Hockey Leaks

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


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Eastern Conference
  Team GP W L OTL Pts


Western Conference
  Team GP W L OTL Pts


Stat Leaders

  Patrick Marleau (9)
  Martin St. Louis (11)
  Joe Thornton (11)
  Thomas Vanek (11)
  Thomas Vanek (19)
  Sami Salo (10)
Penalties In Minutes:
  Brandon Prust (46)
Powerplay Goals:
  Patrick Marleau (5)
Shorthanded Goals:
  Thomas Vanek (1)
  Tomas Fleischmann (1)
  Rick Nash (1)
  Ilya Kovalchuk (1)
  Loui Eriksson (1)
  T.J. Oshie (1)
  Justin Faulk (1)
  Brad Marchand (1)
  Mark Letestu (1)
  Michael Grabner (1)
  Henrik Zetterberg (1)
  Andy Greene (1)
Game-Winning Goals:
  Andrei Markov (3)
  Patrick Marleau (3)

  Carey Price (6)
  Antti Niemi (6)
Goals-Against Average:
  Craig Anderson (1.12)
Save Percentage:
  Craig Anderson (.964)
  Jaroslav Halak (2)

Rookie Race

NHL's Three Stars

NHL odds 

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Bylsma named Head Coach in Buffalo

Dan Bylsma has landed on his feet in Buffalo.

The Sabres, who felt spurned after losing out on Mike Babcock to Toronto, have found their next head coach to follow Ted Nolan.

Bylsma comes from a Penguins team loaded with talent, and will have more of the same in Buffalo, albeit much younger talent.  With the 2nd overall pick in the 2015 entry draft, the Sabres are expected to draft Jack Eichel.  Bylsma had a chance to see Eichel work up close, as he was an assistant coach at the World Hockey Championships under Todd Richards in Prauge earlier this month for the US side. Eichel played fantastic hockey for team USA in the tournament, and no doubt Bylsma feels comfortable knowing he has worked with Eichel previously.

The only teams currently without a head coach are the New Jersey Devils, and the Detroit Red Wings.

May 28th, 2015 @ 3:21 PM (EDT) | Reply

Toronto Maple Leafs hire Mike Babcock.

Rumoured deal is 8 years 50 Million.

Babcock becomes the highest paid coach making 6.25 million a year.

Confirmed by Elliotte Friedman.

It appears the deal is front loaded and he may have an out after 5 years.   HUGE NEWS.

Have to wonder who will become the next GM of the Leafs.  Nick Kypreos reported that Mark Hunter may be considered as the next GM because not many of the established guys will want to have to listen to him in the decision process.

May 20th, 2015 @ 2:12 PM (EDT) | Reply

Detroit Gives Teams Permission to Speak to Babcock

As of 12pm eastern today the Detroit Red Wings have given permission for teams to speak with Mike Babcock.

This mean's he's (in essence) a UFA as of this moment. 

Whether or not Detroit will demand compensation (NHL rules now regulate that a 2nd round draft pick must be given if a team hires another executive or coach away from another, who is still under contract) is up for discussion, but I have to think that they will.

This kicks off the NHL coaching movement that we've all been expecting for some time now.  Detroit wants their coaching situation resolved by June, so this is happening at precisely the right time.

Let the rumors begin!

*EDIT*  It appears the cost of hiring Babcock is a 3rd round pick and not a 2nd... my apologies.

May 8th, 2015 @ 12:46 PM (EDT) | Reply

Chiarelli takes over the Oilers - My take

It's been 10 days since the draft lottery.

10 days since I sat glued to my TV, waiting as the situation dragged on.  It was supposed to be announced at 8pm.  Immediately at 8pm CBC decided to play an introduction, and then give us talking head James Duthie for another 10 minutes or so.  Bring in McDavid, Strome and Hanifin, speak with them some.  Talk to Brendan Shanahan.  It seemed to take forever.

Finally when Bill Daley was reading the envelops I found myself the most anxious I could remember being.  The Leafs, the team that has been screwed over by the hockey gods seemingly since time began had a realistic shot at winning the Lottery.  As the envelops got closer to the the #4 pick I was worried that someone with a lower chance would win and push the Leafs into 5th overall.  When Carolina's envelope came up, and their placard was white, I breathed a sigh of relief.  "#4 aint bad".  When it was the Leafs turn and their placard was white, I shrugged.  "Arizona probably won this", I told myself, "too bad the Leafs didn't".

When Daley exclaimed "we have a winner" while holding the Oilers card I was livid.  Not that I hate the Oilers or have some bias against the Western Canadian teams or something.  But because the Oilers have seemingly been horrible for years almost on purpose.  They were supposed to be good by now.  6 years ago they landed the top pick and drafted first overall (for the first time in their history as an NHL team).  They got Taylor Hall.  That was 6 years ago.  In the time since they've drafted Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (1st overall), Nail Yakupov (1st overall), Darnell Nurse (7th overall) and Leon Draistil (4th overall).  They seemingly couldn't dig themselves out of the hole they had made.

