Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Canucks rookies find spot in Vancouver lineup, but not before the vets have their say

It's one of the most anticipated moments in any hockey players career, that moment when the nine day audition turns into a permanent spot on the touring crew of an NHL team.

A day where you learn that you've earned your spot into the top league in the world, or the one where you pack your bags, bid your farewells and return to junior hockey for a little more seasoning and a chance to work out some of the areas that need to improve.

Depending on the tradition of the team it could be a moment with a coach or GM, in Vancouver they do things a little differently, letting the whole team have a say before the good news is delivered.

On Sunday morning, the Canucks added Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann to the roster, the reward for hard work and bringing to end an audition period that left Canucks management with the idea that returning them back to junior hockey was not something up for discussion any more.

Head coach Willie Desjardins started off the welcome, though we suspect that for the first few moments of the discussion the two Canuck rookies probably were running the bus schedules back to Junior through their heads, as Desjardins went over a compilation of on ice miscues of the pair.

Then having noted his displeasure at the work of the team, Desjardins exited the room, leaving it to the teams veterans to take over, where a hard hitting review of the work ethic of the two kids was laid bare, a point where perhaps Virtanen and  McCann were giving some thought to alternative career possibilities.

Finally, Bo Horvath, he barely a year himself as a member of the permanents, broke the facade of the angry old team mates, welcoming the pair to the team, telling them there would be no junior hockey return in their future.

If they're still making hockey cards, it's time to order a print run for McCann and Virtanen, considering their age, chewing gun should be included.

The Canuck's provided the initiation and team building exercise Canucks style to their Canucks TV portal.

The motivation clearly paid off for Vancouver on Monday night, the two newest Canucks were prominent on the ice, not intimidated in any way facing one of the league's legendary squads the Philadelphia Flyers.

So pumped wast Virtanen on the night, that the youngster recorded his first goal of his NHL career, a pretty impressive way to show the coach that the decision to keep the two rookies for the season was a wise one.

Feeding off the energy of their younger players, the Canucks put together a strong effort against the Flyers taking down the visitors by a score of 4-1 at Rogers Centre in Vancouver.

You can review Virtanen's debut goal and the post game reactions through the Canucks twitter feed.

Some of the media reviews from Monday's Canucks win over Philly can be found below:

Virtanen gets his first goal in Canucks' 4-1 win over Flyers
The Canucks future has arrived
Canucks kids come through with flying colours
Horvat coaches, Virtanen listens, Burrows grateful, Willie hopeful
'Stache that puck away - Virtanen's got his first NHL goal
McCann, Virtanen get grilled - but make Canucks
Virtanen nets first goal as Canucks dump Flyers
Canucks make the right call on McCann, Virtanen

Monday, November 02, 2015

NHL Headlines for November

Our Archive for the month of November

November 24 -- Maple Leafs no longer NHL's most valuable franchise, according to Forbes
November 23 -- Youngsters taking over the NHL, Maple Leafs defence man Roman Polak says
November 22 -- Special Teams do it all in 4-2 win over Islanders
November 21 -- Sedin twins lead Canucks to 6-3 win over Blackhawks
November 20 -- Vancouver Canucks GM confident team can recover from its recent stumbles
November 19 -- Capitals fall to Stars, 3-2, as Ovechkin sets Russian NHL goals record
November 18 -- NHL revamps all-star weekend with a $1 million mini 3-on-3 tournament
November 17 -- Blue Jackets, Blues 1 Three in a Row 
November 16 -- Edmonton Oiler's Connor McDavid won't comment on whether injury was caused by clean or dirty play
November 15 -- Canucks fall below 'fine line between winning and losing' on road trip
November 14 -- Toronto anthem singer performs 'O Canada" entirely in French as NHL pays tribute to victims of Paris attacks
November 13 -- Sharks open road trip with win over Red Wings
November 12 -- Canadian coaches, scouts to lead Team Europe in 2016 World Cup of Hockey
November 11 -- Hockey Players Know Who The Real Heroes Are
November 10 -- NHL could reduce size of goalie equipment to boost scoring
November 9 -- Hockey Hall of Fame's 2015 class set for induction ceremony
November 8 -- NHL's wild new overtime format helping kill the shootout
November 7 -- Connor McDavid's injury was deliberate
November 6 -- Kindl's OT goal lifts Red Wings past Leafs, 2-1
November 5 -- Mike Babcock to coach Team Canada again in World Cup of Hockey
November 4 -- Penguins hang on to beat Canucks in 1st game of Western swing
November 3 -- Oilers' Connor McDavid leaves game with 'long-term' upper body injury
November 2 -- McCann, Virtanen get grilled - but make Canucks
November 1 -- Even without Carey Price, Canadiens defeat Jets 5-1

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Habs look to crack the history book on western swing

It's a location where the Canadien teams of the past can be found rather frequently and if all goes according to plan this week, the 2015-16 version of Montreal's most followed ambassadors will find themselves part of the NHL history books.

