Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Second time around ends much the way of the first for Paul Maurice

The second term of employment for Carolina Hurricane coach Paul Maurice came to an end on Monday, though perhaps a bit overshadowed by the announcement of the firing of Bruce Boudreau in Washington.

For Maurice, the end came with a chat from GM and President Jim Rutherford who informed the likeable Maurice that it wasn't working out and with the Hurricanes slide continuing on into late November the fates it seems were set for Maurice to once again make the trek to the Unemployment office.

The profile of the coaching departure, while not quite the hot white spotlight of Boudreau's dismissal earlier in the day still was one of a hard working coach, who it seems wasn't finding any traction with those that take to the ice on a nightly basis.

Maurice returned to the Hurricanes in December of 2008, three years later and with little progress from the Hurricanes towards the upper reaches of the NHL his name was the most frequently mentioned of coaches that were on the bubble.

Monday the bubble popped, though to be fair to Maurice, unlike the Capitals, the Hurricanes haven't exactly surrounded him with a Top tier lineup and even though his most valuable player has struggled, the on ice troubles of Eric Staal certainly haven't provided for the same kind of enigma like performances of the Capitals Ovechkin, Semin et al.

Still, it's a win or lose business and the Hurricanes have done more of the latter than the former,  so Maurice was the first to be moved out of the way, though the President and GM seems to at least be aware that some of the blame may rest with the players.

Rutherford added this intriguing thought at the time of his dismissal of Maurice, sending the message to those on the ice that management is keeping an eye on things.

But we need to see if we can get back into it with this, or if we need to change some more players.

The task now falls to Kirk Muller, a frequently mentioned name as a potential head coach who now gets his chance to turn around a struggling team.

We're not sure that he'll have much more success than Paul Maurice, the Hurricanes seem to be destined to be a middle of the pack kind of team at best these days, some things run deeper than just the guy behind the bench.

Raleigh News Observer-- New coach, different direction for Canes
Raleigh News Observer-- Fan reaction to new Canes' coach: Kirk who?
Raleigh News Observer-- Canes fire Maurice, name Muller coach
Raleigh News Observer-- The second Mo Dynasty falls
Globe and Mail-- Hurricanes fire coach Paul Maurice
Globe and Mail-- Downward spirals cost NHL coaches their jobs
Toronto Star-- Carolina replaces Paul Maurice with Kirk Muller
Toronto Sun-- 'Canes fire Maurice, hire Muller
Sports Illustrated-- It all comes down to the Captain
NBC Sports-- Paul Maurice is one classy guy Muller to Hurricanes "It's a clean slate"
CBC Sports-- Hurricanes can coach Maurice, hire Muller
CBC Sports-- Did Paul Maurice deserve to be fired in Carolina?
CBC Sports-- The firing of Paul Maurice and Eric Staal;s role in it
Sportsnet-- What went wrong?

Caps tie can to Bruce Boudreau for poor play, kick the can down the road

The old saying in sport is that it's easier to fire the coach than all the players and on Monday the Washington Capitals took that road to try to cure their current woes.

Bruce Boudreau, one of the most popular coaches among the NHL fraternity (and the media that cover them) was let go, the solution seemingly to the swan dive that his team has taken thus far in the year, proving once again that you can't coach a work ethic.

The visuals of the day once the announcement was made was mainly of Boudreau's benching of Ovechkin a few weeks ago, a move no doubt at the time applauded by a good portion of the remaining 29 coaches, ooops 28 (sorry Paul Maurice, we'll get to your firing on Monday next) who no doubt felt cheered by Boudreau's frustration with the non performing Russian star.

Of course, Ovechkins' play wasn't the only issue in the Capitals room, there's many in that room that could do with a good look into the mirror, for dogging it seems to have become one of the main traits of the Capitals these days.

However, for all that fraternal unity at the profession of coaching, the cold, hard reality of it came back to the forefront on Monday, as George McPhee, apparently divining that Ovie and some of his fellow Capitals had tuned out the always talkative coach and that a change was required.

The Capitals have always been one of those teams on the cusp of a Stanley Cup final berth, but inevitably seem to be a team that always comes up short, last year perhaps the best example of the Murphy's law of hockey, where if anything can go wrong it will.

This season the start was atrocious, as was the play of some of the key components of the Capitals roster, it would take a pretty brave General Manager to move the franchise player out of the line up, in the end, as it always has been, it seems its much easier to move the coach, exit Bruce Boudreau.

Taking his place is Dale Hunter, a player who never if memory serves correct took a shift off, held his team mates accountable and wasn't afraid to get in the face of an opponent if the need arose.

Traits that may come in helpful as he takes over the country club like inclinations of the Capitals.

Much has been written and said about Bruce Boudreau in the last few days, praising his character and coaching acumen, predicting that he eventually will find his way back behind an NHL bench.

Hopefully one imagines to go to a team where hard work isn't an optional kind of thing once the players take to the ice.

