• Alex Pietrangelo’s tender tribute to his brave niece will warm your heart

    Adam Proteau
    Alex Pietrangelo (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

    For St. Louis Blues star defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, the decision to shave his head this week was easy: it was for his five-year-old niece, Ellie Kannel, who was battling a rare cancer.

    In the off-season, Pietrangelo used his Twitter account to discuss Ellie’s diagnosis: she had a Wilms tumor, a kidney cancer that mainly affects children. And since she was undergoing chemotherapy, Pietrangelo cut his hair in a show of support:
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  • Nathan Horton’s potentially career-threatening injury a blow to Jackets’ playoff hopes

    Adam Proteau
    Nathan Horton (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    After he signed a seven-year, $37.1-million contract with the Blue Jackets in the summer of 2013, right winger Nathan Horton appeared in only 36 games thanks to injuries to his shoulder and abdomen last season. And Tuesday night, there was even worse news coming out of Columbus: the 29-year-old is dealing with a degenerative back injury that might be career ending.

    According to the Columbus Dispatch, Horton, who has experienced back issues for several years, felt the problem worsen this summer while training in Florida and has been diagnosed with a serious degeneration of the lower back area. He may be out of action for at least this season, if not for good. There is a surgery he can undergo to address it, but it’s viewed as a last resort and offers no guarantee of success.

    “He’s in constant pain,” Horton’s agent Paul Krepelka told the Dispatch. “He’s in constant discomfort.”

    The majority of Horton’s $5.3-million-per-season salary will be covered by insurance and he can be placed on long term injured reserve to free up cap space with which to replace him. But that’s easier said than done for Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Read more

  • Rockstar Rask: Bruins goalie lights up the stage

    Jared Clinton
    Tuukka Rask

    There are a lot of things you may not know about Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. For instance, he’s got a habit of taking shootout losses poorly. He also served in the Finnish military. Also, did you know Rask has beaten every single team in the NHL at least once?

    If you didn’t – and hey, even if you did – now you can watch him beat something that’s not your favorite NHL team: a drum set alongside Buffalo band the Mustn’ts. Read more

  • Calder-eligible Tanner Pearson doing more with less than anyone on the Kings

    Ken Campbell
    Tanner Pearson (left) and Tyler Toffoli (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

    It’s a very small sample size, but if Tanner Pearson continues the torrid pace he’s set through the first six games of the season, a replica of the Calder Trophy will be sitting on his mantle next summer.

    And this begs two questions. The first is: Why on Earth doesn’t Darryl Sutter play him more? And the second is: Is it fair that Pearson is eligible for the Calder Trophy in the first place? Read more

  • Martin Brodeur appears during Devils’ home-opening 3D show

    Jared Clinton
    Martin Brodeur. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Martin Brodeur may still be a free agent, but on the New Jersey Devils’ opening night, the Devils’ legend covered the ice.

    In a stunning 3D display on-ice display, some of the former Devils goaltender and legendary NHL keeper’s career highlights were included in an eye-popping opening video. For their home opener, the Devils revealed a state-of-the-art on-ice projection system that is the first of its kind in the NHL. Though you’ve seen on-ice projection in the Quebec League and even just across the border in Montreal, the Devils system is the first permanent fixture in the pros.

    The light show, which highlighted the entire history of the team to the tune of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, was breathtaking. In just three short minutes, the video outlined the Devils first victory, three Stanley Cups, and other big moments in the franchise’s history. Read more

  • Why Mark Hunter is a smart hire as the Maple Leafs’ director of player personnel

    Matt Larkin
    Mark Hunter is the second Ontario League GM hired away by the Leafs since the summer. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

    The Toronto Maple Leafs went so nuts with their hiring spree – from Brendan Shanahan to Kyle Dubas to Darryl Metcalf of Extra Skater – that they couldn’t stop shopping for executives by the time the season started.

    Tuesday, they unveiled Mark Hunter as their new director of player personnel, taking over Dave Poulin’s old role. Hunter should be a familiar name to you. He was a 628-game NHL veteran and he’s Dale’s brother. More importantly, he’s masterminded the London Knights juggernaut in the Ontario League as the team’s owner, vice-president and GM for 12 years. Under his watch, the Knights won three OHL crowns and, of course, the 2005 Memorial Cup with an absolutely stacked squad that went 79-9-2 over the entire year.

    Hunter will oversee the Leafs’ pro and amateur scouting, plus player evaluation. It should inspire confidence knowing Corey Perry, Dave Bolland, Brandon Prust, Steve Mason, Sam Gagner, Patrick Kane, Nazem Kadri, John Tavares and Olli Maatta, just to cherrypick a few names, filtered through London and the Hunter brothers, some for a lot longer than others, before reaching the NHL.

    The hire also gives the Leafs’ new brain trust three former OHL GMs: Hunter, Dubas and assistant coach Steve Spott. Does adding Hunter mean Shananan is simply fulfilling his promise to improve the Leafs’ scouting and development? Or does it also mean current GM Dave Nonis should start sweating just a little bit more? In the last year, he’s been surrounded by a Hall of Famer czar and two former junior GMs. Is Nonis being nudged toward milk-carton status a la Greg Sherman in Colorado?

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  • Paul Maurice lets profanity fly as Jets spiral downwards

    Jared Clinton
    (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

    I guess you could say Paul Maurice is a bit fed up.

    Who could blame the Winnipeg Jets coach, really? After a decisive 6-2 defeat of the Arizona Coyotes on opening night, the Jets have been able to muster just two goals in their next four outings. That’s not a typo.

    Following the Jets’ 4-1 loss at the hands of the Calgary Flames – a game in which the Flames were playing their final road game of a six-game road trip – Jets’ winger Blake Wheeler reportedly spoke to media about whether it was the players’ responsibility to hold each other accountable for their on-ice performance.

    The question was then posed back to Paul Maurice in his press conference on Monday. While you can watch the whole press conference below, and there are certainly some great sound bites, you should fast-forward to the 8:30 mark for the goods. Read more