Saturday, November 30, 2013

International Hockey Notes: Sochi Olympics 2014

With the Sochi Olympics just over two months away, we offer up our early reviews of developments leading up to the February 12 puck drop.

This will serve as our preamble, up until the arrival of the Olympic tournament, when we'll track the event from our page dedicated to the 2014 Sochi Games.

We'll merge this page into our permanent home for our HockeyNation Olympic coverage as we get closer to the February puck drop in Sochi.

Check back frequently for the most recent updates to the archive.

Winter Olympics Hockey Tournament
February 12-23
Sochi, Russia

IIHF Winter Olympics home page

International Ice Hockey Federation

January 30-- Quintal, Whitmore to serve on Olympic panel
January 3-- Yzerman, Lidstron head IIHF Hall Inductees
January 3-- Yzerman, Lidstron named in 2014 class to enter International ice hockey hall of fame

December 2-- Thirteen NHL officials named by IIHF to officiate games at Sochi Olympics
December 2-- IIHF names officials for Sochi Olympics, a group that includes 13 from NHL

November 27-- IIHF pushes back final roster deadline for Sochi Olympics to Jan. 7
November 27-- Olympic roster deadline moved to January 7, 2014
November 27-- IIHF pushes back final roster deadline for Sochi Olympics to January 7

General Observations

February 5-- Olympic break provides respite
February 2-- Jets' Maurice Olympic Ice won't make big difference
January 23-- NHL Revealed all-access show extends league's reach to Sochi Olympics
January 23-- NHLers set to compete at Winter Olympics voice concern over security at Sochi
January 10-- Russia, Finland could be teams to watch in Sochi
January 3-- Style overt stats with Olympic goalies
December 16-- Injuries mounting for Olympic goalie contenders
December 9-- Who's rising, falling inquest for Olympic spot?
November 29-- Young talent playing way into Olympic consideration
November 18-- NHL announces reality show centred on outdoor games, Olympics
October 18-- Carolina Hurricanes feature plenty of competition for Olympic spots


February 6-- Islanders duo hopes to help Austria pull off an upset
January 28-- Vanek embraces leadership role with Austria
January 28-- Islanders Vanek to captain Austria Olympic team
January 8-- Vanek talks Islanders' surge, Sochi Games
January 7-- Vanek, Grabner highlight Austrian Olympic roster

Czech Republic

February 4-- Capitals' Erat named to Czech Republic team
February 2-- Sobotka to miss Olympics with leg injury
January 19-- Jagr, Plekanec bank on chemistry for success in Sochi
January 7-- Jagr: Nedved could be Cxech Republic's best player
January 6-- Czech Republic's Jagr named to fifth Olympics
December 29-- Spots remain up for grabs on Czech Olympic team
November 30-- Czech Republic vets supplemented by young talent


February 6-- Healthy Timonen relieved to play in Olympics
February 4-- Unlikely opportunity fuels Jokinen's revival
February 3-- A month after injury, Koivu's availablity for Olympics in question
January 15-- Olympics bound Barkov doesn't act his age
January 7-- Koivu forgoes fifth Olympics to focus on Ducks
January 7-- Finland's Selanne headed to Sochi for 6th Olympics
January 7-- No Saku Koivu on Finland roster; sixth go for Selanne
January 6-- Mikko Koivu surgery sobering news for Finland
December 24-- Few question marks left for Finland Olympic roster
December 23-- Keep an Eye on Finland
December 12-- Blue Jackets GM has eye on Finnish players


January 7-- Sabres coach Nolan, rookie Girgensons lead Latvia


January 7-- Zuccarello lone NHL player on Norway Olympic roster


February 2-- February could define Ovechkin's career
January 21-- Hurricane's Semin added to Russia's Olympic team
January 20-- Ovechkin talks Olympics on NBC's Today show
January 20-- Ovechkin excited for Sochi Olympics
January 19-- Capitals' Ovechkin to appear on NBC's Today Show
January 16-- Tarasenko to skate alongside idols at Olympics
January 15-- Datsyuk named captain of Russian Olympic team
January 7-- Reality of Olympics in homeland sinks in for Ovechkin
January 7-- Ovechkin, Malkin, Datsyuk top Russia roster
December 25-- Biggest questions for Russia could be in net
November 29-- Russia faces intense pressure as Olympics host


February 6-- Blue Jackets forward Gaborik to miss Olympics
January 16-- Bruins' Chara to carry Slovakia flag at Olympics
January 7-- Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara named Slovakia captain for Sochi Olympics
January 7-- Chara, Hossa, Halak highlight Slovakia Olympic roster
December 28-- Chara, Halak remain anchors for Slovakian group
December 1-- Slovakia could surprise at 2014 Sochi Olympics


January 6-- Kings' Kopitar only NHL player on Slovenian roster
December 5-- Kopitars prepared to make history in Sochi