How?  As a Canadian team the turn around should be quick.  They had made it to the cup finals in 2006, and had seemingly the right make up... Clearly they just needed to re-tool.

What angered me was that they continually had individuals seemingly just failed upwards.  Craig MacTavish was the head coach from 2000 until April 15th 2009 when he was fired.  From the time MacTavish was fired as head coach they had 5 guys hold the position (that's 5 guys in 6 years, and don't forget, Nelson is the intern HC, he might even be let go before the offseason is done). 

What kills me is that they re-hired MacTavish in 2012 as the senior VP of hockey Ops.  On April 15th 2013 he was named the GM of the team.  Exactly 4 years after being fired as head coach, MacTavish was named the GM of the team.

This was my problem with the Oilers winning the lottery.  I was furious because there was only 1 team in the NHL that I could point to that was worse run than the Leafs, and that was Edmonton.  Not even to mention that Kevin Lowe snapped at the media by asking a reporter how many Stanley Cups they had won.  Kevin Lowe was the guy who was once GM and fired MacTavish, and then hired him back on.  Then was named president and chose the guy he fired 4 years earlier for his old post.

On April 15th 2015 (seeing a trend in a date here...), the Bruins fired Peter Chiarelli.  On April 24th (6 days after winning the lottery), the Oilers named Chiarelli the new President and GM.

That was 4 days ago.  And in those 4 days my anger towards the Oilers winning the lottery has lessened.  Why?  Because Edmonton is now in the good hands of a very smart hockey man.  Connor McDavid didn't deserve to be subject to endless hand wringing by the Oilers old management group.  MacTavish was kind of a joke in the hockey world, and he had a tough time luring people to play in Edmonton.  Andrew Ference chose to go to Edmonton (sure), but he was hardly a top player.  Justin Schultz was the first highly sought after UFA to pick the Oilers, and they've had a horrible time handling him.

In 2014/2015 the Oilers used 43 (!) players on their roster in total. That's over 2 complete game day rosters over the course of the season.   The Oilers have mismanaged their prospects and rushed guys that shouldn't have been rushed.  Draisaitl was left in the NHL for 37 games, when it was clear he should've been sent back to the WHL. 

I was pissed that McDavid was going to be gifted to this front office.  That he would be ruined in an endless wasteland of middling moves by a bad management team. 

When Chiarelli was hired, that all changed.  Peter is not in the old boys club.  Lowe and MacTavish are both former Oilers players who used their experience winning cups to explain their decisions.  MacTavish was a failed NHL coach who somehow became the GM of a Canadian Organization.  The Oilers were drafting well in the first round (easy to do when you pick in the top half of the round year after year) but they have been barely able to get anything useful from the draft after the first round.  Which is equally impressive and terrifying when you consider that they had a hell of a time recruiting through the UFA market. 

Chiarelli is exactly what they need.  Experienced guy with success elsewhere.  Sure he ran into cap trouble, but he managed to keep 10 guys around from the Bruins Cup win in 2011.  Which means he was able to sign guys to stay long term.  Might have been a weakness, but it's better than the Oilers who have seemingly bled players through the UFA market over the years.  As an example of how impressive it is to keep 10 core guys around for the last 4 years, the following list of players have played for the Leafs since 2011:

Lupul (acquired in 2011)
Kadri (29 games)

Kadri was a rookie, and Lupul had just shown up.  Colby Armstrong still played for the Leafs in 2011.  How he'd been able to hold on to guys for that long despite players achieving UFA status is quite impressive.

Chiarelli built a cup winner, and a team that made it to the finals in 2013.  He has shown time and again the ability to acquire and develop strong players.  His drafting record isn't that great, mind you.  But it's better than what the Oilers have done over the years.

McDavid is just the first step.  But Chiarelli is the kind of guy who can finally make the Oilers a force...

April 28th, 2015 @ 12:51 PM (EDT) | Reply

Leafs Movement Begins

The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded D Cody Franson and F Mike Santorelli to Nashville for F Ollie Jokinen, F Brendan Leipsic and Nashville's 1st round pick.

February 15th, 2015 @ 11:01 AM (EST) | Reply

BLOCKBUSTER TRADE - Winnipeg gets Myers/Stafford, Buffalo gets Kane/Bogosian

The Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets just completed a trade that sent Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian to Buffalo for Tyler Myers, and Drew Stafford along with Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux and a 1st round pick.

Jason Kasdorf was also sent to Buffalo as part of the package.

February 11th, 2015 @ 11:47 AM (EST) | Reply

Maple Leafs fire Randy Carlyle

Leafs announced today that Randy Carlyle has been relieved of his duties today.

Horachek and Spott will handle coaching duties tomorrow night when the Capitals come in to the Air Canada Center.

Have to think that the Leafs were ready to pull the trigger after the 5-1 loss to the Jets on Saturday night, but they waited for the WJHC to wrap up before making the announcement.

