impressive victories.

11. You can see why Vancouver wanted Martin Marincin as part of the package when the Canucks and Oilers talked Cory Schneider two years ago. To protect a one-goal lead on the final shift against Tampa Bay, Dallas Eakins put him out there with Mark Fayne, Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks and Jesse Joensuu as Edmonton held on.

12. Like Edmonton, the Avalanche were confident they wouldn’t need to sign another goaltender since the injuries to Reto Berra and Semyon Varlamov weren’t serious. Another reason not to go that route? They are at 49 contracts. The max is 50. You don’t want to go there unless absolutely necessary.

13. It didn’t register much at the time, but Patrick Roy’s open disappointment during training camp with 2013 second-rounder Chris Bigras and 2014 top selection Conner Bleackley was foreshadowing. The Avalanche fired Rick Pracey last week, their director of amateur scouting, who pre-dated Roy. Tension began when Roy arrived, since Colorado didn’t have Nathan MacKinnon atop their 2013 draft list. Roy made it very clear MacKinnon would be the pick. Can’t argue with that one.

14. Like any scout, Pracey had hits and misses, but did make some great calls. There were plenty of options at No. 2 in 2012 and the Avalanche chose wisely with Gabriel Landeskog. Ryan O’Reilly and Tyson Barrie were big hits in 2009. Calvin Pickard got the start in Montreal when both regulars were hurt, but word is goalie coach Francois Allaire really likes 22-year-old Sami Aittokallio’s technical game. We’ll see how that plays out. Other teams are free to hire Pracey now.

15. MacKinnon beat three-time Olympic short-track speed-skating gold medallist Charles Hamelin in a quick race set up by CCM. How much burst does Colorado’s tremendous forward have? A company called PowerScout hockey is starting to track both top speed and acceleration through a computer program that uses three cameras set up around a rink.

16. The sample size is small (one-to-six times per player), but growing, and PowerScout (for business reasons) won’t allow its videos to be posted. The data I did see was compelling. MacKinnon was not one of the quickest accelerators (Alexander Ovechkin was first among those tracked, followed by Erik Karlsson, Ryan Kesler and Taylor Hall), but only Carl Hagelin had a faster highest speed, at slightly above 37 kilometres per hour. MacKinnon was tied for second, with Phil Kessel. (You can see some of that information here)

17. Not yet public is tracking indicating how much a player skates at a pace above 20 kilometres per hour. I saw a little bit of that information. Only three men stayed at that speed more than 40 percent of the time with at least 10 minutes of five-on-five play. They were Hagelin (44.2 per cent of 13:36), Sidney Crosby (42.4 of 19:19) and Joe Colborne (41.7 of 12:29).

18. The big surprise? Ovechkin was at 20 km/h just 25.4 per cent of the time. And, maybe it shouldn’t be so unexpected, but most defencemen stay in the teens.

19. Chuck Fletcher took care of two important pieces of business, extensions for Jonas Brodin (six years) and Charlie Coyle (five). Still to come is Mikael Granlund, one of the NHL’s rapidly improving players. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo reported Granlund prefers a bridge deal, and it sure looks like, if something gets done, it will indeed be for two or three years. A longer contract was discussed, but seems unlikely.

20. By Oct. 23, 2013, there were already 13 suspensions for on-ice incidents, including pre-season. Oct. 23, 2011: 11. Oct. 23, 2010: 6. This year: none. To be honest, there’s hasn’t been much screaming about it, although Minnesota hated Kesler’s last-second hit on Granlund last Friday. They thought it was unnecessary, if not dirty. But, it does seem like a quieter start to the season.

21. When Steve Yzerman drafted Jonathan Drouin, one of the theories behind it was putting Drouin, a lefty, with right-handed Steven Stamkos, so they could feed off one another. They didn’t start on the same line in Edmonton, but eventually took a few shifts together and you could see the potential. The biggest concern about the rookie’s game after last season was that it was so easy for him to take the puck wherever he wanted to in junior that he’d try things in the NHL he shouldn’t. There was a little bit of that in his own zone against the Oilers, but, offensively, he’s ready for this.