February 6-- Canucks' Henrik Sedin out for Olympics
February 5-- Karlsson confident in Swedes' hopes for gold at Sochi
February 3-- Nyquist added to Sweden Olympic team
February 2-- Kronwall evolves in Sweden's leader on blue line
January 30-- Sweden's Sochi chances take hit as Franzen out of Olympics with concussion
January 29-- Erik Karlsson excited to be playing in Sochi Games
January 28-- 'Safe' Chicago D men could give Sweden edge
January 7-- Erik Karlsson joins former Senators Alfredsson, Silfverberg on Swedish Olympic team
January 7-- Several gambles on Sweden Olympic roster
January 7-- 6 Red Wings named to Sweden's Olympic roster
January 7-- Alfredsson return leads NHL heavy roster for Sweden
December 28-- Sweden must fill void on blue line with Edler injury
December 27-- Sweden's goaltending makes it contender for gold


January 21-- Diaz confident in Switzerland's Olympic chances
January 14-- Josi, Switzerland aiming high at Olympics
January 6-- Eight NHL players make Switzerland's Olympic roster, including Habs' Diaz
January 6-- Eight NHL players highlight Swiss Olympic roster


February 6-- Ducks Defenseman Fowler 'honored' to play in Olympics
February 6-- Rangers' Olympians to appear on NBC's 'Today Show'
February 3-- Capitals' Carlson talks representing USA at Olympics
February 1-- Parise, Suter avoiding Olympic distractions
February 1-- Parise discusses role at team USA captain
January 31-- Bylsma deliberate figuring out U. S. Olympic goalie
January 31-- Parise named captain of U. S. Olympic team
January 29-- U. S. women aiming to end Olympic frustration
January 29-- Suter hopes to join father as Olympic gold medalist
January 3-- Bylsma has identity in mind for U. S. Olympic team
January 2-- USA Olympic Team provides for a few surprises on announcement day HockeyNation
January 2-- Omissions could define U. S. roster
December 29-- Islanders' Okposo in mix for U. S. Olympic roster spot
December 29-- Coyotes will vouch for Yandle's Olympic credentials
December 23-- U. S. Olympic roster taking shape
December 22-- U. S. men's hockey team will look familiar in Sochi
December 12-- Canadiens' Galchenyuk remains on USA hockey radar
December 12-- More mature, complete Oshie has eyes on Sochi
December 3-- Past U. S. stars know no miracles necessary in 2014
November 26-- U. S. roster projection: Lacking true No. 1 center
November 26-- U. S. roster projection: Expectations are high
November 24-- Predators' Jones playing his way into conversation for U. S. Olympic team
November 22-- Has Nashville Predators teenager Seth Jones played his way in U. S. Olympic conversation?


February 6-- Canada coach Babcock thrilled to have St. Louis
February 6-- St. Louis to take Stamkos' place on Canadian roster
February 6-- Predators' Weber entering Olympics at top of game
February 6-- As Sochi, beckons Price keeping focus on Canadiens
February 5-- Star forward Steven Stamkos's leg not healed, will not play at Sochi
January 29-- No Plan B: Hockey Canada has no Sochi contingency plan if NHL pulls players
January 28-- Stamkos skates, still hoping for pre-Olympic return
January 23-- Stamkos says leg 'best it's felt' since injury
January 23-- Nash finding game, rewarding Hockey Canada's faith
January 20-- Canadian Olympians trust, believe in Babcock
January 19-- Crosby named captain of Team Canada
January 18-- Coyotes' Smith trying to live up to Olympic honour
January 17-- Family support made Olympic call sweeter for Sharp
January 16-- Tavares OK with playing wing for Canada
January 8-- Coyotes' Smith 'excited' to play for Canada
January 7-- No shortage of surprises as Team Canada builds roster around Sidney Crosby
January 7-- How choosing Canada's hockey team was a 'difficult exercise' for Steve Yzerman
January 7-- Hamhuis snags first Team Canada roster berth
January 7-- Steve Yzerman says Christ Kunitz perfect complement to teammate Sidney Crosby
January 7-- Three Saskatchewan born NHL players make Olympic hockey roster
January 7-- MacKinnon, Hall, Eberle take Olympic omission in stride
January 7-- Team Canada's Sochi Olympics roster
January 7-- Crosby headlines Canada's Olympic hockey roster
January 7-- Emotional day for players who were snubbed by Team Canada
January 7-- Spezza feels for St. Louis...
January 7-- Nothing is ever guaranteed in Olympic hockey tournament
January 7-- Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman made right choice by picking P. K. Subban
January 7-- Introducing Canada's 'B' squad for the Sochi Olympics
January 7-- Canucks Roberto Luongo, Dan Hamhius 'proud, excited' to play for Team Canada at Sochi
January 7-- Sochi selection the toughest job in hockey
January 7-- Hammer ready for shutdown role in Sochi
January 7-- Sid feels like a kid again after call to Sochi
January 7-- Is Canada's embrace of Crosby pay Kunitz like bringing 'a plow horse to a turnout of thoroughbreds"?
January 7-- Kunitz, St. Louis among final tough decisions for Yzerman's staff
January 7-- After tough start to season, Canucks' Dan Hamhius makes Canada's Olympic roster
January 7-- Canucks' Hamhius excited to make Canadian roster
January 7-- Yzerman laments leaving St. Louis off Canada's roster
January 7-- Neal among key Penguins left off Canadian team
January 7-- Crosby says Pens linemate Kunitz deserves spot on Canada's Olympic roster
January 7-- Not enough room on Canada roster for all deserving
January 7-- Olympic cred for Pens' Kunitz not due just to Sid
January 7-- Canada returns 11 players from 2010 Gold Medal Team
January 7-- Stars forward Benn played way onto Canada
January 7-- What helped shape Canada's Olympic roster
January 7-- Relieved Sharp one of 10 Blackhwaks going to Sochi
January 7-- Calls bring different news for Bouwmeester, Hall
January 7-- Canadiens' Subban grateful for chance to go to Sochi
January 7-- Canada had tough choices with a few Bruins players
January 7-- Selection by Canada overwhelming for Coyotes' Smith
January 7-- Lightning's Stamkos keeps sights set on Olympics
January 7-- Several notable players left off Team Canada's 25-man roster for Sochi Olympics
January 7-- Flyers' Giroux disappointed in Canada's decision
January 6-- Canucks, Olympians hope Lunogo's ankle will be OK
January 6-- Islanders' Tavares not distracted by Olympic talk
January 6-- Stars' Benn, Seguin await Olympic word from Canada
January 3-- Canada to announce Sochi Olympic Team Tuesday morning at Leafs' practice rink