Washington Times-- Boudreau knows Capitals stopped responding
Washington Times-- Boudreau out, Hunter in as Capitals' coach
Washington Times-- Caps, Hunter still figuring out their new dynamic
Washington Post-- Capitals' poor play forced George McPhee to fire Bruce Boudreau
Washington Post-- Mike Shanahan on Bruce Boudreau firing
Washington Post-- Bruce Boudreau "I tried every trick that I knew and nothing was working:"
Washington Post-- Bruce Boudreau's departure continues coaching graveyard
Winnipeg Free Press-- Fired Capitals coach doesn't blame Ovechkin...
Globe and Mail-- Capitals fire Bruce Boudreau, hire Dale Hunter as new coach
Globe and Mail-- Downward spirals cost NHL coaches their jobs
Toronto Star-- Dale Hunter faces enormous hurdles in Washington
Toronto Sun-- Hunter in D. C. spotlight
Toronto Sun-- Semin, not Ovechkin, Hunter's big challenge
Toronto Sun-- Can Hunter light a fire under Semin, Ovie?
Toronto Sun-- Washington Capitals replace Boudreau with Hunter
NBC Sports-- "Did Boudreau have to go"
CBC Sports-- Is Ovechkin a coach killer?
CBC Sports-- Boudreau's row with Ovechkin cost him his job
CBC Sports-- Did Bruce Boudreau desrve to be fired in Washington?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sidney Steps back on stage

Christmas came early for Gary Bettman, as the most recognized name in the NHL today finally returned to the ice, his lengthy convalescence from concussion now seemingly complete.

The Penguins announced the much anticipated and hoped for event yesterday, sending into action a battalion of media members to descend on Pittsburgh for Monday's pre game skate and game night contest between he Penguins and the New York Islanders.

Crosby last saw action in January of this year, the victim of a concussion that many still believe first had its origins during the NHL's marquee non playoff event the New Years Day Winter Classic.

In that game, Crosby took a blow to the head from the shoulder of the Capitals David Steckel,  a few games later another hit this time at the hands of Tampa's Victor Hedman, shut down Crosby's season.  It was an interruption that lasted 320 days, through a training camp and the season launch in October,  moving some eight weeks into the 2011-12 NHL season, before Crosby was finally declared fit to play.

A lengthy absence it was and one that had many fearing that the league's top player might never play again, something that surely must have struck fear into the heart of Gary Bettman, who by now we hope understands how important the players, especially those highly skilled and entertaining ones are to the sport.

It's especially important to note that this year, the league's top players of recent years seem to be struggling, leaving the league with few in the way of players to hang the brand on at the moment.

Washington is a prime example of that where Alexander Ovechkin, currently is mired in a slump of epic proportions, tied in with that slump the nature of what seems to be a bit of feud with this head coach and well the good feeling buzz isn't happening out the Capitals dressing room this year.

If nothing else we imagine that Bruce Boudreau is hoping that the return of Sid the Kid (who probably isn't really a kid anymore we guess) will light a fire under his own recalcitrant star.

We imagine probably the only ones who wish that the Crosby return had been deferred a day or two were the New York Islanders, who had the unfortunate task of providing the competition (such as it was) for the Penguins on debut night, a task that despite their pre game observations, they clearly didn't have much interest in, at least judging by the final score of 5-0.

As for the debut, a four point night with a goal on his third shift of the night, is the kind of thing that makes for a pretty remarkable story line, the Penguins already a very good hockey team obviously get a whole lot better with their Captain back in the line up.


One night in and he's already on track to head back to head to the top of the pack in NHL points totals, Mr. Kessel look over your shoulder, that's Crosby coming hard up the ice.

Watching the excitement on the Penguins bench, you have the feeling that Pens coach Day Byslma must feel as though he just won a Lotto Max Jackpot,  the energy on the bench spurred on by that of the home crowd pushing the Pens to total domination over the hapless Isles.

And sharing in those smiles around the rink in Pittsburgh were NHL fans around the world, fans who at times have been starved from showmanship for far too long, finally can get back to watching the highlight shows and enjoy the Crosby show.

Welcome back, we're hoping it's a long run Sid, we're hoping that it's a long run...

Pittsburgh Tribune-- Crosby 'magnifigue' right away
Pittsburgh Tribune-- Crosby dominates in comeback vs. Islanders
Pittsburgh Tribune-- Crosby returns surprises teammates, coaches
Pittsburgh Tribune-- Relax, the Kid will be just fine
Pittsburgh Tribune-- Sidney Crosby's return welcomed by hockey world
Pittsburgh Tribune-- Bylsma: Sidney Crosby could play first game 'on adrenaline'
Pittsburgh Tribune-- Crosby cleared for comeback
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Crosby shakes off "rust" in easy Penguins victory
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Crosby dazzling in return to ice
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Crosby fabulous in his return
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Excitement building for Crosby's return tonight
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- Crosby taking ice tonight for Penguins against Islanders
Globe and Mail-- Hold your tears on Crosby's comeback - he couldn't lose
Globe and Mail-- Crosby makes sensation return
Globe and Mail-- Crosby gives hockey a much needed boost
Globe and Mail-- Sidney Crosby emerges out of the darkness and into on-ice spotlight
National Post-- Sidney Crosby celebrates the first day of the rest of his life
National Post-- Penguin's Crosby in fine form in rout
National Post-- Sidney Crosby's concussion will change the NHL
Toronto Star-- Sid-sational! The Kid is back
Toronto Star-- True greats can handle the moment
Toronto Star-- Sidney Crosby quickly shifts into high gear
Toronto Star-- Penguins vs Islanders live with Kevin McGran
Toronto Star-- First game back: Crosby's day in pictures
Toronto Sun-- Crosby, Pens cruise past Islanders
Toronto Sun-- NHLers say Crosby should be targeted
Toronto Sun-- What a return for Sid
Toronto Sun-- Bylsma had no inkling of Crosby's return
Toronto Sun-- Long-awaited return gives Sid the jitters
CBC-- Sidney Crosby returns to lead Pens' romp over Isles
CBC-- Crosby exhibits emotion and excellence in return
CBC-- Crosby talks to Ron MacLean
TSN-- Crosby has four points in return as Penguins blank Islanders
TSN-- Crosby's return a chance for something special
Sportsnet-- A night to remember
Sportsnet-- So much on the line
Sportsnet-- A Triumphant Return