This comes on the heel of the aforementioned game in Winnipeg when Carlyle called out the GM by saying that he has to work with what he's given and that he doesn't get a say into the roster.  The comments were a little confusing considering the Leafs went out of their way to acquire players that play "Carlyle's way". 

The Leafs have spent numerous assets over the past few seasons trying to accommodate Carlyle.  Guys like Clarkson, O'Byrne, Polak, Robidas, Bolland... not to mention his love of Orr and MacLaren.  In trying to keep Orr and MacLaren in the mix last season the Leafs traded Joe Colborne away for very little and he's been a big piece for the Flames this year.

The Leafs were in danger of falling out of a wild card spot in recent games when they had once been firmly entrenched in the position.  Loses against teams like Carolina and Buffalo further cemented Carlyle's fate.

No word yet on who they are considering for the full time Head Coaching duties.

January 6th, 2015 @ 9:54 AM (EST) | Reply

Oilers fire Dallas Eakins

The Edmonton Oilers today confirmed that Dallas Eakins has been relieved of the head coaching duties.  Craig MacTavish will assume the role of Head Coach (on an intern basis until a full time coach can be found).

You have to wonder how long until the Oilers realize you can't always blame the coach.  MacTavish had coached the Oilers from 2000 until 2009, but this is the 5th coaching change for the Oilers since 2009.

MacTavish - 2000-2009
Quinn - 2009-2010
Renney - 2010-2012
Kruger - 2012-2013
Eakins - 2013-2014
MacTavish - 2014-???

I think at this point you can't really blame the coaching... Have to really question what it would take to get Kevin Lowe replaced and get MacTavish himself removed as GM of the team.  I don't think the Oilers will get any better until the entire front office is revamped.

December 15th, 2014 @ 12:47 PM (EST) | Reply

Brian Murray's struggle...

Yesterday TSN ran a story during the Senators and Oilers game that revealed Brian Murray has stage 4 cancer in his colon, and it has spread to his lungs and liver.

Unfortunately there is no cure for stage 4 colon cancer, and they will continue Chemo Therapy to try and get some more time that way. 

This is devastating news on many fronts that I don't even need to explain.

I've never met the man, but I've always been in awe of his ability to find talent.  Murray has done a lot for the Senators since he took over, and he was responsible for building the Ducks before Brian Burke came in and augmented the roster. 

To be honest, I was rather jealous of the Senators for Murray and have always been as big of a fan as a guy can be (of someone who runs his most hated franchise).  Time after time I marveled at how Brian was able to build a team around a very difficult budgetary organization as the Sens can be/have been at times.  Brought in Dany Heatley in his prime, had to deal with hugely important guys leaving as UFA's (Chara, Alfredsson come to mind) and having to worry about dealing away Spezza during that whole incident.  He managed to bring in Bobby Ryan to attempt to replace Alfredsson (Can't really replace Alfie, just have to try your best), and had to handle all kinds of hard situations when money became an issue in the Nations capital.

I'm pretty sad to hear about his worsening condition and wish him the best moving forward.  We should all feel fortunate to have been witness to his work over the years.

Keep on grinding Brian...

November 14th, 2014 @ 9:30 AM (EST) | Reply

Editorial - Disgusting behavior in the OHL exposes deeper issues.

It's not often I get to vent very much about things that are more important than hockey. 

One reason is that I barely ever have a platform for such actions.  Another is that I never feel compelled enough to actually put my thoughts and feelings into words. 

I feel like I can talk about sports openly because I sorta kinda own this site (this year) and operate it (very poorly), and that it's not something that'll get me in trouble.  But every once in a while a sports story that transcends cultural or social issues arises.

I give you, the story of two OHLers who got caught doing something extremely wrong:

I chose to link this version of the story because it includes the screen caps that were posted on Twitter.  The language is quite strong, but the issues here go much deeper than the language that was used.

These "young" men (who are both 19 years old, btw) are seemingly convinced that, because of their supposed status that is earned by being hockey players, women should be throwing themselves at them.  This behavior exhibited is nothing short of being in line with a sexual predator, bordering on the sociopath. 

Their thought process, as I perceive it, is this: Women are to be used for pleasure, then discarded quickly like a broken toy.  Without remorse.  Without thought of feelings or impact of their actions.  The core of the issue is the objectification of women as a "play thing" and that because they play hockey (Jake Marchment openly implies that because he plays in the OHL and was drafted into the NHL that women don't turn him down), that women should want to be used for their pleasure.  And even more disturbing, that the two females in question should not have their opinions, and by choosing to say "no" they are in the wrong.

I think this issue is starting to appear much deeper.  The article that was linked in the PPP article is not the best, but going from this article: you can see the problems really emerge.  The team "disciplined" Betzold.  That's fantastic...  what did they do?  No one knows.  Mike Oke released a statement saying that Betzold has apologized, and knows he was wrong.  And then he goes on to say that they gave their players copies of their social media policy.