December 26-- Competition intense for Canadian roster spots
December 24-- Sid the Kid becomes the Man
December 20-- Ducks captain Getzlaf proving he deserves a spot in Sochi
December 20-- Coyotes' Mike Smith develops into elite goaltender
December 20-- Coyotes' Mike smith pushes for Canadian team consideration
December 18-- Eric Staal still working to earn a trip to Sochi
December 15-- Stamkos' push to Olympics familiar to Oilers' Smyth
December 12-- Predicting Team Canada's roster for Sochi
December 12-- Selecting Team Canada is a matter of trust
December 9-- Flyers Giroux plays his way back into the Sochi conversation
December 9-- There's nothing wrong with Subban for Sochi
December 9-- Who's rising, falling in quest for Olympic spot?
December 8-- Bruins' Lucic competing for Canada Olympic spot
December 7-- Olympic dreams fading for Ottawa Senator Marc Methot
December 5-- Canadian Olympic camp snub turned Stars captain into a 'possessed player'
December 4-- Sharks' Boyle and Vlasic take different approaches to Olympic talk
December 3-- Stamkos targeting return before Sochi Olympics
November 29-- Six questions Canada's hockey team has to answer before Olympic roster deadline
November 26-- Stamkos on quick mend after breaking leg
November 26-- Corey Crawford's heroics escape part of the Sochi Olympic conversation
November 25-- Canada roster projection: Challenging task at hand
November 25-- Olympic coach Babcock mum on whether Subban will play in Sochi
November 25-- Olympic coach Babcock says Habs' Subban must be "trustworthy" on defence
November 25-- Tampa Bay Lightning's Steve Stamkos walking without crutches or boot after breaking leg, aims to play in Sochi 2014 Olympics
November 22-- Subban could be one of nine Canadiens in Sochi
November 18-- Vlasic sharpens skills for shot at Sochi Games
November 18-- Struggling Claude Giroux no longer a lock for Olympics
November 18-- Lupul harbours Olympic hope
November 18-- Tough to keep BC's Jamie Benn off Team Canada roster
November 14-- Team Canada's Olympic goaltending situation remains fuzzy
November 13-- Can Steven Stamkos really recover in time for the Olympics?
November 13-- Projecting Canada's Olympic roster for Sochi
November 13-- A look at Canada's options for Olympics in wake of Steven Stamkos injury
November 13-- Canada has interesting options if Stamkos is unable to play in Olympics
November 12-- Toronto Maple Leaf's Joffrey Lupul hopes he is "in the conversation' for Sochi 2014 Olympic team after Steven Stamkos injury
November 12-- Steven Stamkos injury a major blow for Canada's Olympic hockey team
November 11-- Stamkos injury could be severe blow to Team Canada's hopes in Sochi
November 6-- Projecting Canada's ment's hockey roster for the Olympics
October 31-- Goalie battle heats up for Canadian Olympic men's hockey team
October 9-- Taking stock of Canada's prospective goaltenders

International Hockey Notes: World Junior Hockey Championships 2014

With the World Junior Championships less than one month away, we offer up our early reviews of developments leading up to the December 26th puck drop.

This will serve as our preamble to the always popular and more often than not exciting World Junior Tournament.

Over the next few weeks, the page will provide some advance notes on the upcoming tournament, all leading up to the unveiling of our HockeyNation home page dedicated to the 2014 Tourney.

That will be in place shortly before they drop the puck in Malmo.

Until then, check back frequently for the most recent updates to the archive..

