Milan Lucic has yet to play his first game as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, and already his thoughts are drifting to where he’ll play next. 

OK, that’s the pitiless summary of what Lucic said on “The Bro Jake Show” on TSN 1040 during Monday’s interview, but it captures the spirit of the thing: Lucic, a Vancouver native, was asked if he’d ever play for the Canucks and he said it’s been his dream since he was a child … and that he’s a UFA next summer.

The question: “Do you think we’re ever going to see you here, in a Canucks jersey, ever?”

Said Lucic:

“[Laughs] I don’t know. I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen, moving on. I mean, I have one year left on my contract, and there's a possibility that I can hit the UFA market. It's obviously something that's been a dream of mine since I've been a kid: To play in your hometown and play for the Canucks. But right now, the main focus is going down to L.A. and trying to make the most of that. If you look at the roster, we’re still a really deep team that has another chance to make a Cup run. Right now I’m more worried about that than anything else.”

So there you go: Super committed to the Kings’ Cup quest, but admittedly fantasizing about having the Sedins dragging him up and down the ice for 82 games in a Vancouver Canucks jersey.

Hey, you can’t blame a guy for wanting to play the local hero. But maybe don’t treat the Los Angeles Kings as a rest stop that only sells championship rings, refueling on the way up the coast to B.C.?

Lucic will visit both his future home in Vancouver and his former home in Boston this season; he was asked which Boston Bruins player he’d like to get one over on when they battle.

“I’m good buddies with Tuukka. I’d love to get one past him. Maybe run through him like I did another goalie that I ran through before,” he said.

Just a reminder that Ryan Miller is signed with Vancouver through 2017 …

s/t NHL.com

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: September 1, 2015, 5:26 am

There’s an expectation that Phil Kessel is going to reach new and exciting offensive heights with the Pittsburgh Penguins. His career best numbers were achieved in 2011-12: 37 goals and 45 assists for 82 points in 82 games. (Although he had a higher points-per-game average of 1.08 in 2012-13 and a higher goals per game average in 2008-09 with the Bruins, 0.51.)

There’s also an expectation that Phil Kessel might not immediately find his fit with the Penguins. Coach Mike Johnston will start him with Sidney Crosby in camp, but no one would be surprised if he settled in as Evgeni Malkin’s triggerman like James Neal was before he was traded to the Nashville Predators.

Then there’s the expectation that Steven Burtch of Sportsnet has for Kessel, which is that his game will be elevated by either Sid or Geno, because that’s what they do for wingers, but that breaking 40 goals might still be a challenge despite the upgrade in talent around him.

From Burtch, the good news for Phil:

Whatever the reasoning, we can assume Kessel's personal share of shots and the proportion that are scoring chances will remain fairly stable, but his shooting percentage may increase slightly due to improved offensive possession. Assuming good health for all Kessel, Crosby and Malkin, the slight improvement in shooting percentage coupled with the likely increase in scoring-chance opportunities means we can project Kessel's production at 20 to 23 even-strength goals. That would represent a significant rebound from the 14 he scored last season and a return to the form that saw him post 20-plus in 2008-09, '09-10, '11-12 and '13-14.

However:

Kessel will have the luxury of skating with superior linemates in Pittsburgh, but he isn't likely to get more ice time than he saw in Toronto, and he isn't necessarily going to turn into a 15-percent shooter because he's firing home passes off the sticks of Crosby and Malkin. In the end, it makes sense to assume that whatever improvements in production rate Kessel sees will be slightly offset by the fact that he isn't likely to regularly see 20-plus minutes of ice with the Penguins.

Let’s assume his even-strength scoring hits the high end of 23 goals, as Burtch projects. Which means he’ll need another 17 goal from special teams to hit 40.

Unless something changes in the way Johnston sees Kessel’s usage, he’s not playing shorthanded. At least he didn’t over the last three seasons in Toronto.

Let’s now assume that all special teams are cyclical, and the Penguins’ power play is healthy and wealthy and back at around 23 percent instead of last season’s downtick. We saw Neal hit 18 power-play goals with the Penguins in 2011-12. When Chris Kunitz popped in 35 goals in 2013-14, 13 of them came on the power play.

What can Kessel do with that power play?

Give Burtch’s piece a read, as it goes in-depth on what numbers will improve for Kessel with the Penguins and which stats are a flatline. But I’ve come away thinking that the Pittsburgh power play, and Kessel’s effectiveness on it, is going to determine if he breaks 40. 

His previous career best? Twelve power-play goals in 2010-11. But that was the Toronto Maple Leafs, not riding shotgun with Sid and Geno. 

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 31, 2015, 8:03 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com. 

Photo via Steven Stamkos on Twitter

• Tampa Bay Lightning Steven Stamkos suited up for a team in Toronto. Except it was an exhibition batting practice with the red hot Toronto Blue Jays. [Steven Stamkos]

• Contract talks with Stamkos are supposed to get rolling. Tampa would probably like to have him under contract before the start of training camp on Sept. 17. [NHL]

• The sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins continues to trudge on slowly. When will Mario Lemieux and Rob Burkle cash in mightily on their investment? [Post-Gazette]

• Wayne Gretzky says there were few classier men in hockey than the late great Al Arbour. [Newsday]

• Remembering Arbour. We will miss you Radar. [Grantland]

• Unrestricted free agent forward Matt Cooke says he still has that fire in his belly to play. Will some team pick him up before training camp? Other such topics include possible retirements of Jordan Leopold and Keith Ballard. [Star Tribune]

• Who are your highest rated right wingers on NHL16? [Bar Down]

• There are many reasons why the St. Louis Blues are facing a make or break season. And Chris Peters of Eye on Hockey delves into all of them. [Eye on Hockey]

• Is Dustin Byfuglien a good fit for the Boston Bruins? With smoke swirling around a Byfuglien trade, should Boston attempt to go after the rover. [Boston Sports Desk]

• Considering the current rape investigation into Patrick Kane, do the Chicago Blackhawks really want him back? [Daily Herald]

• The Washington Capitals’ championship window might be closing. Weren’t they supposed to be a favorite after all their moves this offseason? [The Hockey Writers]

• The Winnipeg Jets will make a $7.5 million addition to their practice facility. [Illegal Curve]

• Colorado College senior Jared Hanson has retired to focus on going to medical school. [The Colorado Springs Gazette]

• Cody Franson played a game of chicken with the system and he lost. Now he may not get the multi-year deal he hoped for at the start of free agency. [Dobber Hockey]

• There have to be more Calder Trophy candidates than just Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid. Right? Here are three who could make a run at the award given to the NHL's top rookie.  [Puck Drunk Love]

• Unrestricted free agent forward Curtis Glencross regrets taking a hometown discount to stay with the Calgary Flames in 2011. Back then he was a 20-goal scorer and got just $2.55 million per-season in the four-year deal. [Russian Machine Never Breaks]

• Former NHLer Ryan Thang says a team in South Korea reneged on a deal. [Sportsnet]

• The Nashville Predators have always been a solid regular season team. Why can’t they get the job done in the playoffs? [Along the Boards]

• Boston’s drafting of Danton Heinen in the 2014 fourth-round was flat out theft. [Scouting Post]

• Former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj will attend Los Angeles Kings camp on a PTO. [LA Kings Insider]

•  Jason Spezza’s Dallas Stars mega contract isn’t quite as bad as it looks. [Today’s Slapshot]

• The story of Jessica Berman, the NHL’s vice president and deputy general counsel. “Some foresee Berman as the first female commissioner of a men’s professional sports league.” [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]

• Finally, Former Islanders players talk about Arbour. 

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 31, 2015, 6:27 pm
Photo of JJ Lane and his daughter Gemma with NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick. 

Zach Boychuk is no stranger to fantasy drafts. 

During the hockey season, the Carolina Hurricanes/Charlotte Checkers forward would sit with his teammates, scope out the competition of a particular event and try to pick the winner each week.  

But this wasn’t for a sporting event. Oh no … it was for The Bachelor, a reality TV dating show that airs most Mondays during the second half of the hockey season. 

“There’s lots of drama and I’m sure people would probably find it funny having that many guys watch a show like this, but I guess it’s something to do on a Monday night,” Boychuk said.

This past season, Boychuk’s attention to the series spanned further to The Bachelorette, which airs during the summer. There, he noticed a former hockey player named JJ Lane who was trying to win the heart of Canada’s most eligible single, Kaitlyn Bristowe.

JJ brought up this hockey love to Kailtyn upon their first meeting, saying he wanted to ‘puck’ her. And he kept up his hockey persona throughout the season and into Bachelor in Paradise, the last show of this romance series for the year.

Screen shot photo of Bachelor in Paradise intro from JJ Lane's Instagram account. 

Boychuk and Lane struck up a friendship on Twitter, sometimes direct message each other.

“I think he seems like a pretty decent guy and reminds me of my hockey playing buddies,” Boychuk said.

He’s not the only hockey player who has come in touch with Lane. Eric Tangradi also follows Lane on Twitter. Granted, it’s not like Boychuk and Tangradi are P.K. Subban and Roberto Luongo – superstars with tremendous online social media personalities – but quickly getting the attention of two NHL players through a stint on a reality TV dating show is quite impressive.

“I’m not in this for all the hot girls tweeting at me. I just want these pro hockey players I’ve looked up to to acknowledge my existence,” Lane said jokingly. “So Zach Boychuk reached out to me and followed me and favorited one of my tweets. So I was like, ‘OK, I finally made it!’”

We chatted and joked with the 32-year-old Denver area investment banker about his hockey story, Claude Lemieux playing in the Avalanche/Red Wings Stadium Series alumni game, whether the sport helped in his wooing of Bristowe (Spoiler: it didn’t, though he did make it to Week 7) and of course … which hockey player would make the best Bachelor.

Sadly, nobody at ABC listened to our list from earlier in the year. The network picked Ben Higgins. For shame!

Editor’s note: Yahoo has pretty extensive coverage of the series. Check it out here. Show host Chris Harrison writes a blog for us here.  

Bachelor in Paradise airs Sunday and Monday on ABC.

Q: So, what did you think of our list of NHL players who made make awesome Bachelors?

LANE: The name that stood out to me that would probably be the most entertaining to watch would be Tyler Seguin. Unfortunately I think Seguin is a little too similar to me. Women of America love the Ben Zs, the Ben Hs, the Jareds, the ‘Cupcakes’ and all those guys from my season on The Bachelorette. They’re all lovable. They don’t have any edge to them let alone sleeve tattoos. Sidney Crosby would be blameless. Nobody would find fault with Crosby. I’d pay to watch Seguin, he’d be fun to watch as The Bachelor.

What would you think of Phil Kessel?

Had Nick Viall not decided to start training his ass off and doing abs and getting all ripped like he recently has. He and Kessel remind me of each other. I don’t know why. There’s like a weird connotation I see between them, but I think Kessel … he’s the everyday man. He has kind of a dad bod, but somehow still scores 40 goals.

You know JJ, Ovi was our No. 1

But he would be like Juan Pablo. Nobody would understand what he says. He may make insensitive comments to the women because of cultural differences, and it would be a huge gong show but would be entertaining.

Paul Bissonnette, would need his own show. I don’t think The Bachelor would be a good outlet for him. If he does get his own show I just hope I could cameo in that because it would be amazing.

It would be like Entourage, hockey/The Bachelor style

Yes! Yes! Sign me up! Where can we finance this and get this thing going. Wouldn’t TSN want to broadcast something like that?

So you say you’re a hockey fan, what’s your hockey story?

I didn’t start until later in life. We had the Denver Grizzlies and the Colorado Avalanche came to town shortly after. I was a baseball player up until that time and then really picked up hockey when I was 14 or 15 years old and was obsessed with it. I played in Syracuse and Binghamton in juniors. I got hurt, and missed my last year of junior eligibility and that was all she wrote for it. It was a quick, kind of competitive career, which sucked. But I matriculated into beer league rather nicely and found kind of a nice home in the beer leagues around Denver. It sucks, but at the same time it’s just a passion whether it’s playing or watching, just kind of the hockey culture. It has been my life since I was 15, so like 17 years, obviously. I wish I had started much younger. I started my daughter on skates at 18 months. That’s the difference, I wish I’d had that opportunity. Hockey had never been my face until 1995.

Photo of JJ Lane and his daughter Gemma. Picture provided by JJ Lane. 

I started with roller hockey. My parents didn’t want me to play ice hockey, so I paid for myself. I had a lawn mowing business paying for my league season, and ended up taking to the sport rather quickly. I played club level here in Denver in midgets and then did the whole tryout circuit, which in the early 2000s or late 90s, it wasn’t the same scene, at least in the States here in Denver. We had to go out of state to find the tryout program stuff. Now with all the rinks here, my friend’s kids who are 14 and 15, hockey in Denver has changed so dramatically. Even with the Triple-A teams and junior scouting programs that they have coming through the town … Denver hockey scene has changed insanely since I was back in high school.

What junior teams in Binghamton and Syracuse?

The Binghamton Tornadoes and then a cup of coffee with the Syracuse Crunch.

Wow, you played at a decently high level?

Yeah, literally lasted one week in Syracuse, like I tore my hip flexor and that was it.

Do you have any glory stories? Did you score on anyone awesome or deke out anyone cool?

No, sadly no. My glory story comes from my best buddy who lived in the Cul-de-Sac with me. He played at college hockey at Colorado College. He also played against Sidney Crosby when Crosby was at Shattuck St. Mary's. His glory story was ‘I stopped Crosby on two breakaways … but he had five goals that game.’

Has any hockey player ever tweeted at you that caught you off guard?

I’m not in this for all the hot girls tweeting at me. I just want these pro hockey players I’ve looked up to to acknowledge my existence, so Zach Boychuk reached out to me and followed me and favorited one of my tweets. So I was like ‘OK, I finally made it!’ All of the drama was finally worth it!

Mike Reilly reached out to me.  

Eric Tangradi followed me. It would be like a random one would pop up and it would be like, ‘These guys are normal guys.’ I feel bad they’re wasting their time watching me on TV, but if hopefully I’m entertaining them.

Are there any hockey haters?

Not a single one of the hockey guys, or anyone who appreciates hockey or appreciates me for having played hockey or been a fan of hockey has not been negative on any level. It has been only positive stuff. I’m very thankful for that. The hate usually comes … we sign up for this show and we’re on display for everyone to form snap judgments love or hate. It brings a lot of emotions out of people. Nobody that tweets at me negatively affects me at all. I’m more shocked you took time to find my Twitter account than type something mean up. It doesn’t bother me at all. It would bother me if one of the people I looked up to said something. Then I’d be upset.

Currently in process of terminating contract. Huge opportunity with #kopperudhockey to play with @jjhlane @mriles4 https://t.co/p3ktyFgCxW

— Zach Boychuk (@ZachBoychuk) August 27, 2015

Did being a hockey player help or hurt your ability to woo Kaitlyn Bristowe?

Yeah, it’s funny, so when I went on the show we didn’t know who The Bachelorette would be. So, I was already basically committed and fully in, and found out with the rest of America who The Bachelorette would be. So I was like, ‘All right, we’re all in.’ Knowing it was Kaitlyn I had some form of a head start because we have a commonality that we share. I heard her ex-boyfriend had played hockey. So I was like, ‘OK, at least she knows this mentality. She grew up watching it. Her dad is probably a fan.’ I went in fairly confident. My limo move was based around giving her a puck and going, ‘I’d love to puck you.’ I learned pretty quick that was going to get me so far and kind of … there had to be other tangible relationship qualities we shared. It only helped a little bit.

It never even led to talking about it. When we’re in this situation, there are so many other guys talking to her, the amount of uninterrupted conversation you have with her is very minimal, and so you have to really focus on important details. You’re trying to get to know this person, so you’re trying to ask without being too over the top. There were a lot of important questions. With me it was, ‘Are you interested in stepping into a relationship where there’s already a kid involved and an ex-wife?’ We gravitated towards that more. Kaitlyn was awesome and always asked about my daughter. The conversation went down that direction as opposed to hockey.

No hockey with her? Really?

Once I did talk hockey with her. We were talking about the Oilers in Ireland on an island where I eventually got sent home.

About 15 minutes later she sent my ass home. So it didn’t help me.

I know fights don’t happen super often on the show, but I think Joe (Bailey) was really scared of you in Bachelor in Paradise. Do you think he was afraid you would pull his shirt over his head and start punching him? And would that have been your preferred method if you had to fight him?

What people don’t really get was that I had a secondary sunburn on my head and my shoulders. I had just put some cream on and I was in so much pain from the sunburn, then all of a sudden the Joe thing happened. I was already irritated and I just wanted something to happen at that stage. I was like, ‘Please make the first move, say something to insult my daughter or my mom.’ I was kind of looking for it but wasn’t obviously going to throw the first punch. 

I’m lucky enough to play in a men’s league in Denver that’s not regulated at all and they kind of let us get away with everything, so we had a lot of fights, especially for a men’s league. I enjoy it. It’s fun to have that side of it, especially being in finance and a corporate conservative life. It’s fun to get outside of yourself. I was looking forward to it and Joe knew that and Joe wanted nothing to do with it.

JJ Lane gets feisty at Joe Bailey on Bachelor in Paradise. Photo via @shenows_ent

You didn’t have any foil on you sadly …

I didn’t foil up. It was a situation where he would have had to literally knock me unconscious with the first punch, or … Joe knows. I joke I have a dad bod. Joe is the epitome of dad bod. I don’t think he’s seen the inside of a gym or a squat rack in five years.

So I imagine you’re a pretty big Colorado Avalanche fan?

Die hard Avs fans, yes.

Were they your first favorite team? How did you transition into being an Avs fan in the mid-90s? 

I probably first watched hockey in 1994, so right before the Grizzlies came to play in Denver. I was a big fan of Pavel Bure, Patrick Roy and Sergei Fedorov were my favorite players. Before the rivalry happened between the Avs and Red Wings, I was obsessed with Fedorov and his Nike skates. I had the Nike skates. Right now I wish I had the white Nike Fedorov skates. That would be amazing. Those were the players I followed. It was hard to fully relate to a team, but you would collect cards and hope ESPN would show one game per-week of one of those guys.

So you had to suddenly hate Detroit when the Avs moved to Denver?

Yeah, after the whole 1996 playoffs and Claude Lemieux/Kris Draper thing, yeah I could never, ever like a Red Wings player again in my life. That got real, real fast.

Would you shake Claude Lemieux’s hand?

Oh yeah, Dino Ciccarelli … what a great line, right? I don’t take a lot of pride in the Lemieux hit necessarily. That is what it is. I wasn’t pumped about that necessarily, but being able to grow up watching that rivalry was very formative. The cheapest hit of all of them was Slava Kozlov on Adam Foote when he threw his head straight into the glass and Foote started bleeding out of the forehead. That was intent to injure there. I don’t think you really expected to have the Draper situation happen the way it did.

If Lemieux plays in the Avs/Red Wings Stadium Series alumni game, how do you think that will play out?

Well, the bigger question is will (Darren) McCarty get time off from the pawnshop he’s working at so he can play in the alumni game?

Whoa! Shots fired!

At this stage of the game they almost need to just script it out, all shake hands in the locker room and be like, ‘Boys let’s give them what they want’ and go out there with one last hurrah, because we know we’re not going to see a rivalry like that in the NHL again. 

John Grahame (former NHL goaltender) works with you at your company Capital Hour. How did that come about?

First of all, I want to say something about John Grahame. He was a goalie in his career, but he skated out a few times on our team, and he has the hardest shot I have ever seen in person. He’s like 250 pounds right now, but he puts all of it in these shots. He can just crank it from the top of the circle in the men’s league. I love him to death. Watch out if he has the puck real close to the net, he’s probably slapping it. Working with him has been good. I worked with St. Charles Capital, which is an investment bank in Denver. He popped up on my Linkedin account and I was like, ‘No way!’ His father worked at University of Denver in town and was my best friend’s goaltending coach. So I knew his dad growing up a little bit. We all knew of John Grahame, but he had left the state well before we all got to know him. So I reached out and was like, ‘Hey man, seeing if you’re doing something working in the business world, want to grab coffee?’ So we met and it has been a mutually beneficial relationship for my industry and making network connections for him and vice-versa. He sits on the board of a company I run in town. He’s amazing. He can open any door here in Denver. I think the Grahames between his mom, his dad and him are kind of the first family of hockey in Denver.

He’s a great guy to know here in hockey circles.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 31, 2015, 3:25 pm

Another summer series has come and gone, and training camp will soon be upon us.

Thank you to the 33 talented female writers who produced an amazing series. They volunteered their time and creativity for an epic task (just ask those who covered the Original 6). Plus, finding a word that starts with the letter X is not easy.

Treat yo' self by taking a read through all 30 NHL teams from A to Zed:

Anaheim Ducks by Liz Brownstein

Arizona Coyotes by Catherine Silverman

Boston Bruins by Sarah Connors

Buffalo Sabres by Stephanie Delio

Calgary Flames by T. Ari Yanover

Carolina Hurricanes by Jamie Kellner

Chicago Blackhawks by Eliza Eaton-Stern

Colorado Avalanche by Cheryl Bradley

Columbus Blue Jackets by Alison Lukan

Dallas Stars by Taylor Baird & Erin Bolen

Detroit Red Wings by Maria Camacho

Edmonton Oilers by Sammi Silber

Florida Panthers by Heather Cooperman

Los Angeles Kings by Chanelle Berlin & Diane Phan

Minnesota Wild by Donna Carpenter & Emilie Wiener

Montreal Canadiens by Robyn Flynn

Nashville Predators by Caroline Davis

New Jersey Devils by Melissa Geschwind

New York Islanders by Dee Karl

New York Rangers by Beth Boyle Machlan

Ottawa Senators by Michaela Schreiter

Philadelphia Flyers by Mary Clarke

Pittsburgh Penguins by Ashley Chase

San Jose Sharks by Stace of Base

St. Louis Blues by Laura Astorian

Tampa Bay Lightning by Achariya Rezak

Toronto Maple Leafs by PhyllisKessel13

Vancouver Canucks by Jocelyn Aspa

Washington Capitals by Becca Henschel

Winnipeg Jets by Cara

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Jen Neale
Posted: August 31, 2015, 2:35 pm

Toward the end of the Boston Bruins’ doomed campaign last season, people seemed to be harping on Tuukka Rask's workload with some frequency.

Specifically, they felt it to have been far too big. He played 70 games, 67 of which were starts, and it was the largest number of his career by a good 20-plus percent. Indeed, in the last two seasons, he nearly doubled the total number of games played he'd racked up in his career, and was in fact busier than when he appeared in 36 of Boston's 48 games in the lockout-shortened season of 2013.

What's interesting about this, though, is the fact that despite the cries for a more reasonable handling of Rask's office hours, there simply isn't a lot of evidence to say that his playing 70 games was the reason his game appeared to take a step back.

And indeed, let's consider for a moment the monumental ask laid at Rask's feet. Not the 70 games, but the fact that people were complaining to some extent about a goaltender “only” carrying a .922 save percentage over 70 games. On more than 2,000 shots last season, Rask allowed just 156 goals, which is just an outrageously strong number, and somehow didn't even warrant a single Vezina vote(???).

Another issue here, of course, is that Rask lost nine games in a shootout, which is a very high number.

It is widely acknowledged that shootouts are effectively coin flips over which no player wields a significant amount of influence, but here's the really crazy part: Those nine shootout losses came despite the fact that he carried a save percentage in shootouts of .755, well above the league average of 698. He carried more than his share of the water in the skills competition, and his teammates decidedly did not.

NHL


If the Bruins' shooters improve that number even slightly, Rask probably has at least two or three more wins on the season, the team makes the playoffs, and we're not having a discussion about, “Did playing 70 games hurt Rask's effectiveness?” How he would have done in the playoffs is anyone's guess at that point, but we have plenty of evidence to suggest that overworked goalies tend to see their wheels come off in the postseason. (I would argue that it's perfectly okay to throw out data from playoff losses, particularly early ones, because you're playing so few games against such good teams that the water is probably going to be pretty muddy.)

And further, that lack of goal-scoring prowess is what led the Bruins to play so many one-goal games in the first place, which is obviously what necessitated Rask playing so often in the first place. I leave it to you to determine whether the team actually did anything this summer to go out and address that rather grave concern.

In addition to all this, the same is probably true if the Bruins' backups last season hadn't been so middling, or at least perceived as such. Niklas Svedberg appeared in 18 games last year, four of them in relief of Rask. He had a .918 save percentage which, while not as good as Rask's, is pretty damn credible and probably indicates he could have been relied upon a little more heavily and still delivered results.

Yet conventional wisdom obviously states that you don't want goalies playing 70-plus games in a given season. That's a lot of work not only physically but mentally, if you choose to believe in that sort of thing, and certainly doesn't seem conducive to all that much success. Last season, Rask became the 17th goaltender since 2005-06 (what I'd consider “modern” hockey in all its aspects) to make at least 70 appearances, but it's a feat that has been accomplished 33 times in that 10-season span. That obviously doesn't include those who worked the equivalent of a 70-game season in 2013 (about 40 appearances in 48 games), which nine guys accomplished.

But the thing about that conventional wisdom of giving your goalie more than the very occasional night off is that there doesn't seem to be any real statistical correlation between the number of minutes a guy plays of his team's total number available, and the percentage of pucks he stops.

I ran the numbers several different ways — guys making 40-plus appearances, guys making 60-plus appearances, shots against per minute for guys with more than those numbers of appearances, all career numbers of guys making at least that many appearances, etc. — and couldn't find any kind of even remotely significant r-squared correlation, to the point that from a mathematical standpoint it might not even be worth discussing.

These numbers can, admittedly, get a little weird. Obviously great goalies are going to play more often even than good ones, and it's rare to see anyone you wouldn't consider elite clear 60 games, for example. But even if you look at those guys individually, things get a little goofy. I looked at everyone who played 60 games at least once in the salary cap era — there were 41 such goaltenders, with a combined body of work of more than 300 seasons between them — then looked at every season in which each of those guys played 30 or more games and compared that with the total number of team games available. And once again, there was basically no correlation on a collective basis, an r^2 of .0543, or almost non-existent. But it is positive, which is interesting.

(The explanation here is a little convoluted, I know. Blame the seasons shortened by lockouts.)

NHL

That's not to say that some guys don't see their numbers slip as the amount of work they do goes up, because some can clearly run out of steam. Among this group, the average correlation (.09509) is about 75 percent higher than the collective number seen above, which further shows positive correlation between the amount of games played and save percentage. Again, that tends to skew in favor of elite goalies with heavy workloads — and usually, longer careers — which is why it's important to keep that the median in mind here as well.

NHL

It is, again, very different for everyone. For example, the more ice time a guy like Craig Anderson gets (and he has only four seasons in which he appeared in at least 60 percent of his team's games), the worse he tends to be, relatively. Others, like Martin Brodeur, seem to thrive under the extra work. Brodeur played 70-plus games 12 times in his career, and his best season ever was 2006-07, in which he went .922 despite playing 78(!!!!!) times.

But as with the overall correlations, many more guys tend to see little connection between their workload and their save percentages. Miikka Kiprusoff is one of the more famous cases of a guy going 70-plus games with regularity — he did it seven straight seasons — but his numbers fluctuated wildly in that stretch. These numbers, by the way, work out to a minor negative correlation. The difference in work between these seasons, though, was usually just a handful of starts.

NHL

All this may simply point to an area where “eye test” and “numbers” diverge; longstanding hockey wisdom is that you simply don't play guys that much, and yet it doesn't seem to have much impact on performance, at least in the regular season. We have to keep in mind here that even a handful of goals allowed can have a decent-sized impact on season-long save percentage, and so if a guy allows a goal that appears to be one he stops when “well-rested,” would probably show up over and over if he's that worn out by the 15-20 extra games being asked of him. But then again, you might just subscribe to the theory that goalies are inscrutable (see the above Kiprusoff numbers) and don't play by many mathematical rules from one season to the next.

The thing with Rask is that we don't know one way or the other into which of these three goaltending categories he falls.

Does he suffer with more work, or was his “meager” .922 save percentage just a blip? We just can't be sure yet. And regardless, if his bottom-of-the-barrel seasons are going to be .920-plus, does it really matter that much? If you need your goalie to turn in .930 seasons for you to make the playoffs — and the Bruins just might this season — then you have much bigger problems than how often you're trotting out your No. 1.

The trick for Julien, I think, is to figure out what he has in the goaltending trio of Malcolm Subban, Zane McIntyre or Jeremy Smith actually gives him to work with. One would assume Subban will be the backup in Boston while the other two bus it in the AHL, but one also never knows with this team. Subban's body of work in the AHL — .921 over two seasons — speaks for itself at this point. But even still, Julien has to actually trust him more than he did Svedberg last year if all the hand-wringing over Rask's playing time is to be avoided.

Maybe it doesn't matter at the end of the day because Rask can handle the amount of work. But then again, maybe the Bruins should try scoring more goals so he doesn't have to find out one way or the other whether it matters.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: This is a team that looks very much like it could be the best in the West this season. Some issues with the roster, sure, but that's true for basically everyone in the league (except maybe Tampa?).

Arizona Coyotes: Arizonans can now buy Coyotes license plates. Dibs on “MVNSOON.”

Boston Bruins: Do people not think Ryan Spooner is an everyday NHLer at this point? That's pretty clearly what he is.

Buffalo Sabres: Yo so why hasn't Cody Franson signed that two-year deal yet?

Calgary Flames: And now, some bad news for the Flames.

Carolina Hurricanes: That's a nice little two-year extension for Elias Lindholm, and now the team has to confront the realities of the Eric Staal situation.

Chicago: At this point is there anyone within an hour of Chicago who hasn't had his or her picture taken with the Stanley Cup?

Colorado Avalanche: The Avs are not alone in not being able to bring the NCAA players they've drafted to rookie camp in a few weeks. Some NCAA players aren't happy about it, but oh well buddy.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Periodic reminder that Columbus is paying David Clarkson a ton of money, and they're doing so voluntarily.

Dallas Stars: Please don't try to defend the Cody Eakin contract.

Detroit Red Wings: The new Wings rink is moving right along as planned. It's still gross! “Olympia has a stated goal of 30 percent Detroit business participation and 51 percent Detroit resident employment in construction of the arena.” Wow so generous to set those goals in exchange for hundreds of millions in public money.

Edmonton Oilers: Ahhhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Florida Panthers: This Florida Panthers roster from the 1993 expansion draft is hilarious. Especially because they were getting castoffs from only 24 teams, not the 30 we'd see today. They got John Vanbiesbrouck and not a whole lot else.

Los Angeles Kings: Russian surnames can sometimes be a little tough to pronounce, even for those who know you're supposed to put the stress on the second syllable most of the time. This new Kings signing, though, is particularly baffling.

Minnesota Wild: “It would be nice not to have to go 27-9 again there at the end,” says Devan Dubnyk. No kidding hey?

Montreal Canadiens: Carey Price is only one point better than Jonathan Quick. NHL16 sounds like another great game mailed in by the folks at EA Sports.

Nashville Predators: Wow, did you even remotely remember the Preds signed Barret Jackman?

New Jersey Devils: The operative word here? “Try.”

New York Islanders: How defensemen like Travis Hamonic are handled by their coaches is one of the most fascinating things about hockey to me.

New York Rangers: One has to wonder just how many pushes the Rangers can logically take before it all slips away from them. This might be their last, best effort before Lundqvist's skills start to really diminish.

Ottawa Senators: Imagine you're a Senators fan who thinks someone other than Erik Karlsson is the most important player on the team?

Philadelphia Flyers: Samuel Morin seems intent on cracking the big club's roster this year. No one tell him they have six guys on one-ways already.

Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pens already gave Daniel Sprong a contract. They seem real excited about him.

San Jose Sharks: Oh come on.

St. Louis Blues: This is actually pretty not-bad. But then again, if Scott Gomez actually makes your team...

Tampa Bay Lightning: This is just about the only kind of hit you'd want to see associated with Stamkos.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Don't do it, Kyle! Think of your cred!

Vancouver Canucks: Jim Benning read this with great fascination, then bookmarked it. “So that's how you pronounce Hamhuis?” (And oh my god can they invite Mike Gillis to this?)

Washington Capitals: The Capitals’ potential starting lineup this season.

Winnipeg Jets: This would be less interesting than the biography of an actual, paid mascot.

Gold Star Award

EDISON, NJ - AUGUST 30:  A golf fan takes a "selfie" with presidential candidate Donald Trump during the final round of The Barclays at Plainfield Country Club on August 30, 2015 in Edison, New Jersey.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Wayne Gretzky was hanging out with Donald Trump this weekend. Yooge and luxurious.

Minus of the Weekend

Toronto Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion rounds the bases following a three-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

This week in “Please Like My Sport.”

Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User “WhiteLight” is bringing some white heat.

To Ottawa:

Jeff Skinner

To Carolina:
Jared Cowen

Signoff
Y'know what we have for dinner in my house? Nothing! Sometimes chicken.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All stats via War On Ice unless otherwise noted.)

Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: August 31, 2015, 1:33 pm
Photo of Edwin Encarnacion following his three home run game posted by @encadwin on Instagram. 

The Toronto Blue Jays are clearly Canada’s team.

The baseball hopes of a hockey-crazed nation rest upon the Jays. And after years of futility the Jays are finally delivering with a 73-56 record and first place in the American League East. Toronto has not finished in first place since 1993.  

And there is a majorly celebratory feeling around this group. Latest example: Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion’s three home run game.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

After Encarnacion smashed dinger No. 3, a grand slam, in Toronto’s 15-1 Saturday win over the Detroit Tigers, a crowd of 46,444 littered the field of Rogers Center with hats, celebrating a home run hat trick. Encarnacion finished the day 3-for-5 with nine RBIs. 

Via the Toronto Star:

Encarnacion was puzzled when it started raining chapeaus, as were many of his ’mates in the dugout, until Dioner Navarro provided an explanation. “He tell me, like, when they score three goals — I think? — they do that. It made me feel happy.”

This was clearly fantastic, but not as cool as a postgame interview with Jays left fielder Ben Revere. 

In spite of playing in Toronto, Revere clearly didn’t know how exactly hockey fans celebrate a hat trick or even greater on-ice accomplishments. 

“When someone scores four goals, do they throw an Octopus  or something out there?”

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons also made the Octopus reference. 

Weird to make that connection following a game against Detroit. 

Revere also challenged fans to a game of NHL on PlayStation, which was tremendous. But if Revere wants to win, he probably shouldn’t choose the Maple Leafs.  

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 30, 2015, 5:02 pm

(Ed. Note: August is known to be a very quiet month in the hockey world. As we wait for September to arrive and training camps to begin, let’s learn a little history about all 30 teams. Behold, our summer A-Z(ed) series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to drop some knowledge on us! Add your own choices in the comments!)

By: Cara, blogger for Arctic Ice Hockey and Eyes on the Prize

A. Avco World Trophy (aka Avco Cup)

Before the original NHL Jets, there were the other original Jets who toiled away in the WHA. The Jets won the Avco World Cup trophy three times, with two of the wins coming in the final two years the WHA existed.

In the WHA, the Jets were the superior team against long-time rival, the Edmonton Oilers. After the merger between the WHA and NHL, Winnipeg regularly defeated the Oilers in big games. Yet, once Wayne Gretzky started playing for the Oilers, that began to change. Edmonton became the Jets most hated rival for whom they could not beat, mainly because the Oilers featured the best player in the world.

Hopefully Connor McDavid does not inflict the same type of pain on Jets fans this time around.

B. Bobby Hull

Bobby Hull has no connection to the current Winnipeg Jets organization. His former WHA team is now in the NHL and in Arizona, but he is important enough to the game of hockey as the one who signed the first million dollar contract at Portage and Main (see: P).

He has also been accused of spousal abuse while still playing in the NHL. His son, Brett Hull, became estranged from his father over these allegations but later wore his father’s number when he played five games for the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2005-2006 season before retiring.

C. Carlyle, Randy

While Randy Carlyle is best remembered by younger hockey fans as a failed coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he once was a talented defender who played for the Winnipeg Jets (amongst other teams). Carlyle also has ties to Winnipeg from the AHL when he coached the Manitoba Moose prior to getting a NHL job with the Anaheim Ducks. Carlyle’s last NHL stop was with the Jets for nine seasons and his first NHL coaching job was with the Jets immediately after he retired.

Although Carlyle won his Norris Trophy with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he still left a legacy on the Jets as a talented defender who put up points. Later on he showed to be a good AHL coach, at least from the outside. While Carlyle became a punching bag as coach of the Leafs, he is still held in high esteem in Winnipeg, partially because of his playing career and partially because of his success in coaching the Moose.

If Carlyle had been hired instead of Paul Maurice, even with his massive failings in Toronto, many fans and media would have supported the move.

D. Dan Snyder

Dan Snyder was killed in a high-speed car crash with teammate Dany Heatley behind the wheel. The Atlanta Thrashers created an award in his honour and it is still given to the player whom "best embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed." The award moved with the team to Winnipeg and is annually awarded to this day. The Ontario Hockey League also has an award named after him that recognizes humanitarian efforts by a player.

E. European Players

The original Jets were forefathers in bringing over European talent. Anders Hedberg was the first European signed by the Jets and ended up changing the game as more and more teams brought over European players as time went on.

But Winnipeg was the first to really mine Europe for talent in those early days and that helped them when they moved to the NHL as they had a larger talent base to build from then some teams.

Of course, this base of talent could not beat out Wayne Gretzky, but who could? Instead, the moves should be lauded as a way to try to move the odds into the favour of the Jets when it looked like it would be impossible. The Jets are a small market team and innovation is often what keeps those teams afloat. Signing European players was groundbreaking and left a legacy on the NHL that is still felt today.

F. Finnish Flash

Explaining what the Finnish Flash, Teemu Selanne, means to Winnipeg is an exercise in explaining Winnipeg itself. A small city on the prairies where nothing is won and everything is lost in excruciating fashion, Selanne loved it here. He loved the fans. Except he had to leave because nothing is won and everything is lost. The player who owns the seemingly unbeatable rookie goal record had to leave because the money was gone. He was traded to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and loved it there, too. He never came back unless it was with the opposition.

But yet, Teemu is part of the fabric of hockey in Winnipeg. He never won here; he never could win here. He left because all the greats leave in the end. He will never “come home” and yet the memories of him shooting his glove with his stick celebrating the record setting goal (see: G), the sign tracking the goals themselves. Those live here forever in the pictures that will surely fade over time.

G. Glove Shoot-off

Teemu Selanne’s famous celebration would be vilified today. After breaking the rookie goal scoring record, Selanne shot his glove with his stick.

The moment and the celebration of the moment is in stark contrast to how players like Alex Ovechkin and his exuberant celebrations are viewed. Selanne had planned the celebration, yet his joy in the moment made it okay. Selanne’s joy in the moment, pleasure in breaking the record was what made it great. He left Winnipeg too soon yet he still gave Winnipeg on of the most iconic moments in the Jets history. Funny thing is he did it against the now relocated Quebec Nordiques franchise.

H. Heatley, Dany and Hossa, Marian

After Dany Heatley killed teammate Dan Snyder in a car accident (see: D), he needed a fresh start. Marian Hossa was the quality player given up by the Ottawa Senators to get Heatley and the trade should have helped the Thrashers win more, but it did not because they were the Thrashers and could not have nice things.

Hossa was traded for scraps to the Pittsburgh Penguins where they lost in the Stanley Cup Finals. He then signed with the Detroit Red Wings and lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Penguins. Hossa has finally won three Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks. And Heatley? Well he’s a f---in’ all-star.

I. Izzy Asper

The Asper family is one of Winnipeg’s wealthiest families and it was patriarch Israel Asper who almost saved the Jets in 1996 by helping a group spearheaded by Mark Chipman. Although the team ended up moving to Phoenix, Asper’s mere presence helped give the group much needed credibility.

Asper died eight years before the Jets returned and there were always some questions about why he did not just give the money to keep the team. He tried; it was just too little too late. Yet Asper played a key role in the making of Winnipeg into the town it is today and his legacy is less about hockey and more about everything he has done for the community.

His daughter helped spearhead the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, a world-class museum that is the first national museum in Canada that is not in Ottawa. Chipman has managed to buy the Jets after forming True North Sports and Entertainment. Although Asper was not around to back the second bid, his legacy was not tarnished by the failure to keep the Jets in 1996.

J. Johan Hedberg

Johan Hedberg has a spot in Winnipeg hockey history as well as Atlanta hockey history. Hedberg was a popular figure on the Manitoba Moose, Winnipeg’s AHL team before the NHL returned.

Hedberg was not a massive figure in Thrashers history, but his ties to the city of Winnipeg and True North Sports and Entertainment through the Manitoba Moose make him important. Maybe even more important is his nickname and his helmet paid tribute to the Moose long after he left town for the NHL. Hedberg became a NHLer in Pittsburg and made his way to Atlanta where he remained popular with fans and teammates a like.

Hedberg may be best known for the time he turned into a turtle.

K. Kane, Evander

Evander Kane was an oddly controversial figure in the Jets short time in Winnipeg.

Kane had things shaved into his head, made a money-phone in Las Vegas, and allegedly skipped out on restaurant bills. He left in a blaze of glory (or something) with Dustin Byfuglien supposedly stealing his tracksuit and throwing it into a shower because he was late.