It's great that you recognize that he broke the social media policy, but why has no one said anything about breaking socially acceptable behavior?  Why aren't they more concerned with him seemingly attempting to use other people for his own personal enjoyment, and when he gets turned down he resorts to belittling abusive comments and harassment?  What, exactly, was done as a reprimand?  Was he called into the GM's office and given a copy of the social media policy?  Really?  Are we really expected to take his apology at face value?  Or is he just sorry he got caught?

The OHL (and David Branch) really needs to step in and implement some new policy.  If the team isn't going to do something about this type of behavior, then the League should step in and offer up stiffer penalties.  Sure, there was no physical harm done to anyone, but psychologically?  If you can prove (as a screen cap does) that a player has engaged in some harassing behavior directed at someone then the league should be allowed to step in and offer up punishment.  Even a 1 game suspension (like teams do for breaking curfew) with an extra game being added for each new offense (2nd time it's happened, it's a 2 game suspension) would be better.  Teams are willing to do it when a player breaks team rules, but how about for social rules?

The CHL is seemingly a breeding ground for allowing unacceptable behavior in these young men.  They are taken from their parents and families at the tail end of their most formative years, and placed to live with strangers.  They are given small amounts of fame, and the freedom to do what they like.  Who is there to ensure that values are instilled?  Who is there to ensure that these guys are guided into their adulthood as properly adjusted people?  There are countless stories of guys who have come out of the CHL with multiple problems that were seemingly never caught, or the team simply didn't care.  The organizations treat these guys like cattle while calling themselves a development league.  The CHL develops hockey players, sure.  But shouldn't their mandate also to be to develop properly adjusted youth as well?

Examples as such?  Look up Jake Gilmour (Not to be confused with Doug Gilmours son of the same name), Jake committed suicide in November of 2005.  Jake's sister had also committed suicide.  How about the really sad and messed up story about Dan Ryder (another Peterborough Pete and younger brother of Mike), who quit hockey in 2009 after putting up 15 points in 39 AHL games.  Dan was a 3rd round pick of the Flames, in January 6th 2010 turned himself in for an armed robbery of a convenience store in his home town.  Dan has severe mental issues, enough that he was deemed unfit to stand trial for the robbery (, which is extremely sad to hear about a former OHL playoff MVP and a guy who won back to back OHL championships (Peterborough and Plymouth).  I remember when Dan was traded to Plymouth and they interviewed him and asked what he knew about Plymouth, and he replied with "I know the legal drinking age is 21..."

How about the rumored story of Tyler Seguin and his pissed off landlord in Switzerland?  During the last lockout he went over seas to play and it was the first time in his life he lived by himself.  They say he couldn't figure out how to use the washing machine (tried to wash his clothes in the dryer), couldn't figure out the dish washer, so rather than clean the dishes by hand, when he ran out of dishes he left the dirty ones lying around and bought plastic cutlery.  Not sure how true the story is, but it's sure stuck around for some time after.

These are just 3 examples off the top of my head (out of many more, sometimes not even reported) of times where the CHL, and the teams themselves should've seen problems arising.  The billets, and the coaches see them more than anyone else does in their lives.  Their parents are sometimes hours away (maybe even not in the same country) and they are left to grow up by themselves.  The burden of raising and molding them falls on people who barely know them.  And this kind of behavior is just a piece of what you can expect when you give a teenager freedom to do what they want.

I think the link between the team saying it's a social media policy issue just glosses over the issues at hand here. It also does a nice job of framing what my concerns are:  The teams need to do a better job in helping to develop in these kids what is right and what is wrong.  Greg Betzold just learned that doing such acts on social media is wrong, not that the act itself is wrong.  His discipline should be made public, to not only set people's minds at ease, but to also make an example that the behavior, and not the choice of how or where to conduct the behavior, is the issue at hand.

It doesn't matter who you are: No means No.  It's time these young men earn that.

*edit*. The OHL just announced that both Greg Betzold and Jake Marchment have been suspended for 15 games for breaking the leagues social media policy.  Justice is served. Now it's time to get these young men some help to ensure their attitudes change.

November 5th, 2014 @ 10:44 AM (EST) | Reply

Sens announce new Captain, long term deal with Bobby Ryan

This morning the Ottawa Senators announced that Erik Karlsson is the 9th Captain in Franchise history.

They also announced that they've signed Bobby Ryan to a 7 year extension (which kicks in July 1st 2015) which is worth 50.75 million, or 7.25 a season.

1)  Erik Karlsson is among the top young defensemen in the game.  He finished last season with 20 goals and 74 points in 82 games played from the backend.  That's monstrous.  He's signed until the 2019/2020 season at 6.5 million a season (which is a hilarious steal).  Naming him the captain was the obvious choice in Ottawa.