World Junior Tournament
December 26 2013-- January 5 2014
Malmo, Sweden

Official IIHF World Junior Championships website

TSN World Junior site

Notes on the Tournament

December 12-- World Junior players to watch
December 9-- Analyst Dave Starman on World Junior Championship


December 16-- Canada willing to wait for suspended Reinhart
December 16-- Erne discusses WJC opportunity, incident with Drouin
December 15-- McDavid hype continuing to grow at Canada camp
December 14-- Canada Junior team wins exhibition, 3-0
December 14-- Canada's Drouin rides bike, making progress
December 14-- Canada sets lineup against CIS Selects
December 13-- Wild's Dumba to play key role for Canada at WJC
December 13-- Canada's Drouin doesn't practice, but feels he's close
December 13-- Wendel Clark altered role to chase World Junior Glory
December 12-- Sutter takes measured approach to Canada WJC camp
December 11-- Wild assign Dumba to Canada for World Juniors
December 6-- Jonathan Drouin gets a chance to shine overseas
December 5-- Jonathan Drouin focused on Team Canada, confident shot with Tampa Bay Lightning will come
December 4-- Toronto Maple Leafs could still loan Morgan Rielly to Canadian World Junior team, GM says
December 4-- NHL minutes vs. world juniors is a question of development for teams
December 3-- Flames won't release Monahan to play for Canada at world junior championship
December 2-- Canada set in net ahead of world juniors
December 2-- Canadian Junior Team takes smaller approach to camp
December 2-- Connor McDavid head list of 25 players invited to junior camp
December 2-- Team Canada gets no favours from rookies excelling with NHL clubs
December 2-- Canada takes a different approach, with roster almost finalized ahead of selection camp
December 2-- Canada assembles best team, not all-star team
December 2-- Canadian world Junior hockey selection camp features smallest ever roster
December 2-- Hockey Canada streamlines camp roster for WJC
December 2-- Drouin, McDavid highlight Canada WJC camp roster
December 2-- Canada names 25 players to preliminary world junior roster
December 1-- Canada staying lean for junior camp

United States

December 16-- interview with USA Junior Coach Don Lucia
December 16-- Lucia, Motzko working together again
December 16-- Samuelsson aims to show he belongs on U. S. roster
December 16-- Lucia shuffles defense pairings as goalies rotate
December 16-- USA's Eichel views World Juniors as latest challenge
December 16-- Jim Johannson Interview
December 16-- Jon Gillies interview
December 15-- Collegiate programs provide bulk of U. S. WJC talent
December 15-- Hartman arrives at USA Selection camp
December 15-- U. S. opens selection camp with hopes of gold
December 15-- Zach Stepan healthy, ready for camp
December 15-- Lucia takes break from Minnesota to coach U. S. team
December 14-- Hartman looking forward to U. S. selection camp
December 13-- U. S. starts bid for WJC repeat with selection camp
December 13-- Veterans prepared to lead at USA selection camp
December 13-- Decision Day nears for selection of U. S. Olympic team
December 10-- U. S. adds three to World Junior Evaluation camp
December 4-- Versatility key as U. S. selects WJC roster
December 4-- World Junior gold special memory for Jones, Trouba
December 4-- U. S. selection camp features three '13 gold medalists


December 9-- Top NHL prospects dot Finland's WJC camp roster
December 4-- Panthers' Barkov won't play in  World Juniors


December 11-- Draisaitl leads returning group to German WJC camp


December 3-- Vasilevskiy, Barbashev lead Russia WJC camp list

Czech Republic

December 13-- Dano heads experienced Slovakia WJC camp list
December 4-- Czech Republic's Faksa back for third shot at WJC


December 6-- Norway invites 26 to World Junior camp


December 5-- Sweden returns nine players to WJC camp

Friday, November 29, 2013

Rogers scores on the power play...

The announcement of Tuesday that the NHL had entered into an exclusive 12 year broadcast rights agreement with Rogers Sportsnet, has provided for a major seismic shift in Canadian television, one which could change much more than just what channel Canadians can find a hockey game on.

. .

When the folks at Rogers trotted out the abacus and decided that 5.2 billion dollars (that's billion with  BIG HONKIN' B) was an alright number to write on the napkin, they won one of the greatest of poker games that has never been broadcast on Sportsnet or TSN.

With that cash call too rich for TSN and the thing of fanciful wishes for the CBC, Rogers redefined how Canadians will follow their beloved game next season. One which will make much use of the variety of Rogers video platforms and channels and leaves the iconic Hockey Night in Canada as kind of a museum piece, one which could be put away in storage in just four years.

How it all shakes out for Canadian hockey fans remains to be seen, optimists see nothing but puck for years to come on every channel at every hour.

Those given to more realistic thoughts, suspect that somehow the reach into the wallet or purse will be just a little deeper once all of the great plans are put forward and the games flicker on. With brand new levels of programming options at premium choices.

Or if Canadians ever do receive that pick and pay option that the Federal Government would like to see, a good portion of the pick and the pay will be going the Rogers way.

Interestingly enough, much of the comment in the last few days has been to ponder the fate of Donald S. Cherry, we're not sure of any official tabulations but there is probably a fair number on either side of the will Rogers keep him, or ditch him side of the debate.

As for TSN, we're not sure what it all may mean for the network that liberated the Hockey Night in Canada song, only to see it shuffled to the bottom of the iPod listings a few years later.

Some suggest that there is still a role for the channel to play, though clearly its days as a major platform for the NHL will be gone for at least a dozen years, where the world of television is by that time is anyone's guess.

For the short term though, they do still have some star power to project on the ice, even if that ice will feature more and more pebbles in years to come.

Then again, we're not sure Vic Rauter is ready to share the stage with this guy...

At the end of the day, the monster broadcast deal clearly will go down as a triumph for Gary Bettman, who has long believed his television strategy would deliver large sums of money to his bosses,  on Tuesday, the Commissioner delivered on his Broadcast blue print.