It is thought that Kane being traded was a long time coming. While he is a massively talented player, there always seemed to be a disconnect between him and the decision makers. Trading Kane could prove to be a mistake in the near future as Andrew Ladd is up for a contract extension this off-season and is getting up there in age. Trading Kane meant trading a possible replacement for Ladd.

The worst part about trading Kane though was losing his social media acumen. Kane has taken to trolling better than the troll in The Three Billy Goats Gruff by simply ignoring his days in Winnipeg or by flat out blurring them out of his memory. Yes, that is a Kane Jets jersey he blurred out.

@evander9kane

L. Leveille, Daulton

In the trade that sent Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to Pittsburgh, the Thrashers received Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito, and the 29th pick in the 2008 draft. With that pick, they selected Daulton Leveille of Michigan State University. (Some notables still on the board when Atlanta drafted him: Roman Josi, Derek Stepan, Braden Holtby, Gustav Nyqvist...)

Leveille not even was a decent NCAA player, topping out at 25-points (in 38 games) his sophomore season. Leveille was just one of many bad decisions the Thrashers made during their time in Atlanta. While he was far from the biggest, it was those decisions along with a warring ownership group that helped end the Thrashers time in Atlanta.

Don Waddell was not good for the Thrashers and his involvement with the team was quite damaging. There were all the bad trades and all the decisions that helped hold the Thrashers back from becoming a respectable NHL team. Expansion rules make it really hard to create a NHL team, but the Thrashers made it harder on themselves by making bad decisions.

M. Mick E. Moose

The Winnipeg Jets holdover mascot from True North Sports and Entertainment’s AHL days, Mick E. Moose is a truly terrifying moose that may be loved by some. 

Mick. E. Moose has been with True North Sports and Entertainment for so long that his inherent creepiness just seems right at games. No word yet on if he is retaining his NHL mascot role with the Manitoba Moose returning to town this year or if the Jets are going to unveil a new mascot for the NHL or AHL team.

N. Norm Beaudin

Every team has a player that they sign first and for the Jets that first signing was Norm Beaudin. Beaudin played with the original Jets for three year and in that time played in one All Star Game. But the most notable thing that Beaudin did in a Jets uniform was sign with the team. He was the first player to choose little Winnipeg and play hockey here.

Although he was not notable or famous member of the WHA team, his place in team history was firmly cemented by putting pen to paper. He has never been a household name in Winnipeg and that is an oversight because as remarkable as Bobby Hull signing a million dollar contract at Portage and Main, he was not the first player to sign with the team.

O. “Our Jets will fly forever”

For the Jets last game ever the fans on the upper deck hung a banner that read, “Our Jets will fly 4 ever”. For the Jets first playoff game this year (game three, first round), fans replicated the sign and hung it from the same place.

"@BromsFilthyMC: OUR JETS WILL FLY -4-EVER #WPGWhiteout #GoJetsGo" pic.twitter.com/oDV40SXpcQ

— Jeremie Robin (@Sabadecade) April 23, 2015

Winnipeg can never let go of anything fully, so even with a good NHL team in town, the old team has to be remembered. Holding onto what you know and love is easy. It feels right, even if it is old and worn out. Jets fans’ replicating the sign was them not letting go of an extremely painful moment when the team left for a warmer climate.

Instead of celebrating the current team, the fan base constantly goes back the moments of the team that left them instead of making up new moments and new memories. Playing into nostalgia is nice, but it sometimes seems over time it becomes an act of not letting go. Nothing will bring the original franchise back. A perfectly good team is constantly having to deal with weird moments of nostalgia from it’s fans who seem to have a hard time letting go of a team that left 19 years ago.

P. Portage and Main

When Bobby Hull signed for $1-million, it happened at Portage and Main. When the Jets left, fans went to Portage and Main. When the Jets returned, fans went to Portage and Main. When they played their first playoff game in 19 years, fans watched at Portage and Main.

Portage and Main is usually closed to pedestrians, so there is a certain amount of oddness in this being the gathering point of hockey fans. Yet the central location makes it a remarkably easy spot to find and there is no place more famous in hockey lure in Winnipeg than the self-proclaimed windiest corner in Canada.

The Forks may lack the traffic issues that meeting at Portage and Main present, but in a city that drives everywhere there is the additional issue of parking. Portage and Main used to be a happening place. It is now closed off to pedestrians and people rarely walk there. Instead, sometimes the cars don’t drive and the people play on the street in celebration of hockey happiness.

Winnipeg Sun

Q. [The] Queen's Portrait

Back in the old Winnipeg Arena there hung a picture of Queen Elizabeth II. While there is no real reason as to why the picture was hanging in the Winnipeg Arena, the MTS Centre has had many fans pay tribute to the image by having people dress up as the Queen and carry a replica image just for old time's sake. The original portrait is part of Winnipeg lore nowadays, a throwback to a time when Winnipeg seemed like an emerging city and not one plopped down in the middle of nowhere as a trading post because of it’s central location and waterways (the Red and Assiniboine Rivers). Those days are gone now. The only thing still here are the railway yard that divide the city in half. We still have the Queen’s portrait in our minds though, holding onto the days that we thought were only a sign of what was to come.

Summit Series

R. Rebel League

The WHA was a rebel league created in direct competition to the NHL in the 1970s. While the WHA did not reach the same levels of popularity as the NHL and folded shortly after it was formed, it was a key piece to hockey history and played a massive role in the Jets history.

First of all, by creating a league in direct competition to the NHL, the WHA helped push player pay and other issues to the forefront. While there is little documentation about this, it seems probable that following Bobby Hull’s million dollar contract that NHLers started demanding more compensation. Anyways, without the WHA the Jets never happen in the first place and then they never apply to join the NHL and then they never move to Arizona, and then the Thrashers never get sold to True North Sports and Entertainment and then there would be chanting of “Silver Medal” at Ryan Miller.

S. Stefan, Patrik

Patrick Stefan is a draft bust. He is best known for missing an empty net (as a member of the Dallas Stars) and Ales Hemsky went down the ice and tied the game with an individual effort. 

Stefan was drafted before both Sedin twins. He could have been a decent player, but the Thrashers were never set up for young players to succeed in those early days, and in some ways, Stefan was never going to succeed in the NHL because of that.

Patrik Stefan is the player that best describes the Atlanta Thrashers; he had potential but it was all squandered away by incompetence and just plain badness. Asking a teenager to rescue a franchise is bad. Asking a teenager to be the cornerstone of a franchise when the franchise does not yet have a foundation because it is so new is a recipe for disaster.

And you wondered why the Thrashers sucked for so long.

T. Thorburn, Chris

The franchise’s longest tenured player is also not good at hockey. Somehow Thorburn has managed to be a mainstay on the Jets.

His best qualities are he is a good teammate and sometimes fights players badly. He likes to wear toques and has a nose that has been broken too many times. He was a part of the hugely popular (and terrible) GST line during the Jets first season. Thorburn was never much of a scorer, but he is a typical old-school fourth liner who somehow has showed the Thrashers/Jets franchise that he is worth keeping around even with his lack of skills.

Thorburn is what he is. Although he was also a fan favourite early on, and while he still has some fans, he has definitely gained more detractors as time has gone on and people have grown weary of the older grinder as younger players seem to be pushed to the fringes to keep the likes of Thorburn around.

If he lasts beyond his current contract (two seasons left), you can expect rioting at Portage and Main.

U. Ulf Nilsson

Ulf Nilsson was one of the first European player the Jets signed. Alongside fellow Swede Anders Hedberg, Nilsson was a key part in the Jets early success in the WHA. 

As time went on he signed in the NHL with the New York Rangers, leaving the rebel league for brighter lights and potentially more money. The money part is hard to nail down because of the lack of contract information available from that time. Unless the contract was noteworthy like Bobby Hull’s, there was no mention of how much money a player would get paid in the NHL.

Anyways, Nilsson was a part of the Jets’ innovation to acquire more skilled players by going over to Europe and signing players from there instead of limiting themselves to a small player pool in North America. It did not always work, but the fearlessness needed to take that chance is something that the reincarnation of the organization has rarely shown today. They eschewed the conventions of needing North American players and in turn built a really good team around a few Europeans and a NHL star.

V. Valabik, Boris

Boris Valabik is a bad defenceman who was given up in the Blake Wheeler trade. He was once touted as the next Zdeno Chara, but obviously did not reach that level.

Valabik was never what Atlanta wanted him to be. He was bad. He could never play hockey at the NHL level because his skating was subpar and he could not actually make plays with the puck. Valabik never stuck in the NHL; instead he remains in our hearts and our minds as the greatest big oaf to play for the Thrashers (seriously, he was the opposite of great).

Valabik was a failed first round pick. He was supposed to be the second coming; instead he was used to acquire Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart, a trade that has left the Jets with one very good and one questionable player since 2011. Sometimes, draft busts can be useful.

W. White Out

The Winnipeg Whiteout is one of the truly iconic and truly uncomfortable parts of the Jets history. The White Out has been a thing since the WHA days, I believe and has been a staple at hockey playoff games in Winnipeg ever since.

The idea of a Whiteout is inherently creepy though.

A large gathering of people, whom are mostly white, dressing alike and chanting things together create allusions to groups like the Klu Klux Klan. The allusion is largely unimportant, but it makes it more interesting that even though the home team does not wear white anymore, the White Out is still synonymous with Winnipeg.

When the Jets made the playoffs this past season, the White Out took on a much more militant approach from fans. People were saying it was wrong to wear a dark Jets jersey to a game and that everyone had to be in white. That led to a lone fan wearing a Montreal Canadiens jersey because it is white.

I Iike this guy who slipped in here in a Habs white jersey. pic.twitter.com/AJwUdVUmso

— Scott Stinson (@scott_stinson) April 21, 2015

While the undertones of the Whiteout can be uncomfortable if you look at the world through history, there is something fun about quirky about a tradition that gave us this video.

X. XLB

Garnet Exelby (XLB, get it?!) was a fan favourite in Atlanta. A not so great defensive defenceman, Exelby excelled at playing in games and not impacting them offensively.

He was an eighth round pick who made it to the NHL for seven seasons. He played most of them for the lowly Atlanta Thrashers, but the fact he made it to the NHL with the long odds he faced to even make the league is ... impressive.

Y. Young Stars

Before Jacob Trouba and Mark Scheifele there was Alexander Burmistrov and Evander Kane. Before Alexander Burmistrov and Evander Kane there was Ilya Kovalchuk and Dany Heatley.

There have always been young stars for the Thrashers and Jets. The problem has been in retaining them. The Jets hope that the fortunes will change for them with Trouba and Scheifele, but who knows if they will stay long term. This is a concern of Jets fans as no one knows if players will want to stay in Winnipeg if they are young and successful after their restricted free agency years are over.

In some cases, keeping the players is so key an overpay may be needed to keep a key player like Trouba. Some players are worth more than what comparables say they are because of what they mean to a team.

Z. Zhitnik, Alexei

The man known as the return in the Braydon Coburn to Philadelphia trade, Zhitnik was a complete bust for the Thrashers, but he did get to play in the franchise’s first four playoff games. Those four games amounted to nothing and did not help the Thrashers retain crucial players in the subsequent years.

Zhitnik was not a key player and the price that the Thrashers paid would have been better put to actually upgrading a position of need. Waddell decided that trading away a good, young player in Coburn for a bad old player was the way to build the team. The trade for Zhitnik was one of Waddell’s many blunders that set the team back for years.

Meet the author: Cara is a university student and wannabe blogger with Arctic Ice Hockey and Eyes on the Prize where she likes to pretend she actually knows things about hockey. When she was 9 she watched the Salt Lake City Olympics and thought that icing was when shards of ice came up as players stopped. You can follow her book thoughts on Twitter @HappyCaraT.

Previous A to Z Guides: Anaheim | Arizona | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus | Dallas | Detroit | Edmonton | Florida | Los Angeles | Minnesota | Montreal | Nashville | New Jersey | NY Islanders | NY Rangers | Ottawa | Philadelphia | Pittsburgh | San Jose | Toronto | Vancouver | Washington

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: August 30, 2015, 4:00 pm

Tyler Seguin is preparing for the Dallas Stars' season, hitting the ice and getting back into game shape. But hey, it’s still the summer – some nutritional cheating is allowed, right? 

Lindsey Dortch is a University of North Texas student and a huge Stars fan. Obviously knowing how arduous the training process is for an NHL player, she offered up a treat for Seguin via Twitter, if he wanted it: Something from that glorious temple of takeout, In-N-Out burger.

And like any human with a functioning cerebellum (who doesn’t have moral or health objections to sizzling red meat between two buns), Seguin said yes.

@lindsfromda1975 double double with just ketchup. Please 😊

— Tyler Seguin (@tseguinofficial) August 29, 2015

So she and her friend hit up In-N-Out, snagged Seguin’s order and headed for the rink. 

Mission accomplished, according to her Twitter:

I didn't pass out, so that's good! @tseguinofficial pic.twitter.com/1eZOtsAn8C

— linds from the 1975 (@lindsfromda1975) August 30, 2015

Simply the greatest burger-related hockey moment since Andrew Hammond got McDonald's for life. Hopefully In-N-Out seizes the moment and makes the double/double with ketchup the SeguinBurger on its secret menu ...

Josh Friemel of the Dallas Morning News got some reaction, post-double double:

“Always fun to interact with fans using social media, but that was definitely a first!” Seguin said. “Great burger.”

So how was the whole experience for Dortch? “It was awesome,” Dortch said. “I didn’t really get to talk to him, but I wanted to talk to him after the game but I couldn’t talk to him because I forgot how to speak for a second.”

Another satisfied customer and another odd social media dream come true for an NHL fan.

We eagerly await the Penguins fans who decides to show this moxy in providing Phil Kessel with his first Primanti Bros. sandwich. Because hot dogs are so last season for Phil …

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 30, 2015, 3:03 pm

It has been a difficult week for hockey legends. On Friday, Hall of Fame Islanders coach Al Arbour died at the age of 82. 

Now comes word that former Montreal Canadiens captain Henri Richard is battling Alzheimer’s disease. Richard won 11 Stanley Cups as a player with Montreal, an NHL record that will likely never be broken.

According to the online translation from Le Journal de Quebec, Richard’s condition has “worsened lately.”

According to the Mayo Clinic's website, "Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions."

There is no known cure. 

Richard, brother of Canadiens great Maurice Richard, played 1,256 games for Montreal and notched 1,046 points. In 2005, Henri, 79, was named No. 5 of top-10 all-time Canadiens by the Montreal Gazette.

The report comes from coverage of the Hector "Toe" Blake Alzheimer Celebrity Golf Tournament, named after the Canadiens coach who won eight Stanley Cups with the Habs.

Last December, Canadiens great Jean Beliveau died at the age of 83. In April another Montreal legend, Elmer Lach died at age 97.

Blackhawks Hall of Famer Stan Mikita was diagnosed with Lewy Body dementia recently. 

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 29, 2015, 4:54 pm

Florida Panthers Rocco Grimaldi, right, moves the puck as Los Angeles Kings left wing Dwight King gives chase during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. The Kings won 5-2. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Several months later, the absurdity of Nov. 18, 2014 is not lost on Florida Panthers forward Rocco Grimaldi.

That was the day he pulled the rare double-header, playing in two different games in two different leagues.

Grimaldi started the day in Texas with Florida Panthers’ AHL affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage. He finished it up that night with the Panthers at the LA Kings.

“Definitely never expected that to happen,” Grimaldi said at the Toyota Sports Center, where the Anaheim native trains during the summer.

Grimaldi’s first game started at 10:30 a.m. central time in San Antonio between the Rampage and the Oklahoma City Barons. It started that early so school children could watch that Tuesday.

“I didn’t even know it was possible to happen. I didn’t know about the 10:30 a.m. games the AHL does sometimes for school field trips and different things for elementary schools around town,” he said. 

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

Before the third period began, Grimaldi was pulled aside and told he needed to head to Los Angeles ASAP as an emergency recall for Panthers center Aleksander Barkov. 

“I had to go home right away, grab a bag and get to the airport as fast as possible,” Grimaldi said.

While waiting for his plane Grimaldi ate “lunch” which was a turkey sandwich from an airport restaurant. Generally airport meals are pretty gross and hockey players are quite regimented in their eating habits on game days. Grimaldi was predictably not a huge fan of his food.

“I had lunch … kind of – one tiny sandwich,” he said grimacing.

Then he got on his direct flight to Los Angeles and arrived at LAX at 5 p.m. on a weekday for the 7:30 p.m. start. This of course meant he needed to brave the legendary Los Angeles rush hour traffic to get from the airport to Staples Center. He said it took him about 50 minutes, which must have set some sort of land speed traffic record since it should take much longer. 

“When my car pulled in they didn’t know who I was because I wasn’t on the roster for security, so they wouldn’t let me down the tunnel,” Grimaldi said. “They brought up this random car that I threw my bag and sticks on and hopped in with my suit and sat on the back with my legs hanging out.”

Then came his pre-game meal, which was a hamburger bun with peanut butter. 

“My eating habits were terrible that day,” Grimaldi said.

During the game Grimaldi said he felt like 24 hours or more had gone past from the morning game to the nighttime contest.

“I felt like it wasn’t even the same day. It felt like days ago or weeks ago because it was so random,” he said.

In his 10:36 of action, his legs didn’t bother him at all. Probably because he was just 21 years old, but still, even the youngest and most spry of men get tired.

“You never know when something like that can happen,” Grimaldi said. “You do two-a-days during the summer so you’re kind of used to it.”

In that case, he had pretty good foresight to prepare for something like that. So he’s ready if it happens again? Right?

“It’s an experience I’ll never ever have again,” Grimaldi said.

Well, life is all about experiences and Grimaldi had one of the strangest ones in NHL history.

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

 

 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 29, 2015, 2:57 pm

(Ed. Note: August is known to be a very quiet month in the hockey world. As we wait for September to arrive and training camps to begin, let’s learn a little history about all 30 teams. Behold, our summer A-Z series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to drop some knowledge on us! Add your own choices in the comments!)

By: Becca Henschel, associate editor of Japers' Rink

A. Alex Ovechkin

Sure, he could have also been listed under O, or C for Captain, or S for studly, superb and stupendous… but it seems fitting that the guy who has almost single-handedly changed the course of the Washington Capitals should step into the lead-off spot.

From breaking the rink on his first official NHL shift, to scoring 100+ points in his rookie season, to just scoring all of the goals all of the time – and usually doing so in the face of unyielding (and often unfair) criticism - Alex Ovechkin has been worth the cost of admission since making his debut a decade ago.

There’s not much to say about Ovechkin that hasn’t already been said a million times; he’s simply a phenomenal talent who is quickly joining the ranks of some of the game’s all-time great players.

He doesn’t seem to be slowing down, either - so it’s not all that surprising that over the past two or three years, he’s taken hold of just about every record the franchise has to offer. In doing so, he’s merely making official what we’ve known for a long time: that Alex Ovechkin is simply the greatest to ever play for the Caps.

(How do you not love this guy?!)

B. Bondra, Peter

Until Ovechkin came along, there was arguably no Cap as electrifying to watch as Peter Bondra.  

Known affectionately as “Bonzai”, Bondra cut an offensive swath through the League during the 1990s and early 2000s, cracking the 30-goal mark in nine of his 14 seasons in DC and finishing his illustrious career with 503 goals – 472 of which were scored in a Caps jersey (a franchise record that stood until Ovechkin predictably surpassed him last season).

The other 31 goals? Well… we don’t like to talk about those too much. Because frankly the fact that Bondra got #500 in a Blackhawks jersey is a bit of a sore subject for all of us.

C. Crosby vs. Ovechkin

At times this battle has seemed to be nothing more than media-crafted narrative – a ready-made “rivalry” grounded in polar opposites. The good Canadian boy vs. the wild Russian. Center vs. winger. Clean-cut and soft-spoken vs. flamboyant and brash.

Getty Images

But there is some truth to it as well, some foundation of reality behind the narrative.

A grudging mutual respect between the two off the ice hasn’t overshadowed the edge that creeps into their head-to-head battles. And there’s no doubt that the two often play their best when they play against each other; look no further than the epic 2009 playoff series between the two teams (the first and only time Ovechkin and Crosby have done battle in the postseason), most notable for a game in which they both picked up a hat trick.

Better supporting casts in the NHL and on the international stage have brought Crosby success that has eluded Ovechkin to this point, and in recent years the emphasis on the two has cooled a bit as they move from phenoms to veteran leaders on their respective teams.

Still, the clash between Ovechkin and Crosby has largely defined the last decade for the two players, reinvigorating a rivalry between the teams (and their fans) that can be traced back to the days of the Patrick Division and beyond.

D. Dale Hunter

Beloved in DC, loathed just about everywhere else, Hunter was the ultimate pest in an era when pests ruled the day – one only needs to look at his 3565 career penalty minutes, the second-most in NHL history, to see just how great he was at his job (although apparently he wasn’t so great at not getting caught).

Most fans’ memories of Hunter are centered around the massively dirty hit he threw on Pierre Turgeon in the ‘93 playoffs, one that resulted in a 21-game suspension - to that point, the longest suspension ever handed down.

For Washington fans, though, he was much more.

Yes, he was known to walk that line - and cross it on more than one occasion - but he also became the heart and soul of the Caps during his 12 seasons in DC, his workmanlike style serving as a model for the blue-collar Caps teams on which he played and eventually captained. And while he would never be an offensive superstar, his series-winning overtime goal in 1988 is still one of the most memorable goals in the team’s history, and he did manage to rack up over 1000 points to go with his 3000+ penalty minutes during his 19-year career, making him the only player in NHL history to accomplish that somewhat dubious feat.

As for his brief time behind the Caps’ bench… it’s better off forgotten. Let us live in the past and not think about Hunter Hockey ever, ever again.

E. Easter Epic

There have been a lot of heartbreaking moments in Washington Capitals history. A lot. We’re talking buckets and buckets of tears shed over this damn team. But few events have taken up permanent residence in the collective psyche of the Caps fan like the game that became known as the Easter Epic.

It was April 18, 1987, and the Caps and Islanders were facing off in the Patrick Division semifinal - the fifth-straight postseason in which the two teams met. The Caps, who at one point had been up 3-1 in the series, now played host to the Islanders for a pivotal Game 7 to decide who would move on to face the Philadelphia Flyers.

A late game-tying goal by the Islanders’ Bryan Trottier (aided by goalie Bob Mason’s broken skate, which is the special kind of luck reserved for the Washington Capitals) sent the game to overtime… and then it just kept on going, into the early hours of Sunday morning: Easter Sunday. By the time Pat LaFontaine’s slapshot beat Mason to win the game, it was 1:58 a.m. The two teams had played 128:47 of hockey. 132 shots had been fired.

And the Caps’ season was over.

F. First run to the Final

If there was ever a poster team for the saying “just make the playoffs and see what happens”, it was the 1997-98 Washington Capitals. Because thanks to a series of strange happenings and fortuitous events, that was the first Caps team - and to date, the only Caps team - to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

Their starting goaltender, Bill Ranford, was injured in the season’s opening game, paving the way for then-backup Olie Kolzig to take over and put together a playoff run for the ages. They got into the playoffs as the #4 seed, only to see the three teams ahead of them get knocked out in the first round. And they took on one of the best goaltenders ever to play the game in Dominik Hasek, only to have him be in the net for the biggest overtime goal ever scored in the history of the Caps.

Sadly the magic ran out by the time the Stanley Cup Final got underway (epitomized by the biggest goal ever not scored in the history of the Caps) and the uber-talented Red Wings rolled to a 4-0 victory. C’est la vie… c’est les Caps.

G. Gabby

Few coaches have been as influential and important in Caps’ history as former coach Bruce Boudreau. A career minor-league player, Boudreau joined the organization in 2006 as coach of the Caps’ AHL affiliate Hershey Bears, and led them to back-to-back Calder Cup Final appearances in 2006 and 2007 (winning it in 2006) before getting the call to replace Glen Hanlon in DC on Thanksgiving Day, 2007. The team he inherited was 6-14-1, in last place in the East and seemingly poised to miss the playoffs for the fifth time in six years; under his watch, the Caps went on a 37-17-7 tear, which included winning 11 of their final 12 games to clinch the Southeast Division title and a trip to the postseason (as well as a Jack Adams trophy for himself).

But it wasn’t just what he did that first season that makes him so important. Boudreau completely changed the way the Caps played; he made them fun and exciting to watch again, untapping the previously-hidden offensive potential of guys like Mike Green and letting Alex Ovechkin be Alex Ovechkin. He was responsible for turning the team into a high-flying, high-risk, high-reward group that, at its peak, was the most offensively dominant team in the League.

(Boudreau's motivational speech - NSFW!!!)

It’s not surprising that the shift to a defense-first mentality (a.k.a. the PHSD - post-Halak system demolition) marked the beginning of the end for Boudreau in DC. Just as he was no longer letting the players play to their strengths, he was no longer coaching to his, and it was time for him to move on.

Boudreau wasn’t a perfect coach, but he was the perfect coach for that team at that time, and remains one of the franchise’s winningest - and most beloved - coaches.

H. Holtby, Braden

After Olie Kolzig’s departure at the end of the 2007-08 season, the Caps experienced something they hadn’t experienced for the last decade: suddenly they didn’t have The Guy, that franchise goaltender holding down the fort. They spent the next few years looking for him, alternating between homegrown netminders like Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth and battle-tested veterans like Tomas Vokoun, Jose Theodore and even Jaroslav Halak.

After many years and many wrong turns, however, it appears as though they’ve found him in Braden Holtby.

(Holby is unflappable! He cannot be flapped!)

It wasn’t always a sure thing that he’d be that guy. Holtby was still an AHL prospect in the spring of 2012 when injuries to both of the team’s goalies forced him to step in for the postseason run, and he surprised everyone by being nothing short of spectacular, helping to carry the Caps through two rounds before ultimately being outdueled by Henrik Lundqvist in Game 7. And while there have been some bumps along the way (thanks, Adam Oates), Holtby is now firmly entrenched as the Caps’ #1 netminder - and is putting himself into the conversation as one of the League’s best goalies.

I. It was 3-1

Teams that go up 3-1 in a playoff series have a really good chance of winning that series, and it’s not hard to see why - it’s basic math. Getting to four wins is easier when you’re already at three.

That is, unless you’re the Washington Capitals.

Only 28 times in NHL history has a team erased a 3-1 deficit. That’s 28 times in 277 tries. 28 times… and five of them were against the Caps, including one just a few months ago.

It’s the sole reason why no Caps fan ever feels secure in a series victory until the clock runs out on the deciding game and the Caps actually have more goals than the other team… and even then we’re waiting for someone to tell us it’s okay to open our eyes.

J. Jaromir Jagr

He was loathed by Caps fans until he wasn’t, and then he was beloved until he was hated again. In the whole of the Caps’ history, few players have ever been so controversial - and had such a huge impact, both for good and for evil - as Jaromir Jagr.

For years, Jagr was half of Pittsburgh’s gruesome twosome that made a habit of scoring a ton of goals against the Caps. When he was traded to DC in the summer of 2001, though, fans welcomed him with open arms, even rushing to the airport to greet him when he arrived - and for awhile, it seemed like a good fit, to the point that the team inked him to an insane seven-year, $77-million contract extension later that same year.

But he was never quite the same player with the Caps as he was with the Penguins, a fact which made that $77-million contract seem even more horrible. Turns out it made it harder to unload, too, because the only way the Caps were able to pawn him off on the Rangers was to pay a significant chunk of that horrible contract for the next few years.

If there was a silver lining to Jagr’s time in DC, it was that his presence, and eventual departure, led to the fire sale and rebuild of the team… which led to the Caps being able to draft Alex Ovechkin.

So thanks, Jaromir. Thanks for everything.

K. Kolzig, Olie

Although drafted in the first round in 1989, it was five years before Kolzig began to play any sort of regular role in the NHL; it took another few years for him to the chance to be the starting goaltender.

But when Bill Ranford’s season ended on opening night 1997, Kolzig stepped in and took over - and never looked back. He went on to play more than 700 games for the Caps (and another 45 in the playoffs, including his phenomenal run en route to the team’s lone Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1998), and is one of just 31 goalies in NHL history to have cracked the 300-win mark.

For the better part of a decade, he was the backbone, the heart, and the face of the franchise, up until the somewhat contentious end of their relationship at the end of the 2008 season - but time heals all wounds, and Kolzig has since returned to the team to help mold the next generation of Caps’ netminders.

L. Leonsis, Ted

Washington Post

The late Abe Pollin was the mastermind behind bringing the Caps to DC back in the early 1970s, but the hockey team was always seen as something of a red-headed stepchild for Pollin compared to his beloved Wizards (nee Bullets). That changed when AOL executive Ted Leonsis put together a group to purchase the Capitals from Pollin in 1999. Said Leonsis at the time, “This franchise needed a jolt of energy and focus. I couldn't tell you a good defenseman or not, but I can tell you how to present and package up a brand and make sure that the players connect with the audience.”

Over the years, Leonsis has become one of the more hands-on owners in professional sports - sometimes to a fault, as was the case when he led the charge to bring Jaromir Jagr to DC or attempted to bar Pittsburgh fans from purchasing tickets to playoff games.

But he’s also been a vocal proponent of technology, innovation, and fan access, which included making the Caps the first team to issue press credentials to bloggers - a major reason why so many of us crazy Caps bloggers are around, and a huge step forward for the online hockey community in general.

M. Music Videos

If you were alive during the late 1980s and early 1990s, you may remember the strange trend of professional sports teams creating horrible music videos. The Chicago Bears did it the worst… but the Caps did it the most.

Using the year-end highlight videos as the backdrop, the Caps put out a series of videos featuring the team lip-syncing to bad songs while pretending to play various instruments and/or stumbling through synchronized “choreography”.  Add in the simple fact that there was nothing good about fashion or hairstyles in that era, and you’ve got the makings of some instant comedy.

Because even if one song pretty much sounds like the next, there’s something magical and unique about each one - whether it’s the aggressive group pointing of “Out on Top”...

Or the entire team somehow not knowing the lyrics to “Red, White & Blue"...

Or the dancing brass section in “Capital Feeling”...

Or the seriously soulful singing in “Double Trouble”...

Of course, it didn’t stop in the ‘80s; the tradition lives on, whether it was the Ovechkin and friends rocking the red (and the guyliner) for the 2008-09 opening video: 

Or some ugly sweaters taking center stage in the best damn version of Jingle Bells you’ll ever see:

N. Nicklas Backstrom

If Alex Ovechkin has cemented himself as the greatest goal-scorer in Caps’ history, Backstrom is quickly making a case for being the franchise’s greatest playmaker. His vision, his hands and his ability to run a power play like a conductor leading a symphony orchestra make him insanely fun to watch - if you take the time to actually do so.

Because most of what he does is so effortless and under the radar, especially next to the flashiness of Ovechkin, that sometimes it’s easy to forget just how good he is. As underrated players go, he’s near the top of the list - never an All-Star, never a Selke finalist, and rarely in the conversation as an elite player despite putting up elite numbers year after year.

And yet while his fans, and his teammates, and his coaches, bristle at him being overlooked time and time again, Backstrom seems content to quietly go about his business, eternally in the immense shadow of his Russian linemate - and perfectly happy to stay there.

O. "O"

A lot of hockey arenas have their little anthem traditions. Dallas fans yell “Stars!” during the Star-Spangled Banner; Winnipeg fans yell “True North!” in the middle of “O, Canada”. And Chicago fans... they just yell. In DC, the tradition isn’t quite as clearly defined - and at times it can be a bit controversial.

Back in the early days of the franchise, the team played in the wilds of Prince George’s County (or PG County, to you native DMV speakers out there) - just a quick trip from nearby Baltimore, helping to establish a decent-sized Capitals fanbase in Charm City. Those fans proceeded to bring their tradition of  yelling “O” (for the Orioles) from Camden Yards over to Capital Centre.

The problem, of course, is that the team now makes its home in downtown DC, and the “O” rubs some locals the wrong way… because this ain’t Baltimore, hon. As an answer to that Camden Yards chant, many Caps fans have taken to yelling “Red” instead.

To this day fans remain divided on whether to yell “O”, or “Red”, or both (or neither) - but we all agree that being able to hear both, in enemy territory on New Year’s Day 2011, was pretty freaking sweet.

P. Playoff misery

Look… there’s a reason that Caps fans are such a pessimistic bunch, and it all comes down to the playoffs. Because we’ve simply seen too much. Too many blown leads, too many weird bounces, too many losses to the damn Penguins. The Caps haven’t just broken our hearts over the years; they’ve crushed them into a fine, red-hued powder. And then set that powder on fire. And then poured acid on it.

They were less than two minutes away from dispatching the New York Rangers in five games and ended up losing the game - and two games later, the series - in overtime.

They’ve played two of the longest overtime games in NHL playoff history, and lost both of them. At home.

One of the best, if not the best, Caps teams ever assembled had a 3-1 lead in a series against the 8th-seeded Montreal Canadiens, and they ended up falling in seven games, on home ice, by one goal.

It’s not always solely on the team, either. Come playoff time, the hockey gods seem to take great joy in kicking us about the ear, nose and throat - whether it’s a disallowed goal that should have counted, or a puck that slides juuuuust wide of the net, or an opponent’s shot that ricochets in off of a Caps’ stick. You name it, we’ve seen it.

This is the kind of stuff we put up with year after year... after year. It’s our little annual tradition. And yet we always come back for more, year after year after year. Why? Because we love it.

No, really.

Q. Qualifying for the playoffs for the first time

That misery had to start somewhere, and for the Caps, that was in 1983 - the first year the team ever made the postseason. It took a new general manager in David Poile and a huge trade with the Montreal Canadiens to get the Caps on the right path, but by the end of the 1982-83 campaign the Caps had finished with a franchise-high 94 points (almost 30 more than they’d earned the previous season) and were set for a first-round meeting with the New York Islanders.

...yes, they lost.

But it would start a run of 14 consecutive playoff appearances for the Caps, and marked a huge leap forward for a team that had, up until that point, taken only the tiniest of steps.

R. Rod Langway

The trade that spurred the Caps to that first playoff appearance involved six players, but it centered around one in particular: Rod Langway. Over the next 11 seasons in DC, the aptly-nicknamed “Secretary of Defense” served as the team’s captain, and was the foundation on which those dominant Caps’ defensive corps of the 1980s and early 1990s were built.

He went on to win two Norris Trophies, have his number lifted to the rafters of Verizon Center, and become the first player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a Washington Capital.

S. Scott Stevens

It’s something of a toss-up as to whether Stevens is more important to the history of the franchise for what he did in a Caps jersey, or what happened after he left.

Because before he became the captain of all of those Cup-winning New Jersey teams, he was drafted by, and played eight seasons for, the Caps. During those eight seasons he was part of a dominant blueline that included Langway, Larry Murphy, Kevin Hatcher and Calle Johansson, and established new franchise records in a number of categories (although all have since been broken).

But when the St. Louis Blues signed Stevens to an offer sheet in 1990, the Caps chose not to match - a decision which changed the course of the franchise. Washington received five picks from the Blues as compensation, and the aftershocks of those picks can still be seen today, helping to build the next three decades of Caps teams.

Of course, the three Cups Stevens eventually won with the Devils would have been nice, too...

T. The Goal

No explanation needed. Just watch.

U. Unleash the Fury

A mish-mash of adrenalin-inducing movie clips ranging from Network to Animal House (and featuring a cameo by a jersey-clad Tom Green), Unleash the Fury has become a rallying cry for the Verizon Center faithful… and a loud one at that.

It’s release coincided with the team’s mad dash for the playoffs in 2008, and struck a chord with a fanbase that was already all riled up from watching the new brand of hockey brought to town by Bruce Boudreau. But it lives on to this day, continuing to get fans out of their seats at home games - and making a particularly notable appearance at this year’s Winter Classic.

V. Verizon Center

Perched on the corner of 7th and F Street NW in downtown DC, Verizon Center has been the home of the Caps since December 2, 1997. The move marked the first time the Washington Capitals would actually play in Washington, having spent the last two decades at the Capital Centre in Landover, MD.

W. Worst. Team. Ever.

Step back, 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres.

Take a seat, 1992-93 Ottawa Senators.

You tried to dethrone the champs, but the 1974-75 Washington Capitals were, are, and will likely forever be known as the most laughably horrendous squad ever assembled. 8 wins. 67 losses. A -265 goal differential. 52 games in which their opponent scored at least five goals against them. The worst plus-minus rating in NHL history, Bill Mikkelson’s hearty minus-82. The list goes on and on.

The team was so bad that they’ve since taken on an almost mythical - even lovable - quality. For better or worse (and it was almost always worse), that team was the start of everything for Caps fans. That’s where it all began; those who lived through it are stronger for having done so, and those who didn’t can use the stories of that first year to provide a little perspective when things seem bleak. It could always be worse, and once upon a time it was worse.

Because for an eternally underachieving franchise, being the best at something is nice, even if it’s just being the best at being the worst… and when you don’t have a Stanley Cup, sometimes a trash can will have to do.

X. Xenophobia

Imagine the last 10 years of Caps coverage if Alex Ovechkin was born in Moose Jaw instead of Moscow.

Y. Young Guns

After a series of disappointing, depressing seasons (which culminated in the biggest fire sale in franchise history), the Caps returned to the ice in 2005 with the cupboard full of young talent. The core group of those talented players - Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Mike Green - became affectionately known as the “Young Guns”, and for a number of years they personified the youth and skill of that era’s Washington Capitals teams.

Of course, today only Backstrom and Ovechkin remain, and neither of them could be considered particularly young anymore (at least by NHL standards). But that group, and the teams they represented, leave behind plenty of good memories - and more than a few highlight-reel plays.

Z. Zebras, bad

Every fan thinks the referees are out to get their team. Most of the time, they’re probably not. When it comes to the Caps, though… we’re not so sure. 

Okay, so there’s probably not some widely-orchestrated and perfectly-executed plot out there designed to take down the Caps (and god knows this team doesn’t usually need assistance to stumble). But their recent history is littered with WTF moments from the black-and-white jerseys, from the washed-out Ovechkin goal in Game 7 against the Canadiens ...

... to Joel Ward’s no-goal in Game 5 this past spring (which should have been a goal) ...

... Bill McCreary flat out tackling Shaone Morrisonn:

Want more examples? Ask a Caps fan. They’ll give you plenty… just pretend you don’t see them twitching.

Meet the author: Becca Henschel is an associate editor on Japers’ Rink. She was born a Caps fan, will likely die a Caps fan, and just hopes that somewhere in between those two events, there’s a Stanley Cup parade in Washington. You can follow her on Twitter @BeccaH_JR.

Previous A to Z Guides: Anaheim | Arizona | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus | Dallas | Detroit | Edmonton | Florida | Los Angeles | Minnesota | Montreal | Nashville | New Jersey | NY Islanders | NY Rangers | Ottawa | Philadelphia | Pittsburgh | San Jose | Toronto | Vancouver

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: August 29, 2015, 2:43 pm

Oh, the lacrosse goal (i.e. “The Michigan Goal.”)

This nasty little trick shot happens a few times every calendar year, and we never tire of them. Even if we’d like to see a few of them fail, because the success rate is slightly better than the unbeatable deke move on ‘NHL 94’.

The latest to dabble in the dark arts of the lacrosse shot is Pavel Medvedev of Urga of the Kontinental Hockey League, scoring one at 4:18 of the first period. Jeez, buddy, at least let people settle into their seats first …

Medvedev got a nice little pick from a teammate to give him the time to lift the puck in the air and fire into the top of the net. Traktor goalie Vasily Demchenko had tracked him well and appeared to have a wrap-around defended … until Medvedev buzzed the puck past his mask.

The play was reviewed, and it was a good goal.

OK, a great goal.

OK, just a nasty, nasty goal that gives goalies waking nightmares. 

s/t reader Rich

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 28, 2015, 11:19 pm

Devin Setoguchi can weigh himself in the morning and not feel bad anymore.

The Toronto Maple Leafs forward now tips the scales at just under 200 pounds, which is a milestone for him.

“I haven’t been under 200 pounds in probably nine years,” he said in a candid interview with the Brady and Walker show on Sportsnet 590 in Toronto.

The 28-year-old forward, who signed a PTO with Toronto, admitted he entered rehab last April. Is he ready to rediscover the form that saw him score 31 goals in 2008-09 with the San Jose Sharks? He says he has a clear mind and he’s ready to move forward with his life on and off the ice.

“Around the league my rep the last couple of years and my word hasn’t really meant much. I had gotten to the point where I had pretty much diminished any kind of merit in the league,” Setoguchi said. “No one really believed what I was saying, so I still have a lot to prove this year.”

Setoguchi said he had the wrong attitude the last several years in the league. After he got his first big deal, a three-year $9 million contract from 2011-12 through 2013-14, he intimated the wheels came off a bit.

“Then you get really confused and cocky and overconfident in what you do,” he said.  “Your attitude is not where it should be. That was something that hit me. Then obviously along the way got into some bad decisions and hanging out with the wrong people.”

Setoguchi said he took a “wrong turn” and then “Once I took that turn and knew it, I was in denial of it and it was everyone else’s problem.”