2) Bobby Ryan at 7.25 might be a bit of a stretch.  Ryan has topped 30 goals 4 times in his 7 years in the league, and his highest point total was 71 in 2010/2011.  Last season he put up 48 points (23 goals, 25 assists) in 70 games.  This next season will be huge for Ryan, since it'll be his first as the #1 forward for the Sens.  Michalek and Turris are both very important for the Sens up front, but neither will be commanding the same salary level.  Now, it's close, but seems a little bit of an over payment especially with his production last season.

Some people say JVR is a good comparable, but I disagree.  JVR is 2 years younger, only has 1 30 goal season under his belt.  JVR has had some up and down seasons in his NHL career and this past season was by far his best.  61 points in 80 games is great production for a guy who isn't relied upon to lead the offensive charge.

Bobby will now have to prove he's earned the right to be a 7+ million a year player.   I've always been a fan of his and I think he's capable of playing to that level, but it's his job to lead the offense for the Sens now. 

October 2nd, 2014 @ 11:00 AM (EDT) | Reply

NHL institutes new rule changes for 2014/2015

The following are the changes to the rules that will be instituted in 2014/2015:

Rule 1.8 – Rink - Goalkeeper's Restricted Area

The trapezoid will be expanded by two feet from the goal post on both sides of the net.

Rule 23 – Game Misconduct Penalties

A new Game Misconduct category will be created. Clipping, charging, elbowing, interference, kneeing, head-butting and butt-ending move from the general category into the same category as boarding and checking from behind ("Physical Fouls"), whereby a player who incurs two such game misconducts in this category would now be automatically suspended for one game.

Rule 24 – Penalty Shot

The 'Spin-O-Rama' move, as described in Section 24.2 of the 2013-14 NHL Rule Book, will no longer be permitted either in Penalty Shot situations or in the Shootout.

Rule 38 – Video Goal Judge

Video review will be expanded in the following areas:

* Rule 38.4 (viii) has been modified to allow broader discretion to Hockey Operations to assist the referees in determining the legitimacy of all potential goals (e.g., to ensure they are "good hockey goals"). The revised Rule will allow Hockey Operations to correct a broader array of situations where video review clearly establishes that a "goal" or "no goal" call on the ice has been made in error. The new expanded rule will also allow Hockey Operations to provide guidance to referees on goal and potential goal plays where the referee has blown his whistle (or intended to blow his whistle) after having lost sight of the puck.

* In reviewing "Kicked in Goals," Hockey Operations will require more demonstrable video evidence of a "distinct kicking motion" in order to overrule a "goal" call on the ice, or to uphold a "no goal" call on the ice.

Rule 57 – Tripping

The rule relating to "Tripping" will be revised to specifically provide that a two minute minor penalty will be assessed when a defending player "dives" and trips an attacking player with his body/arm/shoulder, regardless of whether the defending player is able to make initial contact with the puck.

But, in situations where a penalty shot might otherwise be appropriate, if the defending player "dives" and touches the puck first (before the trip), no penalty shot will be awarded. (In such cases, the resulting penalty will be limited to a two-minute minor penalty for tripping.)

Rule 64 – Diving / Embellishment

The supplementary discipline penalties associated with Rule 64.3 (Diving/Embellishment) will be revised to bring attention to and more seriously penalize players (and teams) who repeatedly dive and embellish in an attempt to draw penalties. Fines will be assessed to players and head coaches on a graduated scale outlined below.

2   $2,000   N/A
3   $3,000   N/A
4   $4,000   $2,000
5   $5,000   $3,000
6   $5,000   $4,000
7   $5,000   $5,000
8   $5,000   $5,000

Rule 76 – Face-offs

To curb delay tactics on face-offs after icing infractions, in situations where the defending team is guilty of a face-off violation, following an icing, the defending player who is initially lined up for the face-off will be given a warning, but will be required to remain in the circle to take the face-off. A second face-off violation by the defending team in such situation will result in a two minute minor bench penalty.

Rule 84 – Overtime

* Teams will switch ends prior to the start of overtime in the regular season.

* The entire ice surface will undergo a "dry scrape" prior to the start of overtime in the regular season.

* The procedure requiring the head coach to submit a list of the first three shooters in the shoot-out has been eliminated.

Rule 85 – Puck Out of Bounds

There have been further rule changes made relating to face-off location to avoid penalizing teams for plays intended to create bona fide scoring opportunities. Specifically, the following are "categories of plays" where face-offs will remain in the attacking zone despite the fact that the attacking team was technically responsible for the stoppage in play: Shots at the net by a player on the attacking team where: (i) the shot breaks the glass; (ii) the shot goes off the side of the net and deflects out of play; (iii) the shot goes off the dasher boards or glass and deflects out of play; (iv) the shot is tipped or deflected out of play by a teammate; and (v) the shot becomes wedged in or on the exterior of the goal net.

In addition, the following rule change will be enacted for the 2014 preseason and may be continued for the 2014/15 regular season if approved by the League and the NHLPA.