As they prepare to cash those cheques year after year, the 30 owners of the league probably won't give much thought as to what channel the game is on, just that once we turn on the television, a bank teller somewhere in New York processes another deposit slip.

How giddy was Commissioner Bettman at the day's developments? So enthralled with how the day developed that he appeared on Sportsnet's Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown, something that hasn't happened in a long, long time.

Should the Commissioner next deliver an NHL franchise to Quebec City (TVA now a major player with the NHL in broadcast rights) we imagine that they'll put up a statue of him in the Quebec Capital, maybe over by that Wolfe guy (he could use a little protective glow from le Vieux-Quebec)

Needless to say, Tuesday's announcement has had tongues wagging for over 24 hours now, some of the reviews and possible ramifications of the NHL's agreement can be found below.

Globe and Mail-- NHL deal gives CBC a chance to reboot
Globe and Mail-- Creative partnerships are CBC's new norm
Globe and Mail-- Don Cherry waits for Coach's Corner to discuss future of flagship hockey broadcast
Globe and Mail-- Did TSN's overconfidence scuttle deal with NHL?
Globe and Mail-- Rogers mega TV Deal to boost NHL salary cap
Globe and Mail-- Sportsnet's new hockey deal to mean higher cable costs
Globe and Mail-- Dominoes fall around the NHL after mammoth broadcast deal
Globe and Mail-- Hockey where you want it: Rogers NHL deal covers all the platforms
Globe and Mail-- A game changer for Canada's game
Globe and Mail-- What the new Rogers-NHL deal means for Canadian hockey fans

National Post-- Don't count out TSN after NHL deal with Rogers...
National Post-- What the NHL deal with Rogers means to the CBC, Don Cherry and the Quebec Nordiques
National Post-- NHL's deal with Rogers turns Canada's sports television landscape on its head
National Post-- TSN has no plans to give up rights to theme made famous by Hockey Night in Canada
National Post-- Is there life after hockey for TSN? Rogers deal a huge body blow for Canada's largest sports network
National Post-- TSN shut out as Rogers signs 12 year $5.2 B NHL deal, CBC job cuts loom after losing editorial control of HNIC

Toronto Star-- NHL signs 12-year TV, Internet deal with Rogers; CBC keeps "Hockey Night in Canada"
Toronto Star-- Rogers-NHL deal: Will cable costs rise? Possibly
Toronto Star-- NHL deal with Rogers huge blow to CBC
Toronto Star-- CBC deal with Rogers: 72 frantic hours that change everything
Toronto Star-- Rogers' NHL deal will fatten players' wallets
Toronto Star-- Rogers-NHL deal: Where will the personalities wind up?

Toronto Sun-- TVA Sports, Rogers score 12 year, $5.2 billion NHL deal
Toronto Sun-- New TVA, Rogers TV deals will change the way we watch the NHL
Toronto Sun-- What happens to Don Cherry in new Rogers NHL broadcast deal?
Toronto Sun-- TSN suffers a Black Tuesday
Toronto Sun-- Ten things to know about the NHL's new TV deal

CBC Sports-- NHL thrilled by media rights bonanza
CBC Sports-- CBC and Rogers respond to new NHL broadcasting rights deal
CBC Sports-- NHL cashes in on media rights
CBC Sports-- Rogers scores National NHL TV Rights for $5.2B

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mount Tortorella goes back on simmer

Earlier this week, it appeared that an eruption warning was about to be issued from the West Coast, as rumblings out of Vancouver suggested that head coach John Tortorella was about to show some of his legendary temper for the first time in Canuckland.

Until this week, the journey to the western outposts of the NHL had been a fairly sedate spell of time for the head coach, with none of those You Tube worthy moments of battle between coach and media  and for the most part the discussions between coach and players have remained inside the dressing room.

Some of that goodwill towards all had started to fray by Wednesday however, as Tortorella's team continued to suffer a rather prolonged streak of trouble, which in the very competitive Western Division is not something a coach would want to see take root.

The results of the last few weeks testimony to the struggles of the Canucks, who after a most rewarding of road trips of last month, suddenly couldn't win a game whether at home or on the road.

The low point coming on  Tuesday evening, when they lost to the Florida Panthers. A shoot out loss, with the salt in the raw wound being the presence of that old nemesis Tim Thomas in the Panther nets.

That result, seems to have provided the sharp jolt of the magma that many observers have anticipated since the new coach arrived in town.  The reviews of the last few weeks, providing a bit of a primer on the Canucks' woes of late.

Torts' line contortions smack of desperation
Torts' Canucks chemistry experiment rooted in 'let's see what sticks'
Goalie controversy? Luongo is the least of Vancouver's worries
Torts blends up his top nine
Booth has to help himself: coach
Time for Canucks to call "Slump Busters"
Canucks suffer 'worst game of year' in shootout loss to Panthers
Stalked by Panthers: Canucks not quite good enough again
Canucks hold team meeting to 'regain focus' ahead of Friday night meeting with Columbus
Canucks' Tortorella frustrated after 5th straight loss
John Tortorella rips Canucks for losing to Panthers

Those eruption alerts were at Defcon Five by the time the Columbus Blue Jackets came to town on Friday night, an evening where the visitors would feel the full result of Tortorella's recent musings to his squad.

