• Wild Winger Thomas Vanek appears in court in connection to federal case: report

    Adam Proteau
    Thomas Vanek

    Minnesota Wild winger Thomas Vanek’s name was linked Monday to a federal gambling investigation connected to a Rochester, N.Y., restaurant. Vanek visited a federal courthouse in that city with his lawyer Monday and a local TV station filmed them leaving.

    Vanek issued a statement on the situation through his agent, Steve Bartlett:

    “Representatives of the U.S. Federal Government have asked for my cooperation in an investigation. I am not the subject of any investigation or prosecution. I will fully cooperate with the U.S. Federal authorities in their investigation or in any proceedings arising out of it.” Read more

  • Who wins the trade? Wendel Clark for Mats Sundin, 20 years later

    Brian Costello
    Clark 2

    Hockey fans love trades. We love the adrenaline that comes with the news of a blockbuster, the potential for positive change, the photos of the inbound star in his new sweater. And we love picking them apart.

    The problem is, it typically takes several years before we know who actually won a deal. Occasionally, there’s instant gratification, but more often the trades take twists and turns and beget further moves. They can take on myriad lives.

    With that in mind, we bring you an installment of thn.com’s Trade Trail, a recurring feature in which we re-open a cold file from a deal that transpired five or more years ago.

    This summer marks the 20-year anniversary of the blockbuster Wendel Clark trade from Toronto to Quebec for Mats Sundin and the sentiment at the time remains true today. The Maple Leafs won the deal.

    But you be the judge. Here are the particulars from that June 28, 1994 deal.

    The Deal

    Toronto trades 27-year-old Clark, along with 27-year-old defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre, 19-year-old prospect Landon Wilson and the 22nd overall pick in the 1994 draft to Quebec for 23-year-old Sundin, 31-year-old defenseman Garth Butcher, 20-year-old prospect Todd Warriner and the 10th overall pick in the draft.

    Before looking at the big names in the deal, let’s clear up the ledger on the other components.

    Read more

  • NHL logo rankings No. 25: New York Islanders

    Ryan Kennedy
    Islanders Logo (via sportslogos.net)

    Debuting in the 1972-73 season, the New York Islanders were created in part to stymie the fledgling WHA from getting a foothold in the area. The team was quickly built the right way and within six years, the Long Island franchise undertook a run of four straight Stanley Cup titles thanks to legends such as Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin and Bryan Trottier, among others.

    For most of the franchise’s history, the team has gone with a blue and orange logo featuring a stylized “NY” and the world “Islanders” with a map of Long Island in the middle. Except for one radically different crest, of course, that has drawn derision as one of the worst logos in the history of the game. But the Isles went back to their roots soon after and even with the team moving to Brooklyn soon, they can still use the same look – they just might need to shift the map a little to the east.

    But despite the strong color scheme and the simplicity of the Isles’ logo, our THN panel was unimpressed, ranking it among the poorest. Think you can top the real thing? Send your best Islanders logo creation to editorial@thehockeynews.com. Toss out the official colors if you’d like and start from scratch; we want the coolest and most creative you can come up with. Or, take a shot at some of the other NHL franchises we’ve already ranked.

    History of Islanders Logo

    As detailed in the book Fish Sticks: The fall and rise of the New York Islanders, the original crest was designed by John Alogna, who owned a local ad agency at the time. The colors reflected that of Nassau County itself and Alogna was given three days to come up with something after previous efforts had fallen through.

    (All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)

    That logo stood until June of 1995, when an urge to do something fresh led New York to a revamp that, well, didn’t go over so nice. From Fish Sticks, quoting Robert Rosenthal, part of the franchise’s management team at the time:

    “As the team continued to lose, fans needed something to cling to and homed in on the logo,” Rosenthal said. “We began to realize it was not dying down. In the final analysis, we didn’t want our fans or players to be subjected to ridicule for something other than our play.” Read more

  • Quick question: what the heck are the Avalanche doing with Ryan O’Reilly?

    Adam Proteau
    Ryan O'Reilly (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

    The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a season that gave their fans legitimate hope the team could return to its heyday as one of the NHL’s powerhouse franchises. But their bizarre treatment of center Ryan O’Reilly is casting a shadow over some of that success. Indeed, their ongoing dealings with O’Reilly are quickly becoming a textbook case of how to alienate young talent and ensure they depart at their first opportunity.

    The details of the arbitration case between the Avs and O’Reilly – first reported Monday by THN’s Ken Campbell – are troubling: O’Reilly is asking for $6.75 million on a one-year contract, but the team is offering a $5.525 million salary. That’s right, the Avs’ leading goal-scorer last season (who set personal bests on offense with 28 goals and 64 points in 80 games) and one of the NHL’s more highly-regarded young two-way players is being asked to take a 15 percent pay cut (the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement) at a time when the salary cap continues to rise and when Colorado has already lost one of its other talented centers (Paul Stastny) for nothing.