He signed a one-year $750,000 contract with Calgary for this past season, and says he told the team he was sober. 

“That lasted all of a couple of weeks,” he added.

Setoguchi also said he had a “crappy attitude” with the Flames. He played 12 games with Calgary and didn’t notch a point.

Over the last three years his career has taken him from the NHL to the ECHL with the Ontario Reign in 2012-13 to the AHL with the Abbotsford Heat in 2014-15. With a fresh outlook, the newly married Setoguchi hopes he can make the Maple Leafs happy with the opportunity they’re giving him.

He said he enjoyed playing in the structured system of former Sharks coach Todd McLellan while both were in San Jose. Since McLellan is a Mike Babcock disciple – and Babs is the Toronto coach –  it was a logical fit.

“They’re trying to do something there and turn that team into a great franchise,” Setoguchi said. “Not that it isn’t already, but that’s someone I’d like to (join) and push for moving forward.” 

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

 

 

 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 28, 2015, 10:56 pm

Cody Eakin, a.k.a Ginger Ninja, is staying with the Dallas Stars for four more years. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reported the financial details of the contract extension:

Stars have come to terms on contract extension for Cody Eakin. Four years at $3.85 million, according to source.

— Mike Heika (@MikeHeika) August 28, 2015

The $3.85-million referenced by Heika is the average annual value. In total, Eakin will be pulling in $15.4-million. 

Eakin, 24, was drafted by the Washington Capitals in 2009. He was traded to the Stars at the 2012 draft for Mike Ribeiro. At the culmination of his entry-level deal, the center was given two more years and $3.8-million total to show he was worth the big bucks.

Apparently he made a big impression Stars GM Jim Nill. Eakin has one year left on his current contract, and would have been an RFA at the end of it. Guess Nill wanted to knock a few things off his future ‘To Do’ list. The deal has no current year cap implications for the Stars who are about $2.9-million away from the ceiling.

When one (outside of Dallas) thinks of the Stars, the name Cody Eakin does not make it into the top five of known players, but he’s been a steadily improving center for the team. This past season, Eakin was fourth on the team in scoring with 40-points (19G, 21A) in 78 games. He tied Jamie Benn for first on the team with six game-winning goals.

Speaking of Benn. The Stars captain wouldn’t have overcome the four point deficit he needed to take the Art Ross trophy at the end of the season without Eakin’s help. Eakin assisted on Benn’s first goal of the game, and in turn, scored the final goal with an assist given to Benn, thus, locking up the trophy. Benn should be buying when it comes to celebrating the center's new contract.

- - - - - - -

Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Jen Neale
Posted: August 28, 2015, 8:39 pm

Not often do you find a coach who was respected and adored by all parts of an organization. 

Al Arbour gained the love of multiple segments of the New York Islanders.

From the team to their fans to management, Arbour – who died Friday at the age of 82 – was a man who garnered positive memories from those who worked closely with him. He spent 19 seasons with the Islanders a span where he went 740-537-223. Just for perspective’s sake, Claude Julien is currently the league’s longest-standing bench boss at seven seasons. It’s doubtful he’ll make it 12 more years in Boston. 

How many teams would invite a coach stuck on 1,499 games back for one more to reach an even number? The Islanders did in 2007-08, long after Arbour's last game behind the bench in 1993-94 

“Al Arbour was a man who not only left us feeling like champions, but he left us with a lot of memories we carried on through life,” Isles legend Denis Potvin said on a conference call with reporters. “Al always said, that negative energy you’re feeling … turn it into a positive energy.”

“He never thought anything was insurmountable."

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

Arbour helped take the young, expansion Islanders and pushed them to dominate a market that already had the well-established New York Rangers. He was the face behind the bench of a team that won four-straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83 and helped cement a vocal and proud fanbase. And what a face he was with those glasses, which helped give him the nickname, “Radar.”

“The blueprint we had with our staff, scouts assistants and Al all participated in and voiced their opinion. We had a common goal obviously,” former Islanders general manager and Florida Panthers alternate governor Bill Torrey said. “The main thing is when you get young talent is it’s given the right direction and the right discipline it  can grow as a group. No one was better to lead a group than Al Arbour.”

In some ways, Arbour was one the last of a breed. He was a truly dynastic coach who stood behind the bench when teams had multiple Hall of Fame level star players in the 70s and early-to-mid 80s. Glen Sather – who recently left his post as the Rangers’ general manager – and Scotty Bowman were the others.

The last team to win four straight Stanley Cups? That was his Islanders.

“The one things about Al was, he was so positive in the direction he would go. Obviously we were a very, very young team. But he liked the idea that we were building,” Torrey said. “I know from my very first private meeting with him, I came away more determined than ever that this was a doable thing and his role in it was pivotal, or certainly early on would be the most important part and once he said yes, he never took a backwards step and he treated his team like a family.”

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE SPORTS COVERAGE

 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 28, 2015, 8:10 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com.

Instagram: davidofdaveart

• Cam Talbot keeps with the Ghostbusters theme in Edmonton. It's a Slimer-esque, glow-in-the-dark mask, dubbed the 'goalbuster.' [DavidOfDaveArt]

• Social media was flooded with condolences after the announcement of Al Arbour's passing. [Sportsnet

• More info on the Mike Richards case and the implications of Canadian law. [LA Times]

• Goaltender Peter Budaj will attend Los Angeles Kings camp on a PTO. [Kings Insider]

• Place your bid now for Wayne Gretzky's pro-hockey draft questionnaire, plus other random hockey memorabilia, in an auction by the Canadian government. (Do they need money?) [ESPN]

• The Detroit Red Wings add Bryan Campbell to the front office as 'director of statistical analysis and hockey administration.' [Red Wings]

• The story of the Philadelphia Flyers & the ‘missing piece.' [THW]

• Pittsburgh Penguins top pick from the 2015 draft, Daniel Sprong (SPRONG! Fun to say!), signed a three-year ELC. [Penguins]

• Is the Cup window closing for the New York Rangers? [NHL]

• Andrew Ference is a pretty good dude, at least, off the ice. He's including the community in his off-season training. [Globe & Mail]

• Five things that could possibly (maybe, kind of) happen with the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. [Editor in Leaf]

• Using fancy stats to find the best goaltender in the NHL. Yes, your favorite goalie was left out on purpose. [TSN]

• Your daily Cody Franson update (hey, the free agent list is thin): Buffalo Sabres are offering a two-year deal. [The Buffalo News]

• Highlighting the top Chicago Blackhawks playoff wins with a look back at 'Crow's return.' [Blackhawk Up]

• Feeling too happy? Re-live the Edmonton Oilers 2008-2009 season under the management of Steve Tambellini. [Oilers Nation

• Pop Tops have been named the official jersey supplier of the NWHL. [Today's Slapshot]

• Major-junior dropouts cannot join the NCAA. Here's why that needs to change. [Along The Boards]

• Stuff you need to know about the upcoming Toronto Marlies this season. [PPP]

• Previewing buckets for some of your favorite NHL netminders this season. [Hockey By Design]

• "Shaun Weiss a.k.a. Greg Goldberg tells of how he had diarrhea during his favorite scene" in the Mighty Ducks movie. [The Quack Attack]

• Finally, one of many tributes to come to legendary head coach Al Arbour.

- - - - - - -

Jen Neale is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter! Follow @MsJenNeale_PD.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY:

Author: Jen Neale
Posted: August 28, 2015, 6:22 pm

Legendary New York Islanders coach Al Arbour  has died at the age of 82.

An official cause of death was not given though Arbour had been battling dementia for quite some time. The Islanders confirmed Arbour’s passing on their website.

Arbour coached the Islanders to four Stanley Cup championships from 1980-83. He was known for his ability to motivate, as well as his large glasses, which helped give him the nickname “Radar.”

“Al will always be remembered as one of, if not, the greatest coaches ever to stand behind a bench in the history of the National Hockey League,” Islanders President and General Manager Garth Snow said. “The New York Islanders franchise has four Stanley Cups to its name, thanks in large part to Al’s incredible efforts. From his innovative coaching methods, to his humble way of life away from the game, Al is one of the reasons the New York Islanders are a historic franchise. On behalf of the entire organization, we send our deepest condolences to the entire Arbour family.”

Said Islanders great Bryan Trottier in an interview with the New York Daily News last summer.

“He was probably our father figure in the fact that we all respected him so much," Trottier said. "He had a great command of the room and at the same time he had a big man's presence. He had won a lot of Stanley Cups as a player with several different teams, he played with great players, so he always brought that credibility with him. For us to sit down with him one-on-one or when he was in front of us as a team, he had a great presence and we loved the man…we all love Al for all of the great times we had together and his leadership."

Arbour was named Islanders coach in 1973-74. With the Islanders, he amassed a 740-537-223 record over 19 seasons. He won 119 career playoff games which is an NHL record for most with one club. Arbour ranks second in wins and games coached behind Scotty Bowman. He also coached 107 games with the St. Louis Blues, posting a 42-40-25 record. His final full season came in 1993-94. He was selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 1996. 

When Arbour left the Islanders, he had coached 1,499 games with New York, and returned to coach one in 2007-08 in order to hit the magical 1,500 mark. 

He was adored by Islanders fans and players alike. During his tenure he coached legends like Mike Bossy, Trottier and Denis Potvin.

Born in Sudbury, Ontario on Nov. 1, 1932, Arbour played 626 games as an NHL defenseman. He had 12 goals, 58 assists and 70 points between stints with the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues from 1953-54 through 1970-71. 

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 28, 2015, 4:38 pm

(Ed. Note: August is known to be a very quiet month in the hockey world. As we wait for September to arrive and training camps to begin, let’s learn a little history about all 30 teams. Behold, our summer A-Z(ed) series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to drop some knowledge on us! Add your own choices in the comments!)

By: Jocelyn Aspa

A. Alain Vignault

I have no shame admitting I miss Alain Vigneault a lot of the time.  

He’s sort of become the winningest coach of the Presidents’ Trophy and bridesmaid to the Stanley Cup, which includes his time with the Canucks and the Rangers. AV coached the team from 2006 up until his firing in 2013, coaching some of the best seasons this hockey club has ever seen, including that too-good-to-be-true year in 2010-11 with 117 points at the end of the regular season (let’s not talk about what happened on June 15, 2011, though). 

B. Back-to-back hat-tricks [by Alex Burrows]

League-wide fan favourite, Alex Burrows, recorded back-to-back hat tricks in January, 2010. The first against the Blue Jackets on January 5 in a 7-3 victory.

The second one came on January 7 in a4-0 shutout over the Phoenix Coyotes. It was the first time a Vancouver Canuck had done this since Petri Skriko did in 1986.

C. Canuck Place

Canuck Place is a children's hospice, specialising in care for children with life-threatening illnesses.

Its door opened in 1995, and has served as a home away from home for families across British Columbia as their children get around-the-clock care from its providers.

Not only is it a place for children to get the care they need, every year members of the Vancouver Canucks participate in events with the children and their families, including pumpkin carving, gift deliveries and a skating party at Rogers Arena.  

Here’s a quick peekinside Canuck Place.

D. Dice and Ice

Dice and Ice kind of goes hand-in-hand with the above Canuck Place, an annual charity event for the Canucks for Kids Fund. The event's proceeds go directly to the Canucks Autism Network and Canuck Place Children's Hospice. In return, guests who buy tickets to the event get to spend time with players, coaches and management from the team, participate in silent and live auctions and enjoy a three-course meal, all for a measly $350.00 a ticket. But, charity!

Here are some personal favourite past moments:

E. Empty Netter

Empty netters are great, when your team scores them for your team. The Canucks, however, are great at allowing empty netters, and even better when it’s AN OWN EMPTY-NETTER.  

On March 21, 2009 against the Phoenix Coyotes, Shane O’Brien, a member of the Vancouver Canucks at the time, scored an empty netter against his own team on a DELAYED PENALTY. It’s so embarrassing that I can’t even watch, so you’ll have to watch it for me.

The Canucks lost that game 5-1, so it was a really great night overall.

F. Flying V

Love it or hate it, the Canucks' second jersey in franchise history was a sight to be seen.

Introduced in 1978, the jersey faded out after seven seasons, although not due to lack of colour.  

With yellow, orange and black shaping a v down the front, it's still highly regarded as one of the most hideous jerseys in the league; you be the judge.

G. Greg Adams! Greg Adams!

The Canucks have a knack for winning game fives in double overtime on May 24 to send them to the Stanley Cup Final -- (although their SCF record could use some work). The first came in 1994 against the Toronto Maple Leafs where Greg Adams made a name for himself with Jim Robson’s call. Honestly, this call just doesn’t get old.

 No, there’s a lump in YOUR throat.

H. Heritage Classic

The Canucks’ Heritage Classic on March 2, 2014, was supposed to be amazing and wonderful and all things great with a fairy tail ending with Luongo and Lack riding off into the sunset together.

Luongo rode backseat to the backup goalie, Eddie Lack who got the start. Luongo has said himself that if Tortorella had given him the start, maybe he’d still be a Canuck. Through no fault of his own, Lack had to sit through a Luongo chant that erupted throughout BC Place; the Canucks lost 4-2 to the Ottawa Senators, and the entire game played out like an episode of daytime soap opera television.

No controversy between these two, though. (I’m being serious!)

Then again, can you blame the guy? 

Lu

I. It was 3-0

The Canucks have blown 3-0 leads on more than one occasion, whether it's a game or being up 3-0 in a playoff series, it's A Reoccurring Thing™ that's happened, but this one stands out.

If the 2013-14 season wasn't already bad enough, this game in particular sealed the deal when, on March 10, 2014, the Canucks were up 3-0 against the Islanders heading into the third period. A three-goal lead heading into the final frame guarantees a win, right? WRONG. It wasn't that they bore the lead, it's that they allowed SEVEN UNANSWERED GOALS IN ONE PERIOD.  WHO DOES THAT? (Teams coached by John Tortorella, I guess.)  

Check out the highlights from this incredibly memorable game in Canucks history.

J. Jovocop

Jovocop is a nickname derived from the 1980s classic film, Robocop and beloved former defenseman, #55 from the Vancouver Canucks, Ed Jovanovski.  Jovo(cop) was traded to the Canucks in 1999 from Florida in a seven-player deal, and basked in the West Coast Express era glow, with a career-high 17 goals in the 2001-02 season. His most memorable moment came in Game 7 against Calgary on April 19, 2004 as he sat -- rather, stood -- in the penalty boxand watched Matt Cooke score the tying goal to push the game to overtime.

I still kinda miss the guy sometimes.

K. Kurtenbach, Orland

No-brainer here, Orland Kurtenbach was the franchise’s first captain after being acquired by the Canucks when they joined the league in 1970.  In his first season with the Canucks, Kurtenbach recorded 53 points in 52 games.  Orland’s Kurtencall came four years later when he retired.  

On October 26, 2010, was the first player inducted to the Canucks’ Ring of Honour.

L. Linden, Trevor

Let’s focus on Trevor Linden the player, not Trevor Linden, current president of hockey operations of the Canucks, because I still like Trevor Linden, the player.

Where do I even start. He’s still literally the face of the franchise.  Drafted in 1988, Linden spent 10 years in Vancouver up until the Trade We Won’t Talk About happened on February 6, 1998. When he was traded back on November 10, 2001,  it was almost like no time had passed at all.  Linden played the rest of his career in a Canucks uniform, The Way God Intended.

In 1140 games played with the Canucks, he recorded 415 assists and 318 goals for a total of 733 points. The standing ovation in his last game played remains one of the most emotional hockey moments I’ve ever been a part of.

Linden officially announced his retirement on June 11, 2008, 20 years to the day he was drafted.   Six months later, on December 17, 2008, his jersey was officially retired. Because as if anyone else could ever wear the number 16.

M. Mark Messier

I didn’t want to talk about it, but it’s hard not to. How can it not be talked about. Mark Messier is literally the worst thing that has ever happened to the Canucks. Mark Messier was a free agent when he signed with the Canucks on July 28, 1997, ultimately stripping Trevor Linden of captaincy. Apparently, in a Reddit AMA, he admitted to wishing he had never taken it.  

Messier spent three years too long in a Canucks uniform, the first one his worst season since his first season in the NHL.  After his stint in Vancouver ended in 2000, he returned to New York, where he should’ve stayed all along. Now, he bombards our TVS in Rogers commercials, warming the hearts of Canucks fans all across Canada.

Let us not forget his Lays chips commercials, too.

N. Nazzy

As if this could be for anyone else -- Markus Naslund spent 12 years with the Canucks, from 1996 to 2008, eight of them as captain. Naslund remains third overall in points for Canucks’ with 756; not bad for a guy who hasn’t played for the team since 2008. (We’ll just pretend he retired a Canuck and didn’t spend a season with the New York Rangers).

A personal favourite memory of mine, Nazzy had a six-point night on February 25, 2003.

In 2010, Naslund finally came home (he hadn’t come back to play in the arena as a visitor), and officially had his jersey retired.

O. Off the Stanchion

This is probably Bieksa’s best moment in a Canucks uniform, although he couldn’t have done it without a little help from his friends (the stanchion. It’s his only friend).

On May 24, 2011, Bieksa’s double overtime goal off the stanchion, in game five against the San Jose Sharks, sent the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1994. 

Sigh. Memories. We could have had it all.

P. Pat Quinn

How do you talk about a man like Pat Quinn without getting a lump in your throat or mist in your eyes. No matter what team you’re a fan of in this league, we all feel something him.  

Quinn joined the Canucks in 1987-88 as president and general manager. Quinn took over as coach in 1991 when the coaching ban was lifted, and coached the team until November 1997, when he was fired.  It’s hard not to associate Pat Quinn with ‘94, because he made something out of a team that finished seventh in the Western Conference and took them all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

Quinn passed away on November 23, 2014, in Vancouver. On March 17, 2015, before the game against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Canucks paid tribute to Quinn in a pre-game ceremony. We miss you, Pat.

Q. Quadruple Overtime

On April 11, 2007, Roberto Luongo played his first playoff game in a 72-save performance that ended in a 5-4 victory in quadruple overtime against the Dallas Stars. Henrik Sedin served as overtime heroin this sixth-longest playoff game in playoff history.

R. Russian Rocket

Pavel Bure was given the nickname Russian Rocket for his speed, and, boy...

HE.

WAS.

FAST.

He’s still probably the most exciting player to ever put on a Canucks uniform, and he hasn’t played for the team since being traded on January 17, 1999 to the Florida Panthers in a trade that brought the Canucks Ed Jovanovski, among others. While Bure only played 12 seasons in the NHL, he packed a lot in to a short career. Bure had back-to-back 60 goal seasons in ‘92-93 and ‘94-95, something that hasn’t been done since then. 

Here’s a peek at what 60 goals in a season looks like:

In 702 games played with the Canucks, Bure had 437 goals and 342 assists, for a total of 779 points. That seems okay, I guess. Although his relationship ended poorly with the team, and is said to have been bad from the start, his jersey was officially retired on November 2, 2013. (Rightfully so.)

S. Sedinery! Wizardous Sedinery!

This almost doesn’t even need an explanation because Sedinery (Wizardous Sedinery, that is), is when the Sedins do something magical on the ice, which is almost every time they are.   

The Swedish twins have spent the entire length of their career in a Canucks uniform since they were drafted in 1999, and I still don’t know how we’ve been so #blessed to have them on our team for so long, but I hope they never leave. Or, maybe go somewhere where they can maybe have nice things because I feel like that will never here.

There’s not much to really say about Sedinery because seeing is believing, so I’ll just let their magic do the talking.

Example #1:

Example #2:

Example #3:

Example #4:

Example #5:

(I could go on, just so you know...)

T. Towel Power

Towel Power was born on April 29, 1982, when head coach Roger Nielsen raised a white flag on a hockey stick in protest to the referees after numerous penalties had been called, a disallowed Canucks’ goal and a Blackhawks powerplay goal (a trifecta still relevant today -- who knew).

Nielsen was ejected from the game, but when the team returned to Vancouver for the following  two games, fans showed their support by waving white towels over their heads, a tradition carried throughout the league today.

U. Utica Comets

The Comets are the Canucks’ current AHL affiliate team. The franchise has been around since 1932, when they first went by the Quebec Beavers (oh my god how Canadian is that, why isn’t there a Canadian team called the Beavers now?).

The franchise was purchased by Canucks Sports & Entertainment in 2013, and has been their AHL affiliate since then, winning a divisional and conference championship in 2014-15. The Comets recently unveiled their new jerseys for the 2015-16 season, and they’re lookin’ pretty good, guys.

V. Vern Fiddler’s Kevin Bieksa impression

On February 28, 2012, in Dallas, Vern Fiddler did us all a solid and made fun of Kevin Bieksa’s face.  This is more about Alain Vigneault’s reaction to Vern Fiddler’s Kevin Bieksa impression than anything (my god, that’s a mouthful). But, either way, there wouldn’t have been one without the other, and I’m pretty grateful for the entire situation.

Honestly, I could watch this forever:

W. West Coast Express

From 2002 to 2006, the Canucks’ top line dominated the NHL: they were Todd Bertuzzi, Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund.

2003 saw the line’s best year (Naslund, 104 points, Bertuzzi, 97 points and Morrison, 71 points). 2006 saw the end of the West Coast Express era when Bertuzzi was part of the trade that brought us Roberto Luongo (I’ll be over here weeping, now).  

Big Bert talks about what it was like playing with Naslund and Morrison here.

X. (shut outs) x's 2

Guys, I miss Roberto Luongo. Two consecutive Novembers in a row, Luongo posted a series of shutouts. But, like all good series, they eventually come to an end. The first series came the week of November 25-20, 2007 against Chicago, Anaheim and Columbus, making 79 saves. The streak ended at 210:34, the longest shutout streak in franchise history up until that point.

Almost exactly a year later, Luongo extended the shutout streak to 242:36, with 81 saves. Fallen victims included Nashville, Phoenix and Minnesota. Here’s some highlights from former Canuck captain, Roberto Luongo making saves and stuff.

Y. You know he'll play

Game 6 of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals between the Canucks and the Rangers at Pacific Coliseum goes down as one of the most memorable games in Canucks history, I’m pretty sure this is undisputed;  it was an emotional home game for the Canucks in which they trounced the Rangers 4-1 to send the series back to Madison Square for a seventh game,  Jim Robson’s ‘he will play, you know he’ll play, he’ll play on crutches!’ still gets the majority of this fanbase in the feels. I’m not crying, you’re crying.

Z. Zezel, Peter

In two seasons with the Canucks, Peter Zezel only played 66 games with the club, but that’s not why he’s being mentioned.

Zezel’s career unexpectedly ended in 1998-99 at the trade deadline. He had requested a trade to the Eastern Conference to be closer to his niece in Toronto, who was terminally ill with cancer. Yet, then-GM, Brian Burke, dealt him to the Ducks, and Zezel responded by retiring and heading home. Zezel’s niece passed away a few months later in May. As if this couldn’t get any sadder, Zezel himself died 10 years later on May 26, 2009, from a rare blood disorder.

Meet the author: Jocelyn Aspa is a journalism student in Vancouver, BC. She often wonders why she’s been a Canucks fan since the early 2000’s. She’s overly protective of the Sedins like they’re her children (of which she has none). Follow her on Twitter, @jocelynaspa.

Previous A to Z Guides: Anaheim | Arizona | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus | Dallas | Detroit | Edmonton | Florida | Los Angeles | Minnesota | Montreal | Nashville | New Jersey | NY Islanders | NY Rangers | Ottawa | Philadelphia | Pittsburgh | San Jose | Toronto

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: August 28, 2015, 3:58 pm

Every year, there's one division where you look at its potential playoff teams and say, “Yeesh, they're gonna get demolished.” 

For much of recent memory, that division has been the Southeast, perhaps the single worst division in modern North American sports history. But with the Southeast eradicated by realignment two seasons ago, things have been a little wonkier.

There are obviously a lot of different ways to measure the quality of a team or a division, including but not limited to overall record, record against other divisions, on-ice performance, and so on. But the quality of a division usually tells you a decent amount about how well teams are going to do once playoffs roll around; by that point we typically have a pretty good idea of what teams are capable of doing, and it's not often that a team comes out of a weaker division and makes it all the way to, say, the Stanley Cup Final (though the divisional playoff format typically helps them do so these days).

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

Last year, for example, it's pretty safe to say that the Pacific Division was the worst in hockey. It pushed three teams into the playoffs (Anaheim, Calgary, and Vancouver), but no one would have given any team but Anaheim a realistic shot of advancing very far at all. In addition, those three teams benefited from playing in the same division as the three worst teams in the Western Conference, so to say that they were even as good as their records is obviously a bit much. Factor in Calgary's defiance of mathematical probability for basically the entire season, and you have a recipe for a division that didn't deserve much respect beyond the Ducks (who were, by the way, an excellent team).

But that leads one to wonder whether the Pacific is going to be the worst division in hockey once again, or if its futility has been overtaken. The one thing we can say definitively is that there's basically no way Conference III is anything but the best in the league; it's a bit more wide-open than in years past for a number of reasons, but you drop any one of Chicago, St. Louis, or Dallas in any other division and they're 100 percent guaranteed to finish in that division's Top 2. You might even throw Nashville into that mix if you're feeling particularly adventurous.

(All of this, by the way, acknowledges that there are still some free agents to be added to multiple teams' rosters around the league. However, I'm not sure that at this point any one of them is going to dramatically swing the quality of any one team, let alone an entire division. Who's the best one left? Cody Franson? He's pretty good, but not a franchise-changing player.)

I would also caution that there's basically no way the Metro ends up being as bad as it was last year, and it was pretty damn bad. I don't put a lot of stock into the Rangers' hopes for even coming close to the Presidents' Trophy once again — not a great lineup, but a pretty good one — but Henrik Lundqvist is basically always going to drive success simply because he's out-of-control elite, either the first- or second-best goalie in the league for several years running at this point (Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas have given him a run for that crown). More teams in that division have improved as well, with all of Washington, Pittsburgh, and Columbus bolstering their rosters. The Islanders might improve even over a 101-point season, Philadelphia probably stays static or takes a small step forward. Carolina was a victim of bad luck but still isn't all that good, and obviously New Jersey is going to be garbage.

But there are plenty of 100-point teams in that division. Could be as many as four, which is what the Central did last year, and will probably do again this season.

Which means that, without even really diving into the numbers, we've already whittled the “Worst Division In Hockey” competition down to two combatants, each apparently more eager to be awful than the other.

In both the Oceanic divisions, there is a clear top dog that will likely tower above the others: Tampa in the Atlantic, and Anaheim in the Pacific. After that, there's a lot of guessing to be done as to where everyone else lands.

Let's start with the Atlantic. Who beyond Tampa would you say is a lock to succeed next season?

Montreal needed an all-time great performance from Carey Price to win the division last year, and even if he remains world-class — say .925 down from .933 — that's a huge number of additional goals against. Assuming he faces roughly the same number of shots he always does (approximately 1,900 in a full season), that's an extra 15 or so goals against, which probably costs Montreal about four or five points in the standings. And a .925 season would have still been fourth in the league last season, so there's plenty of room for even that number to decline.

As for the rest of the division, well, Boston has clearly taken a decent-sized step back (but that probably only lands them where they actually finished last season), the Leafs are going into full-on tank mode, Buffalo is still going to be awful, and Florida probably won't improve all that much barring a renaissance season from Jaromir Jagr which, frankly, I wouldn't put it past him. Detroit and Ottawa, meanwhile, are relative unknowns because while the Wings did improve the roster, they also lost a guy who is clearly one of the best coaches alive, and there's no way to guess how that impacts things. Meanwhile, Ottawa was decent last year, but needed a ridiculous run from an AHLer to even get into the playoffs, and have also added nobody in this offseason.

Meanwhile, over in the Pacific, there's mighty Anaheim above all else. And after that, several question marks. Los Angeles should be better, no question about it, just because all the bounces went against them last year and a bizarre confluence of circumstances conspired to keep them out of the playoffs. Let's put it this way: The Kings, a 95-point team last season that failed to make the playoffs, are the clear second-best team in the division.

San Jose? Might be better, might be about the same, still don't look like they have a ton of playoff quality, especially if they're relying upon a goalie who has 34 career appearances to his name, facing only 807 shots at the NHL level (and also was garbage last year).

Calgary? Clearly improved, but from being possibly the luckiest team in recent memory, and so it's difficult to say that those improvements even nudge them into the “legitimate playoff team” conversation. I have a lot of time for “Dougie Hamilton is an elite defenseman” arguments, but even still, look at that forward group and try to say with a straight face that you think it's anywhere near playoff caliber.

Vancouver? A not-great team last year that clearly took a step back. Edmonton? The Oilers' future is brighter than just about any team in the league at this point, and they should improve tremendously even if they just start getting some bounces to go their way, but they were a 62-point team last year, and that's a long, hard road to hoe. Arizona? The worst team in the league by far.

Any given NHL season is usually going to be fairly difficult to predict, but if you even want to break it down by how many teams are likely to be great, good, mediocre and poor, it looks as though the Pacific will once again be the worst in hockey. The Atlantic just has too many teams kind of milling around in the middle to say that there's going to be a major concern that any of them spiral into the bottom-five of the league again, while the Pacific clearly has one team there and the potential for more. The Atlantic won't have any teams that bad, and could very easily luck into another half-decent showing for the season.

All things are possible. Calgary made the playoffs last season, for example. But even with the padding most teams are going to get from playing Arizona five times (let's call that at least seven free points in the standings), it's difficult to see any other result than the same one as last year: Three Pacific teams in the playoffs, and two of them aren't even that good.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

All stats via War on Ice unless otherwise stated.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: August 28, 2015, 2:55 pm
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 15: Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks stands on the ice and acknowledges the crowd after his team defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-0 to win Game Six of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final and the Stanley Cup at the United Center on June 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Two years ago, it was Semyon Varlamov, arrested after allegedly having assaulted his then-girlfriend. Prosecutors eventually dropped the domestic violence charges when they couldn’t prove them beyond a reasonable doubt.

Then it was Slava Voynov, arrested and charged with a felony count of corporal injury to a spouse. He would plead “no contest” to domestic violence charges and get 90 days in jail, along with a prolonged suspension from the NHL. 

Most recently it was Patrick Kane, currently under investigation by Buffalo police after being accused by a local woman of sexually assaulting her in his home. 

Through the years, it’s been dozens of other players at every level of competitive hockey with similar charges and accusations. (Read the list -- it's shocking.) The words “hockey” and “rape culture” have become regrettably synonymous in the minds of many fans.

None of this is unique to hockey, and all of it seems to run counter to what we assume organized sports can, or should, accomplish with young men: Instilling discipline; preaching selflessness; establishing some semblance of morality, or at, a minimum, humanity.

The NHL and the NHLPA try to play that role with their players. They offer substance abuse rehabilitation. They offer counseling. They offer any number of support services throughout each season, and every preseason they offer guidance to players on how to conduct themselves as celebrities, role models and representatives of the league.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

“A specialist will come in and speak about identity theft and fraud, and stuff like that. So, how to protect yourself,” said a current NHL player, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “A group of guys come in and talk about substance abuse, things you can do to have teammates watch out for. Things you can and can’t take.”

But what, if anything, does the league tell these players about rape? About sexual assault? About domestic violence? Does the League do enough? Does it have an effective approach?

“A lot of time, they’ll talk about social issues like that. They have a lot of research available for you,” said the player. “But that specifically – sexual abuse – there’s not a whole lot of conversation about that.”

SCARED STRAIGHT

The first time the NHL and the NHLPA address players about sexual assault and domestic abuse is during rookie orientation camps for top prospects in the summer. According to another current NHL player, that’s where the most in-depth discussions on sexual assault and violence take place.

But the glut of that orientation is dedicated to the leap they’re about to make from junior league players to millionaire pros – about the financial and security issues in front of them, as well as the services available from the league and the PA regarding substance abuse and other aspects of mental health.

Once they enter the NHL, players revisit these issues every preseason in two different seminars presented by the league and the Players’ Association. (We asked both for materials related to these briefings, and both said there weren't any to share as they're "discussions.")

The first challenge in these early season meetings: trying to engage with an audience whose minds are on other matters, or still in offseason mode.

“It’s tough. It’s one of those things that is part of the CBA. Guys, to be real honest, aren’t real excited about that. Usually it’s at the end of a practice day or between game days or at some point during the season,” said one veteran player, again speaking on the condition of anonymity. “There’s usually a whole lot of other things on your mind, it’s one of those things you know is important but at the same time it’s mandated by the league and the PA so you have to go and everybody approaches it differently. But it’s one of those things that you’re not super excited to go to.”

The NHL presentation during training camp is handled by League or team security officers – usually ex-cops, gruff and matter-of-fact about the issues at hand.

(We’ve also heard some teams bring in detectives and district attorneys to speak to the players.)

This presentation is sort of a “scared straight” thing – talking about law enforcement and consequences, and presenting the players with some common sense guidelines to life. (For example, if you’re still at the bar at 2 a.m., there’s probably no good that’ll come from it.) Many of the topics are evergreen; some are stressed more than others depending on the news of the day.

“Last year, they showed a video that talked about stuff like ‘driving while drunk and text messaging’ and all that kind of stuff,” said one current NHL player.

The subject of that 10-to-12-minute video will rotate every year. According to the NHL, it’s never been focused on domestic violence or sexual assault.

“To be fair to them, there are so many issues out there to be aware of in the world of professional athletics. So they try to get to the most relevant things for each year. But this is in the headlines right now. This season, for sure, it will be a topic that they cover probably more in depth,” said one current veteran NHL player.

CALL THE DOCTORS

The second preseason seminar involves NHL and NHLPA doctors involved with the joint Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health programs.

This seminar covers the SABH polices laid out in the CBA, including Article 47’s performance-enhancing drug provisions. It explains the services available to the players, including drug and alcohol counseling and rehabilitation.

According to one player, domestic violence and sexual assault are covered here, although not exactly in depth.

“The group of doctors come in, and they do a whole substance abuse, domestic violence thing. It’s tough to get guys to pay attention for very long as a group, especially at the beginning of the year for training camp. They really just skimp through it. They don’t really go into depth with the actual repercussions,” he said.

So is it basically “don’t hit women” but not much more?

“Yeah like that. It’s a little wishy-washy. I’m pretty sure they don’t really cover any horror stories. I can’t remember hearing any,” said the player.

“Some guys get a benefit from being scared straight, but it’s a pretty graphic subject. I think there could be more done to educate guys on the repercussions. Especially young guys finding themselves in situations.”

One team that plans on increasing that education is the Los Angeles Kings, in the wake of the Voynov scandal. GM Dean Lombardi told the OC Register that the team will focus on domestic violence issues this season with its players:

"We neglected to educate our players. We spend time teaching them systems, nutrition and everything else, but we missed a big step here, in terms of ensuring that they understand right and wrong. That has to be reinforced, not only as a human being but as somebody who is a representative of your community. It heightens the need for this," he said in June.

"[The Kings] have met with a number of domestic-violence groups. [We're] in the process of finalizing an arrangement where they are going to come in and educate all of us on it, quite frankly. I’m interested in some of this myself. We all need to learn about it."

HEARING FROM SURVIVORS

To increase the impact of their preseason seminars, the NHL and the NHLPA will sometimes have former players that have battled substance abuse or suffered financial ruin speak to the players.

What they’ve never had, according to the NHL and the players to whom we spoke, is a victim of domestic violence or rape speak to the players about her anguish.

Would inviting a victim to speak have a greater impact than what’s currently being taught in these seminars? Would putting a woman's voice to the issues – like the league does with drug abuse – drive home the point better?

“That would be a deep, deep … that would strike a chord with a lot of guys,” said one NHL player.

“[Having a victim speak] would likely have an impact. It has more of an impact coming from someone that has been through it for sure,” said another.

But one NHL veteran told us he didn’t believe the message would resonate because, in theory, the players are already aware of what not to do.

“I don’t know if that would help. Honestly probably not. I don’t think it would. I think every guy in the locker room knows it’s not OK and I don’t know … I don’t think it would,” he said.  

One NHL official told us that players are just naturally more inclined to take advice from their own peers, or former peers, than from an outsider. And yet having a woman deliver information about sexual assault or domestic violence would, undoubtedly, reinforce the points more than having a man do so. That's the direction the Kings are taking, for example. 

Another consideration: Having the spouses/girlfriends of the players attend these NHL and NHLPA briefings, which could put a greater sense of importance on them, especially if they placed a greater priority on domestic violence/sexual abuse.

AFTER THE MEETING 

In a few weeks, NHL players will return to training camps after a summer of domestic violence charges, drug arrests and a rape investigation. For a couple days in September or early October, they’ll sit and they’ll listen to the advice handed out from security officials and physicians. They’ll hear what services are available if they need help. Maybe they’ll listen to a horror story or two about texting while driving.

And they’ll leave the room, to return to the gym or to head home for a nap.

It’s what they take with them that matters. And it’s what the NHL and the NHLPA can reinforce from those meetings that’s missing, according to one veteran NHL player.

“In my opinion, it should be a little more follow through, not just meetings but having the security people around to talk to if you need anything. In that sense it would help out,” he said.

The Slava Voynov situation was a landmark one for the NHL, or at least it could be one if the league remains diligent.

A month before the suspension, Gary Bettman told a luncheon crowd in Toronto that "our code of conduct is we expect you to do the right things and if you don't we hold you accountable. More important than that is I believe you need to be proactive."

So the NHL was proactive. Because, of course, the National Football League had suspended Ray Rice and thus made it OK for the NHL to be proactive against Voynov, in a way it wasn’t against Varlamov one year earlier.

Obviously, the League feels it needs someone else to take the first leap on these issues, so one wonders what the NHL reaction will be to the Major League Baseball domestic violence policy announced this month. It clearly spells out a punitive policy for domestic violence incidents involving MLB players, with the buck stopping with the commissioner.

Would the NHL do the same?

It's clear the NHL and its teams need to do more in their education of players; not only in the time spent covering domestic violence and sexual assault in the preseason but in having more women speak to the players on these issues, both from a clinical perspective and from their own experiences. And then, to reinforce it, explaining what the consequences are for their actions when it comes to their livelihood. 

“It all comes down to if I’m running a business and I’m paying my athletes X amount of dollars, I think you go the extra mile to educate and protect them,” said one NHL player. “It’s just another way of protecting your assets so the team can be as focused and successful as possible.”

And almost assuredly protecting others in the process.

Additional Reporting By Josh Cooper/Yahoo Sports

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 28, 2015, 12:46 pm

When free agency began, Cody Franson was a wide-eyed 27-year-old defenseman, full of life and optimism and thinking this summer would produce a contract offer that befit his 6-5 frame and 40-point potential.

As of Thursday, Aug. 27, Franson was a frustrated 28-year-old, sitting by while dozens of defensemen were gobbled up on the UFA market. Oh, there were “talks” rumored with teams like the Boston Bruins. But nothing concrete.

Then, finally, some movement: Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News reports that the Buffalo Sabres and Franson are in talks, and one assumes he likes what he’s hearing: Instead of another one-year stop-gap deal, Franson and the Sabres are talking about a two-year deal.

From the News:

According to two NHL sources, the Sabres are trying to lure former Toronto and Nashville blueliner Cody Franson by offering a two-year contract. Franson, who turned 28 on Aug. 8, has been linked in the rumor mill this month with teams such as Boston, Pittsburgh and Columbus but is almost certainly seeking a multi-year deal. His has played on one-year contracts the last three seasons. He made $3.3 million last season.

Franson was a dud last season for the Nashville Predators after being acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs: one goal, three assists in 23 games, seeing his ice time go from 21:23 with the Leafs to 15:25 in Nashville.

One assumes he’d get his minutes with the Sabres, who could use his right-handed shot and veteran presence. They have Josh Gorges and Zach Bogosian in the top four. But Franson could help keep the pressure off Rasmus Ristolainen and Mark Pysyk, and limit the necessity for someone like Carlo Colaiacovo to play significant minutes. Or any at all. 

And obviously, his impact on special teams can’t be understated: He’s averaged roughly 17 points on the power-play over the last three seasons; Ristolainen led all Sabres defensemen with nine points on the worst power-play in the League last season.

So it would seem like a good fit for both, and Die By The Blade agrees:

A two-year deal makes sense for the Sabres, who will have to deal with adding big contracts in Ryan O'Reilly, Jack Eichel, Zemgus Girgensons, Sam Reinhart and Rasmus Ristolainen in the next couple of years. A long-term deal at a big number could leave the Sabres strapped for cash.

Well, in the salary cap sense. We all know Terry Pegula has enough money to buy Donald Trump. 

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 28, 2015, 5:08 am

Where does Christian Ehrhoff fit with the Los Angeles Kings? 

And does his arrival mean the end of Slava Voynov with Los Angeles?

Those are two important questions that have been asked since Ehrhoff signed a one-year $1.5 million contract with the Kings on Sunday.

It seemed to truly signal the final Hollywood chapter for Voynov, who was sentenced to 90 days in jail for domestic violence earlier this summer. He’s suspended by the NHL and the Kings. 

LA Kings Insider tries to answer these questions in a Thursday blog:

While Ehrhoff’s impending signing raises the question of how the organization plans on handling Slava Voynov, at this point it is still too early to gain a firm sense of whether or not Voynov will play (or be allowed to play) for Los Angeles in 2015-16.