Tonight, all that stand between Montreal and destiny are the struggling Vancouver Canucks, a team that has yet to win a home game, though if ever there was some motivation for a slump buster, playing the storied Canadiens franchise seeking to stake a claim to hockey history should be it.

Should the Habs prove victorious at Rogers Arena tonight, they will be joining the 93-94 Maple Leafs and 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres, and considering their play in the front nine, the odds certainly would seem in their favour.

The word domination gets a fair bit of a work out when talking of the Canadiens hot start to the season, with but 12 goals allowed in their nine wins to this point, a line up that hasn't seen a change since the season began and the incredibly focused Carey Price holding a stellar GAA of 1.29 along with .961 save average.

NHL.com broke down the first nine games for hockey fans, to provide a glimpse into how strong a start the rouge, blanc et bleu have had to the start of the season.

Undefeated Canadiens can make history on trip (video)

Carey Price has been outstanding
during the Canadiens undefeated
streak through October
And while the players may not be putting one game ahead of the next, for those looking ahead on the schedule, the record could belong to only Les Habitants by the time Thursday rolls around, Montreal will be in Edmonton for game two of their three game western swing.

They wrap up the tour of Western Canada on Friday night when they are in Calgary to face the flames.

By then they could be 13-0 and cruising through the season, or should someone in the West play spoiler to all those Habs fans dreams,  Montreal will look to start another streak as soon as they get back home.

Considering their play through October, the smart money is probably going on the streak continuing on into November.

Some notes on tonight's game in Vancouver and the lead up to it can be found below:

Habs hope to make history in Vancouver
NHL teams look to put Canadiens in the loss column
Montreal Canadiens stay perfect with win over Toronto Maple Leafs and extend streak to nine games
Frustration mounts over Vancouver Canucks' blow leads
Can the Canadiens go 82-0 this season
NHL MVP Carey Price could also be most dominant player in sports
Canucks out to stop mystical Habs
Perfect Canadiens haven't accomplished anything yet
Canucks hoping to end Canadians' streak, earn first home win of season

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Time for some Torts reforms in Columbus

John Tortorella is back behind an NHL bench, taking over
for the dismissed Todd Richards in Columbus
We've not even made it to Halloween and already the witching hour has arrived for the first NHL coaching casualty for 2015-16.

With an 0-7 start to launch their season, the Columbus Blue Jackets have played their way (or not actually) to making now former head coach Todd Richards the answer to this years trivia question of "who was the first NHL coach dismissed this year"

Richards was dispatched last night by the Blue Jackets executive branch, the announcement of his departure made public this morning, a decision that was reached for the most part because as the old saying goes, it's easier to get rid of a coach than 23 players and a couple of goaltenders who can't see the puck at the moment.

To bring that theory home a quick glance at the stats package for the Blue Jackets shows how dire defensive play has been, with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky having surrendered 23 goals in his five games this year, while Curtis McElhinney has shaved the GAA down to 7 in his two appearances.

Offensively, the entire roster of the Blue Jackets has only accounted for 33 points to this point, only thirteen of them goals.

The woeful start for Columbus has found them with not a single win in their first seven games, the worst record in the relatively short history of the team and a benchmark for inconsistency that places them in the conversation for worst team starts in NHL history.

And while it was Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen up there at the head table with the new coach this afternoon, one has got to think that when the name of the new bench boss for the Blue Jackets was announced, it came from the desk of John Davidson.

The former Rangers executive, who is now running the show in Columbus and someone who has some familiarity with the work of the man tapped one of the more familiar and at times controversial names in recent NHL history to turn around the struggling squad.

Are you ready Columbus?  Are you really ready?  Cause here's Johnny Torts!!!

John Tortorella is back, ready to step behind one more bench hockey fans, the fourth of his NHL career, a new opportunity to recast his narrative for a league that probably can recreate every single controversial moment of his career.

The one year sabbatical after his stay and subsequent departure from Vancouver now a thing of the past, with much talk of pushing his new roster hard, the new boss said ready to start injecting some of the fiery emotion that he has brought to every stop on his NHL resume.

Stand by for bombast, stand by for some bellicosity and if you're a forward on the Blue Jackets, stand by, no make that get down now and start blocking some shots...

Word of his return to the NHL caught fire this afternoon, a mixture of compassion for Richards who many suggest was in a bad spot, combined with sheer glee that a larger than life presence was back, sportswriters in every NHL city sharpening their pencils and their wits for the engagements to come.