Rule 1.9 – Rink – Face-off Spots and Circles – Ice Markings/Hash Marks

The hash marks at the end zone circles will be moved from three feet apart to five feet, seven inches apart (international markings).

The elimination of the spin-o-rama is interesting, in the sense that they're eliminating a gimmick from a gimmick.

The Face-off improvements are good, I like the fact that they won't just kick out the guy from the dot and if they're really trying to delay the game they get a penalty.  I like it.  Should make watching games a little less annoying.

Some of these are a little, different, but I don't think we'll really have any major changes to the way the game is played.

September 12th, 2014 @ 8:26 AM (EDT) | Reply

NHL Expansion Rumoured - 4 target locations identified

News broke earlier in the week about NHL plans to expand to 34 (!) teams by 2017.  Of the locations expected for these teams, 4 were identified.

Keep in mind, the NHL is denying any of the rumours, and states it has no plans in place, however some of the names make sense from one aspect or another.  What doesn't make sense is the 34 team roster.  Maybe the league is identifying it's top 4 locations to place franchises by one aspect or another , I.E. expansion OR relocation?  Everyone knows teams like the Panthers and Coyotes are having a tough time selling the sport in their markets, perhaps the news was a little jumbled when it was passed on and the league has identified 2 expansion and 2 relocation sites?

In any regard, this would be huge news.  2 expansion teams means 46 new jobs in the NHL, 4 expansion teams means 92.  Some people think it waters down the product, but I like to think it means more chance for the fringe guys to get in and make some noise.  It could very well also mean more playoff spots come the spring.  It'll be interesting to see how the NHL decides to handle this when push comes to shove.

regardless, here are the 4 locations that are rumoured and my thoughts on each as an NHL landing spot:

Las Vegas

Vegas is the "done deal" spot that's being reported.  The NHL apparently wants in, and this is a location they'll land at in 2017.  It's also one of the most interesting, and hilarious problem potential locations. 

If you've been to Vegas you know there's no other city like it in North America.  The streets are busier at night than at day.  It's legal to gamble and to drink in the streets.  There are soo many distractions and potential issues in the city that it's comical.  How many teams would love to have their guys show up the night before a game and let their guys go and party in Vegas?  the answer is none.  I'm assuming most teams would rather fly in on the day of the game and stay quarantined at the arena until after the game, then let the guys go off and blow off some steam.

Another issue is seasons tickets.  The actual population of people who live in Vegas permanently must be a fraction of the people who actually live there at any given time.  Most establishments have the employees home town on their name tag along with their name.  Lets just say there aren't too many people with LV Nevada listed under their name.  People come from all over the country to work in Vegas in some capacity.  This presents a problem.  How many people will want seasons tickets? 

An interesting way of viewing it is that an NHL franchise is another attraction in the city, and it's smart to put it there if only because the tickets to an NHL game will probably be cheaper than to go see Penn and Teller or another attraction the city has to offer.  It might add to the novelty of going to Vegas, and you may attract more hockey fans that way.  It has the possibility to grow the sport from a stand point that some people might want to go watch a professional sport in Vegas to see what it's about.  It'll attract a lot of visiting fans.  I'd go to Vegas and catch an NHL game or two.  Why not?  It's a great vacation spot for young people, and maybe getting the chance to watch the Leafs play will add to the draw.

Their biggest ticket audience might only be the single game market, and they might not sell seasons tickets to individuals, but they shouldn't have an issue selling press boxes or seasons tickets to big business.  I'm sure most of the Casino owners and big businesses in Vegas will purchase tickets and boxes to use to give to clients and the like.


Seattle presents an interesting scenario.  Seattle has an NFL franchise, an MLB franchise and an MLS team, however they lost their NBA in 2008 when the Supersonics left for Oklahoma City.  The city is building a new arena in an attempt to bring back the Sonics and an NHL franchise.  The Seattle area already has a WHL franchise (The Everett Silvertips), which has had attendance steadily decline in recent years.  The Silvertips averaged 4900 this past season, down from 5000 on average the year before.

Seattle is a location that has been discussed as a possible relocation site for years, but I think it's probably the least likely to succeed of the 4 locations in question.  I've listed it twice here because it doesn't have an NHL team currently, and nor has it had an NHL team (or at least one close enough) in almost 100 years.  It presents the exact opposite of a night life as Vegas did.  Seattle has a cold damp climate and is known for heavy rainfall.  Can't imagine too many NHLers wanting to move their families to Seattle.

Quebec City

Make no mistake.  The Nordiques will return in due time.  Quebec City is a very different place from Vegas.  QC is one of the oldest cities in Canada, founded in 1608.  The city is gorgeous and the people there are aching for the return of the NHL.  The Nordiques left for Colorado in 1995 and responded by winning a Stanley Cup in their first season.  They currently have a QMJHL franchise in town (which was coached by Patrick Roy until recently) which draws amazingly well for a CHL franchise.  While the silvertips drew on Average 4900 this past season, the Remparts  claimed 9974 on average.  And that was down from the years before when they averaged 11,000 from 2010-2011 (when the franchise was placed in QC).  I imagine losing Patrick Roy as coach had as much to do with the decline as anything.  Buy I firmly believe that team will have no issues drawing crowds. 