According to hockey operations, Voynov has not yet been released from a detention facility (though he has been eligible for a work-release program). The current hurdle with Voynov is his immigration status, which has not yet been resolved. Should his immigration status be resolved, the league’s investigation will then take place.

Long-term, Ehrhoff will not replace Voynov. The Russian blueliner is 25 years old. Ehrhoff is 33 and is no longer the dynamically skating puck mover he was before. Ehrhoff can still play with efficiency, just not at that high level. He played just 49 games last season and had 14 points for a career low in points per-game at 0.29. In Voynov’s last full season he notched 0.41 points per-game. The year before in 48 games he was at 0.52.

But with Drew Doughty probably expected to again play near 30 minutes (and capably so) for Los Angeles, Voynov's presence shouldn't loom super large. Having other solid blueliners like Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin should help. Throw Ehrhoff in there and you have a decent defense group. 

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

Said The Hockey Writers on Ehrhoff:

Assuming he’s fully recovered from the concussion he suffered last year, Ehrhoff fits in as a projected number four defenseman in L.A. With Drew Doughty joined at the hip with Jake Muzzin, Ehrhoff projects to be paired with Alec Martinez. Both players can play either side, and if the chemistry pans out, would make a very strong second unit. 

Adds Jewels from the Crown.

Similar to Andrej Sekera, Ehrhoff is a solid, puck moving defenseman who will be a major help to the Kings. He's not the #gritty #heart #cliche defensive defenseman nor is he a typical offensive defenseman, but the veteran of 741 regular season games does have some ability to score, as evidenced by his 72 goals to go along with his 255 assists. 

And for one year at that contract all the Kings really need is a puck mover -- even if he's not what he once was.

Whether this is indeed the end for Voynov involves a few other moving parts. Voynov is also rehabbing for a torn Achilles. Says The Insider...

Though the legal hurdles appear to be the most significant impediment towards the resuscitation of his career at this point, I have been told that he is “getting close” to being able to skate, and his original general rehabilitation timeline holds firm.

It seems the Kings would rather not have Voynov around anymore anyway due to the dark domestic violence cloud following him along with LA's other off-ice problems this summer. 

And if Ehrhoff plays well enough they may not need Voynov this season after all. But if Ehrhoff flops – a real possibility considering his concussion history – then LA will have to pivot on D again.

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 28, 2015, 1:08 am

The Carolina Hurricanes have liked what they’ve seen the last two years from 2013 first round pick Elias Lindholm. Enough to give him a contract extension and a raise without the luxury of seeing him play the third year of his entry-level contract.

Lindholm will make $2.5 million and $2.9 million in 2016-17 and 2017-18 respectively. Good deal for the Hurricanes? Try great deal – considering Lindholm’s upward point trajectory. 

The 20-year-old center had 39 points in 81 games last season for Carolina. According to the NHL’s enhanced stats, Lindholm’s SAT Rel% was at plus-1.2, which meant his team possessed the puck more when he was on the ice than when he was off the ice.

His 60 points in 139 games is tied for third most amongst 2013 draftees. Remember, that class was supposed to rival the 2003 draft for its overall depth. Lindholm was picked fifth overall.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

“Elias played well last season, nearly doubling his offensive numbers from his rookie year,” general manager Ron Francis said in a statement. “We expect he will be a very important part of the Hurricanes as he continues to develop as a professional.”

Lindholm is really the first big name of the 2013 class to sign a contract extension. Nathan MacKinnon, Aleksander Barkov and Seth Jones are all slated to be restricted free agents next summer.

Does this Lindholm deal set the market for them? Not really just because the contract is based off two years of work, not three. Imagine if either three of those players have monster years? Then we’re talking much larger deals – maybe even Brandon Saad money? If he could get that type of raise off an entry-level contract ($894,166 per-year to $6 million per-year) why can’t MacKinnon, Jones or Barkov?

Also, with captain Eric Staal set to be an unrestricted free agent next summer, the Canes possibly see the young Swede as a Staal replacement? There's definitely been an interesting waiting game between Staal and the Hurricanes with his contract primed to be a distraction for this upcoming season. There's also that Carolina ownership issue looming over the team. 

Clearly Lindholm saw the opportunity for a raise and took it. Plus, if he continues to develop his next contract, which isn’t that far away anyway, will be much larger. Overall great value for the Hurricanes and a nice raise for Lindholm.

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 27, 2015, 9:17 pm

The good news for Scott Gomez is that, over the years, he’s become a punchline to fewer and fewer people. 

The loudest guffaws came when he didn’t come close to living up to his elephantine contract, and went through an epic goal-scoring drought that earned him an ironic cult following. The chuckles continued when he went from a top six forward to a professional tryout contract hanger-on, and they continued when he ended up back in New Jersey, the team he spurned to sign that aforementioned contract with the rival New York Rangers.

But then, at 35 years old, the laughing subsided. Gomez had 34 points in 57 games last season, with 27 assists; had the Devils’ offense resembled anything close to being on an NHL level, he might have had more.

Gomez wasn’t invited back by the Devils’ new regime – the reruns left with Lamoriello – but he wasn’t about to let his NHL career end there.

“The thing is I know I can play. I've proven that. I know I can play at this level. I know I can contribute. But it's time to focus on somewhere else,” he told Fire & Ice.

Elsewhere turns out to be the St. Louis Blues, where Gomez will attend camp on a PTO. With Patrik Berglund out four months with shoulder surgery and Jori Lehtera on the mend from ankle surgery, they could use a steady offensive hand at forward. That, and Gomez would come cheap if he signs.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

The Martin Brodeur connection is being played up here and rightfully so, as Marty and Gomez go back aways – they skated together when both were looking for contracts last year – and Brodeur’s now part of the Blues’ front office.

But the Marty/Gomez link, I think, does a disservice to the job Gomez did last season to earn this. No, it’s not an iron-clad contact for 2015-16. But it’s a shot at making a roster that’s one of the Western Conference’s best, rather than sitting by the phone for some salary floor team to call.

There were still some “what are the Blues smoking?”-like reactions to this, and that’s unfortunate. Even as a stop-gap or a band-aid, just having his positive attitude and whatever’s left in his tank in St. Louis is a plus.

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

 

 

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 27, 2015, 8:40 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com. 

Photo from Johnny Gaudreau's Intagram account. 

• I love photos of Johnny Gaudreau looking kid-like. [Johnny Gaudreau]

• Anze Kopitar has done an incredible amount of work for hockey in Slovenia. [Jewels from the Crown]

• What tank? The Buffalo Sabres had a great summer for season ticket renewals. [Buffalo Sabres]

• The changing monetary value in global markets has far reaching effects in the hockey world. [IIHF]

• More about the Greenville Road Warriors morphing into the mythical Swamp Rabbits. There’s actually more to the name change than you think. [Greenville Online]

• Your 2015-16 AHL schedule has been released! [The AHL]

• Have the Washington Capitals closed the gap on the New York Rangers? And other topics you wanted to know about Washington. [Japers’ Rink]

• If the Winnipeg Jets trade Dustin Byfuglien, they’ll want the right type of value in return. What is fair market value for Big Buff? [Illegal Curve]

• The Islanders Ice Girls may be changing to a co-ed ice cleaning group. As long as they’re all wearing Brooklyn hipster skinny jeans. [Islanders Point Blank]

• Why Nick Bonino is the Pittsburgh Penguins most underrated offseason acquisition. [The Hockey Writers]

• Is Scott Gomez a potential replacement for the injured Patrik Berglund with the St. Louis Blues? [Fansided]

• Quite a few perspectives on the Mark Giordano re-signing. This goes pretty deep into all different thoughts on Gio’s return to the Flames. [Flames from 80 Feet]

• A hockey camp at the Lake Placid 1980 rink hosted by the Miracle on Ice team? This sounds like the greatest hockey camp of all time! [Bloomberg]

• There was a ridiculously awesome band that played during Anaheim Ducks playoff games. Bring them back for next season. [Anaheim Calling]

• A ‘heartfelt’ goodbye to Phil Kessel. And by goodbye we mean … ‘see ya later.’  [The Cauldron]

• How will new Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock change his team’s neutral zone defense. [SPORTLOGOiQ]

• Auston Matthews on the road never taken by a top draft prospect to get ready for the NHL in 2016-17. [AZ Central]

• Winnipeg captain Andrew Ladd would like to sign a contract extension with the team before the season. He’s in the final year of a deal that pays him $4.5 million per-season. Unclear if he’s using ‘Mark Messier Leadership Award finalist’ as leverage. [The Score]

• Boston Blades General Manager Krista Patronick is pretty happy with how her first CWHL draft went. [Stanley Cup of Chowder]

• Oh geez, the Washington Capitals against the Anaheim Ducks in the Stanley Cup Final. The Ovi/Bruce match up we all want. [DC Sports Bog]

•  Are the Nashville Predators your sleeper for the Central Division? Big cats do like to wait to pounce says this blog.  [Predlines]

• Finally, Work on your hand-eye coordination kids. 

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 27, 2015, 6:20 pm

What is it with the St. Louis Blues and crummy offseason surgeries to key forwards?

On Thursday the team announced Patrik Berglund would go under the knife for shoulder surgery that will knock him out at least four months. According to the team, Berglund reinjured his shoulder while training this offseason. The surgery will take place Friday. He will be reevaluated after four months to which means he could be out even longer. 

Via the Post-Dispatch:

The injury originally happened on April 11, 2014 against Dallas in the second-to-last game of the 2013-14 regular season. Berglund missed three games, including the first two games of the Blues' first-round playoff series against Chicago, before returning for Game 3.

Berglund then re-injured the shoulder again last season in a 5-4 shootout win over Nashville on Jan. 29. He rejoined the lineup Feb. 5 in Buffalo, admitting that the shoulder probably wouldn't be 100 percent the remainder of the season.

It’s the second such offseason procedure for a Blues forward. St. Louis announced forward Jori Lehtera would be out until around the start of the regular season after ankle surgery. 

According to the Post-Dispatch, Berglund was skating with the Blues as early as last week during the team's informal drills. 

Last season, Berglund, 27, notched 27 points in 77 games. Another blow to the Blues forwards for sure, but this is why they have a ton of depth. The Blues gave veteran forward Scott Gomez a professional tryout agreement on Thursday.

Per NHL.com

"It gives him a great opportunity," (general manager Doug) Armstrong said of Gomez. "I talked to Scott's representative when Lehtera went down. Seeing as Lehtera wasn't going to be participating in the first part of camp, if [Gomez] wanted to come in and play with some good players and show what he can do. Obviously now with the Berglund injury, it has opened up wide open for Gomez and for players like [Jordan] Caron and [Danny] Kristo and [Justin] Hodgman and obviously our own players like [Ty] Rattie, Fabbri, [Ivan] Barbashev. It's going to be a really competitive camp. The one spot that was locked down is now open."

As the Blues know, you can never have too much depth. 

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 27, 2015, 5:37 pm

(Ed. Note: August is known to be a very quiet month in the hockey world. As we wait for September to arrive and training camps to begin, let’s learn a little history about all 30 teams. Behold, our summer A-Z(ed) series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to drop some knowledge on us! Add your own choices in the comments!)

By: PhyllisKessel13, writer for Pension Plan Puppets

A. Air Canada Centre

The Leafs began disappointing their home fans early, with their first ever game on November 12, 1931 in Maple Leaf Gardens ending with a 2-1 loss to Chicago (although the team was established in 1917). Following an emotional ceremony during the last game at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1999, which they naturally bookended with yet another loss to Chicago, the Air Canada Centre became the Leafs’ new home.

Since the Leafs have had no reason to raise any banners for some time, the Leafs ownership group Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment decided to raise a permanent banner to honour New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi instead.

I would love to say that I’m kidding, but sadly, I’m not. And opening this guide with that sentiment, it turns out, is devastatingly appropriate.

B. Babcock, Mike

The words “perennial losers” and “why would anyone want to coach there” were bandied about when discussing why the Leafs would never possibly land the $50 million dollar man as their coach (see Forbes World’s 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams). The 29 other fan bases became even more vehement in their complaints following the announcement that Mike Babcock was to be the 30th coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, these pitiful efforts to rain on Leafs fans’ parades did not put a stop to our smugness. Consequently, B could also stand for Bitterness.

Dive right in to the Babcock Era!

C. Conn Smythe

Conn Smythe was a key figure in the development of the NHL as well as the principal owner of the Leafs from 1927 to 1961. Smythe took the Toronto St. Pats and turned them into the Toronto Maple Leafs, built Maple Leaf Gardens, and saw the Leafs win eight Stanley Cups in his tenure. Everyone assumed that following his ownership the Leafs’ success would continue forever.

Then the alphabet ended at C and nothing ever hurt again.

D. Darryl Sittler

Drafted eighth overall to the Leafs in 1970, Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler has the honour of having scored the most goals at Maple Leaf Gardens (235) as well as the most points at the Gardens (524).  He totaled 916 points as a Leaf, including a record-setting 10-point night against the 1976 Boston Bruins that stands to this day. As far as I know, nothing particularly noteworthy for the Leafs has happened against the Bruins ever since.

E. Expressions of displeasure

Contrary to the popular belief that Leafs fans are constantly planning the parade (we’ve already mapped it out, and it will go right through your house), in reality, Leafs fans tend to be a despondent bunch. Over the years this has been expressed at games by wearing gas masks and paper bags on their heads, and tossing things on the ice, such as Leafs jerseys and most peculiarly, waffles.

The waffle tosser defended himself thusly: "I see octopuses being thrown on in Detroit games and hats being thrown on. I mean, is a hat better than a waffle? Just because you're praising someone (with a hat for a hat trick), you can't throw something on when they're crap?"

A surprisingly coherent point from someone who threw waffles on the ice at a hockey game.

F. Forbes World’s 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams

The Leafs have the proud distinction of being the only NHL team to crack theForbes 2015 top 50 most valuable sports teams, coming in at #37 with a value of $1.3 billion. Fans of other teams are so obsessed with hating the Leafs that they have turned “passion” and “loyalty” into a repetitive critique of Leafs fans for not demanding more success.

In the meantime, the Leafs are like this:

G. Goaltending Issues

The Leafs have had some impressive goalies over the years, with Johnny Bower, Felix Potvin, Curtis “Cujo” Joseph and Ed Belfour standing between the pipes. However, their more recent goaltending track record leaves something to be desired—like good goaltending. Despite currently having two very capable goalies in James “Optimus Reim” Reimer and Jonathan Bernier, the high frequency of games where the Leafs were horrendously outshot has put undue and unsustainable pressure on the goaltending duo. Leafs fans have also been trying to forget the infamous trade that sent future Vezina winner Tuukka Rask to Boston in 2006 in exchange for Andrew Raycroft. Raycroft then went on to lose his starting position to Vesa Toskala. Yes, the Vesa Toskala:

Fun fact: my dad has the distinction of being the only person in the world to own a Toskala Leafs jersey. If we could afford the pricey ACC tickets, we would throw that jersey on the ice, too.

H. Horton

In Canada, Horton is basically the word for “money”. Tim Horton, the former Leafs defenseman, won four Cups during his tenure with the team. Today his name is synonymous with the Tim Hortons donut and coffee chain, which has become a symbol of Canadian culture (that is owned by American company Burger King).

More recently, the Leafs will be paying Nathan Horton $26 million over the next five years (outside the cap) to (likely) not play a single game due to injury (See: Forbes World’s 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams). This was judged to be better than paying former-Leaf David Clarkson (damn, that feels good to type) a similar amount to do little more than police the team’s water bottles.

Leafs fans felt nothing short of jubilation at the trade. In fact, it was probably the only good thing to happen to the Leafs during the 2014/2015 season. To paint you a picture, during his brief six-game stint as a Leaf Olli “Finnish Fabio” Jokinen took one look at us,decided we were too depressing, and got the hell out of there.

I. It Was 4-1

If you asked most Leafs fans, they would consider game 7 of the first round of the 2013 playoffs against Boston to be the their most painful recent Leafs memory. After not making the playoffs since the 2003-2004 season, in a series that no Leafs fan expected to win, the Leafs somehow clawed their way back from a 3-1 series deficit to force a Game 7. After magically jumping ahead to a 4-1 lead, the Leafs managed to give up three goals in regulation and lose in overtime. I will not be attaching any videos or photos, or providing any further details. I can tell you next to nothing about that game because I have wiped it from my memory.

J. Joe Bowen

Joe Bowen is the “voice of the Toronto Maple Leafs” after having called games for over thirty years. He is known for shouting “Holy Mackinaw!” during an exceptional play and for his alliterative abilities when describing goalies. Bowen openly cheers for the Leafs during broadcasts, which is apparently not appreciated by non-Leafs supporting Canadians.

His voice was hoarse with emotion when Mats Sundin scored the tying goal in the 2002 Eastern Conference finals (f*** Arturs Irbe, by the way). Maybe the Leafs just broke him, like they break everybody else.

K. Kerry Fraser

The scene: Overtime of game 6 of the Western Conference Finals between the Leafs and the L.A. Kings. If the Leafs win this game, they go on to the finals. Wayne Gretzky high sticks Leafs star Doug Gilmour, and draws blood. Referee Kerry Fraser looks on.

What happened in an alternate reality: Fraser gives Gretzky a five minute penalty and a game misconduct. The Leafs score, win the series, go on beat the Canadiens in the finals, and my life is better in every way.

What actually happened: Kerry Fraser does nothing. Gretzky scores the game winner, the Kings beat the Leafs in Game 7, and my entire life is terrible.

“But they still lost Game 7!”, you might reply. Or maybe, “There’s no way they would have beat the Canadiens!”. And to that I say, go away, no one likes you.

You ruined our lives, Kerry Fraser.

L. Lou Lamoriello

NHL.com Correspondent Chris Stevenson speaks to new Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello and Team President Brendan Shanahan at the press conference in Toronto.

In an announcement that no one seemed to see coming, New Jersey Devils president and former GM stepped down from his duties last month to become the next Leafs GM. Leafs fans everywhere are now wondering how they will get over their decades long distaste of Lou Lamoriello. Then they remember John Ferguson Jr., Brian Burke, and Dave Nonis.  It really can’t get worse.  This is of course flawed reasoning; it can always get worse.  The creative ways that the Leafs have found to prove this point over the years are as impressive as they are grotesque.

Some are suggesting (okay, one person is suggesting) that the Bon Jovi banner was just a ruse by MLSE to bring the longtime New Jersey executive to Toronto all along. But hey, no one is denying it!

M. Mats Sundin

As the second Swede ever to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (following Borje Salming, another long-time Leaf), Mats Sundin has been the brightest spot in my lifetime of Leafs fandom. Sundin was one of the best players in franchise history, with goal and point records on his impressive list of honours (despite never playing with a consistent winger).

He was ultimately forced out by management in 2008 and returned to the ACC as a Vancouver Canuck, scoring the winning shootout goal against the team he had captained for over a decade because why would anything else happen to the Leafs?

It’s okay to admit it if you cried during his return to Toronto video tribute:

Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened, Leafs fans.

N. Nineteen Sixty-Seven

I’m not aware of anything special happening that year, but I have a feeling that fans of other teams will tell me constantly.

O. Original Six

Often evoked to grant prestige and a sense of history, the “Original Six” distinction is conferred to the first six teams to comprise the NHL. Seeing as being old is one of the best things that the Leafs have had going for a while, we’ll take our sense of self worth where we can get it.

The “Original Six” assignment is actually somewhat arbitrary given that other teams had also been a part of the NHL prior to the 1967 expansion. Even so, you should never believe Ottawa Senators fans when they try to tell you that they’ve won a Cup. They haven’t.

P. (T.C.) Puck

This is the nicest way that I can bring up what is referred to as  the darkest period in the team’s history, the “Ballard Era”. To paint you a picture: Leafs owner Harold Ballard spent the 1972-1973 season in jail. That was probably the best thing to happen during that time.

It lasted far too long, it was hard to muster any kind of enthusiasm, and it was a constant disappointment. The Ballard Era is starting to sound a lot like my last date!

On a lighter note, Ballard had a dog named T.C. Puck who could frequently be seen in his “bunker” in Maple Leaf Gardens as well as in team photos. Dogs are great! Thinking about the Ballard Era is not. His dog almost makes him seem likeable, even. Almost. But still, Ballard ruined everything. This cannot be emphasized enough.

Smile, Fido!: As usual, Harold Ballard's pooch, T.C. Puck, stole the show as the Leafs assembled for the offiical team photo yesterday at the Gardens. Looking on in amusement are (left to right) coach John Brophy, Borje Salming, Ballard and Wendel Clark. Brophy denied rumors that he and T.C. frequent the same hair salon. Leafs open the season tomorrow.

Q. Quinn, Pat

A former Leafs defenseman turned coach, Pat “The Big Irishman” Quinn is one of the most beloved Leafs coaches in history (as well as recent Hall of Fame inductee Pat Burns). The Leafs were an exciting and competitive team while he was at the helm from 1998-2006, but after missing the playoffs just once following the season-long lockout, he was fired. The Leafs quickly got used to missing the playoffs, however, and a coach missing the playoffs is now cause fora contract extension, apparently.

Pat Quinn passed away this past year, and left a shamrock-sized hole in all of our hearts. We miss you, Pat.

R. Randy Carlyle

Similar to Quinn, Randy Carlyle had a brief career with the Leafs as a defenseman, and went on to coach from 2012-2015. The similarities end there. Instead of looking back on some fond memories (a search turned up no results), fans’ favourite Carlyle moment was when he was unable to operate a toaster.

S. Selke, Frank

Frank Selke was a key figure in the Leafs organization prior to his departure in 1946 due to disagreements with the Leafs’ managing director Conn Smythe. As GM of the Montreal Canadiens, Selke was an architect not only for their mid-century success, but he built the foundation upon which their later success was built through the development of their farm system as well as grooming future GM Sam Pollock.

Handing over the Anglophone on which the Habs’ dynasty was built was not the best decision that the Leafs have ever made. Had Smythe not alienated Selke, it might have saved me what will surely amount to years of my life being taunted by smug Habs fans. But does this knowledge--that the Leafs can in a way be thanked for the success of le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge by providing them with this key Anglophone figure--provide me with a glimmer of happiness? Peut-être. Canadiens fans may not see it this way, but no matter. Je me souviens.

T. Toronto Media

Every city has their issues with their hockey media, but Toronto seems to have something truly special going on. The media in Toronto could be compared to theinfinite monkey theorem, but instead of coming up with a Shakespearian play, they only seem to come up with Phil Kessel fat jokes. Leafs blog Pension Plan Puppets is in a feud with a Toronto columnist over anarticle about hot dogs, to give you some perspective.

Phil Kessel, saying what we were all thinking. We miss you, Phil. You’re too good for us. I’m not crying, I’ve just been cutting onions.I’m making a lasagne… for one.

U. "Until then"

Being a Leafs fan primarily involves alternately hating the team, feeling cautiously optimistic, deciding that you cannot possibly cheer for them anymore, and being insufferably smug about anything good that happens. All the while, fans of opposing teams continually take cheap shots at the Leafs and the city of Toronto, showing that they don’t have an inferiority complex about the size of their cities or teams at all.

Being a Leafs fan is terrible in miraculous and surprising ways. But there’s a reason that we stay, too. There’s history and feeling a sense of place and those times where your heart takes up residence in your throat and you don’t think that you could feel more joy ever in your life than you do in that moment. Over time all this emotion hardens you, and potentially turns you into a sarcastic Leafs-insulting a-hole because it’s a defense mechanism to be better at making fun of the Leafs than everyone else.

“Until then”, that is, when they win the Cup.

All the angry memories of watching Aki Berg being a pylon on defense (although you actually have to skate around pylons) and the Ballard Era and “It Was 4-1” will fade into memory. And when that happens, Toronto will probably just explode.

V. Victory Song

Many songs have come to be associated with the Leafs, such as Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” blasting in the locker room during the early parts of the 2013 season and “Maple Leaf Forever”, most memorably performed by Canadian songstress Anne Murray during the last game at Maple Leaf Gardens. In my opinion, the most beloved is “Heave Away” by the Fables, which was the song that would play following a Leafs home win for several seasons (and fans continue to play it after it was retired as the victory song).

Doesn’t that make you want to dance?

W. Wendel Clark

The Leafs have drafted first overall just once: in 1985, when they selected Wendel Clark. Clark was the embodiment of “truculence”, showing leadership, fight, goal-scoring ability, and an unparalleled moustache. He alsobeat the crap out of Marty McSorleyduring that series in 1993, causing McSorley to feel, as one newspaper and dad joke aficionado described it, “McSorry.”

X. XIII

XIII, thirteen, is the lucky number of times that the Leafs have captured Lord Stanley. Critics are quick to point out that all of those wins happened when there were only six teams in the NHL. The Leafs, however, have a long history of ignoring critics (to a fault), so why would we start now?

Y. Young talent

With the rebuild in full swing, Leafs fans have been promised a lot of “pain” in their immediate future. However, fans can feel excited about the crop of young talent that have already cracked the Leafs lineup, such as defenders Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner and forward Nazem Kadri. Looking ahead, we can expect to see recent fourth overall pick Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen, and the surprisingly fresh-looking-for-his-age William Nylander up front as well.

Z(ed). Zigomanis, Mike

While no longer a member of the Leafs organization, Mike Zigomanis had a brief stint with the Leafs and their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. Zigomanis once represented the hopes and dreams of those who think that Toronto should have more good Toronto boys. But seriously, Steve Stamkos will one day fulfill his destiny and become a Toronto Maple Leaf because why would he not want to win a Cup in his hometown as part of the biggest team in hockey?

Every team has a Zamboni, but not every team has a Zigomanis.

Meet the author: Phyllis Kessel has been described as the “resident rabble-rouser” at Leafs group therapy web site Pension Plan Puppets. She can often be found ordering discounted Kessel jerseys after a few cocktails or scaring her dog as she shouts during Leafs games. Phyllis wants to thank her sister Jill for teaching her how to be sad (but not too sad) about the Leafs. Follow her on Twitter at @phylliskessel13.

Previous A to Z Guides: Anaheim | Arizona | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus | Dallas | Detroit | Edmonton | Florida | Los Angeles | Minnesota | Montreal | Nashville | New Jersey | NY Islanders | NY Rangers | Ottawa | Philadelphia | Pittsburgh | San Jose | Tampa Bay

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: August 27, 2015, 4:00 pm
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 7: Mike Richards #10 of the Los Angeles Kings warms up before taking on the New York Rangers in Game Two of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center on June 7, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mike Richards had his contract with the Los Angeles Kings terminated on June 29, with the team claiming that there was a “material breach of the requirements” of his 12-year deal, which ran through 2020. 

What was the breach? NBC Sports’ Pierre McGuire indicated there was an incident at the Canadian/U.S. border that prompted the Kings to take action. Then TMZ Sports reported that Richards had been stopped at the border and questioned about oxycodone pills in his possession on June 17.

It’s taken nearly two months, but Richards has finally been charged by the Manitoba RCMP: Possession of Controlled Substance while entering Canada.

According to TSN: 

Canadian border guards found “some pills in a single bottle” during a random search of Richards’ car and he was arrested by RCMP, a source told TSN. “It was clearly a small quantity intended for his personal use,” the source told TSN.

Does this formal charge change anything with regard to the NHLPA’s grievance against the Kings and the NHL? Not likely. One assumes the NHLPA was aware of Richards’ circumstances when it filed, and this case is more about the precedent being set than Richards' guilt or innocence. 

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

It’s plain as day that the Kings are picking their spot with this termination, being that Richards is a player in steep decline and they’re trying to void his deal instead of buying it out to get around the cap implications. This is less about Mike Richards getting charged with drug possession and more about how NHL teams will react to such charges going forward. 

This is your reminder that Kings GM Dean Lombardi could have avoided all of this had he acted with his brain instead of with his heart on Richards last year. 

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 27, 2015, 2:29 pm

Nick Dzubnar rushed up the middle of the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive line, lunged and grabbed the leg of quarterback Drew Stanton, bringing him down to the grass. 

Granted, his natural inclination may have been to put a shoulder into his jaw, knocking him down, forcing a turnover and then preparing to fight one of his teammates in retribution. But this was a San Diego Chargers’ preseason game. It was a field, not a rink. It was football, not hockey. Although Dzubnar believes his time playing the latter has informed his approach to the former.

Dzubnar is an undrafted rookie linebacker from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which isn’t exactly Linebacker U. Nevertheless, he’s the school’s all-time leader in tackles, which is great considering he almost opted to play another sport.

He caught the hockey bug before and during his time at Mission Viejo High in California. He almost considered a junior hockey career, but he followed his father’s path to Cal Poly instead.

Still, Dzubnar said the tools hockey gave him are the foundation for the kind of football player he’s become.

“Physicality was huge. I was always a real physical player. The sport’s a physical game. Guys don’t like to get hit. It’s the same thing in football: If you bring the hit to them, outwork them, outhustle them … a lot of guys, if you throw a puck into the corner, they’re not going to want to get it if you have a guy working his butt off to beat you to that corner,” he told NBC San Diego.

“You gotta protect that puck. You gotta protect your goalie. You gotta protect your teammates. You gotta set the tempo. So a lot of that stuff translated to football, at least work ethic-wise. Hockey set the mentality that I have right now.”

As of now, Dzubnar is one of those preseason darlings that’s playing his way into a role on the Chargers.

And of course, if things don’t work out … well, the Gulls are a thing again.

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 27, 2015, 12:22 pm

[Author's note: Power rankings are usually three things: Bad, wrong, and boring. You typically know just as well as the authors which teams won what games against who and what it all means, so our moving the Red Wings up four spots or whatever really doesn't tell you anything you didn't know. Who's hot, who's not, who cares? For this reason, we're doing a power ranking of things that are usually not teams. You'll see what I mean.]

7. Defenses in the Eastern Conference

So Phil Kessel is going to play with Sidney Crosby, huh? There wasn't really a good answer between Kessel-and-Crosby or Kessel-and-Malkin as far as opponents went, but if you're looking to keep Pittsburgh goals off the board, that was probably about as bad as the news could have gotten.

Earlier this summer I ran the numbers on how badly a Crosby-and-Kessel combo would torch defenses, and the answer I came up with when you took plenty of data over the course of their careers into account, I came up with an estimate of about 4.65 goals for per 60 minutes, and 2.99 just against. I think those numbers make sense within the context of what we know about both players (it's a nearly 60.9 percent share of goals at 5-on-5), and the breakdown would lead to Kessel and Crosby being on the ice together for about 90 to 95 goals at full strength.

What number of those are going to be Kessel's? I don't think it really matters, but anything fewer than 30 would be pretty shocking. And that's at 5-on-5 only. If you get them out there on the power play along with, say, Malkin and Letang, you can basically forget about it. Put me down for Kessel breaking 50.

The good news for Pittsburgh's opponents next season, though, is that its defense is pretty not-great. It's not bad, and Letang is obviously very high-end, but this is probably going to be a team that's winning a lot of games 4-2 and 5-3.

Should be entertaining, if nothing else.

6. The Hurricanes

So a thing everyone seems to have forgotten for a while now is the fact that Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos is still trying to sell at least some of his majority stake in the team. Has been for nearly a year, in fact.

Which helps to explain why the Hurricanes haven't added any free agents (though they did make a few trades), and why the team is just spinning its wheels on re-signing Eric Staal and Cam Ward. If it wants to. Which it shouldn't.

All Ron Francis did, really, was pull off the Alex Semin buyout (no small investment!) back in June, and since then it's all quiet. Don Waddell confirmed to the Raleigh News and Observer that there had been talks with potential buyers, but nothing has happened here; part of that might be because Karmanos wants to sell his stake but also retain control of the team, which doesn't seem like how things should work.

The Hurricanes have, however, finally increased season ticket sales for this coming season after six of declines, so that's something to highlight to potential buyers. But the column also floats the idea that the league might only expand to Las Vegas so that the Canes can be purchased and moved to Quebec.

Shoot, I sure can't wait for that weekly discussion.

Boy, it seems like just yesterday we ever so briefly weren't worried about the ownership situation for a team in a non-traditional market, doesn't it? Well, that was a nice little run we had there. And it makes a lot of sense, then, that the league is so furiously pushing all this...

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

5. Expansion

We're now into the third and final phase of the expansion process for Quebec and Las Vegas, and I kind of can't believe it's actually happening, even now.

That whole Quebec thing apparently might not work out (see item No. 6), and that would be very strange, but it might at least give the Seattle groups the impetus and ability to put together something on their own.

But here's what I can't stop thinking about: How bad the rosters for those teams will be for those teams. We haven't had an expansion in this league for more than a decade, and I think we have collectively grown way better at player evaluation and development during that time.

Going from 28 to 30 teams expanded the league by some 46 player jobs (rosters carry a max of 23 guys), and that was a 46 more than had been in the league just a few years earlier. Weird as it is to think about, when Connor McDavid was born, there were only 26 teams in the NHL. That meant that from 1997-98 to 2000-01, the league added 92 jobs to the previous pool of 598. That's a big jump. And by the end of that expansion era, you were starting to see some real garbage get onto actual NHL rosters. Look at what the inaugural Columbus Blue Jackets roster looked like. Geoff Sanderson led the team in scoring, which tells you everything you need to know (but shout out to Ron Tugnutt for his .917 save percentage that season!).

In two years, a prospective Quebec and/or Vegas team won't be that much better. Imagine what a McDavid or Crosby is going to do to those teams if they end up in the same division. It'll be a bloodbath.

4. The Oilers' captaincy

Apparently there's a big hullabaloo afoot in Edmonton over whether Andrew Ference should continue to be the Oilers' captain. Fair enough, I guess. The team's defense isn't all that good to begin with, and the fact that he's going to spend a lot of the season as a No. 6 or a healthy scratch tells you a lot about where his game is at these days.

No fault in it, of course, given his age and the miles on him. But it's a reality that you probably don't want your captain getting healthy-scratched 30 times in a season. So Ference might be stripped of the “C” at some point in the near future, even if he doesn't think it'll happen any time soon.

Conventional wisdom says you give it to Taylor Hall, obviously. But let's be real here: Anyone who gets it any time in the next year or three is just keeping it warm for that kid wearing No. 97.

3. The Mark Giordano extension

Oh yeah, $6.75 million is a bargain for Mark Giordano. In theory.

Right now? Absolutely. A lot of people spent most of yesterday saying he's only 31, and that's true enough. But he turns 32 on Oct. 6, so for all intents and purposes, this season upcoming is his age-32 year. That means when the new deal kicks in, he'll be 33. And he'll play basically the entire last season of his deal — if he makes it that far — as a 38-year-old.

That's the cost of doing business, obviously, because if you want to keep the AAV down you have to extend out the years, but given looming extensions for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan (whose entry-level contracts are likewise up this year) as well as Sam Bennett (RFA in July 2017), it's tough to see how conservative the team might have to be for those guys, especially if the cap stays flat.

That doesn't even get into the idea that defensemen don't generally get better as 33-year-olds, let alone 35-year-olds, which is what Giordano will be in Year 3 of a six-year deal.

Let's also take into account the fact that, leaving aside the lockout-shortened season a few years back, Giordano hasn't played more than 78 percent of his team's games since 2010-11. In the last three full seasons, he's missed a combined 60 games, which is enough that people should be worried about it.

“Well if he'd stayed healthy, he might have two Norrises,” is a decent argument here, because he should by all rights have won two Norrises given the work he actually put in, and I might have even voted for him in 2014 regardless. But if you're using hypotheticals on something he's proven is a big problem for him — that is, staying healthy for the full 82 — then that's not a great argument.

I've argued for a while that if his ask came in at any more than four years, Calgary should have traded Giordano — who I understand is their captain — rather than land themselves in cap hell over a guy who can't stay healthy and will be 33 when this six-year deal starts.

Especially because they just went out and got a franchise-level right-side defenseman this summer to effectively act as a failsafe in case the Giordano talks ended in a stalemate. It's not a bad thing to have Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, and TJ Brodie tied up for a combined $17.15 million until 2020 (that defense is going to be a meat grinder), after paying them just $14.42 million for this coming season (unfair). But this feels very much like a contract that could start to be pretty ugly around Year 3.

2. Uncomfortable contract situations

Speaking of contracts for high-end defensemen, Greg touched on something last week that's worth examining: How Dustin Byfuglien will fare this year.

There's the forward-versus-defenseman angle (he's more valuable to the Jets on the blue line) and the fact that he's probably going to see his goal total come down doesn't help his bargaining position. But given that he's 30, it's likely this is his last big contract year, so he has plenty of reason to rage against any attempts to limit his value strategically.

There's also the fact that the team needs to re-sign Andrew Ladd before he becomes a top free agent target next summer. However, given how many good young players sit in the Jets' system, do they really need either of them?

And what happens if they decide they don't? Can you imagine the buying frenzy for either one at the deadline?

Players of this caliber don't just grow on trees and if developing them was so easy, even for a team as farm-rich as the Jets, why aren't there more players as good as Byfuglien? It's all about weighing future versus present, I guess, and Winnipeg's present isn't, like, great or anything.

1. Defiance

I love the idea of Alex Ovechkin being the only NHLer participating in the Olympics in 2018.

Just him scoring 20 goals in eight games against a bunch of college players, and playing 25 minutes a night without breaking a sweat. Hilarious.

(Not ranked this week: The London Knights' Team Kane.

Let's go with Team Schremp instead.)

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All statistics via War On Ice unless otherwise noted.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: August 26, 2015, 8:26 pm

A hockey team named after a railroad. Sure! Why not? Hence behold the glory of the newly minted ECHL's Greenville Swamp Rabbits. 

They were the Greenville Road Warriors, but alas … this was way cooler, because really, what’s better than a team name called the Swamp Rabbits?

Takers anywhere?

Fortunately the Greenville franchise, which is based in South Carolina, tells us exactly what it all means here: 

First known as the Carolina, Knoxville and Western line, and later becoming the Greenville and Northern railroad, the intent of the railroad was to connect Greenville with the rich coal fields of Tennessee, providing the Carolinas with a direct line over the mountains and access to cheaper coal. The railroad received its nickname, the "Swamp Rabbit" by locals who would use the freight train as a means of transportation to picnic in northern Greenville County. Completion of the rail line proved to be more of a financial commitment than expected, leaving the project at a halt near the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Today you can find this railroad marker located beside the “Swamp Rabbit” Pedestrian Bridge, which crosses over the Reedy River just off of South Main Street.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

Southern train trivia for $500 Alex! 

"After much thought and consideration, we determined that we wanted our new identity to honor a piece of Greenville’s history while also being relevant within the community today," said Fred Festa, owner of the Swamp Rabbits. "Several factors were taken into account when deciding on what that representation would be. Ultimately, we selected the Swamp Rabbits because the name holds dear to a variety of residents, businesses, popular recreational areas and the historic landmark, the Swamp Rabbit railroad, dating back the 1920s in Greenville."

This team was the Johnstown Chiefs from 1987-2010 before moving to Greenville in 2010 and becoming the Road Warriors. But that name cleary wasn’t nearly as cool as the Swamp Rabbits, which is just … awesome.

Look at the above logo. A hockey stick mixed with a carrot that has train smoke blowing out the back?

If you search for Greenville Swamp Rabbits you find Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery, Swamp Rabbit Inn and Swamp Rabbit CrossFit. 

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS 

 

 

 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 26, 2015, 5:43 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com. 

Photo of Ken Daneyko's dogs from Ken Daneyko on Twitter.

• Devils broadcaster Ken Daneyko's pets wish us all a happy National Dog Day. [Ken Daneyko]

• Both Mark Giordano and the Calgary Flames wanted a long-term contract to be worked out. And they got a deal done. [Calgary Herald]

• Giordano and his family can now buy that house in Calgary they’ve always wanted. [Calgary Sun]

• Ryan Kesler’s Anaheim Ducks contract got crushed from a national perspective. It was pretty long for a guy who was in his 30s. Why hasn’t Gio gotten the Kesler treatment?  [Anaheim Calling]

• The Jonathan Bernier storyline will not go away any time soon for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Is he a starter? Is he not a starter? Will he ever reach his potential? [Editor in Leaf]

• Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen is a drafting wizard. His ability to unearth talent has helped Columbus immensely. [The Hockey Writers]

• Nashville Predators forward James Neal is a supporter of Smilezone and Grandview Kids. [Nashville Predators]

• There are some stumbling blocks in regards to the new contracts for Carolina Hurricanes stars Eric Staal and Cam Ward. [News & Observer]

• Erik Karlsson doesn’t do any conditioning during the summer? Huh? I guess when you never play on the penalty kill, you don’t have to be in great shape. Zing! [The Score]

• Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Marian Hossa isn’t exactly a young guy anymore. But when will age turn into an issue for the Blackhawks star? [Today’s Slapshot]

• Why trading Dustin Byfuglien makes sense for the Winnipeg Jets. “If the Jets won’t — or can’t — move Byfuglien they will either have to sign him to a long-term contract or lose him outright to free agency. Neither of those options sound very good.” [Winnipeg Sun]

• Former Blackhawks forward Ron ‘Chico’ Maki has died at the age of 76. [NHL]

• The second Scott Gomez era with the New Jersey Devils is coming to an end. Toronto bound to reunite with Lou Lamoriello again? [NJ.com]

• Shannon Szabados has decided against the NWHL, and will continue to play against men in the SPHL. [Edmonton Journal]

• Daniel Carcillo is about 98 percent sure he wants to retire. The former Blackhawk is an unrestricted free agent. [The Score]

• Montreal Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec sees this year’s Habs being young and fast. [Puck Drunk Love]

• US National Sled Hockey Team players Josh Sweeney and Luke McDermott led a clinic in Portland, Oregon. [USA Hockey]

• We are nearing Dallas Stars training camp. What stories should we watch for, beyond the whole Tyler Seguin v. Patrick Sharp male modeling contest?  [Defending Big D]

• How did the Los Angeles Kings do with various defensive sets. And an ode to Jamie McBain the hockey player and the Simpsons fake movie character. [LA Kings Insider]

• Hawks forward Marko Dano is definitely a breakout candidate on right wing for this upcoming season. [Along the Boards]

•  The Vancouver Canucks signed forward Adam Cracknell to a one-year contract worth $575,000. [Canucks Birthday]

• Nashville Predators mascot Gnash looks glorious in NHL16. [On the Forecheck]

• Finally, Get excited for some T-Hockey.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 26, 2015, 5:22 pm

Dobber Hockey launched in 2005 and Dobber and his staff have hitched their wagons to Puck Daddy to preach fantasy hockey to the Yahoo! masses since 2009.

