Adam Proteau, currently the brand's columnist/writer, has worked for The Hockey News since 2002 and won the Professional Hockey Writers' award for best column in 2006. He also won the Esso Medal of Achievement for most improved player as a 13-year-old at the 'A' level in 1985, but he's less proud of that.
The power of the Stanley Cup – and even a Stanley Cup championship ring – is such that it can bring to tears people of all ages and from all walks of life. A recent example was seen at a retirement residence in Upper Moreland, Pa., last Wednesday, when a visit from a Philadelphia Flyers legend overwhelmed a hockey fan celebrating her 104th birthday.
The woman who was celebrating, Helen Moser – described by her grandson as a longtime, diehard Flyers fan – was enjoying her birthday festivities at the Wesley Enhanced Living retirement community when Flyers icon Bob “The Hound” Kelly stopped in bearing a cake and a team jersey with her surname and age on the back. The joy on Moser’s face was clear from the moment he walked in, but when Kelly took off his Cup ring and placed it on her finger, she was overcome with emotion. Read more
There are garden-variety nitpickers, and then there are nitpicking hockey fans. Whether it’s their sheer volume of nits picked or their ability to find and pick nits where it wasn’t believed any existed, puck-loving pedants are a cut above most others. So it should surprise no one that Subban’s playful weekend in Montreal – in which he drank beer through a straw from a replica Stanley Cup at a Just For Laughs comedy event (see video below, starting at the 3:50 mark) – has some people grumbling.
That’s because the superstitions surrounding the Cup have grown to ridiculous levels. We’ve known for years now how averse NHL players are to touching sport’s most beautiful trophy, but when you can’t even have a little fun with the award that represents the pinnacle of success in your line of work, something is seriously awry.
It needs to be stressed that the Cup used at the Just For Laughs show was a replica. That fact alone should be enough for the complainers to cram it. But as we all should be aware, virtually everything Subban does comes under fire from deranged fans – in some cases, out of jealousy; in others, because of his race – and this is but another sad example. Read more
New Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Johnston traveled to Russia this weekend to talk with star center Evgeni Malkin about the team’s new direction in the wake of sweeping change to management and the playing roster. The trip is a must for Johnston, because, now more than ever before, relationships can mean the difference between coaches winning and losing at hockey’s highest levels.
The days of autocrat bench bosses barking orders at their charges are long-gone. Just ask the short-gone John Tortorella and his former employers in Vancouver who can’t do enough to distance themselves from that awful experiment. The Canucks replaced Tortorella with Willie Desjardins, an affable, considerate man who paid his dues in the hockey world, but who also has a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in social work. Desjardins may not succeed in his new gig, but his well-rounded background will serve as the template for NHL coaches in the years to come.
Seeing the continued evolution of the coaching profession brings to mind something former Leafs executive Dave Poulin told THN a few years back: he believed the label “coach” didn’t accurately describe what the men who served in the role did every day. He thought baseball had it right in calling their coaches “managers”, because so much of the average NHL coach’s job today is about managing: managing on-ice strategic adjustments – in-game and game-to-game – and, more importantly, managing the personalities of players as they attempt to form a cohesive unit. Read more
Endorsing products has been a part of being a top talent in the NHL for nearly as long as the league has been in existence. Advertisers want the star power of hockey players, even if the low-key personalities of those players don’t make them natural public pitchmen.
Although some players do well in the role, more often than not, NHL players hawking products on TV is an exercise in embarrassment. In reverse order, here are the five most embarrassing TV ads featuring NHLers of the modern era:
5. Adam Oates goes dating for the NHL. When he was a member of the Boston Bruins, Oates inexplicably said yes to this commercial, which paints him as a lovelorn hockey star wearing his equipment in a restaurant, as as lovelorn hockey stars are wont to do. From the unfortunately-phrased “loose rebounds” comment to Oates’ weirdly shame-ridden “It wouldn’t be the first time” answer to getting shot down, this ad doesn’t make you want to buy an NHL ticket. It makes you want to sign him up for eharmony.com.
The Canadiens locked up center Lars Eller to a four-year, $14-million contract extension Thursday, avoiding a Friday arbitration date that could’ve poisoned the waters between the team and the 25-year-old center. It’s not a bargain signing at this stage in Eller’s career, but it’s another one of GM Marc Bergevin’s reasonable gambles.