Corporate sponsorship on the other hand, will be another problem.  Opposite from Vegas the team will have no problem selling individual tickets and seasons tickets to the common hockey fan, however you have to think selling boxes and bringing in corporate money will be another issue.

It is an interesting place to see hockey again.  Their natural hatred for the Canadiens will be fun to see in full flight once again.


Yeah, you read that one correctly.  The NHL is considering putting a second NHL franchise in the GTA.  Word is that Markham is the targetted area where the TTC doesn't go, and the city will be near impossible to get to.  Try driving into Markham on a weeknight in the city and see how long it takes you.  Placing a team in the north end of the city will put more stress on the already crammed hwy400, and plug all the arteries leaving the city.  Toronto also has a hard enough time attracting talent as is.  How much would the second fiddle draw?

Toronto has always been a Leafs town.  Ever been to a Marlies game?  They don't draw badly per se.  But you can commonly buy tickets on the day of the game, and there's always empty seats.  People pass on the Marlies all the time.  Will the next team in the city be the same? 

I don't think seasons ticket sales or box sales will be an issue.  I have to wonder how popular the team will be.  I have to assume when the Leafs are in town they'll draw a sell out, but the real question is if the second fiddle can sell out on their own.  That's the real test.

August 28th, 2014 @ 11:10 AM (EDT) | Reply

Sharks strip Captains

News broke yesterday that the Sharks have decided to strip their Captains of their letters and go into camp with a clean slate and give everyone a chance to wind up with an extra letter on their jersey.

People had talked in the past about the Sharks being interested in shipping Joe Thornton out of town, and I have to wonder if this is step 1.  Thornton expressed his desire to stay in San Jose saying he likes it there.  Now he's no longer the Captain of the team, and it wasn't his choice.  He didn't seem happy about it from everything that came out yesterday.

Have to think this is a way to change the core of the team over to Logan Couture.  Will be interesting to see how things pan out.

August 21st, 2014 @ 10:14 AM (EDT) | Reply

EDITORIAL - Steve Moore and Todd Bertuzzi find closure...

March 8, 2004.  I remember where I was.  If you were watching hockey in 2004 you probably remember where you were too.  In the sporting world a date like that carries significance.  People remember it. 

Like where you were on October 23rd, 1993 when Joe Carter won the World Series for the Blue Jays on a walk off 3 run home run, or on October 6th 1993 when Michael Jordan retired (for the first time).  Or July 13 2005 when the NHL and the NHLPA came to an agreement that would end the lockout and July 22nd when the new CBA was ratified and only 8 days after on July 30th, 2005 the Pittsburgh Penguins selected Sidney Crosby first overall.  These moments in sports stick with you.  They mean something.  You can see the changes they’ll have on the game, and you can almost tell the lasting effects that will be felt for years to come.

All of which brings me back to the night of Monday, March 8, 2004.  I had gone back to school, making the trek from Brampton to Peterborough on Sunday night (as I always did), so I could make Monday classes.  Monday was normal except for the fact that my roommate, a very devoted Vancouver Canucks fan, was looking forward to a rematch between the Canucks and the Avalanche that night.  The interest in the game stems from the events that took place between the two teams on February 16th.  Steve Moore leveled Canucks Captain (and good friend of Todd Bertuzzi) Marcus Naslund with a questionable hit.  It was nothing more than a fourth liner I had never heard of before targeting a star player. 

The league practically asked for shenanigans to ensue, to be honest.  It happened in the second period when Naslund was reaching for a loose puck and Moore targeted his head on a dangerous hit.  The ref didn’t call a penalty on the play.  The league backed the decision by the referee.  Naslund suffered a minor concussion and a bone chip in his elbow.  Naslund missed 3 games before he returned to the lineup.  Keep in mind we can see the ripples from the decisions of these actions from the league even now.  Head shots are suspended almost immediately.  Concussion protocols are adhered to so guys don’t come back 3 games after suffering a concussion.  But here we were.  Steve Moore knocked Marcus Naslund out of the lineup for 3 games and no action was taken against Steve Moore.  The Canucks players decided something had to be done and if the league wasn’t going to do it, they were.

Brad May issued a bounty on the head of Steve Moore, Bertuzzi was livid, being quoted as calling Steve Moore a “piece of shit”.  It was on.  The next time these two met, Steve Moore would suffer the consequences.  March 3rd came around and the Canucks and Avalanche met for the first time after the incident.  Most people watched expecting something, a line brawl, a bench clearing affair, anything.  I watched the entire game with my roommate, which wound up being a 5-5 tie (when those still existed) with Gary Bettman in attendance.  The game went by without incident, and we figured most players on the two teams knew better.  It was behind them, time to move on.