    Of course, in every arbitration case, the team comes in with a lower number than they’re likely willing to settle for, and the player does the same on the higher end. The Avalanche would argue O’Reilly’s last contract had an average annual value of $5 million per season, meaning their proposal would be a raise of sorts. But that’s spin. The reality is, when the Avs matched the offer sheet the 23-year-old signed (for two years and $10-million) with the Calgary Flames after the 2012-13 lockout ended, O’Reilly became a $6.5-million-per-season player for them in the final year of that deal. The Avalanche might not have liked it – and clearly, they don’t value O’Reilly’s skills the way Calgary did – but by retaining the asset, they had to know what it would mean to now ask O’Reilly to take a haircut down the line, especially when he’s come as advertised and continued to improve. Ostensibly, you’re telling him that, no matter what he did last season, or what he’ll continue to do for them in the years to come, they see him at a certain financial slot. Read more

  • Who wants to marry Alex Ovechkin? Not Maria Kirilenko

    The Canadian Press
    Maria Kirilenko and Alex Ovechkin (Photo by John Berry/Getty Images)

    Another sports power couple’s engagement is off.

    Two months after golfer Rory McIlroy broke off his engagement to Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko says she has called off her planned wedding to three-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.

    The two had been together since 2011 and became engaged in December 2012.

    Read more

  • Roberto Luongo, Al Montoya a good bet to lead Florida back into the playoff picture

    Rory Boylen
    Roberto Luongo

    On Friday, the Florida Panthers signed defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to a three-year contract extension, though the long-time rumor mill subject may not play out all three seasons with the Panthers. We’ll see.

    With Kulikov, the Panthers defense is taking pretty good shape. Brian Campbell, despite carrying a very heavy cap hit, is the most productive and best possession player on their blueline. Kulikov and likely third-pair guy Dylan Olsen had positive Corsi relative percentages in 2013-14, while Erik Gudbranson had a 51.2 percent 5-on-5 Corsi for percentage – not bad at all for a defensive blueliner. Willie Mitchell replaces Ed Jovanovski for that experience and Aaron Ekblad is brand new.

    Florida is a team of promise and hope that never fulfills its prophecy. Jonathan Huberdeau should bounce back some from a disappointing sophomore season. Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad have all sorts of potential to become a dominant 1-2 force down the middle, but they’re a few years away from hitting their primes. Jussi Jokinen was a good, quiet signing. Dave Bolland provides depth and, hopefully, doesn’t see more than third or fourth line duty. If the Panthers’ younger players could just grow a little and give the team some more, the pieces would be in place for this team to make a jump up the standings.

    Ya. We’ve all heard this tune before.

    But what if the Panthers could get into the post-season, or at least into the race, if their kids did not improve at all?

    The pieces are in place for that, too. Florida will be in the hunt next season. Read more

  • Hard to choose sides when it comes to Detroit’s future

    Ryan Kennedy

    “Seen that side of town/everybody’s always down. Why? Because they can’t get up.”

    - Fugazi

    How much do the Red Wings mean to Detroit? A silly question perhaps, but one residents of the city are being confronted with as the Ilitch family, who own the Original Six franchise as well as the Little Caesars pizza chain and numerous other interests, have unveiled new details for a long-planned development in the Motor City.

    And this is more than just a new arena. No, this is an urban makeover on a grandiose scale, with entire neighborhoods planned around it. The renderings of the project certainly look cool, but not everyone is on board with the master plan.

    Read more

  • THN’s pre-season prediction debates underscores how parity has made the NHL unpredictable

    Adam Proteau
    Roberto Luongo (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

    Every year around this time, THN’s editorial staff convenes in a boardroom to hash out our pre-season NHL predictions. The predictions meeting is a raucous couple of hours in which, after consulting with coaches, scouts, and our larger network of contacts, we debate the merits and flaws of every team before we slot them into divisional finishes. And by its conclusion, we’ve established some semblance of probability for each franchise’s fortunes.

    But this year’s meeting had some particularly interesting aspects. For one thing, a majority of staffers liked one team in particular to win the Stanley Cup – yes, you’ll have to wait until our annual Yearbook is released in mid-August to find out which team that is – but the more intriguing development was the astonishing range of opinion on the grand majority of teams.

    Now, there wasn’t much differentiation in what we thought of the league’s very best and worst franchises (nobody was willing to argue the Ducks would miss the playoffs, nor that the Sabres would win the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s top regular-season squad), but once we stopped talking about a handful of teams destined for the penthouse or outhouse, our expectations varied drastically.

    Take the New Jersey Devils, for instance. Read more