As it is in real hockey, fantasy roto hockey starts from the net out.

After the truly elite forwards are gone, I make sure my defense corps are solid. And I'll never leave the draft without being 100 percent comfortable with my goaltending (three good ones at least). Why? Because it's damned near impossible to get goalies and defensemen off the waiver wire. Especially later in the season. Forwards are a dime a dozen, once you get past the elite.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

You can stream forwards who are on a hot streak in and out of your lineup via the wire all season long. But with D and G that's tough to do.

Studs

These guys are money in the bank. In fact, your fifth and sixth defensemen combined may not do what each of these studs will do statistically.

Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators - Probably the only blueliner capable of getting 80 points right now. Considered giving him his own category here, but what's the level above "stud"?

PK Subban, Montreal Canadiens - He's missed seven games in four years, has at least 10 goals in each of the last three, is a consistent PIM guy and was plus-21 last year. The total package.

Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets - Byfuglien's point total slipped last year but his points-per-game average (0.65) was right around where it always is and his PIM total soared back upwards to career highs (124). Your best bet for 50 points, 100 PIM among defensemen.

Stars

When the run on defensemen truly begins in your draft, you have to make sure you get one or two of these guys.

Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues - Abdominal surgery ruined what was a breakout campaign for Shatty. At the time he was in a battle for top scorer among defensemen. If he stays healthy this time, it wouldn't be shocking to see him up there with Mr. Karlsson.

Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames - The guy Shattenkirk was battling with for top D scorer. And Giordano's impressive run was also cut short by an injury. That's two consecutive seasons and three of the last four in which Gio has missed at least 18 games.

Keith Yandle, New York Rangers - He may have been a minus-26 last year, but minus-32 was with Arizona (so plus-6 with New York, Mr. Math Wizard). He had 21 points in his last 31 regular season and playoff games, putting his slow start upon arriving in New York behind him.

Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning - Still only 24, Hedman is on the cusp. The problem is, he'd give Giordano a run for his money when it comes to injuries. He's missed 55 games over the last four seasons - or about 14 each year.

Roman Josi, Nashville Predators - Josi outplayed and out-produced his more touted teammate Shea Weber in every way, except for fantasy. He doesn't put up the PIM and shot totals that his partner does.

Shea Weber, Nashville Predators - Speak of the devil. The emergence of Josi has seemed to make Weber a much more aggressive player. He's shooting more and going to the Sin Bin a lot more too.

Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks - His fantasy value may be a little inflated, what with all the Cups and such. Keith is a 60-plus point player every few years. More often than not he's good for 45.

John Carlson, Washington Capitals - Star on the rise finally had his big breakout campaign, posting 55 points and a plus-11 rating. At No. 67, he's the Yahoo's 13th highest ranked defenseman. And deservedly so.

Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings - Possibly the best all-around D in the league. In real hockey. In fantasy, much like Keith, he's very good…but not great.

Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues - Pietrangelo is Doughty's age and was drafted two picks after him (in 2008). And it's looking as though his "real" value far exceeds his "fantasy" value. Just like Doughty.

Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks - Last year's second leading scorer (tied) among defensemen, Burns set a career high. He did what he could never do as a forward - he tallied 60 points.

Boom-or-Bust

Whether it's due to frequent injuries, or season-over-season inconsistencies, with these guys you could probably get later in the draft…but the risk is most definitely there. Could make or break your season, in some cases.

Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins - I love Letang. I think he's a great player. But as a fantasy owner, I can't take anymore. I'm like the poor dog that keeps getting kicked but keeps coming back, scared and timid. Can you just give us 70 games. Please?

Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings - When a defenseman scores 30 goals and 70 points (twice!), he can ride that wave in fantasy hockey for years to come. That's why we're still so hopeful. That's why we'll still draft him high even though he hasn't had a 50-point season since 2010.

Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers - McDonagh shocked us by having a 43-point season in 2013-14. He had us convinced that he wasn't just a stay-at-home guy, but can be counted on for big points too. Then he managed just 33 points last year. So now we just don't know anymore…

Youngsters on the Rise

These guys are well on their way to becoming perennial top defensemen in fantasy hockey, all they need to do is prove to us they can do it year after year.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes - Is probably ranked a tad high at 14 among defenseman, but certainly not due to talent. Because of the team around him, it's quite probable that OEL will post a third consecutive 43- or 44-point season.

Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche - The 24-year-old led the Avs in scoring at times throughout the season and finished six points back of Gabriel Landeskog. His potential is through the roof if you think about it. If he can get 53 points when the top scorer on his team gets 59…how many can he get if Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene show up to play?

Justin Faulk, Carolina Hurricanes - Faulk is a fantastic young (23) defenseman. But just as it was with Ryan McDonagh in 2013-14, I question the offensive upside. I'd be cautious about a repeat of his 49-point year.

Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers - Of course the defending Calder Trophy winner belongs here. But his point totals from last season don't justify his rather high Yahoo ranking (90th). One man's opinion, but I don't think his point totals will increase too much over last year. That's not to say that he won't be a stud in due time though.

Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks - There's no shortage of young, rising talent on Anaheim's back end, from Hampus Lindholm to Cam Fowler to Shea Theodore. But Vatanen has the highest offensive upside and that's reflected in the Yahoo rankings. He's the highest ranked of the four.

Dougie Hamilton, Calgary Flames - The move to Calgary is a step up for Hamilton in terms of potential offense. I'm sure he'd rather pass the puck to Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler as opposed to Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson.

Torey Krug, Boston Bruins - With Hamilton gone and Zdeno Chara trending downward, the PP QB baton will be passed to Krug.

John Klingberg, Dallas Stars - I can't decide if I'd pick Klingberg or Trouba as the "player in this section destined to move up to the Studs section". Klingberg is awesome, and I'm certain he'll build on last year's 40 points rather than hitting a sophomore slump. Just may be the best value in the entire Yahoo rankings at 184.

Nick Leddy, New York Islanders - Leddy joined the Islanders at the perfect time, as this up-and-coming team finally broke through last season. His 37 points tied a career high and there's still plenty of room to grow.

Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets - I'm a huge fan of Trouba and I think he'll be a star. But he's probably going to go the route of John Carlson (six years before breakout) as opposed to Drew Doughty (two years before breakout). 

Don't Overrate

Here are some defensemen you shouldn't put as much stock in as other GMs in your league will.

Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings - The power play used to be his domain. But with Green on the scene, Kronwall could be off the first unit.

TJ Brodie, Calgary Flames - The acquisition of Hamilton pretty much eliminates Brodie from the man advantage. He had nine power-play points last season.

Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks - You gotta love how he hardly misses games. You gotta love how he once had 48 points. You gotta love the Cup rings on his fingers. But the reality is, too often he's closer to a 30-point player than a 40-point player.

Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins - Maatta showed promise offensively when he was a rookie. But last year's injury struggles have allowed Derrick Pouliot to get a foothold. And now Letang is back, too.

Dan Boyle, New York Rangers - He's 19 points shy of 600 in his career…and I question whether or not he'll make it. So that's where I’m at with this guy.

Sleepers

Since the "Sleeper Picks" article was dominated by forwards (only two defensemen listed - Matt Dumba and Justin Schultz), I've come up with a few more names for you to draft and get a nice, unexpected return.

Andrej Sekera, Edmonton Oilers - Sekera showed glimpses of offensive prowess in Buffalo, particularly during the last two dozen games of the 2010-11 season. And when he first arrived in Carolina he tallied 44 points that year. But he only puts up the points when the team leans on him to do so, otherwise he's a stay-at-homer. The Oilers are a team that could use him in more of a puck-moving role. Or at the very least, as a safety net for Schultz. I think 35-40 points is very much doable.

Matt Niskanen, Washington Capitals - When Green was out of the lineup with an upper-body injury, Niskanen posted five points in seven games (three PP points). And in the game that Green left, Niskanen also had a PP point. So six points in 7.5 games with four of them on the power play. I just really like his outlook here.

Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay Lightning - Hedman has become an offensive force and he's still getting better. Stralman is his defense partner, so the supplemental points will pile up as they did last year when he set a career high with 39.

Derrick Pouliot, Pittsburgh Penguins - Not rookie-eligible because he played 34 games last season, Pouliot is said to have so much offensive talent that he rivals or even exceeds teammate Kris Letang. He's still only 21 though, so he'll need time to put it all together.

Michael Del Zotto, Philadelphia Flyers - MDZ put his dating hockey struggles behind him and secured his spot in the lineup with that nice contract. He had 23 points in his last 35 games.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Dobber Hockey
Posted: August 26, 2015, 5:00 pm

(Ed. Note: August is known to be a very quiet month in the hockey world. As we wait for September to arrive and training camps to begin, let’s learn a little history about all 30 teams. Behold, our summer A-Z series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to drop some knowledge on us! Add your own choices in the comments!)

By: Achariya Rezak, Solar Bears correspondent for Pension Plan Puppets

A. Amalie Arena

First it was Detroit. Then, Montreal. Then New York. And finally, Chicago. I’m not boasting about how many Original Six teams Tampa defeated on their way to last season’s final loss -- I’m talking about the fanbases the Lightning pissed off due to Amalie Arena’s “Florida zip code only” ticketing policy. Tampa might be too young for any real rivalries, but they're trying hard, here! I wish I could say something like “-- and get used to it!” but who knows? 

B. Blackhawks

I spent the week after that fateful Monday, June 15th, 2015, pretending that I wasn’t crying into my coffee. I couldn’t distract myself, either, because while Tampa’s locker room was listening to “We are the Champions” echo through the Blackhawks’ arena, the discussion on hockey internet was all about whether the Blackhawks were simply an awesomely perfect team or an awesomely perfect dynasty. But I digress.

Not only were the founders of the Tampa Bay Lightning a pair of former Blackhawks (the Esposito brothers, more about them below), but the Blackhawks were the very first team Tampa ever played on October 7, 1992. Tampa won that game, 7-3, pissing off historic Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz in the process.

It’s ironic in the most poignant way that the first team Tampa played was also the team that Cup-blocked them in Game 6 of last season’s Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks have definitely earned their spot in Tampa’s history, but I’m pretty sure roughly 50% of Tampa’s residents have thrown away their red clothing. (The other 50% are probably from Chicago.)

C. Cooper, Jon

Who’s the snarkiest, most quotable Lightning coach ever? That’s right, it’s John Tortorella. But following in his footsteps as the Lightning’s head coach from 2013 to the present is Jon Cooper. Dubbed by Puck Daddy the “most interesting man in hockey,” Cooper was a lawyer who gave up law to become a hockey coach. If you've ever listened to one of his press conferences about a potentially injured player, love it or hate it, you’ll notice that Cooper clearly hasn't left the lawyer (or the snark) behind.

After this past year's playoff run, Coop’s story is well known. In the words of NHL’s Dan Rosen, "Cooper's journey looks like a road map drawn up by a sadistic travel agent." He has coached at nearly every level of hockey from the NAHL, to the USHL, to the AHL (bringing the Norfolk Admirals to a Calder Cup win in 2012), to the NHL, and has won the ultimate prize at every level but this one.

And he's done every part of the job, too, from driving the van on USHL road trips, to making up on-the-fly (cough) strategies for slaying stray arena bats (you read that correctly), to pretending to check his phone so that his players could lead him to the visitor's locker room at NHL arenas. He also managed to get his NHL team to the playoffs as a freshman coach in the league, garnering him a Jack Adams award nomination in 2014.

Where will he go from here? Expectations for next season are sky-high after Tampa’s appearance at the Stanley Cup Final, but if there’s one thing Cooper has proven to friends and foes, it’s that he soaks up knowledge quickly -- and spreads his special brand of sass in the process.

D. Dan Boyle

It’s true that Tampa has Victor Hedman, so maybe we don’t miss Boyler as much as we used to, but he was as much a part of the 2004 Cup win as any of the forwards. Tampa was fortuitous enough to trade a fifth-round pick for this undrafted Panthers player in 1998, but many years and a Cup later, the Lightning gave him away for basically Matt Carle, a handful of seeds, and a goat. In Boyle’s time with Tampa he was the highest-scoring defenseman, tallying at least fifty points in three of his six seasons. He was also excellent on the powerplay, which...yeah, fine, we still miss Dan Boyle.

E. Esposito, Phil and Tony

Tony and Phil Esposito are Tampa’s dearest founders, the two men who dug deep into their pockets to start the franchise for $50-million in the late 80s-early 90s, debuting in the 1992-1993 season.

The brothers also took on the unenviable task of teaching us southerners about the game. Phil often tells the story that in the first-ever Tampa game, right after Chris Kontos scored a hat trick, ushers began to bounce fans for throwing their hats onto the ice. He had to explain that no, as weird as it might seem in the south, hat tossing really is part of hockey!

Phil, who was also Tampa’s first president and GM, is still a beloved figure in the Lightning organization, and contributes color commentary and analysis to game call.

F. Fedotenko, Ruslan

First it was the New York Islanders. Then, Montreal. Then, Philadelphia. And finally, Calgary.

This time, I actually am boasting about the teams Tampa defeated on their way to the 2004 Stanley Cup victory. The final series against Calgary was hard fought, with Calgary winning the first, third, and fifth games. In Game 6, Brad Richards scored two goals for the Lightning, and Marty St. Louis scored the game-winner in overtime to send the series back to Tampa:

But Game 7 was all Fedotenko's.

He scored both of the only two goals of the game, the only two Tampa needed for victory. Fedotenko, an undrafted left-winger who came to Tampa from the Flyers in 2002, scored 12 goals in the playoff run, almost equalling the 17 he scored in 77 games during the regular season. Fedotenko spent four seasons with Tampa, and will be forever remembered as the hero of Game 7.

With Dave Andreychuk as captain, the Stanley Cup-winning team was made up of the following men who will be forever engraved on the memories and hearts of Tampa fans: Dmitry Afanasenkov, Dan Boyle, Martin Cibak, Ben Clymer, Jassen Cullimore, Chris Dingman, Ruslan Fedotenko, Pavel Kubina, Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Lukowich, Fredrik Modin, Eric Perrin, Nolan Pratt, Brad Richards, Andre Roy, Darren Rumble, Cory Sarich, Martin St. Louis, Cory Stillman, Alexander Svitov, Darryl Sydor, Tim Taylor, Shane Willis, and Nikolai Khabibulin in net, backed up by John Grahame. 

G. Goals

Specifically the record number of them that Tampa scored in 2014-2015. Here are some of the other records from Tampa’s stand-out season:

  • Tampa led the league with 259 regular season goals, a franchise record.
  • Tampa set a franchise record of 50 regular season wins.
  • Ben Bishop set a franchise record with 40 wins, breaking the record he set in 2013-2014.
  • Steven Stamkos hit his 4th season of over 40 goals.
  • Tyler Johnson scored the Bolts' first-ever playoff hat trick in the ECF game 2 against the Rangers.
  • Johnson scored the most playoff goals in the league and tied for the most playoff points.
  • Johnson had the most playoff game-winning goals.
  • Tampa Bay became the first team to beat 3 of the Original 6 on the way to the SCF. (Can we have a rival yet or no?)

H. Habs

They are not rivals, sadly. Tampa is too wet-behind-the-ears to have any actual rivals, unless you count the Florida (Seattle?) Panthers. And it’s especially not a rivalry now that Bishop’s BFF Brandon Prust (see gif below) has been traded out of the division. But if Tampa had a rival, would the Canadiens be it?

On the way to the SCF in 2004, Tampa defeated the Canadiens in four games. They paid the Bolts back a decade later with the same embarrassing record, and last season Tampa faced them again. The 2014-15 Tampa team was so humiliated by the loss that I always sensed animosity rising from the ice before each game -- and if there’s any proof of that, Tampa let them win exactly twice in eleven games last season.

Again, they aren’t officially rivals, but Cooper did no butt-kissing during last season’s series either. The snarkiest quotation about the Canadiens and their multiple-prize-winning goaltender came from Cooper: “[Carey Price’s] numbers against the Tampa Bay Lightning are very...pedestrian,” he said, and I could just imagine his smirk. Are they enemies yet?

In honor of Bishop’s long lost Canadien BFF, here’s a gif from the season:

GIF: Prust didn't even try not to take Bishop down pic.twitter.com/4GuCsDD4wl

— Stephanie (@myregularface) March 17, 2015

I. Ice Palace

Who else is a little sad that our noble Canadian ice prince Stamkos doesn’t play in a place named the Ice Palace? This was the original name of Tampa’s home arena before it was renamed to the St. Pete’s Times Forum in 2002, to Tampa Bay Times Forum in 2011, and finally (with the addition of partner Amalie Oil) to Amalie Arena in 2014. But it’ll always be the Ice Palace in our hearts.

J. John Tortorella

When trying to decide what to share about Torts, I thought about his propensity to, um, express emotions on the bench, toward the players, fans, and media. Never one to pull his punches, he's inspired articles like 'The 5 Best John Tortorella Moments of All Time' and 'The Top 5 Craziest John Tortorella Moments.' There are too many to choose from, and this one reporter named Larry Brooks should probably have that honor.

So instead, we'll simply remember him as the coach that won Tampa's Cup and a Jack Adams for the Cup-winning season, and feel grateful for the fire in him that changed the team's culture right when it was stagnant.

K. Khabibulin, Nikolai

Drafted by the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes in 1992, a contract dispute led him to play the 1999 season for the IHL’s Long Beach Ice Dogs. Tampa saw the opportunity to pick up a good goaltender and slid right in, trading Paul Mara, Ruslan Zainullin, Mike Johnson, and a 2001 second-round pick for Khabibulin and Stanislav Neckar.

Not only was Khabibulin the first Russian goaltender to win the Stanley Cup with Tampa in 2004, he also has one of the most ironic nicknames in hockey. This man, nicknamed “The Bulin Wall,” sure wasn’t German, but the Wall part was right -- he’s still tied for a league record of most shutouts in a playoff series.

L. Literal Lightning

Once upon a time, St. Pete Times Forum was an adequate but not fabulous arena. Then, Tod Leiweke (Lightning CEO from 2010 to 2015) and Jeff Vinik made a historic walk around the arena and dreamed of cool things. "How can you be named the Lightning and not have a signature effect in the building?" Leiweke said.

From that walk, Tampa’s Tesla Coils -- the largest in the world -- were born in 2011. The two coils, which float high over sections 305 and 318, shoot 45 feet of lightning around the Amalie ceiling. These two-million volts are contained by the rubber-clad fists of Amalie’s electrician, who reportedly checks off 28 important safety items before flipping the switch. The coils fork out into the darkness at the start of every game and after each Lightning goal, and they never get old.

M. Melrose, Barry

Which well-regarded hockey analyst with stately silver flow also has no ability to coach the Lightning? That’s right, it’s our shortest-tenured coach. Playing exactly sixteen games behind the Tampa bench, Melrose was Tortorella’s successor in the 2008-2009 season.

Melrose was an analyst at ESPN when he wistfully mentioned on air that he “missed having a dog in the fight.” Unfortunately, then-owners Len Barrie and Oren Koules were listening, and handed Melrose his first coaching job since he was fired from the LA Kings fifteen years before. Melrose inherited a rookie player fresh from the OHL in Stamkos, and a veteran 'C' who’d been profoundly injured at the end of the 2007-2008 season in Lecavalier.

The rest of the team struggled after a series of poor personnel moves, including a trade that sent the heart of Tampa’s defense, Dan Boyle, to San Jose -- but Melrose’s coaching didn’t help. One player famously told ESPN that at training camp, Melrose’s system was “shinny hockey with a few fights thrown in for good measure.” Initially signed to a three-year contract, Melrose made the mistake of saying on-air that Stamkos was not ready for the NHL. This angered owner Barrie, who somehow saw Stamkos’s worth, and that, as they say, was that.

N. NASA

Some say it’s foul play for a supposed superfan to simply be an employee paid to create buzz, but after the Tampa Astronaut marketing campaign came to an end with the regular season, Malektronic owner Ben Malek realized that the astronaut had become more than just a gimmick. He decided that instead of selling his expensive front-row seats at Amalie Arena, he’d keep them throughout the playoff run -- and let the astronaut continue to cheer on the team. Publicity stunt or not, the astronaut soon became an unofficial mascot, and spawned some of Tampa fans’ favorite playoff moments.

O. Octopus

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the Red Wings for planting the seed of Tampa Bay’s philosophy in the current regime of GM Steve Yzerman. It’s thanks to the Red Wings that Tampa patiently drafts Russians, for example, as well as skilled guys who might need to mature in the press box, but who will ultimately make highlight-reel plays. (We have faith that you’ll follow in the footsteps of your favorite player Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Drouin!)

Red Wings fans are also adorable. For Tampa's first rivals in the team's first playoff series in a few years, they gave the Lightning such a gentle breaking-in. I’d beg these guys to be Tampa’s rivals, but I think the Red Wings have been around long enough that everybody else has first dibs.

P. Prospects

Adam Erne. Anthony DeAngelo. Mitchell Stephens. Andrei Vasilevskiy. Brayden Point. If you aren’t familiar with these names, you should be.

The Lightning's most famous UFA, Stamkos, has a contract that needs renewing in the summer of 2016, sparking the return of #Stammergeddon. Also in 2016, Tampa has to contend with the following RFAs who made their marks in the playoff run of last season: Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, JT Brown, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Cedric Paquette. A year later, Victor Hedman, Tyler Johnson, and Ondrej Palat are due for raises. How will Tampa contend with the cap and still keep the team competitive? They obviously can’t keep all of these players happy, so eyes must turn to the newcomers.

Get to know these names, and be prepared to be surprised. (Thanks, Yzerman!) For example, please watch as Tampa’s goaltending future, Andrei Vasilevskiy, makes a highlight-reel save on a Predator.

Q. sQueak

Squeak describes the noise that one of Tampa’s fine men made when they realized they’d just won last season’s Eastern Conference Final. I don’t know their individual voices well enough to pick out which of these mic’d up fellows screamed so hard he went super-sonic, but I’m guessing it’ll be locker room fodder for seasons to come. I’m honestly grateful that we got to hear it, blush-worthy as it was. Sometimes, when I want to flood my heart with feels, I watch the video all over again.

Hey, Rangers: Tampa took your captain, took Brian Boyle, took Stralman, and bounced you out of the Eastern Conference Final. Also, Espo called you “a bunch of animals.” Don’t you hate our guts? Can’t we be rivals? Please? You say the Islanders already have that distinction? … Dammit.

R. Rhéaume, Manon

Rhéaume, the first woman to ever play in men’s Junior A hockey, was signed by Tampa in 1992. She played two preseason exhibition games with the club, one in 1992 and another in 1993, and remains the only woman to have played in the NHL.

She has since won gold medals in the IIHF Women's World Championships of 1992 and 1994, and silver at the Nagano Olympics in 1998. She’s also had a son, and at the time in life where women her age (like me, ok) feel exhausted just getting up and going to work, she still plays beer-league hockey!

Sometime this year, filming begins on a movie of her life with the working title of Between the Pipes. If the Tampa Bay Lightning organization doesn’t screen this movie at Amalie Arena, I’ll be mightily disappointed.

S. [Toronto native] Steven Stamkos

Whenever Stamkos’s contract nears due date, Toronto journalists start writing imaginative articles like, “Steven Stamkos clearly not Lightning coach's favourite.” Tampa fans generally retweet such articles with the hashtag #Stammergeddon, or as is the case this year, #Stammergeddon 2.0 -- and this summer, we’re once again watching curiously to see if Stamkos’s pen hits contract paper.

Contract issues aside, last season was a pivotal one for Stamkos. It was his first full season since a profound leg injury kept him out of the lineup for four months in 2013-2014. His injury made him miss the Olympics, and rocketed then-freshmen Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat to Calder nominations for stepping up in his absence. His injury also broke up a great Tampa first line forever -- upon Stamkos’s return, Marty St. Louis was already traded to the Rangers, and Stamkos was immediately handed the 'C.'

This season, Stamkos emphatically rebounded from his injury with his fourth 40-goal season, and saw the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in his career. Perhaps this shortened off-season is part of why he’s moving slowly on contract talks, but until he signs, we’re all looking forward to the next article out of Toronto.

T. #Triplets

Pierre McGuire said that the original “Triplets” were Marty St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, and Brad Richards. Tampa fans might dispute this a little, because the “P” of the “MVP” line was actually Vaclav Prospal, but there’s no disputing that the three McGuire named are central to Tampa’s history. Since these men have departed from Tampa, the team has had the ironic fortune of seeing two of them blow past their former team in the playoffs.

Marty, Tampa’s captain for seven whole months, went to the Stanley Cup Final right after being traded to the Rangers. It’s still painful to praise this guy too much -- he’s not ours any more, after all, and I’m not getting into that sticky mess. In his time with Tampa, Marty won the Art Ross twice, the Lester B. Pearson and Hart Trophy in his Stanley Cup year, and the Lady Byng in 2010, 2011, and 2013. Someone else will have to take over being “most gentlemanly” now, because Marty retired in the summer of 2015. He’ll forever be remembered in Tampa as a Stanley Cup champion, our 'C,' and...as a Ranger.

There was nothing more ironic than seeing our 2004 Conn Smythe and Lady Byng winner, Richards, hoist the cup over his head in a Blackhawks jersey.

Tampa's third-round draft pick from the same year as Lecavalier, Richards won the World Cup of Hockey with Canada in his Stanley Cup-winning year (he joined the Canadian Olympic team in 2006, but Team Canada was beaten by Russia in the quarterfinals). The Lightning missed him mightily after he was traded to Dallas in 2008, where he continued to play excellent hockey, setting a career points high in 2010. Since then he’s joined the Rangers, Blackhawks, and Red Wings, and I strongly suspect we’ll have the (mis?)fortune of seeing Richie again very soon in a playoff run.

The fates of these two are better than Lecavalier’s. Whenever Tampa plays the Flyers, a sad hashtag makes its rounds on Twitter: #FreeVinny.

Tampa’s 1998 first overall pick, Lecavalier still has his jersey worn with pride at Amalie. At age 19, he was made the youngest 'C' in NHL history until the record was overtaken by Sidney Crosby in 2007. Vinny won the Rocket Richard in 2007, and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy and NHL Foundation Player Award in 2008. Charismatic and popular with fans and the league alike, Vinny attended the NHL All-Star Game in 2003, 2007, 2008 (as captain), and 2009. Now that he’s a Flyer, fans long for a chance to boo him whenever he touches the puck. Think you could make that happen, Flyers? #FreeVinny

Speaking of Triplets, did you know that Tyler Johnson was passed over in three NHL drafts? And that he’s both American and short? If you’ve answered yes to any of these, it’s because this story was shoved down our throats by media who were desperately bored of the Blackhawks last season. Johnson became not only Tampa’s hero, but one of Tampa’s main narratives (along with “Who the hell is Jon Cooper?”). Johnson’s notoriety is a blessing and a curse, because as successor to Martin St. Louis’s short-and-sassy role becomes RFA in 2017. If Stamkos gets paid what he deserves, will they be able to afford to keep Johnson?

There would be no Tyler Johnson without his equally talented left-winger Ondrej Palat. The story of their meeting in the AHL is already out there, and along with last season’s addition of right-wing Nikita Kucherov, these fraternal Triplets became one of the best forward lines in the league.

But did you also know that they’re super adorable, spawning the hashtag #SquadGoals whenever they show up in gif form? I’ll share my favorite cute Triplets moments, because I can:

U. U (

Everybody knows that Carey Price is one hell of a goaltender, and much was made of comparing Bishop’s numbers to that of Price’s in last season’s playoff run. The weird part was that despite the disparity in skill, Bishop’s team kept winning -- almost as if scoring goals is part of hockey too, Habs. One of the zingers from the series came from PK Subban, who remarked after a game that he thought “Bishop sort of was sitting on a horseshoe.”

Obviously Bishop wasn’t going to let that go unaddressed, and when Tampa won the series in six games, guess what was taped to the seat of his stall?

V. Vinik, Jeffrey

Thank God for Mr. Vinik. Tampa's been through some frankly colorful times since Phil and Tony bought the club in the 90s, somehow surviving the alleged Yakuza owners Kokusai Green, fundamentalist Christian Art Williams, and a bunch more folk before Vinik purchased the team in 2010 from Oren Koules and Len Barrie.

Vinik endeared himself to Tampa fans this past playoff run by descending from the press box (he doesn’t often sit in his own owner’s box) to cheer with fan group Sticks of Fire -- making him firmly “one of us,” but with a whole lot more money. Since coming to Tampa, he's also made himself vital to the growth and development of downtown. This past season he unveiled his plans for Vinikville, which will be an arts, entertainment, medical research, and restaurant district centered around Channelside, the riverside park near Amalie Arena.

Vinik has already distinguished himself among Tampa's owners for treating the franchise and fans excellently, and is well on the way to changing the shape of the city, too.

So the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning decided to join the fans last night! @TBLightning @SticksofFireSG @espn @NHL pic.twitter.com/sgpFy8maL2

— John Swan (@Captain_Swan) April 10, 2015

W. WTF

This is the emotion that every Tampa fan felt during game 5 of last season’s Stanley Cup Final when Bishop, injured and possibly out of his gourd, skated way, way, out of his crease to play the puck -- only to be cross-checked by an extremely confused Victor Hedman. After this happened, I got a Facebook message from a coworker who doesn’t regularly follow hockey: “Um. Shouldn’t he stay near the net? What just happened?” All I could do was facepalm. Here is that moment that will haunt us forever, in a gif. (Trigger warning, Tampa fans.)

X. Xenophilia

Or, according to Dictionary.com, love of foreigners.

What Ukranian-Canadian became one of Tampa’s most beloved figures, to the point that we kept him from ever returning home to Canada? That’s right, it’s Dave Andreychuck, former Tampa 'C' and current VP of Corporate and Community Affairs. Initially drafted by the Sabres in 1982, Chuckie was briefly a Leaf, a Devil, a Bruin, an Av, and a Sabre again before deciding to sign on with Tampa in 2001. Even though the Leafs claim him as “Uncle Dave,” it’s not like they ever put a brass statue of him outside of their arena like Tampa did -- for the distinction of captaining our team to Stanley Cup victory.

Y. Yzerman, Steve

Yzerman is like Mary Poppins: practically perfect. There’s not much more about his storied career that’s left to be said, except for the fact that I’m glad Toronto filled their GM position before a truck full of discretely unmarked Canadian dollars made its way due south. Vinik lured Yzerman to Tampa in 2010, and in the off-season before the 2010-2011 season, Yzerman made moves that helped the team become a strong contender almost immediately.

In his first moves as a GM, Yzerman traded for Dwayne Roloson to join Cedrick Desjardins in net, signed St. Louis to a four-year contract extension, traded for Simon Gagne, drafted Brett Connolly, and acquired Dominic Moore and Pavel Kubina among others. These investments in just the right personnel sent Tampa to the conference final for the first time since 2007, where Tampa pushed the Bruins to seven games before losing by exactly one goal (and no, I still don’t wanna talk about it).

The next few years were marked by slow, steady growth and an interesting combination of drafting, trading, and signing that has led to the team we have today. Some of the trades have seemed painful (Brett Connolly, Yzerman’s very first draft selection as Tampa’s GM, got sent to the Bruins in exchange for some picks, for example, and my own favorite Radko Gudas recently became a Flyer), but given Tampa’s record lately, who am I to judge? Under Yzerman’s watch, Tampa is on its way to becoming a perennial Cup contender like his Red Wings, making us all firm believers in the Yzerplan.

Congrats to Stevie Y for winning GM of the year!

Z. Zinc

The kind you put on your face. Tampa doesn’t have the luck of a player named Zetterberg, so I’ll end with a reminder to visiting teams that glowingly pale hockey player skin probably needs lotion before heading to our beaches. Tampa had one of the best home records in the league last season, just sayin’.

Tampa is more or less the same team as the one from last season’s SCF. Will they make it back? The teams around the East are looking dangerous (I’m looking at you and your offensive talent and your Holtby, Washington Capitals), and there’s no telling whether the team will have the same combination of health, luck, and skill again. Despite that, pending any Stamkos contract uncertainty, Tampa's got at least one more season in them before the cap lures away team's second line.

Here’s to 2015-2016, and hopefully making some team care enough about the Lightning to have an actual, honest-to-God rivalry! (Please?)

Meet the author: Achariya Rezak is a Lightning fan and Solar Bears correspondent for Pension Plan Puppets. People might mistake her for a Leafs fan, but she’s actually Tampa’s double-agent for detecting Stamkos kidnapping plots. She might also secretly be a Leafs fan.

Previous A to Z Guides: Anaheim | Arizona | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus | Dallas | Detroit | Edmonton | Florida | Los Angeles | Minnesota | Montreal | Nashville | New Jersey | NY Islanders | NY Rangers | Ottawa | Philadelphia | Pittsburgh | San Jose | St. Louis

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: August 26, 2015, 4:00 pm

It was announced recently that Quebec City and Las Vegas have entered “Phase III” of the NHL expansion process, which we assume is the talent portion. Can’t wait to see Bill Foley spinning plates while singing the national anthem … 

The markets are now proving their viability to the NHL and its Board of Governors, and the League in turn is letting these potential owners know what’s expected of them. Complicated concepts like “don’t be a complete fraud” and “don’t sell season tickets until we tell you to.”

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

All of this would seem to point to both cities getting NHL teams at the end of this process, even though the League has been careful to say this is far from a sure thing. John Shannon of Sportsnet is also playing the skeptic, particularly about Quebec City getting a team:

If both Quebecor and Foley are prepared (and most believe they are) to fork over half a billion dollars each, then there is certain to be interest from the owners. However, there are a ton of questions still to be answered — probably more for Quebec than Las Vegas.

Obvious issues to add an eighth Canadian team are:

1. Market size: Some believe that with under a million citizens, Quebec City will struggle long-term to fill that great new arena.

2. The Canadian dollar: Presently at or near 75 cents compared to the U.S. dollar — and with all league business in USD — the challenge is obvious.

3. Potential corporate partnerships: Who will buy all those private boxes, and pay for those rink boards?

And, of course, the fact that unlike Vegas, the Nordiques 2.0 are going to be entering a market already filled with a team:

4. There’s also the 900-pound elephant in the room: how will Quebec compensate the Montreal Canadiens for invading their territory? How much of an indemnity will be paid to Monsieur Molson for carving out a region from the very profitable provincial market (and the expanded regional market, which includes New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland & Labrador)? Rumours have suggested that the Canadiens could receive upwards of a $100 million in compensation.

That’s a lot of poutine.

To that end, Shannon sees all three scenarios as possible: Two teams, one team or no teams at all added in this round of expansion:

“It would not surprise me to see just Vegas added at this point, with Quebec having to wait a little longer — perhaps even forcing Quebecor to change its focus to finding a team to relocate.”

Which brings us, uncomfortably, to the Carolina Hurricanes.

As the News & Observer notes, Peter Karmanos has yet to find a buyer for the team that will ante up millions while allowing him to continue to run it. (“Here, buy my used car; oh, yeah, one thing – I get to keep the keys.”)

From Luke DeCock:

Even though the NHL has been steadfastly against franchise relocation, and it seems short-sighted and self-defeating to allow a team to move in the middle of an expansion process that could generate $1 billion for the owners, Karmanos included, there’s a worst-case scenario for Hurricanes fans.

That would involve the league giving an expansion team only to Las Vegas, allowing Quebec to purchase and relocate an Eastern Conference team and going with 31 teams until Seattle or another western city gets its act together, thereby avoiding the conference imbalance adding an expansion team in Quebec would create, with 14 teams in the Western Conference and 16 in the East currently.

The Hurricanes aren’t the only candidate to move, but they’re the only team with a for-sale sign in the yard at the moment, and Quebec would likely pay a premium for the franchise. While it’s unlikely, it’s not impossible as long as the team remains unsold.

Look, let’s just say for the record that Raleigh works as an NHL city. The fans are there. The economics are viable. Like many other U.S. cities, the fans show up when they win and don’t when they struggle.

But the long-term viability of any franchise is determined by whether someone wants to own it. (Ask Atlanta.) You hope the Canes are safe. But if not, there are going to be cities ready to poach them.

Is Quebec one of them?

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 26, 2015, 3:20 pm

Tom Sestito’s NHL journey has been an odd one, right through his professional tryout contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins that was announced on Wednesday. 

He punched his way into the NHL, amassing over 300 penalty minutes in three seasons in the OHL, then 202 in the AHL before getting his first NHL game with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He would appear in 12 more before moving over to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012, because of course.

He played in 21 games with Philly and then it was off to the Vancouver Canucks for three season, including one that seemed to indicate Sestito might actually have something more to offer than pummeling faces. He had nine points in 77 games under John Tortorella, albeit with with 213 PIMs, a career high. (He also picked up 27 PIMs in one second of ice time. Which is a heck of a trick.)

But in the next season, he was persona non grata under Willie Desjardins. He was sent to the AHL, and then the Canucks announced he wasn’t going to play there either:

“Tom Sestito will not play for either club for the remainder of this season. Sestito will workout on his own and will continue to receive his salary while the Canucks work to identify a new club where he can continue his career.”

Sestito said he wasn’t given a “fair shake” and vowed he’s return to the NHL to prove the haters wrong. “I don't have hard feelings against Vancouver. I just want to make sure they know they made the wrong choice,” he said.

So now he arrives in Pittsburgh. From the Pens:

Sestito, 27, has played parts of seven NHL seasons with Columbus, Philadelphia and Vancouver, producing 18 points (10G-8A) and 432 penalty minutes in 137 career regular-season games.

At 6-foot-5, 228 pounds, Sestito will be the largest player attending Pittsburgh’s training camp. His best NHL season came with Vancouver in 2013-14 when he posted career highs in games (77), goals (5), assists (4), points (9) and penalty minutes (213). His 213 penalty minutes led the NHL and his 121 hits ranked third on the Canucks.

Steve Downie, the Penguins’ only player with more than 80 PIMs last season, has moved on so the team is obviously fishing for some muscle to look after Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and the rest. Is Sestito that guy? He’ll have a chance to prove it. (And any time Sestito has more time for hockey and less time for political commentary, the better off he'll be.)

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 26, 2015, 2:09 pm

Washington Capitals star center Nicklas Backstrom had arthroscopic hip surgery after last season. All indications are that the surgery went well, and that Backstrom would join the Capitals in training camp. 

But appearing in training camp is different than being ready for the start of the 2015-16 season, and Backstrom admitted to Gefle Dagblad 0f Arbetarbladet that he might not answer the bell when the Capitals open against the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 10.

“I don’t know if I will be able to play right away when the season starts,” he said.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

But Backstrom reiterated that the surgery “has gone well and I hope it stays that way.”

Said the center: “There has been considerable focus on enhancing mobility in the hip again, from the beginning I could not run or anything, because I wanted to wait to get on the ice also very recently.”

He’s back on the ice, which means hopefully his absence at the start of the season is a short one, if there is one at all.

If Backstrom can’t go, GM Brian MacLellan spelled out what the alternative plan might be to the Washington Post:

If Backstrom cannot start the season, [Evgeny] Kuznetsov would likely slide onto the top line, freeing up the second-line spot for [Andre] Burakovsky or someone else. The ripple effect would see [Jay] Beagle, [Brooks] Laich and Michael Latta in contention for the bottom-six center spots, which they already will be anyway.

As much as we’d love to see the Kuzy/Ovi Show, the Caps need a healthy Backstrom back ASAP.

s/t Malin Elis

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 26, 2015, 1:05 pm

One of the ways the NHL tries to differentiate between the Winter Classic and its Stadium Series games – besides inviting teams beyond the nine seemingly on repeat for Jan. 1 – is through its jerseys and logo designs. 

Rather than throwbacks, these uniforms are typically spiffy takes on their current wardrobe, like the Los Angeles Kings’ white pants or the New York Rangers’ lettering, shiny and chrome like it’s on the way to Valhalla.