Canucks pour in the goals in 6-2 thumping of Columbus Blue Jackets
Daniel Sedin ends scoreless drought in Canucks' 6-2 route over Blue Jackets
Twins gang up on Blue Jackets

And while the measurements indicate that the temblors from Mount Tortorella have subsided for the moment, it won't take much for another burst to come forward.

The test for his squad comes pretty fast, while stomping down on a short handed Blue Jackets team may have provided for a bit of relief from the recent losing trend, Saturday offers a much more intense challenge.

The defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Black Hawks are at Rogers Arena tonight, ready once again to renew acquaintances with their long time rivals, a team for which there's no shortage of animosity that stretches back for a number of years now.

It's a key November match up, coming as it does with the Canucks still trying to find their way out of their struggles, should they find the winning form against the Stanley Cup champs, the seismic needles in BC will return to a more stationary position.

Should they lose..  well, keep your eyes focused on the USGS and Canadian Earthquake Centre, another mega rumble may be a coming...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Good Seats still available, a few struggles for a few outposts

One month into a new NHL season and there would seem to still be some old stories to tell when it comes to the turning of an NHL turnstile.

Filling the seats remains a problem in three NHL locations, with Phoenix, Florida and Long Island all struggling to resonate with their fan base.

While it's probably understandable that the Islanders will suffer an attendance meltdown this year on the Island, they after all have announced they're Brooklyn bound. The numbers still are rather shocking, with five of their home games this year below the 13,000 mark, three of them just barely above the 10,000 mark.

The other two trouble spots probably won't come as a surprise, being a rather familiar story when it comes to the work load for those lonely souls taking tickets.

The Phoenix Coyotes may have new ownership and proclamations of a long term relationship ahead, but when it comes to new fans, well few are making their way out to Glendale. The Coyotes have accumulated five games where the attendance has been below 13,000, the majority of those hovering at the 10-11,000 mark with an October 31st match up with Nashville a truly scary thing for accountants, as only 7,401 bothered to make the commute. All of it leaves us to wonder when exactly Gary Bettman and the other 29 owners finally get the message that Arizona is just not that into you.

The Panthers who have already fired the coaching staff in a bid to turn around the season, must be hoping for a curiosity bump from what are apparently the few hockey fans of South Florida. Attendance at five of their games this season have not broken the 13,000 mark, the core group of Panther fans apparently in the 12,000 range.

While not quite as noticeable as the top three of the lonely, the Columbus Blue Jackets may be poised to join their ranks, so far in 2013-14 the Blue Jackets have had three crowds of less than 13,000, what's particularly interesting about that is the fact that two of those three game featured iconic franchises in Montreal and the New York Rangers.

The Devils and Hurricanes round out our review of the worrisome numbers, both had one game each where they attracted less than 13,000 our arbitrary mark for red flags...

It's a little puzzling to understand the NHL's dedication to markets that don't seem to have much interest in hockey, while the Islanders situation will no doubt improve upon their arrival at the Barclay's Centre, it would seem that Florida, Phoenix and maybe even Columbus may be long term trouble spots.

For those would be owners that have been longing for an NHL franchise for a number of years now (Bonjour Quebec, how ya doin' Hamilton, Second team for Toronto anyone?) reading the nightly attendance stats must provide for a most frustrating situation, knowing as they do that any team that might land in their city would improve those numbers by at least five thousand a night.

You can track the attendance charts nightly from our  Owner's Box listings on the right hand column, where you will find our Attendance Watch Feature.

A helpful guide to cities everywhere who may want to pick up the phone and say, hey do we have a location for you!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Is Gary Bettman preparing to extinguish the NHL's Olympic Flame?

When the organizers of the Sochi Olympics bring us to the end of their Olympic journey and urge the youth of the world to gather in Pyeongchang in 2018, perhaps if you listen close enough you'll hear Gary Bettman going "not so fast"...

Some interesting musings from the NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, as the offers up the hint that the NHL's participation in Sochi in 2014 could be the last that we see NHL players in the Olympics for the foreseeable future.

Speaking earlier this week at a Toronto Sports Marketing Conference, the Commissioner outlined his thoughts for a change for the NHL's involvement in future International hockey events.

While there is a considerable draw for NHLers (particulary those from Russia) to the 2014 games, the next Winter Olympics are destined for South Korea and the NHL it seems ins't overly enthused at that particular prospect for 2018.

By that time, if the NHL's Commissioner sees his blue print in place the NHL will instead be spear-heading a World Cup style of hockey tournament, one which it would seem allows for more NHL control on the foundation of (not to mention the marketing rights).

What kind of recruiting drive would then be in place for the Olympics remains to be seen, some have suggested that it be turned over to the Junior age players, modelled on the success of the annual World Junior Tournaments.

Previous to the NHL's involvement in the Olympic games, there was a national team program in place, whether Hockey Canada will prefer a return to that format will be something for much discussion once the Olympic flame of Sochi has been extinguished.