Monday, November 21, 2011

Black Hawks feel an Alberta Clipper

We're not sure if they're looking for scapegoats in Chicagoland today, but the Black Hawks travel agent might best keep a low profile, after a less than impressive pass through the Northwestern regions of the NHL travel guide.

Sure, things went well in Vancouver last Wednesday, where the Hawks gained a bit of pay back over an early season loss at home to the Canucks, beating up pretty nicely on the Canucks by a score of 5-1.   

But once back heading east across the Rockies and into Wild Rose Country, the Hawks found that wins were just a little bit harder to come by.

It was a rough couple of days in Alberta for the Black Hawks, who found that their scoring touch was a cold as an Alberta Clipper, losing both games of their tour of the province. Even worse, beyond just losing the games, the Hawks for the most part didn't even seem to be inclined to offer up much in the way of resistance to the boys of Alberta.

By the time the Hawks were packed and back on the road out of the West they had surrendered  13 goals and claimed but four of their own for their Alberta efforts.

We're not sure if was the charms of Calgary's famed Red Mile, or perhaps the shopping options at West Edmonton Mall, but in their two game stopover the Hawks were flat, outscored and worst of all outplayed, going O for Alberta.

Saturday nights' back end of the weekly CBC double header left the Hawks looking dazed under the onslaught of an Oiler attack that filled the net nine times, the only saving  grace for the Hawks the fact that they held the line at nine, despite the chants from the Oiler faithful for ten, we want ten.

The Hawks offered up some pretty listless play against the Oilers, who for the most part are so young that they look as though they just graduated from Tim Bits Hockey, still the young Oilers were fast, quick to the puck and even quicker with the shots,  rattling off goals at a dizzying pace.

Saturday night's performance, with those nine goals on the scoreboard was the biggest burst of offensive power from an Edmonton team in fifteen years.

The Oilers were led by Taylor Hall, who broke out of a scoring slump with a bit of flourish, netting a hat trick, which left the Rexall Place ice surface covered in hats of all sizes, none however large enough for the Hawks to crawl under to hide.

The lack of push back by that the Hawks did not go un-noticed by head coach Joel Quennville, who judging by the stare of death that he gave out as the game unwound probably has a few things to say to his squad over the next few days, not to mention perhaps arrange for the bag skate of the season thus far over their lack of effort.

It will however perhaps be a date with exhaustive destiny to be deferred, for despite the poor effort of the last few games, the Hawks are still en route for a pre planned break in Las Vegas.

No doubt Quenneville is hoping that in the midst of a bit of a losing skid, that some of the luck of the gambling mecca might rub off  on the Hawks.

Calgary Sun-- Flames' latest win a work of heart
Calgary Herald-- Glencross scores twice as Flames dump Hawks
Calgary Herald-- Flames hit road looking to build on Hawks victory
Globe and Mail-- Glencross leads Flames past Blackhawks
Globe and Mail-- Hall hat trick leads Oilers past 'Hawks
Edmonton Sun-- Oilers hit the road on a high note
Edmonton Sun-- Oilers whip Hawks 9-2
Edmonton Sun-- Oilers erupt
Edmonton Journal-- Hall's goal-scoring drought ends with a bang
Edmonton Journal-- Oilers pound Blackhawks with biggest offensive explosion...
Edmonton Journal-- Oilers break out of scoring slump big time Hall hat trick highlights hammering of Hawks
Chicago Tribune-- Hawks try to regroup from consecutive blowout losses
Chicago Tribune-- Oilers humiliate Blackhawks 9-2
Chicago Tribune-- Flames douse Hawks 5-2
Chicago Sun Times-- Blackhawks' 'generous' defence vexes Joel Quenneville 
Chicago Sun Times-- Despite losses, Blackhawks get a break
Chicago Sun Times-- Blackhawks drilled by Oilers

Photo above from Edmonton Sun website

Friday, November 18, 2011

Moving Grezkty to the point?

The bid to remove the burden of that 80 percent of Maple Leaf ownership from the shoulders of the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Fund continues on, with an American group now in the hunt to grab those shares of the Maple Leafs, a move that has some just a little bit anxious that one of the nation's premiere franchise may fall into American hands.

So with the Flag seemingly up for grabs, the would be US based private equity group Providence Equity Partners, is reportedly looking to make a Canadian icon as their point man, hoping that the prospect of Wayne Gretzky as a frequent visitor to the owners box will help move the wheels of finance and result in a successful bid.

John Shannon of Sportsnet was one of the first to report that the Great One might end up as the face of the franchise (or at least the facilitator of the financials) a prospect that probably has the legions of the Maple Leaf nation feeling fuzzy all over.