This season, the Detroit Red Wings are visiting the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild are hosting the Chicago Blackhawks, which means four new designs for the Stadium Series. Or three new designs and whatever they do for the Blackhawks’ annual outdoor game. Ah, the spoils of victory and/or the perils of fame ...

According to a recently released Reebok catalogue that was screen-capped by graphic designer Conrad Burry, the Wild, Avalanche and Red Wings will all have new looks for the games.

Above are gray hoodies with the Stadium Series logos. The Avs’ one leaked a while ago, and the Red Wings one seems to confirm the “sash design” that Chris Creamer of Sportslogos reported on earlier this summer.

Here's some gear for Chicago and Minnesota: 

NHL

The Wild logo … wow. What on earth is that going to look like as a completed product?

(Keep in mind it’s been reported that the Minnesota North Stars players in the Wild alumni game will be wearing hybrid Wild/Stars jerseys, which are awesome.)

And the Blackhawks will wear white or something. They’re over it.

s/t Sportslogos

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 25, 2015, 10:09 pm

BY CHRIS LOMON

TORONTO -- He missed the last seven games of the 2014-15 regular season with a broken tibia. His team missed out on the playoffs after finishing sixth in the Metropolitan Division. 

No wonder Wayne Simmonds isn’t short on motivation these days.

A fairytale ending to the season it was not.

Moments after he lit the lamp for a team-leading 28th time, his 100th tally in a Philadelphia Flyers jersey, Simmonds was sent to the sidelines after he stepped in front of a shot. The end result was a fractured left leg and the end of his campaign.

Up until the injury, Simmonds recorded 50 points and had appeared in all 75 games. He had missed just nine total NHL games dating back to 2008.

The Flyers finished with 84 points, 14 back of the final Eastern Conference wild card spot.

Yet, despite the less than memorable outcomes, Simmonds’ sights are set on shared goals for both himself and his team: getting out of the gates strong and being consistent.  

“Thirty is a definite goal for me,” said the right winger, who scored 29 and 28 goals, respectively, over the past two seasons. “I’ve come close a couple of times. As long as we’re winning games and making the playoffs, I really don’t care how many I get.”

Are the Flyers up to the postseason task?

“We’re a good team right now,” Simmonds said. “We played really well against the good teams and we somehow faltered against the teams that had around the same amount of points as us or were below us in the standings. We just have work out our inconsistencies and we’ll be fine.”

Helping lead the Flyers – Simmonds was named an alternate captain last October – is a key area of focus for the player who turns 27 tomorrow.

“I work on being someone who can provide leadership, to do whatever I can, on and off the ice, to support my teammates. The bottom line is that we all work together so we don’t have a repeat of last year.”

If his spirited showing at the recent BioSteel Camp is any indication of what’s in store for Simmonds and his teammates, Flyers fans have cause for optimism.

“I took about a month off at the end of the season,” he noted. “It was a very tough way to end the year. It took a little bit of time to rehab that going into the summer. I’ve been focusing on training and making sure I’m as strong as possible coming into the new season."

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: August 25, 2015, 6:45 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com. 

Photo via Artemi Panarin on Twitter

• Russian Artemi Panarin is in Chicago doing tourist-like things. How many Chicago Blackhawks fans know who he is? [Second City Hockey]

• Detroit Red Wings trainer Piet Van Zant took a look at Pavel Datsyuk’s surgically repaired ankle and liked what he saw. [MLive]

• Is Quebec City really an expansion slam dunk? There are lots of issues that come with that team in that area. [Sportsnet]

• Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane lost his training camp team name with the London Knights. Kane is reportedly the focus of a rape investigation. [London Free Press]

• Eric Staal talking about his contract with the Carolina Hurricanes? Cue alarm bells Canes fans! He also talks about his golf tournament. [News & Observer]

• A detailed breakdown of Mark Giordano's new contract. [Matchsticks and Gasoline]

• Former Swedish stars Nicklas Lidstrom, Daniel Alfredsson and Mats Sudin will advise Team Sweden in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Sounds like a Swedish version of Pro Stars ... management edition. [NHL]

• The San Jose Sharks have brought back Frazer McLaren. John Scott replacement perhaps? [CSN Bay Area]

• Cody Franson of Slamon Arm, British Columbia is the top remaining UFA on the market. [Spectors Hockey]

• All you need and want to know about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ new practice facility. [The Hockey Writers]

• What are the seven places a hockey fan must visit in his/her lifetime? [Sports Illustrated]

• The CWHL has not exactly put the NWHL in the best of spots. This is not great for the new women’s hockey league. Then again it is competition. [Today’s Slapshot]

• The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed troubled winger Devin Setoguchi to a professional tryout agreement. [Maples Leafs Hot Stove]

• The San Jose Sharks are yet another team to ditch “Rock and Roll Part 2” as their goal song. The Predators did this before last season. Song author Gary Glitter was sentenced to 16 years in jail for sex crimes against children. [Puck Drunk Love]

• Investigators have met with Kane in regards to their rape investigation of the superstar. [Buffalo News]

• Marc Chorney helped give his love of hockey to his son Taylor Chorney. [Greatest Hockey Legends]

• Kevan Miller may have to think twice before fighting next with the Boston Bruins. Now that he’s recovered from shoulder surgery, he gets the fact that there could be trouble if he fights again.  [Big Bad Blog]

• Why is the number 47 important for Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson? [Japers’ Rink]

• Could the Ottawa Senators bring back Martin Havlat on a PTO? Oh geez … just when you think he’s done. [Sen Shot]

• Breaking down the 2015 CWHL draft class. [Along the Boards]

•  Steve Spott joins Bob Boughner and Johan Hedberg on Peter DeBoer’s San Jose Sharks coaching staff. Spott spent last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs as an assistant coach. [Blades of Teal]

• The Winnipeg Jets enter training camp this season with some questions. But they’re not bad questions. For example, where does Alexander Burmistrov fit? That's a good question. [TSN]

• Finally, Connor McDavid is so good. 

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 25, 2015, 6:12 pm

Were it not for injuries, Mark Giordano could have been a Norris Trophy finalist (and likely winner) in each of the last two seasons. He’s a 31-year-old elite defenseman, on a Calgary Flames team that’s clearly ahead of schedule as a contender and has built a formidable blue line in front of average goaltending. 

And now, he’s being paid as such: The Flames signed Giordano to a six-year extension worth $40.5 million according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, for a $6.75 million cap hit. He has one more year left at $4.02M AAV for the Flames.

From the Flames:

Giordano, a native of Toronto, Ontario, has been the captain of the Calgary Flames since 2013. He has played his entire NHL career with Calgary, amassing 66 goals and 179 assists for 245 points along with 466 penalty minutes in 510 games. Last season Giordano was named to the NHL All-Star Game and was a finalist for the NHL’s Foundation Player Award. Giordano was leading all NHL defencemen in scoring with 11 goals, 37 assists for 48 points in 61 games played before sustaining a season-ending injury on February 25th.

The initial ask from Giordano was an astronomical $9 million annually, which is how negotiations go. This contract, which kicks in for 2016-17, makes him the highest-paid Flames player starting next season and puts him right ahead of contracts signed by Alex Pietrangelo and Erik Karlsson, who it should be said are significantly younger.  

And that’s the thing with this deal: It pays Giordano what he’s worth now, and maybe for the next three seasons; but at some point in this deal, he’s going to be a 37-year-old defenseman making $6.75 million, at a time when guys like Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau could be looking to have new deals that eat up UFA years.

For now, it’s a solid deal for a guy who’s been a top-five defenseman in this league for the last two seasons. They’ll make Dennis Wideman disappear within the year, and go forward with Giordano, TJ Brodie ($4.65 million AAV through 2020) and Dougie Hamilton ($5.75 million through 2021) as the heart of a very, very good defense. In front of, again, “affordable” goaltending. 

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 25, 2015, 4:39 pm

Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby on the same line – a match made in hot dog heaven? 

According to the Pittsburgh Penguins official Twitter feed citing coach Mike Johnston, Crosby will likely get first crack playing with the Pens’ newest and biggest acquisition.

Is this the right move for the Penguins? For Kessel anyone other than Tyler Bozak is a total step up. Last year was the only full season with the Toronto Maple Leafs where Kessel did not score over 30 goals – and he still had 25 playing with the gong show Leafs. 

But is Crosby the right person for Kessel, versus say … Evgeni Malkin? NHL.com’s Dan Rosen explained why Kessel and Malkin would make the most sense, harkening back to the golden age of when James Neal played with Geno.

 The reason Neal thrived with Malkin is the same reason Kessel should. Neal had time to read and react off Malkin, who likes to carry the puck and play an east-west, change-of-speed game. Neal, reading Malkin, would play stealth-like and pop out in a scoring area at the right moment for a Malkin pass.

Together, Malkin and Neal were unpredictable, which worked to their advantage. Kessel, like Neal, can get open. And Kessel's shot, with its quick release, accuracy and heaviness, is better than Neal's.

With Kessel and Malkin on the ice together, there would be constant movement and interplay between two threats able to score on virtually any possession in the attacking zone.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

But, wait, isn’t Crosby the best player in the world? Why wouldn’t he and Kessel – two speedsters – make sense playing with one another?

Crosby plays more of a north-south game of direct lines and quick puck movement. Crosby's linemates have to think the game quickly, react quickly, and be ready in a hurry. He wants his wings to be predictable.

That's a big reason Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz have played so well with him. They thrive on finding pucks, especially inside the dots. They have the ability to score before the opportunity to score makes itself evident to others. Crosby is the one of best in the world at making something out of nothing in the blink of an eye.

It’s not like putting two superstars together creates immediate and undeniable chemistry. Brett Hull and Wayne Gretzky didn’t jibe super well while playing with the St. Louis Blues during Gretzky’s small stint there, even though it seemed like both should have been the perfect linemates. Gretzky was the NHL’s greatest passer. Hull had the leagues greatest one-timer.

Regardless of whether Crosby and Kessel are the best fit for one another, it’s nice for the Penguins to have depth of options.

As Pensburgh notes, moving Patric Hornqvist to Malkin’s wing could be a blessing for both the Swede and the Russian. 

That should be a good thing as well, the two played together in limited stints last season (for a total of 222:18) but had some success. In that time, Malkin scored 6 goals and 6 assists, Hornqvist scored 4g+5a. Their Corsi For was a very strong 57.5%, and their Goals For% was 55.6. Also, encouragingly Malkin+Hornqvist had a 4.05 GF/60 while together, which was the highest for Geno for any forward linemate. Of course, they also hada 3.24 GA/60 (highest for Malkin aside from Beau Bennett, and interestingly Crosby).

Also, playing with a fleet skater like Crosby could help Kessel burn off his notorious pre-game meal.

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS 

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 25, 2015, 4:07 pm

(Ed. Note: August is known to be a very quiet month in the hockey world. As we wait for September to arrive and training camps to begin, let’s learn a little history about all 30 teams. Behold, our summer A-Z series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to drop some knowledge on us! Add your own choices in the comments!)

By: Laura Astorian, managing editor of St. Louis Game Time

A. Al Arbour

Arbour is probably best known as the coach that created a dynasty out of the New York Islanders in the 1980s, or the second winningist coach of all time. Arbour is beloved by Blues fans as well, as he was one of the first to wear the Bluenote.

He was hired as coach of the Blues halfway through his last season, and was let go due to lack of playoff success. Needless to say, Arbour is one of many who has been let go or traded by the team only to win a Stanley Cup elsewhere.

Al’s a good sergeant, but he’s no general” may be the most Blues assessment of a member of the franchise on record.

B. Bernie Federko

Hall of Famer Bernie Federko (I believe that may be his full legal name now) played for 13 seasons with the Blues and one final season with that team everyone plays for before they retire. The franchise leader in games played did the Blues a parting solid, by being part of the trade that helped bring Adam Oates to St. Louis. Bernie holds the team records for assists (721), points (1073) and most confusing things said during a home broadcast (pick a date).

C. Cujo

Curtis Joseph was supposed to be the Goalie of The Future, before being claimed by both the annual Blues Goaltending Pile-On conducted by their fans and Mike Keenan.

Joseph said of Keenan:

"I couldn't imagine anyone treating other human beings that way," Joseph once said in regard to the treatment by his coach. "I had had it. I even cleared his (Keenan's) desk one day when our conversation got a little heated. The trade to Edmonton (for Shayne Corson and Marty Reasoner on 28 July, 1995) was the best thing that ever happened to me. I couldn't take it anymore."

D. Dan Kelly

Dan Kelly was the radio and later television play-by-play announcer for the St. Louis Blues. He passed away in 1989 due to lung cancer, and a banner with a shamrock was raised to the Kiel Center rafters. The players also wore it as a patch for that season. His son, John, is the current play-by-play analyst for FoxSports Midwest’s Blues broadcasts.

E. Emerson, Nelson

Emerson was drafted 44th overall in the 1985 entry draft. In three seasons with the Blues he potted 45 goals and added 87 assists before heading to the Winnipeg Jets. He also was, inexplicably, one of the most sought-after rookie cards around when I was a kid. I wound up with the Pro Set one.

F. Flying Cavallini Brothers

Paul Cavallini lost the tip of his finger while blocking a Doug Wilson shot in 1990. He’s now a stockbroker in St. Louis. His brother Gino suited up for 454 games for the Blues. They are still favorites on The Hill, St. Louis’ Italian neighborhood, where one goes for bocce ball and to carbo-load at Rigazzi’s before a home game.

G. Great One, The

Who could forget those thrilling 18 regular season games and 13 playoff games where Wayne Gretzky skated with the C on his chest for St. Louis? Probably everyone, unless you’re Steve Yzerman.

Gretzky wanted to retire a Blue, but couldn’t deal with Mike Keenan anymore. Instead, Gretzky skated his last season with the New York Rangers before retiring. He still pops up at Blues games now and then.

H. Hullie

The Kiel Center was the House that Hull Built. And the Kiel Auditorium parking garage was the parking garage that Hull destroyed:

Brett Hull is the reason that St. Louis is cranking out young and talented players, he’s the reason that so many people in my generation love the Blues, and he’s the reason that so many hate Mike Keenan. Every bit of that is deserved.

I. Inconceivable Decisions By Owners

Sid Salomon III losing Scotty Bowman and Al Arbour. Ralston Purina handing the team over to the NHL. Bill Laurie’s fire sale that sent Chris Pronger to Edmonton. Firing Joel Quenneville. Made-up shutouts and a hoped for Stanley Cup parade down “Market Avenue” by Dave Checketts.  The Blues aren’t cursed, they just have had a string of questionable ownership groups. Thankfully, that string’s broken.

J. Jumpin’, Holy

The Blues color announcer is Darren Pang. You may have noticed that he has a catchphrase.

For some reason, it has been set it to music.

K. Keenan, Mike

Sure, Brendan Shanahan for Chris Pronger worked out well for the Blues, but you have the deplorable low-balling of Brett Hull during contract discussions a season after Keenan stripped the captaincy from him in favor of Shayne Corson, and you have the loss of Gretzky, who wanted to retire as a Blue. You have battles of will, you have Keenan coaching far under expectations after his 1994 Cup win with the Rangers.

All of this was nicely summarized on Brett Hull’s Hall of Fame night by one intrepid fan, who shouted “I HATE MIKE KEENAN” during a quiet moment. Hull and Keenan might’ve cleared the air, but Blues fans may never not despise Iron Mike.

L. Liut, Mike

Blues fans were chanting goalie names that sounded like boos before it was cool. Liut, a Blues draftee, amassed 65 wins his first two seasons; he would’ve won the Hart Trophy in 1981 if it weren’t for Wayne Gretzky.

He had to settle for the Lester B. Pearson Trophy instead. Unfortunately, after his stellar first two years, Liut never cracked .500, and was traded to the Hartford Whalers. He currently is making his way in the world as an agent for Octagon, representing Vladimir Tarasenko among others.

M. Monday Night Miracle

May 12, 1986 may be one of the most Blues-like moments in history. Hope soon to be followed by defeat is a theme with this franchise, and this may be the ultimate example of that. Down 5-2 with 12 minutes to go in game six of the Western Conference Finals, the Blues erased the deficit in 12 minutes with goals from Brian Sutter and Greg Paslawski, who also scored the third goal in tremendous fashion to send the game to overtime. Doug Wickenheiser potted the overtime game winner.

The Blues lost game seven in Calgary, 2-1. They wouldn’t return to the Western Conference Finals until 2001.

N. No Draft Pick

The Blues, who were in danger of being moved to Saskatoon thanks to Ralston Purina no longer wanting to own a hockey team. There were lawsuits and countersuits between the group out of Saskatoon, Purina, and the NHL. The uncertainty led to the Blues not having a representative at the 1983 draft. No representative, no draft picks. It’s the only time in NHL history that a team did not participate in the draft.

O. Oates, Adam

Hull and Oates were one of the greatest hockey duos in history, and money ruined everything. For the two and a half seasons that Adam Oates was in St. Louis, no one dished the puck to Hull like he did. Hull potted 212 goals in that time, with Oates tallying 228 assists. Oates also had 58 goals, and Hull had 113 assists. Though the magic was brief, it gave us these posters:

Hull and Oates

P. Plager Bros.

Bob, Billy, and Barclay taught the Flyers how to be Bullies.

On January 6th, 1972, a Flyers fan decided to dump a beer onto Blues coach Al Arbour. The team took exception to that. Led by Bob Plager and Phil Roberto, a gaggle of Blues players (including Barclay) went into the stands to find the offending fan.

If this sounds familiar to anyone who isn’t a Blues fan, pop in a copy of Slap Shot for a refresher. This melee, along with the Plager Brothers reputation, served as the inspiration for the Hanson Bros. Much like some of the Chiefs wound up having to be bailed out later that night, so did some of the Blues.

Q. [is for] Q

Oh, look, another coach fired by the Blues who went on to have great Stanley Cup success. Joel Quenneville’s record after six full seasons and portions of two others was 307–191–77–18. He also helped guide the Blues to a President’s Trophy and the Western Conference Finals, so sure, obviously it made perfect sense to let the guy go.

R. Red Berenson

The Blues acquired Red with Barclay Plager from the Rangers in 1967. Later that season he scored a double hat trick against the Flyers. Traded in 1970 to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for Gary Unger. The Wings traded Berenson back to the Blues after four years, and Berenson retired with the team that helped solidify his star status.

S. Scott Stevens

Yes, Brendan Shanahan came to St. Louis thanks to the deal that sent Stevens to the New Jersey Devils (the first of two controversial deals involving Shanny for the Blues), but the deal cost the Blues’ multiple draft picks. First they sent five picks to the Capitals for Stevens. Then GM Ron Caron signed Shanny to an offer sheet, and as compensation the judge gave the Devils Stevens, who promptly requested a meeting with his attorney while he refused to report to Devils training camp.

Was this the NHL getting back at the Blues for the deal that got Stevens to begin with? The world may never know, but the Blues offer sheeted Stevens in 1999.This offer sheet cost the team another five first round draft picks.

T. Turek, Roman

In the 1999-2000 season, Turek was lights out, posting a 1.95 GAA and a .912 save percentage while accumulating a 42-15-9 record. He then lost four games in the playoffs with a .275 GAA and a .882 SV%. Basically, typical Blues playoff goaltending.

U. Unger, Garry

Unger played 917 games in a row between 1968 and 1979. Nine of those seasons were with the St. Louis Blues, before Unger left to join the Atlanta Flames. He, along with Keith Tkachuk, Joe Mullen, and Berenson, all have their number 7 honored by the Blues.

V. Vladimir Tarasenko

If every letter in this post could’ve been given to one player, I would have gladly written an entire article featuring Yladimir Yeresenko, Hladimir Heresenko, and Zladimir Zeresenko. He’s the first superstar for the Blues since Brett Hull, and his recent contract is proof that he’s the cornerstone of the team for the foreseeable future.

W. Walt

Only the 6th American to score 1000 points, Keith Tkachuk spent 2001-2007 with the Blues before being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for Glen Metropolit and a slew of draft picks. After the Thrashers’ one failed playoff run ended, Tkachuk returned to the Blues and finished his career there in 2010. His retirement may have been hastened by injuries sustained after scoring a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks with his face.

X. 
X Emoji

You may have seen this emoji pop up on Twitter after this goal:

Watch the players on the bench.

Barret Jackman, recently signed by the Nashville Predators after being told the Blues were going in a younger direction for defense, is second all-time in franchise games played. Bobby Plager gave him special dispensation to wear his number 5; Bobby was on to something – Jackman won the Calder trophy in 1999, beating out Rick Nash and Henrik Zetterberg. Never forget.

Y. Yake, Terry

This one came down between Yake and Yan Stastny, and Terry got more votes on Twitter. Congrats, Terry!

Yake spent two and a half seasons with the Blues, posting not bad numbers, before being traded to the Washington Capitals and then fading into AHL/European obscurity. Yake, like many former Blues, has made his home in St. Louis, where he sells meat.

Z. Zezel, Peter

Rest in peace.

Meet the author: Laura’s been a fan of the St. Louis Blues since childhood, which makes for about 25 years of futility for her. She hopes that a Stanley Cup win isn’t 25 years away, but still has a wheelchair and an escape plan to get her mother out of the nursing home to see the parade.  Follow her on Twitter @hildymac, or visit St. Louis Game Time, which she is the managing editor of.

Previous A to Z Guides: Anaheim | Arizona | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus | Dallas | Detroit | Edmonton | Florida | Los Angeles | Minnesota | Montreal | Nashville | New Jersey | NY Islanders | NY Rangers | Ottawa | Philadelphia | Pittsburgh | San Jose

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: August 25, 2015, 4:00 pm

LISTEN HERE! [And if that doesn't work, try here.]

It's a Tuesday edition of Marek vs. Wyshynski beginning at noon ET/9 a.m. PT, and we're talking about the following and more.

Special Guest Star: Rich Hammond tells us what is going on with the Los Angeles Kings. 

• Sidney Crosby will reportedly start the season with Phil Kessel.  

• NHL Free Agency! 

• Hockey News and Views

Question of the Day: We're GOING POSTAL! Ask us antyhing! Email puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or hit us on Twitter with the hashtag #MvsW to @wyshynski or @jeffmarekClick here for the Sportsnet live stream or click the play button above!

Click here to download podcasts from the show each day. Subscribe to the podcast viaiTunes or Feedburner.

***

BUY THE MvsW T-SHIRTS! SUPPORT HOCKEY FIGHTS CANCER!

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: August 25, 2015, 3:52 pm

Like David Hasselhoff in Germany and “Terminator: Genisys” in China, Mike Keenan is kinda a big deal in Russia.

He hasn’t coached in the NHL since splitting with the Calgary Flames in 2009, but Keenan has been with Magnitogorsk Metallurg in the Kontinential Hockey League for the last three years. He won the Gagarin Cup in 2014 – the only trophy in pro sports named after a Cosmonaut – and led them to the playoffs last season. He is their coach, their leader … a revolutionary, if you will.

You know: Like Lenin.

Right down to the icy glare.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

So Metallurg decided to run with this comparison to its logical conclusion: a black and white promo (with jaunty piano music!) for the 2015-16 season starring Keenan as Vladimir Lenin.

The plot, as far as we can tell? While boiling fishheads near Lake Razliv one day, Lenin and his assistants “revolutionize” hockey while watching some young players and configuring rocks in what we can only assume is the 1-3-1 trap. This is a reference to the 1917 October Revolution (a.k.a. Red October) when Lenin overthrew the government and established himself chairman of a new Soviet order.

Like we said: Not exactly your run-of-the-mill season promo.

One lingering question: What is handing these kids?

Keenan

Fruit on a stick? Mouthguards? Those lollipops made out of scorpions?

Obviously, this is inspired casting. Like Lenin, Keenan has been called a “relentless dictator.” Like Lenin, Keenan is infamous for his power struggles. And like Lenin, he’s a destroyer of empires – ask the Panthers.

s/t Hooks Orpik

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 25, 2015, 2:26 pm
Pittsburgh Penguins' Christian Ehrhoff (10) checks Colorado Avalanche's Jarome Iginla (12) into the boards during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

It was easy to write Christian Ehrhoff's signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins last summer off as a byproduct of a bizarre system. 

He had been a compliance buyout for Buffalo, but that appeared to be unrelated to his level of play, which was strong for a $4 million cap hit. Instead it seemed wholly tied to the ridiculous length of the 10-year contract in question, its potential cap recapture penalty should he retire early (he was paid $22 million of a $40 million deal in the first three years), and the fact that the Sabres suddenly and rather judiciously didn't want to pay him until he was 39 even if he did stick around.

As we've seen in the past, guys who get bought out tend to be rather looked down upon by the rest of the league, resulting in them settling for what is by all appearances well less than market value. So his pulling just $4 million from Pittsburgh on a one-year deal came as a bit of a surprise, but struck many as a bargain.

The actual performance with the Penguins, though, wasn't anything about which to write home; by most metrics — except goals, because Pittsburgh shot 9.2 percent when he was on the ice at 5-on-5 — Ehrhoff was a detriment to the cause relative to the rest of his team. Now, that comes with a few caveats, the two biggest being the concussions he suffered over the course of the season, limiting him to just 49 games and a tie for a career low in points-per-game (0.29).

The other big caveat is that looking at “relative” numbers where Pittsburgh is concerned is often a problem because Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin tend to make everyone else look pretty bad down the lineup. But Ehrhoff got a lot of ice time with both those high-level centers (255-plus minutes with Crosby, and another 221-plus with Malkin), and got mixed results in terms of on-ice impact; Malkin's numbers improved with Ehrhoff on, while Crosby's suffered a little. Of course, you could put either one of those guys out there with the average Puck Daddy reader on the blue line and still get decent-to-good results most of the time — such is their power — so again, tough to judge whether Ehrhoff's season was a good one.

However, the fact that the Penguins didn't seem at all interested in bringing him back and are instead going with a pretty young blue line indicates that they were less than impressed with what they saw, injuries or not. All this in addition to a “mild concussion” suffered at the end of the 2014 season — so that's three concussions less than a year — along with other injuries including he a lower-body injury in December that caused him to miss five games doesn't exactly give one a lot of hope for the future.

But again, the numbers are pretty solid, and going to a team like LA which is similar to Pittsburgh -- in that it has proven possession drivers throughout the lineup -- sure does make a lot of sense for Ehrhoff overall. We've heard all summer long that he was willing to take short money to play for a contender. And while the “willing to” part seems like it's something over which he never really had much control, given that he didn't sign until Aug. 23, that is indeed what he did.

Pittsburgh didn't feel he was worth $4 million and that may be so at the end of the day. War on Ice has his goals above replacement at minus-3.3 — the worst number of his career by far — which cost the Penguins a little more than one point in the standings (about 3.08 goals were worth a single standings point last season). The fact that this is a cumulative stat, and would have brought his number down if he continued to play at the same level for all 82, further damns his performance.

Anyone who has a negative impact on term performance in this way isn't worth having on the roster at all, let alone paying $4 million Pittsburgh cap pool a roster already largely occupied by oversized contracts (Pittsburgh pays Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis and Rob Scuderi a combined $10.98 million or so, for example). You can't continue to drag the team down like that in a contract year and expect to get re-signed.

So the question for Dean Lombardi was whether he thought Ehrhoff's worst-season-ever was a product of injury, and not of deterioration of skill with age. Ehrhoff is currently 33 and some defensemen just inexplicably stop being good around then; maybe they lose that last fraction of a step they needed to keep up with the pace at a high level, maybe their reaction times are slower. Certainly, concussions don't help the matter in either event.

Further worth examining: Is that fact that he got three concussions in less than a year a byproduct of his having lost a step, or just bad luck? Here are the videos of the two hits that led to concussions last season.

Your browser does not support iframes.

To me it looks as though he just got pushed around on routine plays. Worrisome if you expect him to keep that up in the physical Western Conference. With all that having been said, though, Ehrhoff isn't a guy who should or, with LA at least, would be out on the ice against Alex Ovechkin and Vladimir Tarasenko. His days of being a top-pairing defenseman are over, and likely have been for a while. Even if he was really helping Buffalo for the first two years of that contract, it was still an immense downgrade from his peak performances with Vancouver.

But if you can stuff him in the middle of the lineup — and LA's D-corps certainly allows him to do that — and keep him away from top-level guys, a second-pairing defenseman who can chip in offensively (in theory) is a pretty good gamble.

(Pittsburgh, incidentally, used him in something of a shutdown role; he played borderline top-pairing talent but got some decently tough relative zone starts at 51.9 percent in the attacking end. Pittsburgh on the whole was a little less than 54 percent, so that might have been a little too difficult for him to handle successfully.)

Obviously a lot remains to be seen as to whether Ehrhoff's lost season was a hiccup in an otherwise good career that's admittedly on the downswing, or a sign that he just doesn't have it any more. And given his apparent high susceptibility to concussions, you're taking a decent-sized risk. The fact that he costs just $1.5 million helps ease the pain there because it's below even his diminished potential value — for example, Philadelphia pays Nick Schultz 50 percent more than that for some reason — but it is a risk.

It's not the kind of contract people over which should be taking to the streets to lay palm fronds down before Lombardi, but as late-August middle-of-the-lineup signings go, it seems like a pretty good one. The odds that it isn't seem more related to injury risk than on-ice contribution.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

All stats via War on Ice unless otherwise stated.

Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: August 25, 2015, 1:37 pm

KHL OPEN from OWS Production on Vimeo.

The Kontinental Hockey League opened its 2015-16 season on Monday with the usual bombast that we’ve come to expect from pregame ceremonies, like giant CGI displays on the ice that transform the surface into 3-D objects. 

Pfffft … everyone does that.

Seriously, KHL, what you got? What can all that Russian natural gas and oil money buy to entertain the assembled masses in a darkened arena?

KHL

KHL: “HOW ABOUT GLOWING LITE-BRITE LASER SKATERS, COMRADE?”

ME: “adsgasgafsgasdfvfasd...”

KHL

These four glowing skaters – OK, make that three glowing skaters and that one strand of Christmas lights that never seems to work – were a sight to behold, looking like some sort of hockey-centric sequel to “TRON LEGACY.”

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

They appear on the video at 2:30 and then do their thing until around the 5-mintue mark. Somewhat ironically, the puck is the only thing they didn’t make glow.

The KHL is once again being aired on One World Sports. Upcoming games include Jokerit (Helsinki) vs. CSKA (Moscow) on Aug. 29 live at 9:00 AM EST; and HC Sochi vs. Yaroslavl Lokomotiv on same day delay on Aug. 31 at 5:00 PM EST.

KHL

No word if this will actually become the Las Vegas franchise’s third jersey …

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 24, 2015, 10:34 pm

Ads on NHL jerseys are coming. This is unavoidable. In the next year or three, it's going to happen.

Why are they an inevitability? Because it's a revenue stream in a league always desperate for them. Everyone understands this fundamentally, and yet when the idea was brought up at various points this week, the reaction was one of such revulsion that you would have thought the ads were being tattooed on the first-born of every NHL fan, and not the goofy, baggy shirts for which they pay $250 without blinking.

It's easy to understand why people would be so against the idea. It is new and therefore bad. As is all things the NHL does at every turn. That is, at least, the way fans see things, and in much the same way that people harp on about the sport's purity in general, the whole is not actually greater than the sum of its parts; if one aspect of the league's innocence is lost, then the whole thing is ruined and everyone is unhappy. Generally, though, the average hockey fan is perpetually unhappy with how every aspect of the sport progresses slowly toward the future, so jersey ads — inevitable though they may be — are gauche and soiling the legacy of the sport.

One imagines that a lot of people are picturing the league shifting to something along the lines of soccer-style ads on jerseys. A little tiny team logo up over the heart, and a big ol' sponsor logo on the chest. Or perhaps they envision a more European hockey aesthetic, where the team logo is in the middle but there are ads on the sleeves, chest area, pants, socks, helmets, gloves, and bottoms of the jersey.

One can, however, safely assume that neither of those things are going to happen. In reality, we're far more likely to get something that looks like this picture of Patrice Bergeron than anything else:

Photo via http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/cards/scans/providence_bruins_2004-05_front.jpg

That Dodge ad on the Providence Bruins jersey is not too intrusive even in a close-up, and one assumes NHL teams would do a better job of tailoring the logo on the sweater to the uniform's overall appearance (i.e. making the Dodge logo Black and Gold rather than white and red). Also of note: That picture of Patrice Bergeron playing for the P-Bruins places it during the lockout year of 2004-05, which is important here. That's 10 seasons of corporate logos on jerseys on AHL logos and the league shockingly hasn't folded yet.

Also: A Boston Bruins or Detroit Red Wings or Los Angeles Kings logo is itself a corporate logo. (Hashtag Branding.) But people don't care about Pepsi like they do their local hockey concerns, so That's Different. And they don't care about the guy at the Honda dealership down the street like they do the local star player, so That's Also Different.

None of this, by the way, is to say, “Actually, ads on jerseys are good.” They're just not this insidious, stomach-turning evil over which everyone began hyperventilating this week. In and of themselves they are neither good nor bad. But they are inevitable, and if we all accept that, why get so wrapped up in the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth seen the last few days? (Other than “Hockey Twitter always needs to be impotently complaining about something.”) 

To underscore this sudden hysteria about a thing that has been talked about for at least a year and a half, here's a tweet from a guy who plays for a team that doesn't exactly have a lot of tradition on which to fall back:

An NHL uniform is a sacred thing and it's an honor to wear one. Putting corporate sponsors on the front would tarnish that. Don't do it

— Blake Wheeler (@BiggieFunke) August 18, 2015

Ah yes, the sacrosanct and inviolable majesty of the Winnipeg Jets jersey, which has existed in its current form these last four years and is in no way a secret if unwitting advertisement for the Canadian Air Force as-is. (Look familiar?)

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

And indeed, here's a photo of three Vancouver Canucks wearing practice jerseys with the logo for Canadian hardware giant Rona and somehow not-turning into a skeleton like they drank out of the wrong chalice at the end of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." And in furtherance of the above point about the AHL somehow staying in business for all these years despite having ads on the jerseys, here's an approximation of what it would look like for the average television viewer, with a screenshot taken from a Hamilton/Utica game this past season (you can't even see the ad on the Hamilton Bulldogs jersey!): 

Photo provided by Ryan Lambert

Put another way, the vast majority of NHL jerseys are sacred in the way that the design on a Pepsi can is sacred: Not. Because frankly, NHL teams probably change their jersey designs more often than any given soda manufacturer.

Since 2010, in fact, the average NHL team has had jerseys change in some way (materially changing them in some way like new patches or logos, adding or subtracting third or even fourth jerseys, etc.), an average of 2.3 times per team. And that's not including one-off jerseys like those for Winter Classics/outdoor games or throwback nights. Why do they do it? Because they can sell more merchandise that way.

Not that there's going to be any sort of initial rush to buy new jerseys with the ads on them, though it might lead to a run on current jerseys if there's a definitive start date on which those ads would be included league-wide, as well as a big secondary market for used sweaters sans logos. But then, at some point, people will just stop caring that there's a small ad on a jersey that, again, probably blends in pretty well with the overall look. And would you really be all that surprised to see major redesigns of the logos to coincide with the Adidas launch that oh by the way just so happen to have that little ad? Redesigned jerseys sell because fans want to be up on the latest team look. That's why new uniforms and third jerseys get introduced so often.

Let's put it this way: Your complaints, two or so years in advance, are going to be duly noted. Here's a mockup from the New England Hockey Journal's Andy Merritt of what an ad on a Bruins jersey might look like; notice the photoshop job hasn't caught fire due to how sacrilegious it is. In fact, one might go so far as to say it looks............ fine.

It really is amazing, though, that a league with an award (formerly) Presented By Bridgestone, which plasters ads on boards and the ice and even the glass behind the net, and which has official partnerships with — just off the top of my head here — GEICO, Reebok, Pepsi, Enterprise, Ticketmaster and Coors Light would be criticized by fans as being too commercial is pretty damn funny. Every power play and penalty kill and shootout has a corporate sponsor. Complaining about it, or pretending it's going to make you physically ill, is really pissing in the wind. 

Everyone said the same things about how ads on the ice surface a decade ago would ruin the sport forever, and now no one notices. They said that about ads on the boards a few dozen years before that. 

And here's an area where ads on jerseys actually helps the league and players alike: This is hockey-related revenue that benefits everyone. Maybe Blake Wheeler will have a different take when it turns out these jersey adds get him an extra $100,000 or more per year on his next contract. You can buy a lot of seam rippers to remove all that offensive stitching with the extra cash. 

Hell, it benefits teams even beyond the extra revenue; people have been talking for a while now about the implications of a plateauing salary cap — Craig Custance talked about it at length in a column this week — on teams with superstar players. Because teams like Chicago and Montreal just thought the ceiling would keep rising by 8 percent every summer, and spent the last few years signing their best players to contracts with record-breaking AAVs as a result, market value for guys like Steven Stamkos, Anze Kopitar, and Mark Giordano is much higher relative to the cap than it probably should be.

If your favorite team has elite players and also seems capable of competing in the near future, you should be 100 percent in favor of plastering ads on every square inch of a team's jerseys. That way the cap goes up because more money is coming in, and Steve Yzerman doesn't have to consider trading two of The Triplets because he extended Stamkos for mega-money and Victor Hedman needs a new contract.

And at some point, as Custance notes, there's only so much money in the system. Even the teams with low cap obligations and the ability to rip off teams that need to move space (like the Islanders did to Chicago and Boston last September) will one day just not have the ability to take on even middling contracts if prices for high-end players keep rising like they have, but the cap stays flat.

So if anything, ads on jerseys do in some way help the league and your favorite team. You might not like how they look, but it really, really, really isn't as big a deal as most people seem to be making of it.

Yeah, maybe people should start being concerned when it's something like “Connor McDavid, Presented by Canadian Tire.” But until then, take it easy, buddy. It's not the end of the world. 

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

All stats via War on Ice unless otherwise stated.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: August 24, 2015, 8:10 pm

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com.  

Photo via Eddie Lack on Twitter

• Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Eddie Lack loves him some tacos. [Eddie Lack]

• Daniel Carcillo is pondering retirement and helping hockey players transition to life after the sport. [Chicago Tribune]

• The current unrestricted free agent crop for the 2016 offseason is pretty special. Some of these guys will likely get re-signed by their current teams (see Kopitar, Anze), but people can dream. [The Hockey News]

• We honestly don’t know a ton about Sidney Crosby’s personal life. But here are five fun facts.  [Sportsnet]

• Is Zdeno Chara a big question mark for the Boston Bruins this season? After all, he is 38 years old. [Boston Sports Desk]

• Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel thanks Toronto Maple Leafs fans for their support. [NHL]

• Wait, Kris Letang is the Pittsburgh Penguins’ most important player? What of that Crosby fellow? [ESPN]

• Christian Ehrhoff is the ‘jewel’ of the Kings’ 2015 free agent class. [Jewels from the Crown]

• Arizona Coyotes license plates are available to purchase starting Monday. [Arizona Coyotes]

• The Gatineau Olympiques really want a new arena. [Buzzing the Net]

• The top storyline going into the Atlantic Division next season is clearly Maple Leafs centric. But what is said storyline? Read and find out! [Puck Drunk Love]

• Where does the Patrick Kane rape investigation stand? No charges have been filed and it’s possible they won’t be filed. This whole situation could take a while. [Chicago Sun-Times]

• Can Dylan Strome become an elite center for the Coyotes? Arizona took him in hopes of being strong down the middle for years to come. [Todays Slapshot]

• Kirk McLean, one of your all-time greatest Canucks goaltenders. [Canucks Army]

• Could Steve Moses push Nashville’s third line to the Promise Land? [Along the Boards]

• New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello should be ready for training camp says coach Alain Vigneault. He was struck on the side of the head by a puck in the first round of the playoffs and suffered a skull fracture and brain contusion. [NHL]

• The Ottawa Senators are in the final stages of adding Daniel Alfredsson to their management team. [Ottawa Sun]

• South Shore Arts is selling a poster featuring Kane, in spite of his rape allegations. [DNA Info]

• The Toronto Maple Leafs should set their sights on another Tampa Bay Lightning forward. A guy by the name of Nikita Kucherov. [Editor in Leaf]

•  Putting the St. Louis Blues’ lineup against the Winnipeg Jets. [Bleedin’ Blue]

• What are three NHL teams due for a regime change? The St. Louis Blues are clearly under some pressure here. [The Hockey Writers]

• The Bruins could face another year without the playoffs. Considering the moves GM Don Sweeney made this summer it’s a majorly real possibility. [Today’s Slapshot]

• Pekka Rinne saves a fan’s birthday. Quite a cool gesture by the Nashville netminder last season. [Nashville Predators]

• Finally, Check out some sweet trick shots. The celebrations are almost better than the shots. 

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 24, 2015, 7:29 pm

The “undercover reporter” trend in sports is always good for a chuckle, although it’s impossible to top Matt Harvey asking New Yorkers who the hell he is. That moment when the Mets fan puts it together that the naked guy from the ESPN Body Issue was interviewing him was priceless...

The Boston Bruins unleashed Max Talbot on an unsuspecting Quebecois public this summer, and the results are pretty great. From being called a disgrace to his home province to being called a “dirty hockey player” to perhaps the most biting insult, “old,” Talbot hangs in there with his typical brand of whimsy.