Eller’s $3.5 annual average value is a massive raise on the $1.325-million he earned in each of the previous two seasons – and far more than the $1.65 million salary the Habs suggested he receive prior to the arbitration meeting – but Bergevin had to do it if he was going to buy the first two years of unrestricted free agency away from Eller. Bergevin has given Eller the same contract he gave to Montreal center David Desharnais last summer and is clearly projecting bigger and better things for the Danish native, who struggled during the regular season (12 goals and 26 points in 77 games) but was a solid contributor for the Canadiens in the playoffs, finishing second in points (13) behind P.K. Subban.
Once again, an NHL team has shown arbitration is a true last resort. It would’ve been more financially prudent to put Eller through an emotional wringer and come away with a smaller salary for him, but the damage it would’ve inflicted on his psyche wouldn’t be worth it. Now they have a happy player determined to atone for his poor regular season – and if he doesn’t fit into their long-term plans, the contract isn’t outrageous enough for him to be untradeable. Read more
The Maple Leafs’ hiring of Kyle Dubas as their new assistant GM Tuesday, and the ensuing debate and discussion about the advanced statistics revolution Dubas is a part of, has intriguing parallels to a similar hiring in Toronto 37 years ago. Back then, another young (although not quite as young as the 28-year-old Dubas) hockey mind with a different approach was brought into hockey’s biggest fishbowl to test out his theories.
That man was the late Roger Neilson, hired as Leafs head coach July 25, 1977. His name isn’t referenced nearly enough in the advanced stats debate, but Neilson must be considered, if not the granddaddy of the advanced stats movement, then one of its founding fathers. And THN’s archives provide ample evidence of how nimble and creative Neilson’s mind was when it came to seeing the game through a new prism – and the baseless backlash it triggered in the inflexible, conservative hockey establishment.
In 1978, THN columnist Frank Orr wrote about Neilson being viewed as “slightly bonkers” because of his “slightly unorthodox approach” and the “assorted gimmicks he employs”. Read more
The Los Angeles Kings may have won two of the past three Stanley Cup championships, but in THN’s current NHL logo ranking contest, they’re not nearly as much of a mover-and-shaker. Our in-house panel of judges ranked L.A.’s current logo 24th overall.
The Kings’ straight-ahead approach to this incarnation of their logo – featuring the initials of the city above the crown that in some form has been a part of every logo since the organization’s inception in 1967 – isn’t especially creative or eye-catching. Sure, it’s better than some of their more daring fashion experiments, but that’s damning with faint praise.
Maybe you think you could improve on the Kings’ current logo. If so, submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org – and once our logo rankings conclude, we’ll share them online.
(All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)
HISTORY OF THE KINGS LOGO
When the Kings debuted in the 1967-68 season, they wore purple jerseys at home and gold on the road. The colors were chosen by team owner and expat Canadian Jack Kent Cooke, and represented royalty – and to match nicely with the color scheme of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. The crown logo that appeared on the jersey differed from the primary logo.
After eight seasons, the Kings changed logos for the first time. The team added horizontal lines around the name to provide a sense of speed, and kept their second logo for eight years (while also adding purple pants after spending their initial seasons wearing gold pants).
In 1988, the Kings’ logo changed drastically. Gone was the purple and gold, replaced by a black-and-silver version of their previous logo. The change coincided with the acquisition of NHL icon Wayne Gretzky, and their new colors were a match with a different L.A. team – the NFL’s Los Angeles Raiders (who have since relocated back to their original home in Oakland). Because there were no throwback jersey nights, Gretzky would never wear purple and gold in his eight years with the organization. Read more
The Toronto Maple Leafs shook up their management team Tuesday, dismissing assistant GMs Dave Poulin and Claude Loiselle and hiring former Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds GM Kyle Dubas as assistant GM.
The timing of the move doesn’t follow the NHL’s normal pattern of managerial changes that take place immediately after the playoffs conclude, but this is a special circumstance; new Leafs president Brendan Shanahan only came on board in mid-April and required time to properly assess the organization before making major changes. He’s now had three months in the position and the moves he made Tuesday suggest he’s a far more progressive-minded type than he’s received credit for.
Why? Because the 28-year-old Dubas is highly regarded around the industry as a sharp hockey mind with a firm grasp of advanced statistics. It was only a matter of time before an NHL team scooped him up, and for Shanahan to land him has to be considered a coup – and, more importantly, an indication the way the Leafs do business is changing. Read more