Blue Jackets -- "We have to get back to who we are"
Blue Jackets -- Blue Jackets aware of Tortorella's demanding style
Blue Jackets -- John Tortorella replaces Todd Richards as Blue Jackets head coach

Fiery Tortorella promises to rebuild club's confidence
New coach Tortorella 'honoured' to be part of Blue Jackets
Tortorella will push Blue Jackets hard
John Tortorella looking to bring 'confidence' back to the Blue Jackets
John Tortorella hired as Columbus Blue Jackets head coach after Todd Richards fired

And while the Blue Jackets are expressing their satisfaction at getting their man, the real happy place in the NHL tonight is Vancouver, where the Aquilini family suddenly got the kind of luck that sends one off to the lottery store for a mitt full of tickets on the next draw.

In addition to reportedly saving three million dollars from their continuing "thanks for coaching, sorry you gotta leave" payments, the Canucks will also receive a second round draft pick in one of the next three drafts because their former head coach found a job.

The second happiest constituency with the news of today, perhaps the New York newspapers, who always enjoy a good Tortorella tale. And while Larry Brooks (feuds passim) apparently was busy working on the Rangers files today, the Post did get it's first Tort's reviews in later in the day.

Prior to Tuesday night's dismissal the Blue Jacket players were saying all the usual things about not wanting to see a good hockey man lose his job because of their play. Yet it was their inability to get things going in the right direction that delivered Todd his fate.

If the past is any indication, we imagine that Tortorella won't much care what the players say about how he handles his new team. Whether it be an earnest proclamations of support, or shrieks of horror about his ways

For the most part, it will probably be a pretty simple process for the rest of the year in Columbus.

If the effort isn't delivered down out on the ice, the moving vans are going to find the winter of 2015-16 a very prosperous period of time for business.

Some of those engines probably will be warming up as the coach prepares to make his debut behind the Columbus bench.

The Tortorella era for Columbus starts Thursday when the Blue Jackets are in Minnesota.

You can follow the changes amongst the coaching and managerial ranks of the NHL from our Hired to be Fired archive page here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

NHL Suspensions and Fines 2015-16

As the new season begins,  so to will the need for a watchful eye on nightly action for play beyond the rules and that puts player safety at risk through.

The task of NHL Justice falls to Stephane Quintal takes over the administration of Justice who along with Chris Pronger will oversee the day to day needs of Justice in the NHL

They will be reviewing on ice incidents and assessing what punishment, if any will be required on a nightly basis.

As they have in past years, video is becoming key to the league announcements when it comes to punishment delivered by league officials, a helpful way of explaining to fans just what has been taken into consideration with each infraction.

Our listings of his deliberations can be found below, outlining those that have been summoned to the tribunal.

Offenders may now approach the bench, the court is now in session. Chief Justice Quintal presiding.

Cases up to date as of November 16, 2015

The Case files of Stephane Quintal 

Regular Season Suspensions

November 13 -- Colorado Avalanche -- Gabriel Landeskog -- Suspended 2 games (details) (video)

November 2 -- Ottawa Senators -- Mark Stone -- Suspended 2 games (details) (video)

October 23 -- Dallas Stars -- Jason Demers -- Suspended 2 games (details) (video)

October 17 -- Colorado Avalanche -- Tyson Barrie  -- Suspended 3 games (details) (video)

October 16 -- Tampa Bay Lightning -- Nikita Netserov -- Suspended 2 games (details) (video)

October 5 -- San Jose Sharks -- Raffi Torres -- Suspended 41 games  (details) (video)

Total Regular Season Games suspended (by team)

Colorardo -- 5
Dallas --
Ottawa -- 2
San Jose -- 41
Tampa Bay -- 2

Total Game Suspension to date  52

Monetary punishment

November 13 -- Boston Bruins -- Brad Marchand -- fined $5,000 for roughing (details)

November 4 -- St. Louis Blues -- Ryan Reaves -- fined $3,024.19 for roughing (details)

October 26 -- Winnipeg Jets -- Alexander Burmistrov -- fined $4,166.67 for elbowing (details)

October 23 -- New Jersey Devils -- Stephen Gionata -- fined $2,284.95 for spearing (details)

October 15 -- New Jersey Devils -- Jordin Tootoo -- fined $2,217.74 for dangerous trip (details)

From the Department of Player Safety

Department of Player Safety background

NHL Rule Book 2015-16

NHL Rules video explanation

News from the Department of Player Safety

The Trading Post 2015-16

For many NHL teams, Septembers rosters will be pretty well set through the season, barring a major injury the teams that roll into the new season in high gear, rarely make major changes through the year, with only a trade deadline acquisition to perhaps shore up a weak spot or bring in depth for the playoff battle ahead.