As for the Montreal Canadiens fans that critiqued him … well, calling a guy a “disgrace” and then asking for a photograph is what makes us sports fans, right?

Hopefully the Canadiens return the favor and have P.K. Subban go undercover in Boston OK forget we ever mentioned this dear lord the streets of Beantown would run red with his blood …

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 24, 2015, 7:01 pm

BY CHRIS LOMON

TORONTO – Luke Gazdic knows the time for talk is over for the Edmonton Oilers. 

“Fans were coming up, all over the city, saying the same thing – they’re ready to get this thing going. So are we,” he said.

Did not qualify. For the past nine NHL seasons, those are the three words associated with the Oilers when it comes to the playoffs. It’s also the longest current playoff drought in the league.

Players and fans, understandably, are tired of taking it on the chin. Just ask one of the toughest players in the league.

“The conversations we’ve (Oilers players) have had this summer, it’s all about how excited everyone is,” said Gazdic, who was claimed on waivers by Edmonton in September of 2013. “It’s the first time I’ve seen a buzz like this. I was in Edmonton for a week this summer helping out at a hockey school and the atmosphere around the city is incredible.”

Gazdic also got a first-hand look at Connor McDavid, the team’s No. 1 pick in the 2015 draft, at the recent BioSteel Hockey Camp that took place in Toronto.

The 18-year-old, tabbed as the best player to hit NHL ice since Sidney Crosby burst into the league a decade ago, combined with another No. 1 pick, Oilers teammate Taylor Hall, to net a nifty two-on-none goal during a four-on-four tournament at BioSteel. The tally drew a big reaction from players and those in the stands.

“It would be great to see plenty more of that,” Gazdic said with a smile.

The Toronto native knows he’s not the only one.

“I’ve only been here two years,” he said. “I can’t imagine what it’s like for guys like Taylor and Jordan Eberle – who have been here longer than me – hearing those same things, about expectation. It’s tough losing as much as we did, especially with the team we had and the expectations we set. I know Oilers fans are hungry to see things change.”

Gazdic is eager to be part of it all. He also knows precisely what he has to do in order to achieve that goal.

“I’m coming to fight for a job and get a roster spot,” he offered. “I put the work in this summer. I really put the work in on and off the ice. I feel good. Not just about myself, but about this team. There have been so many changes, within the organization, and with the lineup. With all that comes a lot of expectation. But, it’s something we should be looking forward to. For us, it’s time now to take our talking to the ice and step our game."

An award-nominated writer, Chris Lomon contributes feature stories to a number of magazines and websites, including Yahoo! Sports (Canada) and NHLPA.com. He has written numerous articles for horse racing publications over the years and has been nominated for a Sovereign Award (feature writing category) on three occasions. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisLomon.

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: August 24, 2015, 6:28 pm

Matt Coller of ESPN.com has a post up about regression candidates for the 2015-16 season, with a fantasy focus ($$$). It covers some obvious choices – Devan Dubnyk, Nick Foligno – and a few I frankly don’t see regressing. (Marc-Andre Fleury’s shorthanded save percentage spiked after a coaching change; why assume it’ll regress?) 

One interesting name, though, was Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets. Writes Coller:

Along with Brent Burns, the former Blackhawk is the only defenseman in the NHL who can slide into a forward role and continue to produce. Byfuglien was limited to 69 games, but scored 18 goals and 27 assists, and also landed on the positive side of plus-minus, which he has struggled to do throughout his career.

There are some statistical red flags with Byufglien, such as his first assist rate of 29.6 percent, and highest shooting percentage since 2007-08, but the reason to stay away from the 30-year-old is simply uncertainty. The further usage of 2014-15 trade deadline acquisition of Tyler Myers may hurt Byfuglien's ice time, or force him back to forward, where he is not exceptional from a fantasy standpoint. It could mean a trade, too.

Byfuglien’s numbers have been right around 0.26 goals per game and between 0.65 and 0.72 points per game over the last three seasons. As Coller noted, the plus-5 last season was his first plus-season in the NHL since 2009 with the Chicago Blackhawks.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

But it’s the fact that Byfuglien’s in his walk year that makes his situation fascinating.The last time he was in this situation, he posted (at the time) the best points per game average of his career (0.65) and scored 20 goals for the first time.

What are the Jets going to do with this guy? Sign him for what the Winnipeg Sun said could he a $7-million annual hit in a long-term deal?

From the Sun, Ted Wyman argues that they can be a better team without him:

The Jets have plenty of other players they need to pay in the coming years – up-and-coming defenceman Jacob Trouba for instance -- and if they sign Byfuglien to a long-term deal they will have a huge portion of their salary cap devoted to right-handed shooting defencemen (Tyler Myers is under contract until 2019).

Myers and Trouba can play the point on the power play, filling the void if Byfuglien is moved, and while the Jets will be a less physical team on the blue-line no doubt, they managed just fine this season without big No. 33.

In fact, the Jets went 9-3-1 when Byfuglien was out of the lineup due to injury or suspension this past season. They went 16-9-7 when he was at forward.

With Byfuglien on defence, the Jets went 18-14-5, which is not bad, but not as good as the 25 wins they generated when he wasn’t on the blue-line.

When the Jets played their best shutdown defensive games of the season, a 2-0 win over Minnesota, a 1-0 win over St. Louis and a 1-0 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche – the games that made the difference between making and missing the playoffs – Byfuglien was in the press box.

Byfuglien’s numbers this season are going to be in a push-pull between his role on the Jets and the expected stats bump that comes with a search for a new contract.

Ultimately, it’s the role that’ll define him: The ice time, the defense vs. forward debate and where exactly Byfuglien ends up playing next season if the Jets aren’t re-signing him.

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 24, 2015, 5:52 pm

(Ed. Note: August is known to be a very quiet month in the hockey world. As we wait for September to arrive and training camps to begin, let’s learn a little history about all 30 teams. Behold, our summer A-Z series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to drop some knowledge on us! Add your own choices in the comments!)

By: Stace of Base, semi-retired blogger for Battle of California

A. Archie

Arturs Irbe was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars in 1989. Because Minnesota was not proven to be a legitimate hockey market, the team was relocated to Dallas and Irbe was picked up by the Sharks in the NHL dispersal draft in 1991.

Also known as 'The Wall', Archie saw some of the best, and well, worst moments, in the first four seasons of the Sharks' franchise. The worst was being associated with the 1992-1993 Sharks team who suffered 71 losses and a 17 game losing streak. In the next season, the Sharks improved greatly, thanks in part to Archie, and managed to grab their first ever playoff spot.

B. Bakes

Jamie Baker played three seasons with the San Jose Sharks from 1993-1996. His most notable moment for the Sharks was his overtime goal that he scored in Game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings in the 1993-1994 playoffs. That goal caused the Sharks to bounce the heavily favored top seed and capture their first ever playoff series win.

Jamie eventually returned to the organization in 1999 to play their home opener in Japan, which ended up being his final NHL game.

He once again returned to the organization in 2005 as a radio broadcaster for the Sharks, and in 2014 became color commentator for the Sharks' television broadcast. He is a gigantic homer, but we love him for making Chris Osgood sad.

C. Chok....errrr, I mean, the Chomp

A tradition that somehow rivals The Wave with its annoyance, Sharks' fans make a shark chomping motion with their arms at the beginning of each power play set to the Jaws' theme song. It is as dumb as it sounds.

D. Dan Rusanowsky

Rusanowsky, who is known as 'the Voice of the Sharks', has been leading the radio broadcast for the team since the inaugural season in 1991. He was briefly sidelined due to a car accident in 2000, which caused him to end his broadcasting streak of 774 games. He has called 1700+ Sharks games in his career. When the Sharks are off for the summer, he helps do broadcasts of other bay area sports teams. He is One Of The Best In The Biz and us Sharks fans are lucky to have him whilst sitting in gridlock traffic.

E. Ehrhoff, Christian

/reads he signed with the Kings on Sunday

The one who got away, or more so, the one who got shipped away to clear cap space for Mr. 50-in-07-Dany-Heatley. He was drafted by the Sharks in 2001. He was fantastic at moving the puck but even better at shooting the puck wide and turning the puck over The mistakes that Ehrhoff made was usually usually recovered by...Christian Ehrhoff. He was a quick skater and I'd bet you that the Sharks would like to have his turnovers back in place of some of the more um, *interesting* defenseman they've had the past few seasons. I'm looking at you, Wallin, C. White, I. White, Stuart, Murray, Han--I could do this all night.

HE'S DEAD TO ME.

F. Flop on Figueroa

The Flop on Figueroa is the most Sharks' fan thing ever. Of course we would rejoice greatly in regards to winning a Game 3 in the Quarterfinals of the playoffs, but goddammit, that game was special.

in 2011, the Sharks met the Kings for the first time ever in the playoffs. The Sharks were heavily favored, especially because the Kings' best player Anze Kopitar was sidelined due to injury. The series was tied 1-1 going into Game 3 and the Sharks had a rather shorky start; by the 21st minute in the game, they were down 4-0. Including the shutout that the Kings got in Game 2, LA had scored 8 unanswered goals.

It is happening again. Something all too familiar. Antti Niemi was eventually pulled and a match was metaphorically lit under the bums of the San Jose Sharks. By the end of the second period, they had stormed back and the game was tied 5-5. After a horrifying third period, the game went into overtime. Four minutes into overtime, Devin Setoguchi scores and the Sharks win 6-5. They eventually won the series in six.

G. Golden Seals

The first bay area National Hockey League team was the California Golden Seals. From 1967-1976, the California Seals aka Oakland Seals aka California Golden Seals had a home at the Oakland Coliseum.

The team was mostly unsuccessful and didn't exactly draw in large crowds, which caused them to move to Cleveland to become the Barons in 1977. The team did even worse in Cleveland and was merged with the Minnesota North Stars in 1979.

As mentioned previously, Minnesota is not a hockey market, which forced the hand of the Gunds (who had partial ownership of the team since the Golden Seal days) to sell their share of the North Stars to Howard Baldwin, who was pushing for a Bay Area team. A deal was eventually made and the San Jose Sharks were born in 1991. Unfortunately, the Dallas Stars were also a result of this deal, but I'll let that slide...for now.

H. Hahn, Randy

I love this man. I truly love this man. Oddly enough, he got his National Hockey League start with the team whose fans hate him the most--the Los Angeles Kings. He's been with the sharks for 20 seasons now as the television play-by-play announcer and typically gets the nod to broadcast national games. Some say it's because comcast is affiliated with NBC, but I'd say it's mostly because of his awesome banter--it's not quite the same without Drew Remenda though:

I. #ItWasThreeZero

Easily the worst moment in San Jose Sharks history. After taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the 2013-2014 playoffs, the Sharks shorked and lost to the Los Angeles Kings. The Sharks are the fourth team in NHL history to lose a playoff series after leading 3-0.

If you ask any Sharks fans where they were when San Jose lost that series, you would not get an answer because we all died. I am merely a ghost stuck between worlds.

J. Jumbo

Jumbo Joe Thornton is the best thing to happen to the Sharks' organization. I don't care what Doug Wilson has to say about it. Now that I've gotten that out of my system....

Joe Thornton was acquired in what was, without a doubt, the biggest trade in San Jose Sharks history. The Sharks sent Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau to Boston for Jumbo Joe in the middle of the 2005-2006 season. That season he won the Art Ross trophy and the Hart trophy and is the only player in NHL history to win those awards while switching teams mid season.

In 2010, Thornton won a goal medal with Team Canada and was named Sharks' captain. 1285 career points, 901 career assists, 616 assists with the San Jose Sharks. That man can turn coal into a diamond (re: Jonathan Cheechoo). His captaincy was stripped in 2014, but there's still hope for him to strip via a four goal game.

K. Kelly Kisio

The first two years of San Jose hockey was...rough, to say the least, but Kelly Kisio is what kept fans intrigued about this new hockey team.

During the abysmal 1992-1993 season, he managed to have the best season of his career (tallying 78 points) and represented the Sharks in Montreal for the 1993 All-Star game. Although his stint was short, he gave the early fans of the team hope of good things to come.

L. Levi's Stadium

San Jose played in their first outdoor game on February 21, 2015 against the Los Angeles Kings at Levi's Stadium. A fairly uneventful game, the Sharks ended up losing 1-2. The jerseys were....interesting, but the setting was a thing of beauty.

Who knew that California would have weather that could support having an outdoor game? The biggest complaint about the outdoor game was that Smash Mouth did not play at intermission.

M. Marleau, Patrick

Patrick Marleau is the human equivalent to a double rainbow. Patrick Marleau is a kitten playing with a ball of yarn for the first time. Patrick Marleau is the sunrising over the Grand Canyon. He is the face of our franchise and our most beloved player. He was San Jose's greatest draft pick and my best friend.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system...

Patrick Marleau has been with the Sharks since 1997. He was picked second overall behind (my other best friend) Joe Thornton. When Owen Nolan left the Sharks, Patty became captain halfway through the 2002-2003 season. His captaincy ended following the 2008-2009 playoff upset. He is often criticized for Not Doing The Thing in the playoffs, because hockey teams only have one player, but he leads in basically every category you can think of for the San Jose Sharks--well, except PIM because he's a two-time Lady Byng nominee and a perfect gentleman. He's the Sharks' all time leader in total goals, even strength goals, power play goals, points, shots, games played, awkward smiles, etc. Although he has yet to win a Cup, he has won two olympic gold medals.

Through all the scrutiny and the playoff heartache, he has made it clear that he is here to stay with this team. He is the reason I became a fan and he is the reason why I've stayed a fan.

N. Nabby

When one thinks of the San Jose Sharks' history, three players come to mind: Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Evgeni Nabokov. Nabby holds a special place in all San Jose fans' hearts, no matter how critical we were about him at times. He won the Calder cup after not even being considered for the starting job--Shields was injured and Kipper wasn't ready. Nabby stepped up and played out of his mind in his rookie year, representing the team in the 2001 all-star game and taking the team to the playoffs. After that year, his career with San Jose was a rollercoaster up until his last season with the Sharks (2009-2010).

Without question, his two most notable moments in teal would have to be his powerplay goal:

And 'The Save':

In the 2014-2015, Nabby re-signed with the Sharks to retire in the Bay.

O. Owen Nolan

Owen Nolan was traded to the Sharks from Colorado in exchange for Sandis Ozolinsh during the 1995-1996 season. He played in the 1997 NHL All-Star game and is widely remembered for Calling His Shot.

Nolan became the Sharks' captain in 1998 and was captain up until he was traded in 2003.

His most memorable moments with the Sharks was during the 1999-2000 season. He had a career high in points and helped the Sharks oust the Blues' in a remarkable 8th seed-1st seed upset. Owen Nolan had the series’ winning goal.

If this isn't the most St. Louis Blues thing ever, I don't know what is.

P. President's Trophy

The Sharks won the President's Trophy in the 2008-2009 season and was heavily favored going into the playoffs. The Cup parade map was made. Our time had finally come. This Is Our Year, well... This Was Our Year.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN RANDY CARLYLE OUTCOACHED TODD MCLELLAN?

The Sharks got bounced in six games by the Anaheim Ducks. There are not enough showers in the world to wash away that playoff series. Don't cry for us though, we got this beauty to remind us of that series!

Q. Quality Space Filler

Q is a terrible letter and no one is better at filling space than Douglas Murray, so here is his lone hat trick he scored against the Ducks in 2009.

R. Ryanne Clowe Plays The Puck From The Bench

In 2012, one of the Biggest Crimes Against Humanity was committed by San Jose Sharks forward Ryane Clowe.

On an odd man rush, he played the puck from a bench, breaking up a three-on-two heading into the Sharks' zone, preventing Jarret Stoll from shooting wide.

Will the Kings ever be avenged?!

We love youe, Ryane.

S. SJ Sharkie!

San Jose's mascot was born in January 1992 and let's be real guys, he's adorable.

He is known for trying to bite off people's heads but usually fails because his teeth are plush. His most notable moment was when he got stuck in the rafters while trying to rappel to the ice during the Sharks' pregame.

He remained up there through the line-up announcement and the singing of the national anthem. The game was delayed twenty minutes. He handled it like a true pro.

Just being a badass, nbd.

T. Teemu Selanne

Teemu Selanne's most memorable part of his career that was way too long was when he played two seasons for the San Jose Sharks in the early 2000's. He was not very good and was eventually shipped off to the Colorado Avalanche, where he continued to be not very good. 

I can't recall him doing anything memorable after that...

U. Unicorn - Horn = Logan Courture

The face of the franchise? Yay or neeeiiiigggggghhh?

Logan is a Good Canadian Boy from Ontario who played for The Ottawa 67's aka Don Cherry's wet dream.

He was drafted by the Sharks in 2007 and made his National Hockey League debut in 2009. In 2010-2011, his first full season with the Sharks, he was a Calder Trophy Finalist and was a representative for the Sharks in the all-star game. In four full seasons and a shortened lockout season, he has had three 20+ goal seasons and two 30+ goal seasons.

Just uh, um, uhhh, hrm. No Comment.

V. Vancouver Sweep

In 2013, the San Jose Sharks met the Vancouver Canucks in the playoffs for the second time in three years. They managed to avenge their embarrassing playoff exit in 2011 by completing an extremely satisfying sweep.

There were accusations from the Canucks, as usual, that the refs were in favor of San Jose. In a hilarious turn of events, a questionable call gave the Sharks a powerplay during overtime and Patrick Marleau scored the series’ winning goal. It was the first sweep in San Jose Sharks' history. Never change, Vancouver.

W. What The F--- Is Wrong With Mike Ricci’s Face?

Mike Ricci

X. X-Mas Videos

One of the great things about being a Sharks fan is that we are given the beautiful gift of a holiday video every season. Each video seems to be more perfect than the last. Here are their previous works of art, enjoy:

Y. You Can Play

You Can Play is a project that is set to end homophobia in sports. The campaign was introduced in 2012 and the Sharks' very own Tommy Wingels was one of the first two NHL players to join the Advisory Board. His work with the You Can Play project has earned him nominations for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy and the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Other members of the San Jose Sharks who support the You Can Play project are Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Ben Smith and Brent Burns.

Z. Zero Cups

#LAKings broke the shark head! pic.twitter.com/51JTO6Jvch

— Elliott Teaford (@ElliottTeaford) May 1, 2014

The San Jose Sharks are hilariously bad in the playoffs.

Meet the author: Stace of Base is a semi-retired blogger from Battle of California. She has tolerated the Sharks at best for as long as she can remember; alcohol during the playoffs has made timelines fuzzy. She is the Complicit Trash Queen of Hockey Twitter, follow her @stace_ofbase.

Previous A to Z Guides: Anaheim | Arizona | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus | Dallas | Detroit | Edmonton | Florida | Los Angeles | Minnesota | Montreal | Nashville | New Jersey | NY Islanders | NY Rangers | Ottawa | Philadelphia | Pittsburgh 

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: August 24, 2015, 4:00 pm

Dobber Hockey launched in 2005 and Dobber and his staff have hitched their wagons to Puck Daddy to preach fantasy hockey to the Yahoo! masses since 2009.

By Demetri Fragopoulos

Are you going to be that guy?

‎You know, the one who talks hockey all the time whether it is in the lunch room, standing in line for coffee, or while working out in the gym. Regurgitating what you heard on the sport talk radio station while driving into work or to school earlier that day. Acting like there is nothing you do not know about the game and its players.

‎What comes out of your mouth sounds reasonable. Yet when it came time make your fantasy draft picks last year you looked worse than Patrick Roy did against Brendan Shanahan (see #3 in that link).

When the owner in front of you had his named called for his first pick, your brain froze up much like Tommy Salo’s did against Belarus (see #4) at the Salt Lake Olympics.

Even with the fourth pick in the first round you hummed and hawed for more than five minutes to only flub your selection similar to Patrick Stefan’s empty netter (see #1) against the Edmonton Oilers.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

Like Stefan, your gaffe immediately came back to haunt you because your opponents wasted no time to capitalize on your horrible first round draft pick of Rick Nash.

The continuous begging for assistance from the other fantasy owners as your draft proceeded became irritating to everyone especially those that you were sitting closest to. Did you honestly think they would give you advice to help you, the guy who knows everything? ‎

If you did any preparation at all, it was to print out the roster of your favorite team which happens to be the Rangers.

The reality is that the other owners tolerate your behavior and you are invited to the draft every year because you are an easy out.

Smarten up and don't be that guy this year. Make a list based on the scoring system of your fantasy league. It does not matter if you are in a keeper or drafting in a single year league. No list equals no chance at victory.

Top 10 in Points

Do you know that Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are the only players to have been in the top 10 scoring leaders in more than five of the previous 10 seasons? They’ll be there again but not where you would expect them.

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

It has been four years since he was last seen in the top 10 NHL scorers but with the addition of Phil Kessel over the summer he will return to the list and be the top guy. He will still get his share of points with Crosby and on the power play.

John Tavares, New York Islanders

I would not say that he broke out but he did assert himself as a contender for future scoring titles. With the roster naturally improving there is more in him to give. His age and numbers are much like Seguin’s, including power play goals and game winners.

Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

He hits, he shoots, he scores and he does all three a lot. Out of the last ten seasons he has made the top ten point producers eight times. No one comes close to his three year goal totals and only Crosby surpassed his point totals for the same period. The only thing missing is a Stanley Cup.

Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars

If it were not for the Toronto-Pittsburgh deal and the two surgeries on Jamie Benn’s hips this summer I would have ranked Seguin first. His shot totals are in the elite-sphere. Goal scoring and playmaking are about even over the last three years so he is not stuck to one method to get his points, note that 29 were generated from the power play last year. Best part is that he will be turning 24 in January.

Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers

You might have forgotten that he has been near the top twice before. It would be easy to forget because the Oilers have been terrible. That all changes this year! No lower body injury to slow him down. He will crack the 30 goal mark for the first time and get more than six points with the man advantage.

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

His recovery from that horrible leg injury seemed to be behind him even though his point production was admittedly lower than expectations. Then the playoffs came with that evil dry spell in the Finals. Doubts emerged but do not let them frighten you away. He is second to only Ovechkin in total goals over the last three years.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Ranked second is not bad. The deal for Kessel will help the Penguins by unburdening Crosby. He is a competitor and he will not give up easily. However, individual accomplishments are not his primary focus. Winning the Cup for the second time in his career is.

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

A return to the top 10 is in the cards for Giroux (ranked eighth) this year. Led the league with 37 power play points last year and had combined another 58 points in the two years before that. Even though he earns more assists than goals shooting the puck is not an issue.

Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins

Oh how he is going to love playing for the Penguins this year. Look for goals and more goals to come from him. He might even turn out to be a hotdog but I am sure that Crosby and Malkin will keep his new found enthusiasm in check. Just out of Yahoo's top 10 overall at number 11, but the 10th ranked forward.

Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

Can you call the reigning scoring champion a sidekick? The Seguin-Benn duo will prove once again that they are a formidable force. I look at their power play point totals and anticipate that an increase will be forthcoming. With Benn you also get some ancillary shorthanded goals/points as well as blocked shots and hits.

MONTREAL, QC - MAY 09:  Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens gets tangled up with Braydon Coburn #55 of the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on May 9, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Goal Scorers

One thing is for certain, the only way to get power-play or game-winning goals is to get goals in the first place. These guys will shoot and score for you.

Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens

He had over 300 shots last year and has been consistent in scoring over the last three years. Did you know that he earned two more goals than your beloved Rick Nash in that span? He injured his knee in July so he will slip down many people's lists.

Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks

It is time for the new blood to take control and lead this team. Nothing against Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau, they are excellent in a supporting role. Couture has hit the 30 goal mark twice before and he will have to do so again to show everyone what the future will be like in San Jose.

Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings

In less than two weeks he will turn 26 years old. Whether you technically feel that this is his third or fourth season, I believe his production will mirror what we experienced in 2013-14 when he got 28 goals in 57 games.

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 04:   Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings skates with the puck against the Colorado Avalanche at Staples Center on April 4, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Setup Men

You may feel that playmakers are short changed as compared to goal scorers when it comes to having added value in other categories but in general they do earn more power play points.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

Age does not diminish the skill they can display with their hands. They needed another guy to feed pucks and Radim Vrbata did well in that respect. They are no longer a sexy pick but they are the go-to guys in Vancouver.

Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets

The steady and incremental progress that he is displaying is amazing. I personally thought his contract holdout last year was going to hinder him but it did not. With a better cast around him, which now includes Brandon Saad, he will continue to impress us and make locals forget about that other guy that they once had.

Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

Many negative things surrounded the Kings last season. It had an obvious effect on their players. With a clean start to this season Kopitar will solidify his assist and point totals. In the last three years he earned 121 helpers which ranks him eighth amongst his peers.

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 24:  David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues looks on during the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on March 24, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Other Category Considerations

There is going to be some noise coming out of the Western Conference teams this season. It is going to be fun watching those late night games.

Troy Brouwer and David Backes, St. Louis Blues (Hits)

The trade that shipped out T.J. Oshie for Troy Brouwer adds another six-foot-three player to the Blues lineup that throws over 200 hits a season, much like what Backes does already. Those hits keep opponents on their toes and opens up ice for their forwards. Both are in the final year of their contracts.

Milan Lucic and Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings (Hits)

In another deal, Milan Lucic became a King. He will join big boy Dustin Brown in throwing their weight around. While Brown has lost his scoring touch many people expect Lucic to find it. I expect any point increase to be moderate for both. In Lucic's case, I would expect his penalty minutes to rise as he will want to show his teammates that he will stick up for them.

Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks (Blocked Shots)

It is not all that too often that you find point producers who also stand in front of shots. The risk of injury is heightened however, that is what you get from Getzlaf and Kesler. As forwards go, their blocked values have been good and steady over the last three years. You can expect a decent number of hits from them as well.

Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks (Blocked Shots)

Little Joe has been anything but little. Not only does he block shots but he generates shots, earns goals and points. Last year he was credited with 19 goals and 12 assists on the power play. Couture can also be counted on to stand in the way of the opposition too.

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 23: Ryan Kesler #17 and Andrew Cogliano #7 of the Anaheim Ducks react after Kesler scored against the Chicago Blackhawks in the third period in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 23, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Don’t Overrate

While the sleeper picks have their own Puck Daddy column, we need a spot to stick in some of the guys who will be overrated at your draft. Either their too injury prone to take a chance on, or they just simply played over their head last year…slide these guys down your draft list.

Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks - Is this a playoff pool? No? Okay then, get a hold of yourself.

Any Arizona Coyotes player - Sure, some experts think that rookie Max Domi will get 60 points or more. But that's not worth the risk. Let someone else take it.

David Krejci, Boston Bruins - We don't trust his chronic, nagging injuries one bit.

Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes - His concussion history scares us. But we also think he's playing a safer brand of hockey so as to avoid getting another one. This is great for his help, but not so great for his fantasy owners.

Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets - We're not boldly predicting a decline back to his 45-point ways. We're far too chicken for that. But come on, the guy is not a 70-point player.

Patrick Sharp, Dallas Stars - There are many who think that the change of scenery will help him find his mojo. I'm not one of them. But he'll probably rebound a little.

Mikko Koivu, Minnesota wild - His numbers tumbled last season and his ice time has been slipping for two years now. Coach Mike Yeo seems to be focusing more on pushing Granlund into that top-line role.

Any New Jersey Devils player - Just don't. Seriously. Don't.

Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators - An improvement on last year's impressive rookie campaign is unlikely. He does have a history of high shot percentages, so that part isn't out of whack. But in general, Hoffman is closer to a future 50-point player than he is a future 65-point player.

Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins - Besides newcomers Phil Kessel and Sergei Plotnikov muddying the top-six waters, Kunitz was completely snakebitten last year despite playing with the best player in hockey. Ranked 115, and frankly I think that's mighty generous.

Tyler Bozak, Toronto Maple Leafs - The sky is blue. Water is wet. Mike Babcock has an intimidating stare. And Bozak won't do as well with Phil Kessel gone.

Justin Williams, Washington Capitals - Is this a playoff pool? No? Okay then, get a hold of yourself.

Demetri Fragopoulos pens The Contrarian every Sunday at DobberHockey.com

Dobber launched DobberHockey back in 2005 and his 10th annual Fantasy Guide can be found here. That's right - 10th annual. He's been around the block. Follow Dobber on Twitter @DobberHockey.

MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

 

Author: Dobber Hockey
Posted: August 24, 2015, 3:18 pm
Russia

After losing to a star-studded Canadian team – including nemesis Sidney Crosby, forever the Joe Montana to Ovechkin’s Dan Marino – Russia’s IIHF world championships team had two choices: Stand there respectfully as the Canadian anthem played, like teams do in dozens of other tournaments each season; or leave the ice like big babies after the 6-1 trouncing.

You’ll never guess which option they chose!

If this is how they handle defeat, it’s a miracle we haven’t seen a synchronized on-ice defecation after a Russian Olympic loss ...

The Russians claimed that it was all a big misunderstanding, as the rink-side gate was open and they assumed that was their invitation to leave the ice rather than, again, not do the thing that teams do in dozens of other tournaments each season.

But that didn’t fly with critics like perpetual friend of Russia Don Cherry, who said:

"No class, no honour, they left the national anthem … We were the ones that stayed there ... we stood while they won, and they walked off the ice. They've got no class whatsoever."

No class, and now they’re 80,000 Swiss francs lighter after the IIHF ruled that they left the ice in a feat of bad sportsmanship. (That’s $85,000, by the way. That’ll teach’em.)

From the AP:

After studying video evidence, the IIHF said Kovalchuk gave an “unmistakable head gesture” as signal for teammates to skate off the ice early after collecting their silver medals. They did not stay to hear the Canadian anthem and watch the flags of the three medalist countries being raised.

“This was exceptional as no other team has ever left the ice before the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship medal ceremony was completed,” the Zurich-based body said.

… The IIHF ruled that the open rink-side gate was “irrelevant” and noted that Russian players and officials were aware of tournament rules “because of their vast experience.”

We assume they mean “in international tournaments” and not “losing to Canada,” because that would be a sick burn.

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Greg Wyshynski
Posted: August 24, 2015, 1:45 pm

(Hello, this is a feature that aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.)

It's no secret at this point that arguably the two most important players in recent memory for the Carolina Hurricanes are now major points of concern.

Eric Staal and Cam Ward have long been talked about in trade rumors, largely because they are in their declining years on a rebuilding and improving team, are both UFAs at the end of next season, and cost a combined $14.55 million against the cap for a budget team that never actually comes all that close to the ceiling.

A lot of this, too, has to do with the fact that Staal has slowed down in his production somewhat over the last two seasons (about 0.73 points per game as opposed to the 0.85-plus he put up every season since the 2004-05 lockout), and he's coming in at one of the highest cap hits in the league for any player, at $8.25 million. Staal will be 31 at the end of October and he's certainly not worth that much, and for a team that looks to be moving toward a future without Staal as its clear best player, the prospect of trading him while he's still carrying value in the marketplace is tantalizing.

The problem with any looming Staal rumors, though, is that cap hit. Because no one has $8.5 million in space lying around. Hell, even if Carolina were to retain as much as 50 percent of his salary and cap hit, many teams would still be in tough to make $4.125 million work unless the Hurricanes took bad money back as well. And would they, given their own budgetary constraints that have little to do with the cap itself? Someone would have to make it very much worth their while.

And Staal still provides significant value for the club, too. As Travis Yost recently noted, the Hurricanes were a pretty decent team in the second half of the season; better than most teams in their division by a pretty wide margin after shuffling along at roughly 50 percent possession for most of the first half. Staal was a big driver there, too: his relative possession numbers came in at plus-2.2 or so for the first half, and then a whopper plus-10.9 in the second half. That's as the entire team improved, which tells you a lot about how good he was.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

However, we cannot discount how much of that had to do with Jordan Staal's return to full health. He played just five games in the first 41 for Carolina, having been out of the lineup entirely until Dec. 29. If you break it down by that date and not the first 41, Eric Staal goes from 53.1 percent possession to a stunning 59.9 percent.

Likewise, Eric Staal's scoring numbers took off when his little brother returned to the lineup; he had 20 in 31 games (0.65 per) to start the season, and then finished with 34 in 46 in the back half (.74). Jordan Staal has long proven useful on just about any team — think how much the Penguins miss him even now — and Carolina is no different. The question, on some level, is how much of the production jump is driven by Jordan, and how much of it is Eric still being a pretty damn good player. I mean, even if you accept that they're playing together for most of the year given how immovable the contract is, this is a pretty good list of comparables across 12 different statistics for players who were of roughly the same age (via Emmanuel Perry's Similarity Scores tool):

NHL

So what Ron Francis has to consider here is whether Eric Staal is just another person you can swap out and still get a decently high level of production from a guy who might be lower on the depth chart. Jordan is actually the center on that line (he took 785 draws in 46 games, to Eric's 669 in 77), which is informative as to which one is more important to the overall team picture. High-level wings are good to have, obviously, but Jordan Staal seems like an elite possession-driving center who makes the players around him better. We have little evidence that this is the case for Eric at his age.

Again, Eric Staal isn't or even slightly subaverage at this point, but his value is never going to be greater than it is right now, and at the very least he should be sold at the deadline instead of extended. It would be surprising to see him go before then, but if a full season of a trade to a team with cap space gets a better haul, then it's a deal Francis ought to jump on.

And as for Ward, well, if you can find someone to take that contract, even if it's for a low-round pick or a D-plus prospect, you have to do it at this point. Retain as much salary as you can, etc. Get him off the roster by hook or by crook, but a 31-year-old goalie who hasn't been north of .910 in the last three seasons, and has only played 98 games in that time, is a major worry. And even if he somehow ends up being good again (and make no mistake, he was a .918 goalie over four seasons from 2008-12, but he's not so coincidentally now at .910 for his career), that's a big contract to begin with and you're better off without it.

That's especially true because Francis went out and robbed Vancouver blind for Eddie Lack (.915 in 86 regular- and postseason games), getting him for just a third- and seventh-round pick. The idea that Lack would have to split time with Ward is at this point unconscionable, and in fact even if Francis can't find a trading partner for the former Conn Smythe winner, he probably benefits the team more as the league's most expensive backup than in a 1a/1b scenario.

Mathematically, Ward cost the Hurricanes about 5.70 goals over a league-average netminder last season, which is about the equivalent of two points in the standings, give or take. Now obviously Carolina would have still finished near the bottom of the league last season even with those two points (they were six back of 24th-place Philadelphia) but the fact is that if you're not at least breaking even in terms of goals contributed to the cause, that's a player who shouldn't be getting 51, 41 or even 31 games.

But again, no one has the kind of space required to take on a contract like that, and the idea of retaining so much salary would likely be troublesome for a team like Carolina — indeed, they're already retaining money on Jay Harrison and Tuomo Ruutu's deals for this coming season, and paying Alex Semin his buyout money for a while to come — so at some point you just can't expect them to be able to keep making those deals. In fact, the CBA only allows teams to retain three salaries at a time.

So Francis has to choose his moves with these players carefully. Maybe he has interest in bringing the older Staal back, and would therefore prefer to retain him rather than get assets for him. He's almost certainly going to let Ward walk this summer. But in any event, you have to wonder just how all the puzzle pieces fit together as the team continues to stock up on and develop young talent.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: If your opinion is that your team needs to have a goalie rotation, that doesn't speak very well for that team's goalies. The old saying goes, “If you have two goalies, you don't have any,” for a reason.

Arizona Coyotes: Arizona signed a kid who was going to play college hockey next season before he even arrived on campus at Notre Dame. He's already 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds as an 18-year-old, so that makes sense.

Boston Bruins: Not content with doing it to just NHL players and fans, Jeremy Jacobs is now also nickel-and-diming the IRS. (He actually has a pretty good case.)

Buffalo Sabres: Nice little look Dan Bylsma's upbringing here.

Calgary Flames: Don't build rinks for billionaires.

Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes have a lot of defensive prospects coming down the pike (potentially as a reaction to the years in which their blue line was horrendous), but none are better than Noah Hanifin.

Chicago: You're probably not going to hear a lot about Patrick Kane's case any time soon.

Colorado Avalanche: The answer to this question would appear to be no. Carl Soderberg is no Ryan O'Reilly.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Ryan Johansen will throw out the first pitch at the Reds game in Cincinnati tonight. He will also take batting practice, but he probably won't go yard like Sidney Crosby did in Pittsburgh that one time.

Dallas Stars: How many point-a-game seasons will dude have to record before Boston media stops writing this garbage?

Detroit Red Wings: If he needs his TOI dialed back, maybe Niklas Kronwall..... shouldn't lead the defense?

Edmonton Oilers: This coming season is the final one at Rexall Place. Expect a lot of “I promised Mess I wouldn't do this” moments.

Florida Panthers: Seems as though the Panthers could be losing 33-year-old Tomas Kopecky to Chicago. Not that they really wanted him back or anything.

Los Angeles Kings: Just $1.5 million for Christian Ehrhoff on Aug. 23? Why would sign anyone on July 1? (Reminder: Deryk Engelland makes $2.95 million.)

Minnesota Wild: One wonders just what a full season of Devan Dubnyk looks like, but don't get your hopes up based on last season.

Montreal Canadiens: Turns out Carey Price would like to win a Stanley Cup. With that team?

Nashville Predators: This is true of literally any city with a winning team in any sport.

New Jersey Devils: Expansion is coming, and could impact the Devils among many other teams through realignment.

New York Islanders: The move to a smaller building and all that winning seems to have resulted in a nearly 46 percent increase in their average ticket price. Good lord.

New York Rangers: Great news that Mats Zuccarello has been cleared for contact.

Ottawa Senators: Chris Neil says he cut some weight. Seven pounds, to be exact. I don't know how this helps him, but okay fine.

Philadelphia Flyers: Free snacks when the pope comes to town!

Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins have so many center options that someone has to play the wing.

San Jose Sharks: The Sharks are changing their goal song. Get your jokes in while you can.

St. Louis Blues: Why on earth do people think the Blues are a Stanley Cup contender? “They're from St. Louis” seems like the only reasonable answer.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Turns out Anton Stralman is good.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Now poor Phil Kessel has even longer to walk for that daily hot dog.

Vancouver Canucks: And these are gigantic questions, to boot.

Washington Capitals: This really does feel like a Caps team that can at least make the Eastern Conference Final for once.

Winnipeg Jets: Well, you're gonna have to be. Look at your division for more information.

Gold Star Award

Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin (91) celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, March 28, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

Shout out to Tyler Seguin for his perfectly reasonable take on jersey ads.

Minus of the Weekend

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 10: Members of the Nordiques Nation converge on Prudential Center prior to the game between the New Jersey Devils and the Boston Bruins on April 10, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

These expansion phases sure are fun.

Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week

User “HelleCopter” is (presumably) at it again.

Dallas:
Burrows
Edler

Vancouver:
1st 2016
Oleksiak
Honka
Faksa

Signoff
Trees look weird if you squint at 'em.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here and his Twitter is here.

(All stats via War On Ice unless otherwise noted.)

Author: Ryan Lambert
Posted: August 24, 2015, 1:03 pm
Pittsburgh Penguins' Christian Ehrhoff (10) celebrates with teammates as he returns to the bench after scoring in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Ottawa Senators in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. The Penguins won 3-2. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Los Angeles Kings brought in some offense for their blueline at a bargain basement price.  

On Sunday, the Kings agreed to terms with unrestricted defenseman Christian Ehrhoff for a one-year, $1.5 million contract. For most of the offseason the 33-year-old Ehrhoff had done a slow dance with the Columbus Blue Jackets as the two seemed destined to unite. Clearly this did not happen. 

Ehrhoff was limited to 49 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season and notched 14 points. His 0.29 points per-game was his lowest since his first NHL season. With the Kings’ puck possession system, could he at least get back up to the 30-plus point mark? If so, it would be a win for Los Angeles and Ehrhoff, who is on a ‘show me’ contract. Ehrhoff's prior deal with Pittsburgh was for one year at $4 million. 

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

Signing Ehrhoff may have defense implications for the Kings as they try to decide what to do with suspended defenseman Slava Voynov. According to The Fourth Period, Voynov has been released from jail following his sentence for domestic violence.

 The suspension was imposed under Section 18-A.5 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which provides that, during the pendency of a criminal investigation, "The League may suspend the Player pending the League's formal review and disposition of the matter where the failure to suspend the Player during this period would create a substantial risk of material harm to the legitimate interests and/or reputation of the League."

(Deputy commissioner Bill) Daly indicated to TFP that he does not have a timeline as to when the NHL will begin its "decision making process" in the Voynov matter.

Voynov has also been suspended by the Kings organization for tearing his Achilles tendon in non-hockey related training.

With this deal, the Kings currently have $4.8 million of salary cap space according to General Fanager. This does not include Voynov’s contract. The Kings are also waiting on a resolution on their attempt to terminate the long-term deal of forward Mike Richards. 

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Josh Cooper
Posted: August 23, 2015, 6:26 pm

Dobber Hockey launched in 2005 and Dobber and his staff have hitched their wagons to Puck Daddy to preach fantasy hockey to the Yahoo! masses since 2009.

If you win your fantasy league it will be because of the late picks that you make. You hear it every year even though every fantasy hockey player worth their salt are already well aware of it. You know it, and you see it proven time and again. How did the owner of Nick Foligno do in your league last season?