5 Days later, on March 8th I had come home from class at about 9pm and tried to finish some last second home work for the next day.  My roommate came to tell me that the Canucks and Avalanche game was starting soon but I declined to watch.  It was March and final exams started in April.  It was March and I had been procrastinating on the final essays of the semester.  My roommate came over after the first period was done to tell me that the Canucks were losing 5-0.  Apparently I had made a wise choice in not watching, since the game wasn’t much of a contest anyways.  I had already been working for a few hours and decided to take a break to play some video games.  While I was replaying Final Fantasy VII (I was a poor University student, so all I had some old school PS1 and old games), my roommate swore out loud.  He called me to come to the room quickly “I think Bertuzzi just killed Moore”. 

I saw carnage.  I’m sure you remember what you saw.  Moore sprawled lifelessly on the ice with players piled on top of him trying to get at Bertuzzi and get guys off Bertuzzi respectively.  I’m sure you remember hearing the crowd going from cheering Bertuzzi’s actions, to going almost completely silent over witnessing Moore’s lifeless body. I’m sure you recall Moore being lifted onto the stretcher and carted off the ice.  The game being finished, even though reports afterwards indicate Avalanche GM Pierre Lacroix asked the league to end the game right then and there.  And then the endless stream of commentary over it.  Condemning Bertuzzi for his actions, Marc Crawford for putting Bertuzzi out on the ice in a game the Canucks were losing 8-2 when Steve Moore was already on the ice, Steve Moore himself for his actions on February 16th which led to all of this.  The commentary was endless; it was the only thing the hockey world talked about.

Ten years later here we are.  For ten years Steve Moore and Todd Bertuzzi were wrapped up in legal proceedings.  For ten years it appeared that the only logical conclusion was a huge court proceeding with the entire hockey watching world focused on how it would play out.  The proceedings would be long felt in hockey, to be honest.  Bertuzzi had missed the last 20 games of the season (13 regular season games and 7 in the playoffs).  The lockout cancelled the NHL season, and the IIHF didn’t want Bertuzzi’s narrative following him to Europe.  His suspension would carry over to Europe as well.  Bertuzzi was officially reinstated for NHL play on August 8, 2005.  He had lost over $800,000 in revenue personally from salary he forfeited because of the suspension and lost endorsement deals. 

Steve Moore lost so much more.   The incident cause 3 fractured vertebrae, vertebral ligament damage, stretching of the brachial plexus nerves and his livelihood.   Steve Moore would never play professional hockey again.  Sure Bertuzzi became a shell of his former self, and never had the same success he had previously.  Moore was out of a job, and in serious medical distress.  His life would be changed forever.

The list of lawsuits that followed were too numerous to mention.  Bertuzzi counter sued the Canucks and Marc Crawford.  Steve Moore continued to pursue legal action, even though settlements had always been a possibility.  Let’s be honest here; Steve Moore didn’t want any of that.  He wanted this thing to go to court and expose the violent hockey culture that existed beneath the surface.  He wanted to explore the ancient laws of perceived manhood that existed within the ranks of hockey, where exacting vengeance was acceptable, and praised.  He wanted to expose the inherent issues that were percolating beneath the surface of the game, and threatened the health and livelihood of others like him.  More than that he wanted to be whole again, and see justice played out.

Yesterday news broke of a settlement in the case.  A mere 3 weeks before it was to go to trial.  A shocking development in a case where we waited 10 years to see a resolution, and expecting the whole time for it to play out in the court system.  To witness the end of this debacle as publically as it’s moment of conception was. 

But the lawsuit is settled.  Moore has accepted a cash settlement rumoured to be in the high 60 Million dollar range.  His families livelihood is now safe, and he is now financially sound for as long as he should live.  The game itself? The game is much different now as it was then.  The use of players specifically for fighting is declining.  Questions as to the impact of such a practice have been raised and discussed after the deaths of known pugilists Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak.  But make no mistake; Steve Moore was at the heart of this exploration into our game.  The new CBA focused on ways to improve players’ lives after their days were done.  Players became concerned about income for guys who were seriously injured, and the game was cleaned up.  Head hunting is now outlawed, and severely punished.  Concussion protocols are in place to try and help players fully recover in order to lengthen their careers.  The focus switched to trying to protect the player himself, and that has a direct line to origin to this event.  Whether Steve Moore is the starting point for the player safety movement, or simply one of the beginning points is irrelevant.  He’s as important to it as anyone else is.  He’s had his impact.

March 8th 2004 was one of those days in sports.  You remember where you were, you remember what you were doing.  We didn’t know what the game would look like 10 years later, two lockouts later.  I’m sure his name was mentioned in those CBA discussions between both sides.  I’m sure the foundation of the two CBA’s we’ve seen in the NHL since have been influenced in some way by this incident.  I’m sure we all knew in some way how important it would become.  And now it’s come full circle.  Where were you on March 8th 2004?

August 20th, 2014 @ 10:35 AM (EDT) | Reply

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