The other report of note on Gretkzy's interest came from the Toronto Star's Rick Westhead , an article which weighed the pros and cons for Gretzky of taking an interest in the Leafs and their fortunes.

Since those opening reports however, the Toronto media which focuses on all things Maple Leaf as though of national importance, has been busy dispatching the investigative reporters out to get to the bottom of the rumours.

The Globe and Mail's David Shoalts has suggested that it's not quite as slam dunk (if we may use a basketball term) as some believe, providing the counter points to the anticipation of Gretzky getting all hands on with the Leafs.

As the Globe also reports, the US group is not the first to try and lure Gretzky back into the public when it comes to the NHL, any number of tire kickers it seems are quick to put in a phone call to Gretky's agent Darren Blake, hoping to wrap themselves in the cloak of his celebrity and resonance across Canada.

As for the latest to seek out the Greatest, the Globe suggests that the chances are slim of MLSE ending up among the collection of a U S Equity fund.

Over at the Toronto Star Damian Cox looks at the logic of Grezky joining forces with the US group providing him with a chance to finally join the Maple Leafs, something he seemingly was aching for at one time, all be it long after his playing days have been done.

The Teacher's Pension plan has been hoping to create a bidding war for its valued shares in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, using an investment banker to field the bids, a process which seemingly isn't moving quite as fast as many thought it would.

Good (or is that bad)  timing as they say is everything and with the world's financial markets in turmoil and investment money seemingly drying up daily, the prospect of investment in hockey, even as valued a brand as the Maple Leafs, isn't quite as enticing it seems as in the past.

To that point, one need only look at the lack of forward movement in such teams as the Phoenix Coyotes and St. Louis Blues, not to mention any number of other teams bubbling under the radar.

Still, this is the Toronto Maple Leafs, as close to a gold standard as the NHL has, so one imagines eventually someone is going to take those shares from the Teachers.

At any rate, for Leafs fans it's kind of an exciting version of stalking the stars, this listing of would be owners and front men. There hasn't been this much reported star power kicking around  since it was thought that Anne Murray and the Bank of Commerce were peeking into the windows and the books.

The Maple Leafs in the hands of Americans?  What ever would Conn Smythe say about that?

More items of note and thoughts on those going through the in and the out door at the executive offices of MLSE can be found below.

Globe and Mail-- Keep calm and carry on, Leaf fans
Toronto Star-- Any kind of ownership structure can work - in theory
Toronto Star-- Why the Leafs must never be sold to Americans
Toronto Star-- Gretzky approached by groups eyeing purchase of MLSE
Toronto Sun-- Gretzky sought as figurehead in U. S. bid for MLSE
USA Today-- Don't ramp up the Gretzky to Maple Leafs rumour just yet
Sportsnet-- Gretzky not the ideal choice
Yahoo Sports-- Gretzky and Leafs: Perfect Union or problematic?
Yahoo Sports-- Wayne Gretzky, Toronto Maple Leafs ownership window dressing
CBC-- Gretzky courted by group vying for MLSE stake: report
CBC-- U. S. Investment company sets sights on MLSE: report
CBC-- Should an American company own the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Kraft Hockeyville Updates 2012

The popular cross Canada competition to become Kraft Hockeyville is underway and we'll track the progress of the communities in the chase from this spot on our portal.

The updates can be found in our HockeyNation Extras section on the right hand side of the blog.

November 18-- Kraft Hockeyville Opening Day

Kraft Hockeyville Nominations are now open

Across Canada today, local communities are marshaling their forces and getting ready to get out the vote, as the Kraft Hockeyville competitions gets underway.

A project that combines the forces of Kraft Foods, the NHL, the NHLPA and the CBC, the wildly popular contest brings hockey communities together, building community spirit in the quest to access 100,000 in arena upgrades from Kraft Foods and the NHL.

Past competitions have found parades, community events and video presentations designed to give their community the leg up when it comes time to voting.

The process of course begins with nominations and in order to qualify communities must make the cut in elimination rounds, with a number of entry deadlines through to December . Canadians can offer up stories and visuals extolling the virtues of their community and how they best exemplify the role of Kraft Hockeyville in Canada.

The final nomination phase will come to a close on January 31, 2012.

The competition plays out over the CBC through December and into January, each benchmark elimination round reviewed on Hockey Night in Canada as towns and cities across the nation seek to make the cut and claim the final championship round, the arena renovations and an NHL exhibition game and Hockey Night in Canada broadcast.

This year the competition process has been expanded with five additional spots for community finalists, as well as an early bird prize of 10,000 dollars in hockey equipment from Kraft Canada.

While the grand prize of the 100,000 dollars in renovations is the ultimate goal, there are rewards for those that come close to the top of the list, as the other Top Five communities receive awards of 25,000 dollars for home arena renovations.

The top fifteen communities that are chosen to compete for Kraft Hockeyville will be revealed on Hockey Night in Canada on March 3, 2012.  Canadians will then vote for the top five communities on the 4th and 5th of March.

The Top Five will be revealed on March 17, 2012 with the final voting stage taking place March 18 and 19, Kraft Hockeyville will be announced on March 31, 2012.

