• Does the NHL discipline Willie Mitchell for hitting Kris Letang with a helmet?

    Josh Elliott
    Florida Panthers Willie Mitchell

    Tough NHLers like Willie Mitchell know how to solve their problems with their fists. So why did he grab Kris Letang‘s helmet and start hitting him with it on Saturday?

    The incident happened late in the first period of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 3-1 win over Florida.

    Mitchell grabbed Letang’s helmet off his head and smacked him with it as referees tried to separate the two in a melee near the Panthers net.
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  • Leafs’ luck runs out as Grossmann scores fluke off the back boards

    Josh Elliott
    Toronto Maple Leafs Jonathan Bernier

    The once high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs came crashing back to earth with another embarrassing defeat on Saturday, this time in a 7-4 loss to Philadelphia that hinged on a crazy ricochet goal.

    The Leafs and Flyers played to a wild 3-3 tie after one period, but it was Nicklas Grossmann who broke the game open with one of the most bizarre goals of the year.

    With his team pressuring, Grossmann took a pass at the left point and dumped the puck hard into the corner. The puck hit the back wall, then hit Jonathan Bernier‘s leg, then went in.

    The slow-motion replay is like watching a game of Plinko.
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  • Devan Dubnyk reclamation project on track with the Arizona Coyotes

    Josh Elliott
    Devan Dubnyk Arizona Coyotes

    Dave Tippett, Sean Burke and the Arizona Coyotes are doing it again. They’ve plucked another goalie off the scrap heap and made him look like look like a legitimate NHL netminder.

    This time it’s Devan Dubnyk, the former Edmonton Oilers castoff who’s been revitalized by playing in the desert. The towering 6-foot-6 goaltender appears to finally be tapping into the potential that made him the 14th choice overall in the 2004, much to the disappointment of Oilers fans. It’s taken Dubnyk a few years and a few trades to figure it out, but at long last, he’s using his big frame to stop pucks.
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  • ECHL team sports the ugliest Star Wars jerseys you’ve ever seen

    Josh Elliott
    The Missouri Mavericks Star Wars Jersey

    The Force was with the Missouri Mavericks on Friday, as they drubbed the visiting Brampton Beast 6-2 while wearing the flashiest Star Wars-themed jerseys in this galaxy or any other.

    What do hockey, horses and Star Wars have to do with each other, you ask?

    Who cares? It’s the ECHL, where teams do pop culture-themed nights all the time.

    The garish-looking Mavericks jersey depicts Darth Vader holding a lightsaber on the front, and features Jedi master Yoda on one sleeve and a stormtrooper on the other. Obi Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker and an assortment of other characters appear on the back, below the numbers. The whole shirt is awash in space, stars and swirling red and blue cosmic dust.

    Oh, and there’s a rather out-of-place-looking Mavericks logo in the very center.
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  • Five players to watch as the KHL crisis unfolds

    Josh Elliott
    Ilya Kovalchuk

    The Russian ruble and the price of oil have tanked, putting Russia’s KHL in crisis mode and casting doubt on the future of the league. Owners are crying poor, players say they’re not being paid and the league’s new commissioner is stuck trying to figure it all out.

    That means hard times ahead for hockey in Russia, and while it’s hard to believe the KHL will outright fold, chances are the league’s oil baron owners will look to slash salary so they don’t lose their shirts paying for hockey. They may even have to contract the league.

    Which brings us to the big question: what impact will the ruble crash have on players if the KHL is no longer a financial draw?
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  • To get back on top Hockey Canada needs program like U.S.’s NTDP

    Jacob Trouba and Seth Jones (Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)

    Basking in the afterglow of a world junior gold on Russian ice two years ago, future Nashville defenseman Seth Jones let some knowledge drop on me: he had played with almost every other member of the U.S. D-corps in the past. That’s because Jones was a graduate of the U.S. National Team Development Program, just like Jacob Trouba, Jake McCabe, Connor Murphy and Pat Sieloff.

    Eight members of that squad also won gold at the 2011 world under-18s, a tournament the Americans have dominated for the past decade, winning seven of 10 gold medals. There was a familiarity among the unit, and it translated on the ice. And since Canada has struggled to reach its lofty goals at the WJC lately (the CHL playoffs conflict with the under-18s so success there is haphazard), I began wondering if it was time for a Canadian NTDP.

    Imagine two hot-housed all-star teams (under-17 and under-18) dedicated to developing not just NHL prospects, but players who could win Canada golds in international tournaments. In the past five years, the Canucks have only one title in 10 tries combined at the under-18s and world juniors. Read more

  • In The Cards: World Junior Championship and Canada’s Captains

    Sal Barry

    In an attempt to make rookie cards of the best prospects before they were drafted, Upper Deck decided in 1991 to produce cards of players on the Canadian WJC team. There was just one problem. They couldn’t make a card of Eric Lindros – the shoo-in No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft – because he’d signed an exclusive deal with Score trading cards, which would expire once he played in the NHL. So, Upper Deck came up with a workaround and made a card that pictured Lindros, fellow alternate Kris Draper and captain Steven Rice, and labelled it “Canada’s Captains.” Technically, it wasn’t an Eric Lindros card, but that didn’t matter to fans and collectors. – Sal Barry of PuckJunk.com Read more

  • Rumor Roundup: Christmas trade freeze edition

    Lyle Richardson
    Taylor Hall (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

    The NHL’s holiday trade freeze went into effect at midnight on Dec. 19 and remains in place until midnight on Dec. 27. Despite plenty of trade speculation leading up to the freeze, very little movement occurred. The only trade came on Dec. 18 when the Winnipeg Jets acquired defenceman Jay Harrison from the Carolina Hurricanes for a sixth-round pick in 2015.

    Though the trade market is closed for the next week, there are several players in the rumor mill worth watching once the freeze lifts and the calendar turns to 2015.
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