See, that Foligno guy (or girl) now gets to brag about how skillful his (or her) pick was and how he or she knew all along that he was a 70-point guy trapped inside a 50-point plugger’s body. That's a side benefit of landing a quality sleeper: bragging rights. You can say you knew Foligno would be a stud all along and completely forget the fact that at the time of the pick you were considering 'Marcus' Foligno instead.

The ultimate sleeper for this season is rookie Connor McDavid. So much so, that he could be overrated at the draft table. First overall? Second? Don’t kid yourself, there will be some leagues out there that will see him taken that early. And every league will see him gone by the 20th pick, whether you personally have him ranked third, 10th or 50th. Does McDavid qualify for “sleeper” status given that everybody and their mother knows about him and that he’ll be drafted in the Top 20 of every league? I’ll leave that debate for another day. But given the risk that he could post as few as 40 points or as many as 90-plus – a case could certainly be made.

Here are some fellas to consider taking a flier on earlier than others in your league. In some cases, they'll still be there in the 24th round when you start on that seventh beer try to fill that final bench spot.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

Jakob Silfverberg, Anaheim Ducks - Despite not having played in the Final, Silfverberg finished tied for seventh in playoff scoring. He also has a pretty hefty contract in his back pocket that will see to it that he'll continue to get quality ice time even in the midst of a slump.

Brett Connolly, Boston Bruins - The Bruins moved out four regular forwards (Gregory Campbell, Reilly Smith, Milan Lucic and Carl Soderberg) and brought in three (Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes and Zac Rinaldo). And does Rinaldo even count when he's looking at nine minutes a game? Lots of room for Connolly now, he could surprise.

Matt Moulson, Buffalo Sabres - If you subscribe to the theory that Jack Eichel can waltz into the NHL and post 70 points even on a weak team, then by extension you should subscribe to the theory that Moulson can score 30 goals playing with such a player.

Eddie Lack, Carolina Hurricanes - I think Carolina bounces back this season. Not 'playoff' bounce back, but more like 'won't suck that much' bounce back. Especially defensively. Besides the fancy stats indicating that the Hurricanes were the victims of bad bounces, their defense also gets an upgrade with Noah Hanifin and James Wisniewski. And possibly Haydn Fleury. So the goalie numbers will be better, and since Cam Ward is …well, Cam Ward - that leaves Eddie Lack as a pretty solid option as a fantasy team's No.3 goalie. Ward's contract is up next summer so the team has little riding on his success or failure, unlike in years past when they were pretty much forced to start him because of his paycheck. 

Teuvo Teravainen and Artemy Panarin, Chicago Blackhawks - With Brandon Saad gone, there is a very plum spot open for one of these two. In fact, it's almost certain that one of these two youngsters will be surprising us this year. My money is on Teravainen, as undrafted Europeans crossing the pond rarely make an impact right away. But both are worthy draft picks in the second half.

Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets - I just left Atkinson's name in here from last year's article. And the year before. And although he has yet to fulfill that sleeper promise, each season he shows signs that it's coming. Now that he's entering his fourth full NHL season, he seems closer than ever. Talented players who habitually fire north of 200 shots on net each season stand a reasonable chance of breaking out. Eventually.

Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas Stars - Nichushkin missed most of last season thanks to hip surgery, but is fully healthy now. Just 20 years old, he has the upside to rank right up there with Tyler Seguin and defending NHL scoring champ Jamie Benn. I wouldn't bat an eye if he topped 60 points this season, and if started getting to the rounds in the draft where I would consider him - I'd just jump on him rather than risk waiting longer.

Justin Schultz, Edmonton Oilers - If my Twitter feed is any indication, Schultz has an army of haters just waiting for him to post another minus-20. But the Oilers have upgraded their goaltending (Cam Talbot, Anders Nilsson) and defense corps (Andrej Sekera, Darnell Nurse). They've also added some Mcguy who may tally a Mcpoint or two, which is bound to lead to a ton of secondary assists for a defenseman like Schultz.

Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild - Don't underestimate this youngster. If you're thinking 40 points this year, you may be undershooting. Now 21, Dumba is getting better with every game and was starting to really drive the offense late last season and playoffs.

Craig Smith, Nashville Predators - Smith busted out in the playoffs with five points in six games, but his ice time also soared as Coach Laviolette leaned on him to push the offense. He's shown in World Championship stints that he can be a prolific scorer. Still only 25.

Anders Lee, New York Islanders - As with many Islanders wingers, Lee could really pop if he can land a steady gig on the John Tavares line. He had 41 points last year, but 39 of them came in the last 64 games (50-point pace). But even on the Ryan Strome line, Lee will still get his points. 

Chris Kreider, New York Rangers - It seems like Kreider has been in the league for a long time and really hasn't made any leeway in terms of development. This has caused more than a few fantasy owners to grow impatient with him and thus underrate him. But the fact is, the 24-year-old has only been in the league for two full NHL seasons with 17 and 21 goals. Either this year or next, he's primed to bust out. And in multi-category formats he's already a stud. Wherever you have him ranked, move him up 20 or 30 slots - it will be worth it.

Sam Gagner, Philadelphia Flyers - The Flyers need this guy to work out. They can't have two Lecavaliers on the same team, so Gagner has to succeed. That's not gonna happen unless he's on the Claude Giroux line. So look for him to get the first six or seven games on that line. And either it works out and your sleeper pick pays off, or it doesn't and he gets shuffled down the depth chart. 

Alex Stalock, San Jose Sharks - Most of the people I talk to seem to be fixated on Martin Jones being the starter for San Jose. I'm not sure why that is, given that Stalock has been every bit as good (or, as was the case last season - every bit as bad). The perfect No.4 goalie to take a flier on with your last pick, because he could very well come out of this as San Jose's go-to guy. 

Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs - The thought of drafting a Leaf this season is so laughable that the mere mention of one here probably caught you off guard. But Kadri is a safe pick for 45 points, with a likelihood of something in the low 50s. However, he has the upside for the high 60s and now that he's going to be Toronto's main player for offense along with James van Riemsdyk, he could really flourish. 

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals - The young Russian's talent is immense. So much so that even under the short leash of coach Barry Trotz he still managed to post 37 points last season. A very safe bet for 45 points, but the sleeper-factor here is very tempting. He's the type of talent who could Vladimir Tarasenko his way into winning you a trophy.

Nikolaj Ehlers, Winnipeg Jets - While everyone in your league drools over rookies McDavid or Eichel, you can probably swoop in on Ehlers in a later round. He may start slow thanks to Winnipeg's depth, but he's good enough to quickly move up the roster and have a strong second half.

Dobber launched DobberHockey back in 2005 and his 10th annual Fantasy Guide can be found here. That's right - 10th annual. He's been around the block. Follow Dobber on Twitter @DobberHockey.

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey: Sign up and join a league today!]

MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS

Author: Dobber Hockey
Posted: August 23, 2015, 5:40 pm

(Ed. Note: August is known to be a very quiet month in the hockey world. As we wait for September to arrive and training camps to begin, let’s learn a little history about all 30 teams. Behold, our summer A-Z series, in which we ask fans of all 30 teams to drop some knowledge on us! Add your own choices in the comments!)

By: Ashley Chase, sports broadcaster

A. Affiliates

Thought I’d start by introducing the Pens affiliates. The Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins are the AHL affiliate. The Penguins purchased the Cornwall Aces AHL franchise from the Colorado Avalanche in 1996, leaving the then-dormant team inactive until 1999, which was the “Baby Pens” inaugural season. WBS won a regular season title in 2010-11. The West Virginia-based Wheeling Nailers became the Pens ECHL affiliate in 2000.

B. "Badger" Bob Johnson

“It’s a great day for hockey.”

His catchphrase is written on the wall of the Penguins locker room and is written in the hearts of Pens fans everywhere.

Bob Johnson became the “Badger” while coaching the University of Wisconsin to three NCAA championships. Johnson chased a Stanley Cup as coach of the Calgary Flames but it wasn’t until taking the reins of the Penguins in 1990 that Badger’s dream came true, coaching Pittsburgh to their first Stanley Cup win in 1991. Johnson was the first American-born coach to win the Stanley Cup.

"Winning the Cup was the one unfinished thing in Bob's life," said Johnson’s wife Martha, in this NY Times Obituary.

In August of 1991, a brain aneurysm hospitalized Johnson and he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He turned his coaching duties over to Scotty Bowman so he could begin treatment immediately, but Johnson stayed involved from his hospital room, watching video and communicating using a fax machine because a stroke left him unable to speak.

In an interview for the Blackhawks, Bowman said:

dir="ltr">“We were all hoping he would recover and return. He watched the games from the hospital, and we tried to keep him in the loop, calling him all the time to listen to what he had to say. Obviously, our minds weren’t completely on hockey, and we struggled for a couple months.”

Bob Johnson would not return to the Penguins, passing away on November 26, 1991.

Following his death, a banner saying; "It's a great day for hockey" was hung from the rafters at Wisconsin and painted on the blue lines at the Civic Arena. Penguins' players wore the word "BADGER" on the sleeve of their jerseys. Much of that can be seen here:

Johnson's name was engraved on the Stanley Cup for a second time. Mario Lemieux dedicated the 1991-92 season and Stanley Cup win to Badger Bob.

At the team's 1992 victory celebration at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Bowman's first remark was "the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins will always be – Bob Johnson.”

C. Century Line

Century Line

Lowell MacDonald, Syl Apps and Jean Pronovost. This trio was a force in the 1970’s, earning their nickname by combining for 107 goals in the 1973-74 season. Pronovost was the first member of the Pittsburgh Penguins to score 100 points in a season and 50 goals in a season.

Here’s a feature from PensTV narrated by Bob Grove:

D. Dan Bylsma and the revolving door of coaches

The Pens coaches have historically been a short-termed bunch.

Until Dan Bylsma, who took over for Michael Therrien in the 2008-09 season, no one lasted more than three years as Penguins Head Coach.

Penguins Coaches

Bylsma, like any coach, had his faults, but helped bring Pittsburgh its’ third Stanley Cup and was the longest-tenured coach in team history. He was replaced by Mike Johnston in 2014.

E. “Elvis has just left the building” - Mike Lange

Penguins radio announcer Mike Lange has been the voice of Pittsburgh hockey both on radio and television for the last 40 years. Lange was awarded the Foster Hewitt award by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001 for his outstanding work as an NHL broadcaster.

The voice is unmistakable and the calls are a signature unique to the Penguins culture. Game broadcasts begin with “It’s a hockey night in Pittsburgh” and if you’re lucky enough to hear “Elvis has just left the building," you’ll know the Pens have won.

Iconic moments, like Mario Lemieux’s comeback in December 2000, will leave you smiling like a butcher’s dog.

And sometimes, Lange tells your grandma what to do.

Sidney Crosby of course has his own call:

And if you’re in the mood for some fun… you can scratch your back with a hack saw and play around with the Mike Lange Soundboard.

(On a personal note, Lange is one of the main reasons I fell in love with hockey and broadcasting, and why my entire career is a pursuit of full-time hockey broadcasting work. I own one autographed puck and it’s signed by Mike Lange.)

F. Fleury, Marc-Andre

The Flower, none other than Marc-Andre Fleury, clad with a fleur-de-lis on every mask, is the franchise’s most successful goaltender, putting his name atop several columns in the history books with plenty of hockey yet to be played.

Fleury

(This mask displays not only the fleur-de-lis, but also the initials E.F.G.T. for Fleury’s grandparents who he honors on every mask. Also the name of his daughter Estelle. Baby number two, a girl named Scarlett, just arrived in August 2015.)

The French-Canadian netminder was drafted by the Pens in 2003 and was stellar in his NHL debut. Midway through the season, the decision was made to send Fleury back to juniors (QMJHL) with the claim that the team could not afford to pay him a $3 million dollar bonus he would be eligible for by playing in 25 games. (There was another reason for the Pens to send Fleury down; see 'T' for Tanking.)

With the lockout in 2004-05, Fleury played the season in Wilkes Barre-Scranton. He came to Pittsburgh later in the 2005-06 season but the Pens finished dead last in the Eastern Conference. Fleury became the starting goaltender moving forward in 2006-07, leading the Pens back to the playoffs along with the young Crosby and Malkin.

The 2007-08 season saw Fleury deal with an ankle injury. Upon his return, the Pens won the Atlantic Division and eventually, a Stanley Cup Finals appearance vs. Detroit. One of the best performances of Fleury’s career was Game 5 at Detroit, a 55-save triple-overtime win, saving the Pens from elimination.

But what goes up must come down. In game 6, an own goal that Fleury sat on was credited to Henrik Zetterberg and the Red Wings won the Cup on the ice in Pittsburgh. (DON’T LOOK. IT BURNS.)

Fleury recovered with a phenomenal run through the playoffs in the 2008-09 season. The final seconds of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in Detroit create the lasting image of Fleury.

Fleury hoisted the Cup once in his career but has had mixed success and failure in the playoffs ever since, becoming a polarizing player that the fan base tends to give either all of the credit or all of the blame.

Fleury is quite the character off the ice, the gullible victim of many pranks, including the rookie season exchange with his veteran roomie Marc Bergevin. From Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

dir="ltr">When Pittsburgh was looking for a veteran to bunk with rookie goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, coaches picked [Marc Bergevin]. The first question Bergevin asked last summer's No. 1 pick: When were you born? dir="ltr">An experience colored by Bergevin. One day, Fleury left a book out in the hotel room. It had a risque title, and when Bergevin opened it, the prank book gave him an electric shock. Handing the book to Fleury, Bergevin told him it wouldn't shock him if he opened it with his toes. Fleury tried. dir="ltr">Of course, he was shocked. So, Bergevin said, yeah, but if you dip your fingers in water and open it, the book won't shock you. Fleury tried it. "I got him twice on his prank," Bergevin said. "I love the game. Mentally it's been a tough (season), but I love being around the young guys."

Now a veteran himself, Fleury likes to play pranks. Like this one on ROOT Sports’ Dan Potash, and had a hand in this one on rookie Scott Wilson.

Sidney Crosby has some thoughts on Fleury’s Halloween costumes:

dir="ltr">“For some reason, he is always wearing tights with his costumes. I don’t know why that is. He was Catwoman before and now he was a frog with leggings, so maybe it just means he likes to wear tights. I don’t know.”

G. Geno Geno. They call him MVP.

Evgeni Malkin. Drafted by the Penguins second overall behind his Russian teammate Alexander Ovechkin in 2004, Malkin’s first game for the Penguins was delayed by a transfer issue with his former team and (lockout aside) he did not play with Pittsburgh until 2006. More on the firestorm surrounding Malkin’s journey to the NHL in an interview done by TSN’s Darren Dreger.

When Malkin did finally take the ice, he scored a goal in each of his first six NHL games, something no one in NHL history had ever done. His first goal was against Martin Brodeur. Malkin finished his rookie season with 33 goals and 85 points, winning the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie.

Malkin finished second in Hart Trophy voting to Ovechkin in 2008, but captured the Art Ross trophy in 2009 and was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff MVP as the Pens won their third Stanley Cup. Malkin was the first Russian-born player to win the Conn Smythe and the second Penguin to win both the Art Ross & Conn Smythe in the same season, the other being Mario Lemieux.

Malkin dominated the 2011-12 season, winning the Art Ross, Hart, and Ted Lindsey trophies. The league MVP was the only player to score more than 100 points that season (109).

I don’t remember the full scope of the Malkin’s Diary spoof done by Pittsburgh radio station WDVE, but they did a song parody “That is my name” and it makes me laugh every time. There have been a few versions made, here's one of them:

Malkin’s parents Vladamir and Natalia have become fan favorites. Here’s a 2009 writeup on “The Geno’s” by Rob Rossi in the Tribune-Review.

Geno’s instagram brings the world so much joy. I’ll provide a few examples but you should just follow.

Exhibit A: Sharing the Pens’ Halloween costumes.

Geno Instagram 1
Geno Instagram 2

Exhibit B: Congratulating Sergei Gonchar while riding a tiger.

Geno Tiger

Basically, Geno instagram = GOAT.

Geno Goat

H. Hated-rivals

The Capitals and Penguins have had their heated moments over the years, but there’s a special kind of hate that exists between the Penguins and the Flyers.

Since both teams joined the NHL as part of the “Next Six” in 1967, the Keystone State rivals have brutalized each other. The teams have only met six times in the playoffs, with the Flyers holding a 4-2 series advantage. The Flyers dominated the Pens in the 1970’s and 80’s. Pittsburgh would be lucky to walk out of the Spectrum in one piece.

It’s too bad Rob Brown was traded to Hartford and didn’t have a chance to win a Cup with Pittsburgh along Mario’s wing. Mostly because of moments like these with Ron Hextall.

The tide shifted in favor of the Pens in the early 90’s. In the 1989 division finals, Philadelphia won in seven, but this was a significant change in era for both teams. The Flyers missed the playoffs for the next five years while the Pens won two Stanley Cups. The arrival of Eric Lindros made the series more evenly matched as the 90’s continued.

One of the more memorable games in the history of the two teams came in 2000. Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals was a 1-1 game headed for overtime. Five overtime periods, to be exact. Keith Primeau finally scored at the 92:01 mark of overtime to give the Flyers a 2–1 win, tying the series at 2-2. Philadelphia won the next two to take the series.

For the Pens to make it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2008 and eventually win in 2009, they had to beat the Flyers. Those are the only two postseason series the Pens have won against Philly. In 2012, the rivalry spiced up again and is burned into my memory with the image of Pens Assistant Tony Granato and Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette climbing the benches, screaming at each other.

The teams would later meet in the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals and the Flyers won that series (See X for more on this series).

I. Igloo, The (and the Consol Energy Center)

The Penguins live in The Igloo. *Mike Tomlin voice* Obviously.

The Civic Arena (later named Mellon Arena beginning in 1999), was the Penguins home from 1967-2010.

Igloo

A new arena was the centerpiece of keeping the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Reaching a deal for the Consol Energy Center essentially saved the team once again. Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby officially christened the new ice on July 27, 2010 and the first regular seasons game was played on October 7, 2010 against the Flyers. Lemieux’s ownership and keeping the team in Pittsburgh are directly linked to the new arena. (See O for Ownership.)

J. Jaromir Jagr

The Man, The Myth, The Mullet. Jaromir Jagr’s arrival in the NHL came as the Iron Curtain was falling, allowing him to become the first Czech player to be drafted in the NHL without having to defect, taken 5th overall in 1990. Jagr joined a team always racked with superstars but quickly carved out his own place in Penguins history. Jagr scored a goal in the Stanley Cup Finals at age 20, part of the back-to-back Cup winnings teams.

After the Penguins first Cup win in 1991, Jagr told Mike Lange he’d give Lange’s famed closing line on-air, and did so on KDKA-TV.

During the span of his 10-plus years with Pittsburgh, Jagr was a five-time Art Ross Trophy winner and won that Hart as the League MVP in 1999. I’m just going to let you read his NHL records for yourself, because there are far too many to mention. He is truly one of the game’s greats.

Still an NHLer at age 43, Jagr is the leading point scorer among active NHL players and is the most productive European player to ever played in the NHL. Some Pens fans have had hard feelings for Jagr because of the way he moved on from Pittsburgh, but I think that’s been addressed, in this piece by Shelley Anderson of the Post-Gazette.

dir="ltr">“If I wouldn't have been drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins and see Mario play, who knows where I would be right now? Maybe I would be in Europe. Maybe I wouldn't play hockey at all. All the things I learned were from him. Not many young guys that come into the league are so lucky like I was."

Plus, if he hadn’t been traded from Pittsburgh, the world would never know the Traveling Jagrs who can be found here on Twitter.

This is a man who has embraced his big personality (and big hair) for a long time.

Did you own a jar of Jaromir Jagr Peanut Butter?

Jagr PB

When Jagr was with the Flyers, someone brought him a jar of that peanut butter in the locker room. Claude Giroux attempted to chirp Jagr about this and was served accordingly.

Jagr is one of the big factors in why I became a Pens fan. You can see how much he loves the game in the way he trains, plays, lives and smiles. I personally can’t wait to see what he does with the young crop of Panthers this season.

K. KEVIN!

Kevin(s) Constantine and Stevens both had their own impact on the Pens.

Kevin Stevens signed with the Penguins in the late 80’s and played on Mario Lemieux’s left wing as part of the Stanley Cup Champion teams in 1991 & 1992, before being traded in 1995. He had four-straight seasons of at least 40 goals and 80 points from 1990-94 and scored 50 goals and 100 points in back to back seasons from 1991-93.

Kevin Stevens

Kevin Constantine coached the Penguins for two full seasons (1997-98, 1998-99) and was fired 25 games into the 1999-2000 season. During his first year as head coach, the Pens won their division and during the second, they finished third, but upset the top seed New Jersey Devils in the first round of the playoffs.

Kevin Constantine

Constantine was 86-64-35-4 in the regular season but 8-11 in the playoffs. Constantine was known for making the Pens into a more“defense-first” team in an era where they had been “all offense-all the time”, especially with Jagr, with whom he butted heads.

(Honorable mention: Darius Kasparaitis. Played for the Pens from 1996-2002. Every 90’s child Pens fan came down with a case of Kasparaitis and had to miss school from time to time. It happens.)

Kasparaitis

Kasparaitis also endorsed pickles…”Kasparaitis Krunchers”, which you can find on this TribLive blog post of Pittsburgh athlete-endorsed foods.

L. Lemieux, Mario

No words I pen could do justice to the career, life and legacy of Le Magnifique, Mario Lemieux.

Mario Lemieux 1

On June 9, 1984, Mario Lemieux or “Super Mario” was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins as the top pick in the NHL Draft. Lemieux – which means “the best” in French – later snapped Wayne Gretzky’s seven-year hold on the scoring title and eight-year grip on the Hart Trophy. A six-time NHL scoring leader, three-time MVP, Rookie of the Year and two-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner, number 66 made miraculous comebacks from Hodgkin’s disease and multiple back injuries and, as an encore, bought the team and saved it from bankruptcy in 1999.

Lemieux scored a goal on the first shot of his first shift in the NHL.

In the 1988–89 season, Lemieux led the league with 85 goals and 114 assists for 199 points, tying Gretzky for points and finishing second in Hart Trophy voting. This season included the “5 goals 5 ways” game against New Jersey, a game he finished tallying 8 points.

This goal against the North Stars in the 1991 Stanley Cup Final is typically remembered as the greatest goal Lemieux ever scored.

Super Mario led the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup victories, forever engraving his name in hockey history. But the man meant so much more (See M for Mario’s Cancer & Comeback). Lemieux kept his phenomenal career going past back injuries and cancer, continuing to dominate the league, closing his career (for the first time) by winning his sixth Art Ross Trophy. He was the NHL MVP three times in his career.

Lemieux shocked the hockey community once again, announcing his retirement would be at the end of the 1996-97 season, at just 31 years old. To that point, Mario had scored 1494 points in 745 games. The Hockey Hall of Fame abandoned their three-year waiting period and inducted Lemieux into the hall in the fall of 1997.

I’ll never forget getting a laugh out of “Bye, Bye, French Canadian Guy” from WDVE:

But in December 2000, Lemieux did the unimaginable, returning to the ice as a player, becoming the first modern day player/owner in the NHL. Lemieux would return to play on December 27, 2000 against the Maple Leafs, scoring a goal and two assists.

Pittsburgh’s next great generational talent had arrived in 2005, bringing “Lemieux to Crosby” to the masses.

Mario’s return from retirement didn’t produce the same team success as his earlier years. But during the comeback, Lemieux had the highest points-per-game average among all NHL players until his final retirement in January 2006, due in large part tohealth issues, this time in the form of an irregular heartbeat.

Here's the final goal Super Mario would score in the NHL:

dir="ltr">“Every time a player was introduced, I’d elbow Paul and say, ‘What a player he is. Unbelievable.’ Then the next player, he’d elbow me and say, 'How about him? Unbelievable.’ Then they introduced Mario Lemieux, and we said, 'Do you think he’d give us his autograph?’ dir="ltr">-- Teemu Selanne, recalling friend and teammate Paul Kariya’s first All-Star game, which they both played in.

The statue titled “Le Magnifique” was unveiled outside the Consol Energy Center in 2012, depicting Lemieux in the December 20, 1988 game against the New York Islanders at the Civic Arena, when Lemieux broke through defensemen Rich Pilon and Jeff Norton en route to scoring at 14:09 of the third period. The Penguins chose that image because it was a metaphor for everything Lemieux accomplished in his career and his life – breaking through defenders, overcoming obstacles, turning back challenges.

Mario Statue

M. Mario's Cancer and Comeback

The Pens were coming off back-to-back Stanley Cup winning seasons and playing well again behind Super Mario in ’92-93. A stunning announcement on January 12, 1993 left Lemieux’s career and survival in doubt. Mario announced that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and would undergo aggressive radiation treatments.

For this topic, I went to writer Angie Carducci who was interning at KDKA during this portion of Lemieux’s career.

dir="ltr">I recall the heavy feeling that hung in the air with the uncertainty of how the Hodgkin’s diagnosis and treatment would, most importantly, affect Mario’s life, or whether he’d be able to play hockey again. He was in the prime of a legendary career and the idea of it coming to an end so soon was very sad.

On the day of his last radiation treatment, Lemieux flew to Philadelphia and played against the Flyers that night, receiving a rare standing ovation from the fans in Philadelphia, before scoring a goal and an assist in a 5-4 loss.

Lemieux blew by Pat LaFontaine to win the league scoring title despite missing two months of the season. The Penguins won 17 straight games to finish in first place overall with a franchise record 119 points. Lemieux was awarded the Masterson Trophy at season’s end.

Lemieux’s battle with cancer leaves a legacy of survival and he continues to do impressive work for the cancer community today with the Mario Lemieux Foundation. If you haven’t taken the time to see what the Foundation does, please do.

N. Nineties...

The 1990’s were an eventful era for the Penguins. 

Lord Stanley arrived in Pittsburgh:

TWICE.

(This one with bonus “Arnold Slick from Turtle Creek” and Ronnie Francis beating Dominic Hasek “like a rented mule.”)

1995 brought SUDDEN DEATH. (Maybe next #NHLmovienight?)

Sudden Death

The Pens owner at the time, Howard Baldwin, was the producer of this movie and his wife Karen Elise Baldwin was a writer. The whole movie was based around a Pens-Blackhawks game, set in Civic Arena, and featuring many prominent Pens franchise faces.

Including this one.

But don’t listen to me, let Mr. Van Damme and company do the talking.

As you heard in the trailer, this song will always be associated with the Pens for me, growing up as a fan in this glorious decade. 

Also in the 90's, "Beware of the Penguins." These Bud Ice commercials spawned many a Pens related headline over the years. 

Eventually, a penguin steals the Stanley Cup.

This actually had nothing to do with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but plenty of Pittsburgh fans adopted “Beware of the Penguins.”

Perhaps, 'beware Petr Nedved' would have been more appropriate. Only a Penguin for two seasons, Nedved wore the “beware” tag for GM’s when it came to salary talks. But he did score this whopper against the Caps in the final seconds of 4OT in the 1996 playoffs.

Martin Straka was one of my favorite 90’s Penguins. Jagr and Straka taking this turnover to score and beat the heavily-favored Devils in Game 7 in the 1999 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals produces a fabulous celebration:

The line of Robert Lang-Alexei Kovalev-Martin Straka and the likes of Aleksey (Alexei) Morozov carried the Pens into the 2000’s as one of the NHL’s most productive lines, but they’d leave Pittsburgh without a Cup. And thus the Dark Ages began.

O. Ownership, bankruptcy, the road ahead

Buckle up, baby.

You may need an actual seat belt to hold on during the wild ride the Pens ownership troubles have taken fans through.

There have been 10 ownership groups for the Penguins since their inception in 1967. In 1975, Penguins owners Peter Block etc. were $6.5-million in debt. The Penguins’ doors were padlocked and the NHL took ownerships as it appeared the team would have to fold or relocate. A group headed by Albert Savill purchased the team for $3.8 million-and they were able to keep the Pens in Pittsburgh.

The second bankruptcy was under Howard Baldwin and co., who purchased the team after Pittsburgh’s first Stanley Cup win in ’91. The group was unable to fund the franchise in addition to paying private investors for the extravagant spending that was done to bring the Cup-winning stars to Pittsburgh.

Instead of selling and relocating, Lemieux took the amount he was owed (in the realm of $30-million in deferred salary) and converted the Pens’ debt to equity, becoming part-owner. Partnering with Ron Burkle, Lemieux saved the team and kept them in Pittsburgh. Not only that, Lemieux saw to it that every debt owed was paid in full by 2005. Having made that happen, Lemieux looked at options to sell the team, with the caveat the new owner would keep the team in Pittsburgh.

In October of 2006, Jim Balsillie agreed to buy the Penguins, but withdrew that offer in December of 2006. There was much speculation that the Pens would be headed to Kansas City or Ontario. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was emphatic that an arena deal would have to be in place for the team to stay in Pittsburgh. After the agreement with Balsillie fell through, Lemieux’s group decided not to sell. Later, Lemieux announced an arena deal, keeping the team in Pittsburgh.

Now a stable organization with a longterm home, the Penguins ownership is on the table once again, as Lemieux and Burkle have hired Morgan Stanley to explore options for sale of the team.

P. Penguins

Duh. But how did the Penguins name become the moniker for Pittsburgh’s hockey team?

According to longtime Pens radio host Bob Grove’s book, Pittsburgh Penguins: The Official History of the First 30 Years:

dir="ltr">“A newspaper contest was launched in the Post-Gazette, but (part-owner Jack) McGregor's wife, the former Carol Dangerfield of Edgewood, had already found one she liked.

"When Jack got the franchise, he was so thrilled," she remembered. "Then he said, 'Oh my gosh, we've got to name it.' I said, 'I love to think of things like that.' I was thinking of something with a P. And I said to Jack, 'What do they call the Civic Arena?' And he said, 'The Big Igloo.' So I thought, ice. . . Pittsburgh. . . Penguins.”

There were other hockey franchise names in Pittsburgh long before the Penguins arrived in 1967, including the Yellow Jackets, Pirates (yes, Pirates) and the Hornets. One of the youth hockey programs in Pittsburgh now uses the Hornets name.

(Looking forward to reading P is for PHIL in the Summer of 2016 A-Z entry about Phil Kessel’s debut season with the Penguins.)

Q. Quebec

Okay, I’ll admit Q was a bit of a challenge. Lemieux was from Quebec but so are many others. There were two things I found that I thought were interesting notes involving the Pens and Nordiques.

1) Lemieux scored this absolutely bonkers goal as one of the Nords practically holds on for dear life. One of his more underrated goals.

2) Defenseman Paul Coffey made his Pittsburgh debut against Quebec following the blockbuster trade sending him from Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers to Mario Lemieux’s Penguins. The Pens were down 4-0 and came back to win 6-4 with Coffey recording 4 assists.

R. Retired

There are only two numbers retired by the Pens: Mario Lemieux’s No. 66 and Michel Briere’s No. 21.

Retired Numbers

The Pens selected Michel Briere 26th overall in the 1969 draft and he soon drew comparisons to some of the league’s top young players. He was second in rookie scoring behind Bobby Clarke and third overall on the Penguins team. Briere helped lead Pittsburgh to its first NHL playoff berth since the 1928 Pirates, and led the team in playoff scoring.

Days after the Penguins first playoff run came to a close, Briere returned home to Quebec, planning to get married to his expectant fiancé. On May 15, 1970, Briere was in a car crash in Quebec, suffering brain trauma and going into a coma from which he would never recover. Briere passed away on April 13, 1971. His No. 21 jersey was never reissued and was officially retired on January 5, 2001.

S. Steve Downie ... just kidding, Sidney Crosby (DUH)

Sidney Crosby was drafted in 2005 after the season-long NHL lockout. Fans were introduced to Crosby and Ovechkin in that same season and their careers have been compared ever since. Crosby became the youngest player in NHL history to reach 100 points during his rookie season, but he finished second to Ovechkin in the Calder race.

There is one big way Crosby has won the comparison --> 2009 Stanley Cup Celebration:

Crosby is the second youngest player (Wayne Gretzky) to win the Hart Trophy and was the youngest league scoring champion in North American professional sports history, winning the Art Ross Trophy at 19 years old in 2007. Crosby also won both the MVP and Art Ross in 2014.

The 2008-09 season was remarkable for Pittsburgh. While Malkin and in the end, Fleury, get a lot of the praise for the Stanley Cup win, Crosby was tremendous throughout that entire season as well, finishing third in the league in scoring. En route to Pittsburgh’s third Stanley Cup, Crosby scored 15 goals and 16 assists, his all-time high in the playoffs.

Many moments in Sid’s career have left everyone speechless, but this one sticks out for Pittsburgh fans Crosby mirrors Lemieux's goal vs. '91 North Stars:

Crosby has dealt with injuries and concussions over the years, but finally went the full 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons without injury. In doing so, Crosby posted the highest points per game average in the league in 2014-15 and reached the 300 career goal mark. Much of the criticism of Crosby comes in relation to postseason production, with just 3 goals in the last two postseasons.

The Crosby-Malkin era to me, seems like it may largely be defined by what’s left of it, rather than what has already transpired. But that’s unknowable. I can’t help but think one of the best players in the world has a few more chapters to write in Pittsburgh. At 28-years-old, Crosby’s accomplishments go on and on and I personally believe his best years lie ahead.

Crosby laughing is one of my favorite things. He is often portrayed as vanilla, but certainly has his moments. I try to erase “mumps face” from my memory, and Crosby having a laugh after Dan Potash fell down during an interview this season, is a great way to do it:

Crosby is also known to have a…large rear end.

Hockey butt is a thing, a natural (wonderful) thing. But Crosby’s caboose became the subject of a Steve Dangle Leafs Fan Reaction video after a game in which Sid scored his 800th career point against Toronto in 2015. I love this video for multiple reasons. 1) Dangle imitates Crosby’s behind (used in this instance to buck Dion Phaneuf). 2) I used Dangle’s Leafs nicknames in the game highlights I did that night on TV in Western Pennsylvania. And then he put them in the video.

T. Tanking

Nothing encapsulates what the Penguins did in 1983-84 better than the “Playing to Lose” TSN documentary. They had a winning goaltender in Roberto Romano and sent him to the minors.

They had 48 different players throughout the season, fielding what looked like an AHL team for much of the year. The Pens won just 3 of their last 21 games, clinching the first overall draft pick, for Mario Lemieux. Eddie Johnston will not admit the Penguins tanked. Head Coach Lou Agnotti says a conscious decision was made to finish the season as the team with the worst record.

For the analytics crowd, an interesting look at the tanking trends of not only the ‘83-84 Pens but, those of the Pens 2003-04 season when they were aiming for Alexander Ovechkin, but ended up with Malkin.

The early 2000’s tank that yielded Malkin, Crosby, et al. was more extended, landing multiple stars that produced another Stanley Cup. As Melissa Geschwind says, the Pens were “the modern-day Oilers, except competent.”

U. Uniforms

The Penguins uniforms have changed colors over the years, from navy and columbia blue, to black & yellow (aka ‘Pittsburgh Gold’), to black and vegas gold. Navy and columbia blue have been used in the Winter Classic jerseys, as has the circular logo. In January 1980, the Penguins wore black and gold for the first time.

Penguins Unis

According to the Penguins website, when the Steelers won the Super Bowl in the same season the Pirates captured the World Series title, the struggling Pens hoped to gain fan support by aligning their colors with the other teams in the “City of Champions.”

Boston protested the color change to the NHL, arguing that black and gold had always been exclusively associated with the Bruins. However, the Penguins prevailed by virtue of a precedent set by the Pittsburgh Pirates hockey club of the late 1920’s, which sported the colors.

If only someone would protest Vegas gold…

BECAUSE THE CURRENT THIRD JERSEYS ARE GLORIOUS.

Do this next time @penguins pic.twitter.com/8LbKNCxGy4

— future land owner (@MouseRat_Fan) August 13, 2015

V. Vegas Gold

In case 'U' didn’t cover it, Vegas Gold is the worst. It’s Dad-khaki.

W. Winter Classic

The Pens faced the Buffalo Sabres in the first Winter Classic on New Years’ Day 2008. Snow was flying throughout the game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, creating a picturesque scene and incredible atmosphere.

Pittsburgh wore the powder blue jersey with the circle logo, most similar to the sweater they wore from 1968-1972.

In a 1-1 game heading to overtime, the teams forced a shootout. Sidney Crosby hopped the boards and ended the game with this shootout goal.

I mean, The Kid.

Sid Squat

Pittsburgh has since hosted a Winter Classic at Heinz Field, falling 3-1 to the Capitals. The Penguins wore loosely based on the inaugural 1967–68 season but with a crest of their original skating penguin logo.

That game was originally supposed to be a 1pm start but was pushed back to 8pm due to rain and warm weather concerns. It was a clusterslush.

Oh, and Eric Fehr who scored the final 2 goals of the game for the Caps signed with Pittsburgh this summer.

The 2011 Winter Classic will unfortunately be remembered as the start of concussion issues for Crosby, after a blindside hit by the Caps David Steckel.

X. MaXime Talbot, Shhhh, and local TV commercials

Maxime Talbot is far from a lifelong Penguin, journeying to the Flyers and Avalanche after his Steel City days, but he will be remembered fondly by Pens fans for a few things.

“SHHHH”

In 2009, the Pens were in Philadelphia holding a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Flyers took a 3-0 lead over Pittsburgh in a deafeningly loud Wachovia Center, less than five minutes into the second period. 15 seconds later, Talbot and Dan Carcillo dropped the gloves. Talbot took his lumps, but as former Penguins player and head coach Eddie “Edzo” Olczyk notes during his commentary for NBC in the video, it’s a fight that purely served to benefit the Pens’ momentum and not Philadelphia’s.

If it were possible for Flyers’ fans to be louder than they were after the third goal, they reached that decibel after the fight. Until the “shhhh.” Talbot’s pursed-lip hushing motion served as the symbol for the fight that launched the Penguins’ rally. 14 seconds later, Ruslan Fedotenko shoved home a puck that started a streak of five unanswered goals, as the Pens clinched the quarterfinal series win. This was the first postseason series win for Dan Bylsma, and a step towards eventually winning the cup in 2009.

Local TV commercials seem to be where the Penguins potential acting careers go to die. Max Talbot is no exception. These need no explanation.

Here’s a series of commercials for a car dealership. Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar & Colby Armstrong join Talbot in Part I.

PART II

PART III

Epic conclusion: PART IV

Finally, “Don’t forget your rubber ducky” – Talbot becomes a pool boy.

Honorable mention: X is also for Xavier LaFlamme (NSFW) aka Kris Letang. Don’t say you watched Goon and didn’t think this:

Letang_LeFlamme

Y. Youth Hockey Boom

According to a June 2013 article on USAHockeyMagazine.com:

dir="ltr">Local administrators credit a number of factors, from the success of the Penguins, the “Crosby effect,” his Little Penguins program and the advent of the American Development Model, which has been embraced by local hockey leaders since its inception.

“We’ve been fortunate over the last 20 years. We went through the Mario Lemieux era, which really helped kick hockey into gear here in western Pennsylvania,” says Paul Day, the Mid-American Hockey Association president who has been involved with local hockey for 25 years.

“Then, fortunately, seven years ago the little ping pong balls at the NHL draft fell in our favor and Sidney Crosby arrived in Pittsburgh. We’re probably looking at having increased our numbers over the last five to six years probably 50 percent again.

My piece on Pens 2014 draft pick Sam Lafferty (Hollidaysburg, Pa.) shows the extended impact of the “Crosby effect” throughout Western Pennsylvania:

Z. Zarley Zalapski, part of ‘The Trade’ (the non-Gretzky related one)

On March 4, 1991, Penguins General Manager Craig Patrick made a blockbuster trade with the Hartford Whalers, acquiring defensemen Grant Jennings, Ulf Samuelsson and center Ron Francis in exchange for centers John Cullen, Jeff Parker and defenseman Zarley Zalapski.

Zalapski certainly wasn’t the centerpiece of this deal, but was on the NHL’s All-Rookie Team in 1989. The Pens were hesitant to part ways with Cullen due to his leadership, but were looking for a second-line center and toughness on defense.

The Penguins went 6-0-1 in the first seven games after the trade, closing the regular season with their first Patrick Division title. In the final 14 games of the regular season, Pittsburgh went 9-3-2. Francis had 2 goals and 9 assists during that stretch, while Samuelsson posted five points and 37 penalty minutes.

Meet the author: Ashley Chase is a free agent sports broadcaster that’s worked the in television and radio for the last 8 years. She’s covered everything from the USHL to college hockey and from the women’s world championships to the NHL – Ashley is currently looking for work in hockey, so if you have an opportunity – let her know! On Twitter @AshleyChaseTV or on her website AshleyChaseTV.com

Previous A to Z Guides: Anaheim | Arizona | Boston | Buffalo | Calgary | Carolina | Chicago | Colorado | Columbus | Dallas | Detroit | Edmonton | Florida | Los Angeles | Minnesota | Montreal | Nashville | New Jersey | NY Islanders | NY Rangers | Ottawa | Philadelphia

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: August 23, 2015, 4:29 pm

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


− 1 = four

Looking for older news? Search in the archive