22. Opposing player on Stamkos: “He was tentative coming back from his injury last year. He’s not worried about it anymore.”

23. Biggest adjustment for the Lightning with Hedman’s injury is he had more freedom than any other Tampa blueliner to carry the puck. Will anyone else get that rope in the interim?

24. Players and advanced stats, Chapter 3,628: According to a package put together by Bloomberg, Corey Crawford had the NHL’s second-best save percentage in 2012-13 on shots from farther than 30 feet (.975). Last year, it dropped to .950, the worst among all eligible goalies. He started perfectly this season, 14 for his first 14. Before last week’s Calgary/Chicago game, I asked Scott Oake to bring it up with Crawford, see if he knew about this, and if it was something he specifically worked on. Suffice it to say, the answer to those questions was a big, fat no. And Oake won’t be taking any more questions from me, either.

25. Chicago outshot Calgary 50-18 that night, but lost 2-1 in overtime. In 2013-14, there were four games where one team outshot another by at least 32. Washington by 33 over Buffalo on Dec. 29; the Blackhawks by 32 over Dallas on Dec. 3; San Jose by 32 over Edmonton on Jan. 29; and Carolina by 32 over the Sabres on March 13. Only the Hurricanes won their game.

26. Underrated aspect about Carey Price: he really knows the rules and is acutely aware of how to use them to his advantage. Tuesday night, Pavel Datsyuk’s beautiful spinning backhand goal was waved off, because Price leaned into Justin Abdelkader, whose skate was in the blue paint. He did the same thing in last year’s playoffs with Alex Killorn. Rule 69.3 says a goalie must be able to move in his crease as he feels necessary. If you’re in there, he’s going to “bump” you — and it’s your problem, not his.

27. Bad news for Mark Hunter, newly hired in Toronto: He might have to get voice mail on his phone now.

28. Nick Kypreos reported last week that Brendan Shanahan contacted the Red Wings last summer about Mike Babcock’s availability before the Maple Leafs extended Randy Carlyle, but were denied any contact. The highest-paid coach in the NHL is Joel Quenneville, with an average salary believed to be $2.9 million. (One qualifier: Patrick Roy’s exact compensation is unknown, but he has a Vice-President’s title.) Babcock is aiming for that, and beyond. The NHL does not have too many situations (if any) where the coach makes more than the GM. Are the Red Wings willing to do that? It’s common in the NBA and NFL, but not in puckville.

29. Detroit’s been a model of stability for a long time. In the words of one exec, it’s “weird” to see an issue playing out so publicly for them.

30. My first Hockey Night in Canada broadcast was Thursday, Oct. 9, 2003 in Ottawa. That morning, Harry Neale told me to jump in the front seat of our hotel-to-rink shuttle because he and Bob Cole liked to sit in the back and talk about the game. Bob stepped out of the lobby, stopped, glared at me, opened the door and said, “Young man, I sit in the front seat here,” as Harry howled in laughter. I was so nervous. Preparing to interview GM John Muckler two minutes into the show, I said, “This must be the first time the interviewer is more scared than you are.” He replied, “I doubt it.” That made me laugh and broke the ice. I ruined a suit (and one of Brian Williams’ ties) covering a CFL game at Lansdowne because we couldn’t use our metal umbrellas during a lightning storm. I’m going there for a charity event in two weeks, and those great memories are what I will always link to Ottawa. What happened Wednesday will never change that.



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 Posted: Fri Oct 24th, 2014 08:38 am
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Chara out for at least a month.


from tsn.ca:

Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara left the team's game against the New York Islanders on Thursday night with a knee injury.

Chara has a suspected left knee ligament injury. The veteran defenceman is expected to be out 4-6 weeks, at which time Boston will evaluate whether Chara needs surgery or not.

Chara had a collision with Islanders captain John Tavares midway through the first, then played one more shift that ended with 8:04 remaining in the period. There was no outward indication of an injury at that time.