NBC Sports-- Bettman would prefer World Cup to Olympics
Toronto Star-- Bettman favours World Cup of Hockey over Olympic participation
CBC-- Gary Bettman Says Sending NHL Players to Olympics not an easy decision
NESN-- Gary Bettman Against Sending Players to More Olympics, favours World Cup of Hockey Instead
Yahoo Sports-- Gary Bettman's World Cup vs. The Winter Olympics

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sabres call on LaFontaine and Nolan to turn around dire situation

With the Buffalo Sabres season spiralling towards what appeared to be an abyss, the Sabres owner Terry Pegula decided to reach into the recent past, to try and turn around the woeful nature of hockey in Western New York.

Out are coach Ron Rolston and General Manager Darcy Regier, with Ted Nolan making his return to Buffalo to take up the challenge of reversing the many negatives that have dogged the Sabres since the season began.

Nolan, who left Buffalo sixteen years ago amid much controversy, will join Sabres legend Pat LaFontaine, who was named President on Wednesday.

LaFontaine, outlined his plan in moving the Sabres forward, with a search now on to find a General Manager to launch the rebuilding program that clearly is needed in Buffalo.

Where Nolan will fit into that program is yet to be divined, since the GM's position will be filled as they move along in the 2013-14 season.

The returning coach, one of the most popular in Sabres history, will have the interim tag hoisted upon him, auditioning we imagine for full time status whenever the new GM is announced.

That in a nutshell kind of explains the dysfunction of Buffalo of late, where decisions, even the ones that appear to be right, somehow get twisted around as resulting in more confusion than anything else.

Pegula now heading into his third year of ownership with Buffalo, has frequently proclaimed that he
has a strong desire to return the Sabres to their one time lofty placement among NHL teams.

His patience with the old regime seemingly ran its course over the last few months, while perhaps a little late to his eureka moment, he is to be credited with finally realizing the dire nature of where his team was heading.

His corrective measures of this week, by way of a pair of twin announcements has found quick favour beyond Buffalo's media, but deep inside the fan base as well.

The move to bring Nolan back as coach and instill some respectable leadership at the top of the Sabres organization at least gives the long suffering fans of the team hope that the nightmares of the last few years may finally be at an end.

Make no mistake, the wins won't be piling up any time soon, it's clearly a moment for the team to step back and re draft their plan moving ahead, but Nolan will bring some discipline and expectations for the young Sabres squad. There will be no passengers on the Sabres bench, performance and attitude will dictate ice time, those that won't buy in, we imagine will soon be finding a new locker in some other NHL city.

Nolan clearly has longed for a return to the NHL since his departure from the Islanders of five years ago, this opportunity, short or as long as it may be, provides him with the platform to show that those who doubted his resolve of the past were quite wrong in their assessment.

For most observers of hockey, the handling of his departure by Regier and the Sabres ownership of the time, was a rather disturbing moment in Sabres history, as though the team had somehow misplaced the current of respect and accountability that the Sabres were known for.

LaFontaine, the iconic Sabre will help to bring back the Sabres brand in a city that embraces the team as though family, the last few years providing as stern a test to those ties as there ever has been.

His mission is to tap into the underlying goodwill of Sabres fans, as dedicated a collection of fans as any team could ever hope to have.

Showing them that he is listening, acting and preparing the path to not only competing, but succeeding offering up tangible steps to return a sense of ownership of the team to the  vast expanse of Western New York and Southern Ontario that live and breath Sabres Blue and Gold.

As for the Sabres roster, the carnival atmosphere of recent weeks may finally have been driven out of town, the departure of Rolston and Regier a final break with the litany of moves and developments that had many in hockey talking about the Sabres, but for all the wrong reasons.

Those discussions may soon be but historical anecdotes, a regime has been put in place, the players that can play and have a place in hockey will finally get a glimpse of the importance of hockey to the Buffalo region and in return, should they take up the challenge they'll receive the reward of a community that always has respect for those that put in the effort.

It's a concept rather familiar to the new President and his head coach. In a city where hard work is a mantra, the time for the hockey club to punch in at the time clock has arrived.

Buffalo News-- LaFontaine, Nolan must rebuild bridges Regier burned
Buffalo News-- LaFontaine's goal as Sabres President of Hockey Operations: Restore the Faith
Buffalo News-- It's back to the future for Sabre as Lafontaine, Nolan return to fix a broken team
Buffalo News-- Nolan gets back to work with nothing to prove
Buffalo News-- Players hit reset button amid changes in Sabreland
Buffalo News-- Darcy Regier's tenure one of hit's and misses
CBC-- Pat LaFontaine, Ted Nolan return to Sabres
Globe and Mail-- Familiar faces LaFontaine, Nolan return to struggling Buffalo Sabres
National Post-- Coaching merry-go-round alive and well as Buffalo Sabres hire Ted Nolan
Toronto Star-- Sabres go back to the future, bring back LaFontaine, Nolan to fix current disaster
Toronto Star--  Buffalo Sabre clean house, bring back Pat LaFontaine, hire Ted Nolan as interim coach

Monday, November 11, 2013

Five for the Hall

The NHL celebrates the contributions of the past tonight, with five more names destined for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

A full preview of the night ahead and access to a wealth of archive material on the Hall of Fame, can be found from the Hockey Hall of Fame website.

This evenings ceremony will recognize the contributions and achievements in the game of Chris Chelios, Geraldine Heaney, Scott Niedermayer, Brendan Shanahan and Fred Shero.