Beyond the cash awards and national spotlight, the past competitions have proven to be a pretty interesting example of how a community can come together with a common cause, bringing a winter festival atmosphere to the process of the quest.

Past Kraft Hockeyvilles include

2006-- Salmon River, Nova Scotia
2007-- North Bay, Ontario
2008-- Roberval, Quebec
2009-- Terrace, British Columbia
2010-- Dundas, Ontario
2011-- Conception Bay, Newfoundland

Details on the Hockeyville competition can be found at the following links:

Kraft Hockeyville homepage CBC
Kraft Hockeyville community page
KraftHockeyville Facebook page
Hockeyville Twitter feed

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Mayhem of Milan and Miller still echoes days later

Rule 42.1, perhaps the most studied of NHL rules in the last 72 hours, "a goaltender is not fair game just because he is outside goal crease crease area", seems simple enough, though perhaps Ryan Miller might wonder where the bar is when it comes to fair game.

Miller's wanderings of the weekend and the end result of that have been the topic of discussion for the last few days, giving everyone it seems a say into a goaltender's place in the game and whether he is "fair game" when he leaves the sanctuary of the blue ice of his crease.

Some have taken  the side of Lindy Ruff that with the Lucic hit (and the lack of suspension for it) it's now open season on goaltenders in the NHL, others of the old school opinion that if a goaltender leaves his crease then his fate is up in the air (literally it seems).

The collision between Milan Lucic and Ryan Miller, which saw the Bruin bowling over Miller and then staring down the Sabres on the ice is clearly setting the stage for a review of the don't touch policy that some goaltenders believe exists in the NHL today.

Lucic, who clearly is not of that opinion, did not slow down, nor did he try to avoid Miller deep in the Buffalo end of the ice. Instead the collision sent Miller flying and in the end put the Buffalo goaltender onto the Injured list, sending Sabres coach Lindy Ruff into possible sedition territory by questioning whether the NHL has any inclination to protect goaltenders this season.

The collision was reviewed by the NHL"s Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan, who ruled that   owing to a lack of intent on the part of Lucic  the hit was not an offence that would merit further league action, thus, the minor penalty for charging assessed during the game was sufficient with no suspension for Lucic required.

Shanahan did express some disappointment in the Sabres commentary on the topic post game, suggesting that the Sabres complaints were considered out of order among the halls of the NHL head office.

If nothing else, Shanahan too has learned a pretty valuable lesson from the mayhem in the Sabres end of the rink. It's not the suspensions he hands out that seem to anger league GM's, but rather the one's he doesn't hand out that stick in their craw.

Those league GM's who were meeting in Toronto in one of the regular gatherings took some time to discuss the issue of protection for goaltenders and how best to avoid the highlight reel collisions in the future.

Of course, left unsaid in all of the debate was the calling out of the entire Sabres team by Lucic, who post game suggested that had any team run over their goaltender, the result of the night might have looked a little different.

Expressing the kind of bravado that once was the domain of the Big Bad Bruins of days gone by, Lucic seemed to suggest that the Sabres didn't take care of their own goaltender to any fashion, a sin that would never have been allowed on the Bruins bench.

Comments to which, Ryan Miller, concussed as he was, felt the need to address, describing Lucic in most colourful terms as perhaps not the cleanest, nor honourable player to ever lace on a pair of skates and someone who probably doesn't like small animals either.

Thoughts we imagine that will be remembered when the Bruins and Sabres next meet (November 23rd for those looking to set the alerts on their iPhones and such), a game which most likely will have the undivided attention of the NHL's top officials, watchful for some carry over of the nastiness (all of it seemingly Bruin) that has spawned from the Lucic hit.

The incident of Saturday night has provided for many thoughts on the issue of goaltender protection and the need to perhaps review the regulations when it comes to contact on goaltenders, especially considering the importance of that one position to a team's success or failure (hello Toronto, weigh in with some thoughts if you will).

It's an ages old question, whether a goaltender is fair game once outside of his crease, judging by the events of the weekend, it's a question that still has a ways to go in debate.

Below you can review some of the fallout from the hit heard round the league.

Buffalo News-- Miller says teammates "have his back"
Buffalo News-- Miller suffering whiplash, headaches, ...
Buffalo News-- Sabres' Miller has concussion
Buffalo News-- Defending champions bowl over Sabres
Buffalo News-- Postgame thoughts after a wild Sabres day/night
Buffalo News-- On the Sabres beat live chat with John Vogl
Boston Herald-- Ryan Miller says teammates 'have his back"
Boston Herald-- Decision on Milan Lucic no surprise to Claude Julien
Boston Herald-- Non-suspension hits irk NHL GMs
Boston Herald-- Lucic survives hearing
Boston Herald-- Lucic hit on Miller prompts GM's discussion on goaltender safety
Boston Herald-- Sabres G Ryan Miller disappointed in Lucic, NHL
Boston Herald-- Sabres GM wants suspension for Milan Lucic
Boston Globe-- Bruins crash the net
Boston Globe-- Chiarelli talks about meeting with GMs, Shanahan
Boston Globe-- Claude Julien not surprised by Milan Lucic's non-suspension
Globe and Mail-- Goaltenders safety dominates talk at GM meetings
Globe and Mail-- Sabres' Miller airs concerns in aftermath of Lucic hit
Globe and Mail-- Shanahan: Sabres irresponsible for Lucic reaction
Globe and Mail-- Milan Lucic escapes punishment for hit on Ryan Miller
Globe and Mail-- NHL needs to 'find a way to protect' its goalies
Globe and Mail-- Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller out with concussion
National Post-- Sabres livid after Lucic hit on Miller
National Post-- NHL GMs pledge to protect goaltenders after Lucic hit
National Post-- Milan Lucic, Ryan Miller and The Code in crisis
National Post-- Goalie fraternity critical of Lucic hit
National Post-- Milan Lucic avoids suspension for hit on Ryan Miller
Toronto Star-- Protecting goalies leads GMs agenda: "They're like quarterbacks"
Toronto Star-- Protect goalies like QBs, Leaf coach says
Toronto Star-- No suspension for Lucic hit on Miller
Toronto Sun-- Miller disappointed at Lucic ruling
Toronto Sun-- Ruff: Is it open season on goalies?
Toronto Sun-- Lucic has dates with destiny