The 6-foot-9 Slovakian, a third-round pick of the Islanders in 1996, is Boston's No. 1 defenceman and spends more time on the ice than any other Bruins player. He has two goals and an assist in nine games this season.



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 Posted: Tue Oct 28th, 2014 11:03 pm
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from today's sportsnet.ca:


Elliotte Friedman's NHL News and Notes

One day last summer, I ran into an NHL player. During a brief gossip session, he asked, “Why didn’t Toronto fire Randy Carlyle? Why just the assistants?”

My thoughts were that Toronto was not committing to anything until it knew Mike Babcock’s future. So, firing Carlyle, hiring someone else, and (possibly) getting Babcock would make three coaches in three years. No sane organization wants that.
“Makes sense,” he said.

It was impossible not to think of that conversation while watching an exasperated Carlyle after last Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Boston. The coach, who came to Toronto with a grouchy reputation, works hard to answer everything as politely as possible.

Last weekend, his sighs were a dead giveaway. He didn’t have the answers. But, he’s not the one who should be giving them.

Talk to the former NHLers on our shows — Glenn Healy, Kelly Hrudey, Mike Johnson, Nick Kypreos, etc. They know. They know when a coach is in a tough spot, when a husband starts making googly-eyes at that blonde 15 years younger than his wife.

If the players aren’t reading Twitter or watching television bloviation, they’re being told by their friends, their parents, their agents. You’d have to be hermetically sealed in plastic not be aware of what’s going on.

But it’s a terrible, unacceptable excuse.

Really, is it any different than what’s going on in Calgary? Over the past 13 months, Bob Hartley’s seen the man who hired him replaced by two levels of authority — Brian Burke and Brad Treliving. Hartley is in the final year of his contract; there is no guarantee he’s back.

Despite that, he always looks in control. Hartley benches Dennis Wideman and what happens? Upon returning, Wideman has a chance to tie a record for most consecutive games with a goal by a Calgary defenceman.

Whatever the individual Flames may think, they play hard. Very hard. I’m not sure who’d win a seven-game series between Calgary and Toronto, but I do know this: on Day 2 of the season, the Flames began a 7,000 kilometre, six-game road trip through Edmonton, St. Louis, Nashville, Chicago, Columbus and Winnipeg. They won four of those games.

Any team would take that.

Goaltending? Absolutely. But they compete, and their best players (especially on defence) tend to be their best players.

Would Babcock even take Toronto’s money if he doesn’t think he can win there? There’s this fantasy in the Ontario capital that the Maple Leafs will change coaches and all problems magically disappear. It’s the most egregious example, but nothing Carlyle draws up on the smart-board can correct Jake Gardiner’s fly-by on the 4-0 goal in the Boston game.

It’s not a big deal if players don’t like their coach. We all hate our bosses at times. But if players don’t demand the best of themselves, no coach looks good.




30 THOUGHTS

1. Who knew? The NHL has an “Infectious Disease Committee.” Last week, as a mysterious flu/virus overwhelmed Minnesota and St. Louis after a trip to southern California, this group sent out a memo reminding what precautions should be taken to avoid unnecessary exposure to infectious viruses. At one game, cars apparently were being disinfected. Crazy stuff.

2. The Blues are in an interesting spot. A contender going through some transition. The new setup in goal is well-documented. The defence is reasonably set. What’s getting less attention are the changes up front. Jaden Schwarz is establishing himself as a top scorer. Vladimir Tarasenko is growing from a 15-minute player to a 17-minute player. Once he gets healthy, Paul Stastny will be a major piece. Depending on how this evolves, will Doug Armstrong quietly gauge the market on some of his incumbent forwards?

3. Calgary had a serious presence at a couple of the Blues’ early games, but it doesn’t seem like anything is going on.

4. Before Montreal lost in Edmonton Monday night, one scout was asked why the Canadiens started 7-1. “You mean besides Carey Price?” Well, yes, that. “They force you to play at a pace faster than most teams want.”

5. Two years ago, when Marc Bergevin took the Canadiens’ job, he said he got plenty of calls about Lars Eller. Not sure that’s changed. Now that Alex Galchenyuk is moving towards being a full-time centre, other teams are wondering what Bergevin’s plan is.

