• Five second-year players hit with the dreaded sophomore slump

    Jared Clinton
    Damon Severson (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

    It’s rare in today’s game that the sophomore slump hits rookie standouts hard. With the way the game has changed over the past several seasons, rookies who break out are usually able to maintain their level of play because the speed and skill that made them stand out as freshman doesn’t disappear in a single season.

    That said, not all second-year players are able to avoid a step back in their sophomore season. Be it a coaching change, decrease in minutes or simply a lack of puck luck, not every rookie who stood out continues on an upward trajectory. Here are five players who’ve struggled in their second season in the big league: Read more

  • If Coyotes can’t get extension done, Boedker should be a top trade candidate

    Jared Clinton
    Mikkel Boedker (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

    The Arizona Coyotes were one of the season’s best stories through the first half. After a 29th-place finish in 2014-15, it was believed the Coyotes were destined for a basement finish again this season. Instead, the youthful skill in Arizona carried the Coyotes to a playoff spot as teams broke away for the all-star break.

    But since mid-January, things haven’t looked so great in Arizona. While the Coyotes held a playoff spot, they were quickly losing ground in the Pacific and the slide isn’t showing any signs of stopping in Arizona. Coach Dave Tippett’s club has only won two of their past 10 outings, have a league-worst minus-14 goal differential since Jan. 14 and are beginning to look like a team that’s going to be on the outside looking in come playoff time.

    Considering the Coyotes’ play and position in the standings, it puts GM Don Maloney in a tough spot. The trade deadline is three weeks away and the Coyotes will have to decide whether or not they want to sell off pending free agents, of which Arizona has eight. The most interesting of all the pending unrestricted free agents, though, is Mikkel Boedker, and he could be a hot commodity come deadline day. Read more

  • Skills not required on new IFC hockey-related sitcom

    Sal Barry
    (Courtesy of AMC)

    We all know that guy who buys the most expensive hockey stick but can barely hit the net, or the guy who plays beer league hockey more for the drinking than the game itself. It’s those types who inspired the IFC comedy Benders, which follows the on and off-ice misadventures of four men who have an unhealthy obsession for playing on their terrible team.

    “If you’ve been in a locker room before, or on any kind of rec league hockey team, these guys exist,” said actor Mark Gessner, who plays the bespectacled Dickie Litski on the show.

    Read more

  • If goalie equipment shrinks, don’t expect save percentages to decrease with it

    Jared Clinton
    Jaroslav Halak and Ben Bishop.

    For many NHL goaltenders looms the ever-present threat of equipment reductions and restrictions. And this off-season, goalies will again be a likely target in the effort to increase scoring.

    “I know it seems like a broken record or Groundhog Day, but goaltending equipment always comes up,” said Kay Whitmore, the NHL’s director of hockey operations and goaltender equipment. “We’ve done trimming and nipping and tucking here and there, but I think it’s time to look into this a little deeper.”

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  • Do you smell what LaBarbera’s cooking? Goaltender’s new mask honors ‘The Rock’

    Jared Clinton
    (via DaveArt)

    Jason LaBarbera has yet step between the pipes for the Flyers this season, but if he does, he’ll be bringing the most electrifying mask in hockey history to the ice. LaBarbera’s new lid pays tribute to box-office superstar and professional wrestling legend Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

    It’s well known that LaBarbera, 36, is a huge wrestling fan. With that in mind, it makes sense that when getting a new mask for a team that plays in the city famous for Rocky Balboa the veteran netminder would mix his love of the squared circle with another famous Rocky.

    LaBarbera’s mask, which was designed by DaveArt’s Dave Gunnarsson, doesn’t show off too much of The Rock’s in-ring work, but it does feature the 10-time world champion posing for the camera. The entire left panel is dedicated to The Rock, with the right side featuring the Flyers logo sprawling into the cage: Read more

  • Update: Bruins’ Subban out indefinitely with fractured larynx after puck to throat

    Jared Clinton
    Malcolm Subban (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    It’s been a rough couple weeks for Boston Bruins netminders. Jonas Gustavsson was hospitalized following the first period of a Jan. 26 game due to an elevated heart rate, and less than two weeks later, netminder Malcolm Subban was forced to spend his night in hospital after taking a puck to the throat ahead of Saturday’s AHL game.

    During warmup ahead of the Providence Bruins’ game against the Portland Pirates, Subban was struck in the throat with a puck and had to head off ice. Once off the ice, he was transported to hospital by ambulance and held overnight. Read more

  • Darryl Sittler’s 10-point game, 40 years later: an oral history

    Darryl Sittler
    Darryl Sittler. (Photo by Paul Cookson/Ad Army Group)

    WITH MATT LARKIN

    Staring across a table at Hall of Famer and Toronto Maple Leafs legend Darryl Sittler, 65, you’d never guess he accomplished his most famous feat four decades ago. His posture is perfect. He has the firm handshake of man who still works out at his local gym at least three times a week. He oozes a quiet, classy confidence. He could strut around like he owns the place but chooses modesty instead.

    Sittler sits in the THN office, flipping through a volume from a February 1976 edition, like it’s a pulpy novel he just can’t put down. After a quick dig through the archives, we’ve unearthed the newsprint cover detailing his signature NHL accomplishment.

    It’s a record so astounding it feels pulled from a video game or a movie. But it’s all too real, and it’s about to turn 40 years old. Everything clicked for Sittler Feb. 7, 1976 when his Toronto Maple Leafs hosted the Boston Bruins. The points kept pouring in. Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard’s single-game record of eight points stood for 32 years and 9,453 NHL games before Sittler smashed it with a 10 spot. His mark is still going strong. This Feb. 7, 40 years and 38,995 NHL games will have passed since Sittler made history.

    Sittler joined us to review footage of all 10 points and reminisce about the events before, during and after that magical game. This is his definitive oral history.

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  • Getting to Know: Red Wings defenseman Mike Green

    Mark Malinowski
    Mike Green (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Status: Detroit Red Wings defenseman.

    Ht: 6-1 Wt: 207 pounds
    DOB: October 12, 1985 In: Calgary, Alta.

    First Hockey Memory: “Probably skating on the pond for the first time with my dad (Dave).”

    Hockey Inspirations: “I think my parents. I was a big fan of Scott Niedermayer – he was an inspiring player to watch. I idolized him. He’s kind of the reason I became a defenseman, and maybe molded into an offensive defenseman.”

    First Famous Player You Met Or Encountered: “Would’ve been … I think it was Theoren Fleury to be honest. When he was in Calgary. (After a practice?) I think it was a school event. He came to our school.”

    Read more