The Official Site of the Hockey Hall of Fame provides some helpful biographies to remind us of the impact that each of tonight's inductees had on the game.

You can review those snapshots of tonight's inductees below:

Chris Chelios
Geraldine Heaney
Scott Neidermayer
Brendan Shanahan
Fred Shero has been providing coverage of the events of the last few days surrounding tonight's enshrinement ceremonies, you can review those contributions to the event here.

The website Greatest Hockey offers up some valuable resource material as well regarding the five destined for the Hall tonight.

Also to be honoured tonight will be two members of the media, with Harry Neale and Jay Greenberg destined for the Media Wing of the Hall of Fame.

Some other observations on tonight's festivities can be found below:

Hockey Night in Canada-- Monday Musings: Hockey Hall of Fame edition
Hockey Night in Canada-- Hall of Fame inductees talk hockey memories
NHL on NBC--  Shanahan find home in Hall of Fame
Sportsnet-- Chelios lived Parker's dream en route to HHOF
TSN-- Hockey Hall of Fame Inducts Class of 2013 
ESPNW-- Geraldine Heaney Still Firing Away
National Post-- How a friendly tip save Hall of Fame inductee Chris Chelios's hockey career
National Post-- Here is the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2013
Toronto Sun-- Devils produced a pair of 2013 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees
Toronto Sun-- Brendan Shanahan's road to the Hockey Hall of Fame started in Mimico
Toronto Sun-- Hockey Hall of Fame set to induct tough defenceman Chris Chelios
Toronto Sun-- Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Brendan Shanahan was one of game's top power forwards
Toronto Sun-- Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Fred Shero won two Cups with Flyers
Toronto Sun-- Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Scott Niedermayer did it all for Devils
Toronto Star-- Nothing quite as cool as getting hall call
Toronto Star-- Scott Nidermayer winner at all levels
Toronto Star-- Geraldine Heaney was Bobby Orr of women's game
Toronto Star-- Fred Shero was ahead of his time
Toronto Star-- Chris Chelios defined by determination
Toronto Star-- Brendan Shanahan played the game with an edge
Globe and Mail-- Women's Hockey has come a long way since Heaney's day
Globe and Mail-- Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2013
Globe and Mail-- Hockey Hall of Fame's 2013 inductees all won on hockey's biggest stages

Tonight's celebrations will be broadcast on TSN 2, broadcast time is at 7:30 PM ET/4:30 PM PT

Friday, November 08, 2013

Breezy's back!

Hockey reporters of the Western Division (and the whole NHL for that matter) rejoice, a remarkable number of fascinating quotes, reviews and anecdotes may soon be yours.

All of it a potential fountain of material, which with but one interview with the sometimes enigmatic, but always entertaining Ilya Bryzgalov, could propel a writer or broadcaster to the Media wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Breezy, is reportedly soon to join the Edmonton Oilers organization, at least that's according to the accounts making their way across Western Canada on Friday night.

Edmonton Sun-- Oilers agree to terms with Bryzgalov
Edmonton Journal-- Edmonton Oilers sign goalie Ilya Bryzgalov... 
CBC-- Oilers, Brygazlov agree to 1 year deal
CTV News-- Oilers agree to sign goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to one year contract
ESPN-- Ilya Bryzgalov agrees with Oilers

The negotiations all but settled, the startling developments came after a day of conversation between Bryzgalov and the Oilers, which if you think about it, would be a fascinating thing in itself.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

And while more than one GM perhaps might think it folly of the Oilers to make such a move, Edmonton which is quickly watching its season collapse around them, may be the one team with pretty well little too lose from a Bryzgalovian gamble.

Considering that the Oiler's biggest problem this year seems to be the ability to keep pucks out of the net and those Bud goal lights flashing across the land, Bryzgalov may be the bridge the Oilers need to get their season turned around.


Anyone remember Phoenix, or Philadelphia?

The two most recent outposts of one of the most talked about of goaltenders in recent NHL history, locales where his name is legend of sorts, though not for any Vezina speeches.

Of course, when it comes to public speaking, Bryzgalov is not shy, in fact he has had some thoughts on Edmonton in the past... let's go to the video shall we...

Hopefully the Oilers are putting some kids on the payroll to shovel out his driveway on the snow days...

Bryzgalov did not attract one nibble of interest when the Flyers relieved him of the burden of the Philly grind, (with a little spending money on his way out the door).

He most recently spent time in Las Vegas, a town we thought for sure he'd find himself at home in, kindred spirits having their ways of migrating together.

However, wise man that he may be, he never signed a deal with the Vegas outpost of the ECHL.

With the call of the NHL it seems still strong, the Oilers apparently are willing to take the chance on him, hoping that they get Good Ilya the Goaltender and not Bryzgalov the Unusual.

Reports out of Edmonton have it that Ilya's off to OKC for a bit of conditioning before he makes the trek to Northern Alberta.

Edmonton, your season may actually just be getting ready to roll...

Whether or not your team turns around their horrid season or not, things are going to be rather fascinating in the short term.  A little something to help take your mind off the wins and losses.

Whenever Breezy breezes into town, one thing is certain, it may be more entertaining post game, than anything the 60 minutes of play may provide for.