6. Nail Yakupov scored his second of the season in that win. There’ve been a lot of rumours about his future, but I confess I haven’t heard anything substantial. After a week of looking into it, here’s my best guess: he’s not untouchable, but the Oilers asked him to show more commitment in the off-season and on the ice. So far, he has delivered. It sounds like Edmonton wants to reward that. Dallas Eakins is trusting him in late-game one-goal leads, something that never would have happened a year ago.

7. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the game winner against Tampa Bay and the game-tier versus Washington in back-to-back games. He’s got a much-improved shot. He’s stronger and made it a summer project. “Shot 100 pucks four times a week,” he said. “Shooting as hard as I can…High blocker, high glove, low glove, around the horn.” Didn’t think he could beat Ben Bishop from where he did, but Nugent-Hopkins said, “If I shot up high, the chances of beating him from that spot were pretty low….Besides, I like going low blocker or (low) glove.”

8. Nugent-Hopkins had an obvious goal for 2014-15: make the playoffs. His personal desire, however, is to become a 50-50 face-off man. Career numbers are 37.5 percent (2011-12), 41 percent (2012-13), 42.4 (2013-14) and 47.4 so far this season.

9. Finally, he had a good line about the Kings, who he called the toughest to play against: “You get past one, and it always seems like another guy is on top of you.”

10. When Mark Letestu scored at 19:04 of the second period Sunday, it was the first time this season any member of That 70s Line (Jeff Carter, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli) was on the ice for a goal against (eight games). Carter’s total is 17 for, one against. Toffoli is 16-1. Pearson is the real slacker of this group at 14-1.

11. Thought Boston and/or Philadelphia, both short defencemen, might look at Buffalo’s Andrej Meszaros. He’s on a one-year deal and has played in both cities, but it doesn’t sound as if either looked at it. He’s at $4.125 million, which may explain the problem for a pair of cap-tight clubs.

12. Edmonton’s Jeff Petry’s comes a little more than $1M lower, and the Flyers can’t do that right now for cap reasons, even though they like him. Between the Flyers, Red Wings, possibly the Ducks and anyone else I’m missing, there seems to be a nice little market for him.

13. Eric Staal returns to action Tuesday in Vancouver, and in a phone conversation last Friday you could tell it was killing him not to play. “It’s kind of embarrassing,” he said. “We have a new coach, we’re trying to get him a win and we haven’t got it yet.”

14. The toughest thing for Carolina is there are guys on the roster who will be players, but aren’t ready yet. After the Hurricanes lost 5-0 in Calgary, Staal said Bill Peters made sure to show video of them doing good things in previous games to try and keep their confidence up. “Our foundation needs to be better,” the captain added. “Trust in your teammates, worry about your ability to do your job. Once you start doing other people’s jobs, you’re looking disorganized. Stay where you are supposed to be.”

15. As for his future, Staal made it very clear his preference is to stay. “I had a good meeting with Ronnie (Francis) in the summer…Ron’s going to be a very good GM. We all know this is a business and things can change at any time. For me, as a player, I want to be where I am…I believe in this team and this organization. I want to see it turn around and believe it will. We’re not throwing in the towel after seven games.”

16. He did have one qualifier, though: a change of ownership. Peter Karmanos is open about his desire to take on a partner or sell outright. “Where all that goes, we’ll have to see.”

17. Finally, I asked Eric if he’d spoken to brother Jordan about leaving, considering Jordan still has eight years left on his contract. Eric said that topic has never been discussed between them.

18. Predators assistant coach Kevin McCarthy on Shea Weber: “It is amazing how the best can adapt. He knows everyone else’s position. A great resource.” Nashville plays a 1-3-1 under Peter Laviolette. “The right D gaps up a lot more than traditional defencemen…He nodded and said, ‘We did that in the Olympics.’ We can explain why we are doing something and he just understands.”