Others however, quickly learn that the planning of July and August and September's training camps haven't really solved a lot of their problems and that the only way to get back on track is to bring new faces and ship out those that aren't fitting into where the team hopes to be going by the time the Spring rolls around.

It's at those points that the General Managers of each of the NHL's member clubs start to earn their pay, making decisions on which players need a fresh start, or which perhaps have seen their best days slip by, or when it's time to just shake things up and snap a team out of its lethargy.

Below we will track the deals of 2014-15, providing some background for the names that suddenly find that movers and change of address notifications are part of the NHL experience.

It all of course leads up to the Spring time madness known as the Trade Deadline, a day where hockey fans perhaps suddenly come down with a bad cold or some other suitable malady that will require at least a day at home, perhaps even in front of the television.

The preamble to the Spring trading deadline starts with the first puck drop of game one, the listings of the relocated can be found below:

Trading Period commenced October 7th,
Trades updated at to October 25th

Transactions Counter:  0 Trades to date

Anaheim Ducks -- 0
Arizona Coyotes -- 0
Boston Bruins -- 0
Buffalo Sabres -- 0
Calgary Flames -- 0
Carolina Hurricanes -- 0
Colorado Avalanche -- 0
Columbus Blue Jackets-- 0
Chicago Blackhawks -- 0
Dallas Stars -- 0
Detroit Red Wings -- 0
Edmonton Oilers -- 0
Florida Panthers -- 0
Los Angeles Kings -- 0
Minnesota Wild -- 0
Montreal Canadiens-- 0
Nashville Predators -- 0
New Jersey Devils -- 0
New York Islanders-- 0
New York Rangers -- 0
Ottawa Senators -- 0
Philadelphia Flyers -- 0
Pittsburgh Penguins -- 0
San Jose Sharks-- 0
St. Louis Blues -- 0
Tampa Bay Lightning -- 0
Toronto Maple Leafs -- 0
Vancouver Canucks -- 0
Washington Capitals-- 0
Winnipeg Jets -- 0

The link to these Trading Post dispatches can be found in our right hand column in the GM's Office section.

NHL Trade Tracker can be viewed here

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

NHL headlines for October

Our Archive for the month of October

October 31 -- Oilers give up goal with nine seconds left, lose 5-4 to Flames
October 30 -- Rangers' top line reunites with a bang in commanding win
October 29 -- Draisaitl rallies Edmonton Oilers with last minute goal to shock Canadiens 4-3
October 28 -- Ottawa Senators finally taste victory at home, outlast Calgary Flames 5-4 in shootout
October 27 -- Canucks snap home losing streak and hand Habs their first loss
October 26 -- Jonathan Toews lifts Blackhawks to another 1-0 OT win
October 25 -- Kings play to good review in fifth straight win, 3-2 at Edmonton
October 24 -- Leafs fall 5-3 victims to Canadiens' winning juggernaut
October 23 -- Sloppy stuff from Oilers in Friday night loss to Capitals
October 22 -- Andrew Hammond's return can't save night as Ottawa Senators fall to New Jersey Devils 5-4 in shootout
October 21 -- Fiery Tortorella promises to rebuild club's confidence
October 20 -- Sidney Crosby stuck in one of worst stretches of NHL career, but it's not Phil Kessel's fault
October 19 -- Good news keeps rolling for Montreal Canadiens
October 18 -- Penguins defeat Maple Leafs, 2-1
October 17 -- Slow start, anemic power play dooms Canucks in 4-3 loss to Blues
October 16 -- Will Oilers' Connor McDavid reignite the Battle of Alberta with Flames?
October 15 -- Price helps Canadiens maintain early-season perfection
October 14 -- Senators take over third period against winless Blue Jackets
October 13 -- Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien, L. A. Kings' Darryl Sutter among NHL bench bosses on thin ice this season
October 12 -- Montreal Candiens backup Mike Condon wins debut adding another chapter to improbable journey to NHL

October 11 -- Sabres goalie Lehner out 6-10 weeks with sprain
October 10 -- Senators survive blowing big lead, beat Leafs in first shootout of NHL season
October  9 -- Toronto Maple Leafs shut out by Red Wings in Mike Babcock's return to Detroit
October 8 -- Winnipeg Jets soar past Bruins 6-2 in season opener to snap 13 game losing streak by franchise in Boston
October 7 -- Several NHLers found themselves in hot water because of off-season legal troubles
October 6 -- Gretzky, Oilers coach McLellan agree Nugent-Hopkins pivotal in helping McDavid settle into NHL
October 5 -- Landmark ban on Raffi Torres sends right message
October 4 -- Zack Kassien of Montreal Canadiens injured in truck crash
October 3 -- Getting cut never gets easy
October 2 -- With trio of solid goaltenders, Flames facing tough questions in net
October 1 -- Senators seeking greater consistency after last season's race to the playoffs