Monday, November 14, 2011

Heading into the Hall: The Class of 2011

The NHL celebrates its past tonight with the annual induction ceremonies for the Hall of Fame, wrapping up a weekend of remembrance of past exploits and celebrating four of the players who had an impact on the game.

Three of the four celebrants this year  bring a tinge of Maple Leaf Blue to the ceremonies, with ties to the Toronto Maple Leafs among their stops on the NHL carousel.

Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour and Ed Belfour all wore the Maple Leaf at one time or another and all join the Hall of Honorees tonight, joined by Mark Howe who brings one of hockey's most historic lineage's into the Hall once again.

The quartet were greeted by a boisterous Air Canada Centre crowd on Saturday night prior to the puck drop between the Leafs and Senators, with the crowd in near rapture over so many of their former players being feted at the same time.

Of course there is one Maple Leaf that many felt should have been included in the Hall tonight, if not earlier.

Former Maple Leaf head coach Pat Burns, who passed away last year was a name that many thought should have been called to the Hall, the selection committee missed the mark with that oversight. something that a good number of tonight's celebrants probably would be quick to tell you.

Pat Burns is eligible for inclusion next year, a decision many hope will soon be expedited to include the coach who watched those who we celebrate tonight, allowing him to take his rightful place in the Hall to be remembered forever, for what he brought to the game over the span of his coaching career.

The induction ceremonies tonight will be featured on TSN2 (NHL Network in the USA) at 7:30 ET (4:30 PT), which besides covering the actual ceremony complete with speeches has through the weekend been providing previews of the night of honour to come.

Along with the quartet heading into the players category, broadcaster Mickey Redmond will be honoured tonight, receiving the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for his work on Red Wing broadcasts over the last 32 years.

Edmonton Sun writer Terry Jones will be recognized for his work, as he receives the Elmer Ferguson Award, celebrating his 40 plus years of work based out of Edmonton.

A full review of the festivities ahead tonight can be found on the Hockey Hall of Fame website.

Below we provide some reviews of the careers of each of tonight's celebrants.

Joe Nieuwendyk

ESPN-- Classy clutch Joe Nieuwendyk enters Hall
Toronto Star-- So many to thank, so little time for Hall of Famer Nieuwendyk Nieuwendyk's career ensured everyone knew his name

Doug Gilmour

Globe and Mail-- Gilmour primed for Hockey Hall of Fame induction
CBC-- Gilmour led Maple Leafs with killer instinct
Toronto Star-- Gilmour has no regrets after Killer career
Toronto Star-- For a splendid period of time in Toronto, Gilmour was the Leafs
Toronto Sun-- No-tears texts for Gilmour
Toronto Sun-- Gilmour in his own words Gilmour reflects on career than nearly never happened

Ed Belfour

ESPN-- Ed Belfour's manic dedication
Toronto Star- Unmatched competitive fire key to Belfour's success
Grand Forks Herald-- Former UND goalie Ed Belfour to be enshrined by NHL Mental toughness carried Belfour to Hall of Fame

Mark Howe Mark Howe to join father Gordie in Hall of Fame
Toronto Star-- Hockey Hall welcomes another Howe
Globe and Mail-- Mark Howe to join father in Hockey Hall of Fame
Globe and Mail-- Tears of joy for Gordie Howe as son joins him ...
CBC-- Howe has point about policing 10 things to know about Hall of Famer Mark Howe Flyers should retire Howe's number Howe happy about sharing Hall honour with father Famous last name no burden for Howe Mrs. Hockey was very instrumental for Mark Howe

Thursday, November 10, 2011

D'oh! We've seen this slow motion before

There's much discussion going on today about the tactics of the Philadelphia Flyers in their game of last night against the Tamp Bay Lightning, which saw the pace of play slow to less than a crawl.

The Flyers, seemingly speaking for many (except perhaps those at the Tampa rink on Wednesday) who are weary of the Tampa Bay trap, or 1 -3 - 1 as it's strategically named, decided to take the puck into their own hands and not share it with anyone over their own blue line.

To that end fans across the US on Versus and in Canada on TSN watched a riveting session of  hold the puck between defence man Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn, a clinic that lacked a certain amount of urgency.

Interrupted only by the referee's who ended up with little recourse but to whistle play dead and hope the kids would decide to play some shinny for a change.