19. During the 2010 playoffs, McCarthy helped us with a piece on Chris Pronger. I reached out to him to compare them. “Neither one skates like (Drew) Doughty or (Duncan) Keith, they don’t have that effortless stride,” the coach said. “Chris used his stick, got guys in certain areas and made them pay a price. Shea finishes a check and goes through people. A lot of people hit, but don’t follow through. He hits to put them down.”

20. Weber’s partner, Roman Josi, does have that smooth stride. The two look good together and Laviolette is getting ownership its money’s worth, with the two ranking second and third behind (who else?) Ryan Suter in ice-time per night. “One penalty kill they played about 1:45, and what amazes me is not only did they kill the penalty, but came back two shifts later and played at the same level.” A similarity between Pronger and Weber? “Like Pronger, he’s not even breathing hard,” McCarthy said.

21. Weber, Josi, Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis. That defence can move the puck. “Don’t forget (Mattias) Ekholm,” an opposing coach said. “He can do it, too.”

22. Before the season, a few Eastern teams thought the combination of Barry Trotz, Todd Reirden, Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik would have the biggest influence of any off-season moves in that conference. Can’t argue that so far. It took eight games before Washington allowed 30 shots, and it’s no coincidence the Capitals’ worst game was a 6-1 preseason loss in Buffalo. Niskanen and Orpik didn’t dress for that one.

23. From one-to-five on the blueline, their minutes are very even, running from 23:14 (Niskanen) to 19:42 (Karl Alzner). Among returnees, Nate Schmidt (number six) is down 4:15 per game, John Carlson is down 1:21 and Alzner 0:50. Also down significantly: Mike Green (2:53). Green, who is unrestricted after this season, is being watched by other teams, as they wait to see how Brian MacLellan handles things.

24. The early reviews are positive. One scout: “Green is trying. He (used to be) sloppy in coverage, bad stick, not finishing checks. Now, he’s staying on the right side of the puck.” MacLellan sees a difference, too. “When other teams played us, the plan was to hit him— finish your checks. It took its toll. Now, we have other options. It eases the pressure on him.”

25. The Capitals have yet to discuss an extension with Green. “We’ll leave that for later in the season,” the GM said. “Let’s see how this shakes out.”

26. Another Eastern Conference coach on the Nicklas Backstrom/Eric Fehr/Alexander Ovechkin line: “They still cheat, but not as much. I suspect that’s by design they’re allowed to…you still want opponents to be scared of them. The (Jason) Chimera/(Joel) Ward line, for example, plays differently.”

27. Finally on Washington: MacLellan said new goalie boss Mitch Korn worked with Braden Holtby “to get his arms and legs more aligned with his body.” Sounds important for everyday life, not just hockey.

28. As Johnny Gaudreau works to establish himself in the NHL, there is a bit of a clone working his way up through the NCAA. He is Petawawa, ON’s Matthew Peca, playing at Quinnipiac. Listed as 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, he has 35 goals and 107 points in 118 games entering his senior season. Peca was taken 201st overall in 2011 by Tampa Bay, and the Lightning are being patient with him. His numbers are not as gaudy as Gaudreau’s were, but Peca’s seen as more of a north-south player. Something to watch for.

29. Olli Maatta, five points in seven games, 20 minutes a night, while wondering if a tumour in his neck was thyroid cancer. He’s something special. Most importantly, the prognosis is excellent.

30. On the morning of the gold medal hockey game at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, I walked into the IHOP next to the rink. Out came Steve Nash. I said, “Don’t you have practice today?” He didn’t break a smile. “I told (coach Don Nelson) to fine me.” A year or two later, he was preparing to play for Canada as a number of other NBAers were being told to sit. I asked him about it. “(Nelson) said, ‘I don’t want to see you playing for Canada this summer.’ I told him he better not turn on his TV,” Nash replied. When Jason Kidd was traded to Phoenix, Canadian reporters worried for his career. He simply said, “Everything will be okay.” Boy, was it ever. What a spectacular career.



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freebirdsforever2001
Fantasia is running wild!


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Best wishes to Gordie Howe after suffering a serious stroke the other day. Hope the living legend gets well soon!



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