• Don’t blame fans for Bizarro World “tanking” cheers; they show how savvy the modern NHL fan actually is

    Buffalo Sabres fans have a mixed reaction to their 4-3 win over the Maple Leafs Wednesday in Buffalo.  (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

    When the Sabres and Maple Leafs clashed Wednesday night – OK, “clash” is probably too strong a word, as it’s commonly associated with the word “titans” and an excellent band you young punks should get into if you haven’t already, and we don’t want to sully either of those things by linking them to these two teams – we saw another instance of the Bizarro World phenomenon that occurs when fans obsessed with winning the upcoming NHL entry draft lottery cheer for the opposing team to beat their own organization.

    Some NHLers have all but dry-heaved after the indignity of performing in front of their hometown fans and being subjected to cheers for the visitors. That’s certainly understandable, as it runs contrary to every instinct we have about pro sports. Playing on the road should put the fear of the hockey gods into players, not wrap them in blankets and give them a nice hug and a cookie. But players and team executives shouldn’t see this as the fault of fans. To the contrary: they should appreciate a fan base that recognizes the best way to build a Stanley Cup contender under the league’s current collective bargaining agreement is to do what teams like Toronto and Buffalo are doing: by tearing it all down, taking your lumps like a grownup and building slowly. Read more

  • Wild’s Matt Dumba hides in plain sight to speak with fans at Minnesota’s Mall of America

    Adam Proteau
    Matt Dumba (Jim McIsaac/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba is in his rookie season, far from his hometown of Regina, Sask. So he no doubt didn’t take it personally when he ventured out with a camera crew to speak with shoppers at Minnesota’s famous Mall of America and wasn’t exactly mobbed by people recognizing who they were speaking to.

    The 20-year-old Dumba, picked seventh overall by the Wild in 2012, is off to a solid start in his first full NHL year (including eight goals and 13 points in 52 games). But judging by the people in the interview who had no idea who he was, he’s still got a ways to go before he’s a household name – or at least, a household face: Read more

  • Is Andrew Hammond here to stay or a flash in the pan?

    Jason Kay
    Andrew Hammond

    In 2015, McDonald’s would not create a mascot called the Hamburglar. The character glamorizes theft and sets a bad example for our kids.

    Fortunately, the patty-thieving villain was conceived in the morally bankrupt 1970s, when we didn’t think of the children, and as result we have the perfect nickname for the NHL’s current best story. Aside from the dead animal products being hurled onto the ice, what’s not to like about this stunning underdog? (Bruins and Panthers fans notwithstanding).

    Once this glorious joy ride ends, however, what will become of Andrew Hammond? Is he a flash in the burger-frying pan or the real meal deal? While we’re pulling for the latter, history tells us not to bet our lunch money on it.

    Read more

  • Five rookies who could make a major impact in the playoffs

    Filip Forsberg (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Last season, few would have expected two of the Los Angeles Kings’ key contributors to be a pair of rookies lined up alongside veteran scorer Jeff Carter. Alas, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson turned a lot of heads en route to a Stanley Cup victory.

    But with the Kings teetering on the brink of elimination from playoff contention and Toffoli and Pearson past their playoff debuts, there’s potential for a new crop of fresh-faced future stars to make their mark in the post-season. There are five, especially, that will be players to watch as teams battle for Stanley Cup glory.

    It might be tough to top the 21-point rookie record held by Dino Ciccarelli and Ville Leino, but that doesn’t mean these young guns won’t give it a shot. Read more

  • NHL decision to go back to compensation system makes a lot of sense

    Steve Yzerman (left) and Mike Babcock  (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

    Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland has lost a lot of good people over the years – Steve Yzerman, Jim Nill, Todd McLellan and Paul MacLean to name just a few – so he’s obviously pleased the NHL reversed its stance on providing compensation for teams who lose executives to their rivals. Even if it means that if he loses his head coach this summer, nothing will be coming back the Red Wings way.

    As first reported by Pierre LeBrun of espn.com, about eight months ago the league quietly reversed itself on the issue of compensation. Any team hiring someone from another organization who is under contract to be a GM, coach or president, must now compensate the team losing the staffer with a draft pick. If the hiring is done in the off-season, the team hiring the new man must surrender a third-round pick. If it’s done mid-season, the pick becomes a second-rounder. Read more

  • Hockey hair wanted: Panthers hosting ‘Mullet Night’ in search of newest Travelling Jagr

    Jared Clinton
    Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Huberdeau. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

    When Jaromir Jagr was traded from the New Jersey Devils to the Florida Panthers, the biggest question wasn’t who he would line up alongside or if he had any intention of re-signing in Florida. Rather, people wondered how long it would take for a new Travelling Jagr to pop up.

    For those unfamiliar with the Travelling Jagrs, they’re a group of huge Jagr fans that have shown up on a number of occasions dressed as their hero through the years. From a mulleted version of youthful Jagr as a member of the Penguins to a lookalike of Jagr during his short stint in Dallas, there’s a Travelling Jagr for each of his stops. There isn’t, however, one for Florida – at least not yet. Read more