With that visual now burned into our mind, we can't help but think back to another visual aid on the same theme, courtesy of the Simpson's, who clearly came up with the idea first, long before it was cooked up in Peter Laviolette's office and debuted in Tampa Bay.

Needless to say, if the NHL is trying to add some excitement to its games this won't be the way to do it, though it was an effective way of highlighting the rather boring nature of the Tampa Bay approach.

Much was made in the aftermath of the slow motion puck handling, with more than a few NHLers weighing in with a thought that it wasn't exactly making the game look very good.

NHL General Managers will have an opportunity next week to discuss the issue  when the General Managers meet in Toronto.

When they gather they'll bounce around any number of ideas on the the subject offering up hopefully a solution to methods that bring the game to standstill

Regardless of their findings  we're pretty sure they'll be destined come up with a plan to make sure the Philadelphia solution isn't one to be put in play again.

Globe and Mail-- Hockey's death trap Flyer's Pronger rips Tampa Bay's stall tactic Flyer's delay tactics backfire against Lightning
Tampa Bay online-- Bolts wait out Flyer's for 2-1 overtime win
Canoe-- Bettman not a fan of stalling tactics
Montreal Gazette-- Tampa's trap becomes NHL lightning rod
Toronto Star-- Flyers-Lightning standoff 'food for thought' says Wilson
Toronto Star-- Thumbs down from around league on Flyers-Lightning tactics
Toronto Star-- Kudos to Philly coach for exposing game's flaw
Toronto Sun-- Flyers' tactics has league talking
National Post-- The night hockey stood still in the NHL
NBC-- Milbury and Jones discuss Flyers/Lightning weirdness
TSN-- Reviews vary for Lightning-Flyers trap showdown

Monday, November 07, 2011

Blues turn to Hitchcock to move forward

The tenure of one of the youngest coaches in the NHL lasted one full season and one month, as Davis Payne was advised by the Blues on Sunday that his time behind the Blues bench was at an end.  The fourth time since 2004 that the Blues have come to such a decision.

Payne who previously coached the Blues AHL affiliate was the second youngest head coach in the NHL,  at the time thought to be the best guide to the Blues young talent as they launched a rebuilding model that was starting to show some results last season.

The disappointing start this year however, with less than .500 record one month in with just 6 wins in thirteen games. The Blues management apparently concerned over the drift out of the gate has decided that it was time to make a move, bringing in Ken Hitchcock to lend a more seasoned hand to the Blues on ice planning.

The hiring of Hitchcock with his lengthy coaching resume, would seem to steal him away from the Columbus Blue Jackets who reportedly were close to a decision of their own when it comes to coaching.

The talk of the weekend was that Columbus growing a tad panic stricken at the free fall in the standings and at the box office (three home games  thus far have attracted less than 9,200 fans) would turn to the familiar Hitchcock to lead their team out of the NHL wilderness, St. Louis perhaps hearing those same rumblings apparently upped the ante and sealed the deal.

Considering the fact that Doug Armstrrong is the Blues GM, the announcement makes sense, the two worked together in Dallas and have shared duties with a number of Canadian National team efforts including the 2010 Olympic Squad.

Hitchcock wil be behind the bench on Tuesday night when the Blues begin a five game home stand, a key opportunity to climb back into the pack of the NHL West.

St. Louis Today-- Blues fire Payne, hire Hitchcock
St. Louis Today--  Hitchcock: "I couldn't miss out on this opportunity"
St. Louis Today-- Win now urgency prompts coaching change
KMOX Radio-- Hitchcock officially introduced as New Blues Coach
Hockey News-- Blues surprise by plucking Ken Hitchcock from Blue Jackets
Globe and Mail-- Blues fire Daivs Payne; Name Ken Hitchcock head coach
National Post-- Blues fire head coach Payne, hire Hitchcock as replacement
CBC-- Blues fire Payne, name Hitchcock head coach
CBC-- Blues smart to hire Hitchcock
Toronto Star-- A Most Curious Switcheroo
Edmonton Journal-- Hitchcock - Once a coach always a coach
Edmonton Journal-- Hitch no longer singing the Blues
Sportsnet-- A dying breed
Sportsnet-- The Hitchcock approach

You can follow the shuffling of the deck chairs among the coaching ranks from our departures and arrival listings on the blog.

Commander Cherry turns down his commission

The timing of the announcement seemed most appropriate, heading into Remembrance Week in Canada, the Royal Military College in Kingston had announced that hometown boy Don Cherry was to be acknowledged with an honorary doctorate for his long time support of Canada's military.

Cherry, who frequently features vignettes of the troops that have passed while in the line of duty for Canada, is perhaps the military's biggest booster in Canada, clearly wearing his heart on his sleeve when it comes to all branches of the military, as well as for police, fire fighters and EMT personnel.

And while many might rage at the man over some of his thoughts on the state of the game of hockey today, we don't think many would take up a quarrel with him over his support for the troops.

But, there was one dissenting voice loud enough it seems to put the honours in doubt, Catherine Lord a french language professor at RMC voiced her concerns that Cherry's past pronouncements from his weekly pulpit highlighted a less than respectful opinion on segments of Canadian society, thus it seems in her mind making him an unfit candidate for the military honour.

The objections seemed more of a case of petty grandstanding (letters to the editor, media releases? Really?) than any particular true case of a quest for some kind of social justice.

And while it's said she has company on the protest train, we have a feeling that within the Forces and at RMC hers would be a decidedly minority opinion in dissent, not one that really should have had much sway in the determination of who is fit or unfit to be bestowed with honorary acknowledgment.

And to that point it didn't appear that her interjection would have much of an impact, RMC had brushed aside that bit of bombast, the honorary doctorate was still set to be bestowed on the man from coach's corner, until he, himself, pulled the plug on the project.

There's no indication from Cherry as to why he chose not to accept the RMC honours, though we imagine he didn't want to be the distraction to the week of Remembrance, with Remembrance Day observations to come on November 11th, we imagine he feared that the controversy would detract from the solemn nature of those observations.

And he's probably correct if that was his thought and by his actions he has once again put the memory of the Canadian Armed Forces first, as he always has it seems.

We've had our moments trying to dissect the Cherry logic on some hockey matters, we think he's wrong on a few of them and has been quick to make comments that perhaps could have used a second or third go over, but when it comes to supporting the Armed Forces we can't think of a better champion for those that wear a uniform.

The language instructor in our mind was wrong on this one and we imagine if she takes the time to chat with the majority of the members of the forces that have been battle tested in any of our nation's overseas commitments she'll find she's a bit out of touch with those that she instructs.

Perhaps the Administration at RMC can make contact with Mr. Cherry once again, after we pay our respects for those that served and continue to serve this Remembrance Day.

With the week of solemn reflection behind us perhaps Mr. Cherry would be more receptive to the honorary degree and acknowledgement of his work on behalf of the military.

We have a feeling that there would be little blow back on RMC if they choose to go full steam ahead with their plan, as for all his faults Cherry is if nothing else, a dedicated supporter of the troops.

Regardless as any soldier, sailor or airmen will tell you, honours are nice, but the respect of your compatriots is probably reward enough. And we suspect that across the Canadian military and on into the fire, police and ambulance services, the majority of those that serve have a fair amount of respect for Cherry's frequent efforts on their behalf.

We imagine there's not an Army mess hall, Navy mess deck or Air Force base in the country where Mr. Cherry couldn't drop in for a pop of his favourite beverage, an attentive audience ready to share some time at the bar with him.

Our guess is he'd never have to pick up a tab anywhere, but he probably would anyways.

Toronto Star-- Go ahead Don, reconsider that military degree
Kingston Whig Standard-- Cherry saga disappoints official
Kingston Whig Standard-- Cherry passes on honorary degree from RMC
Kingston Whig Standard-- RMC prof pans Cherry honour
Kingston Whig Standard-- Royal Military College faculty protest honorary degree for Cherry
National Post-- Don Cherry declines honorary degree from military college
Globe and Mail-- Don Cherry turns down RMC honorary degree
Toronto Sun-- Cherry repeats pledge to decline RMC honour
Sun News-- Criticism keeps Don Cherry from accepting honorary degree
Ottawa Citizen-- Royal Military College of Canada says Don Cherry has declined Honorary Degree
Vancouver Sun-- Don Cherry honorary degree sparks debate at Canada's Royal Military College
Business Week-- Hockey Commentator Cherry Declines Military College Degree
Toronto Star-- Whatever you think of him, Cherry's slow fall sad to watch
CTV-- Don Cherry declines military college honorary degree
CBC-- Don Cherry turns down honorary degree
CBC-- Don Cherry's honorary degree sparks
CBC-- Should Don Cherry have turned down the RMC's honorary degree?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

HockeyNation Headlines November 2011

Our Archive of headlines for November 2011

November 30-- Ducks fire Carlyle after victory, hire Boudreau
November 29-- Sidney Crosby claims feud with Senators GM Murray "blown way out of proportion"
November 28-- Downward spirals cost NHL coaches their jobs
November 27-- Sens GM warns Crosby, Pens
November 26--  Head shot mars Pens' win over Habs
November 25-- The Canadian who saved the Dallas Stars
November 24-- Flames rebuilding - slowly
November 23-- Frontier justice prevails in Buffalo
November 22-- Turris signs multi-year deal with Phoenix Coyotes
November 21-- Sidney Crosby's return welcomed by hockey world
November 20-- Crosby returning but NHL's concussion woes continue
November 19-- Oilers whip Hawks 9-2
November 18-- Don't expect an NHL all-Canadian division
November 17-- Gretzky approached by groups eyeing purchase of MLSE
November 16-- Iggy a big minus
November 15-- GM's discuss Tampa Bay's 1-3-1 zone
November 14-- Hockey Canada to review slap-shot blocking risk after death of young player
November 13-- Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller out with concussion
November 12-- No time for Oilers to panic
November 11-- Slumping Jets not ready to blow roster apart
November 10-- The night hockey stood still in the NHL
November 9-- Leafs face another season stunted by sieves in net
November 8-- Pound weighs in on NHL drug debate
November 7-- Crosby says it's possible he could return to lineup Friday
November 6-- Blues fire Davis Payne, Name Ken Hitchcock head coach
November 5-- Don Cherry turns down RMC honorary degree
November 4-- Alfredsson reluctant to put timeline on return from concussion
November 3-- Predators reach huge deal with Rinne
November 2-- Flames must find desperation
November 1-- Rangers coach John Tortorella tells Sharks' Joe Thornton to "shut up"