American collegiate defenseman Mike Reilly told the Columbus Blue Jackets Wednesday he would not be signing with them despite the organization drafting him in the fourth round (98th overall) in 2011. And via a pointed message on social media shortly after the news, Blue Jackets star center Ryan Johansen told Reilly he wouldn’t be missed in Columbus. Read more
Adam Proteau worked for The Hockey News from 2002 to 2015 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.
Members of the NHL’s coaching community come from a wide variety of backgrounds – some, like Canucks coach Willie Desjardins, have degrees in social work; others, like Dallas’ Lindy Ruff, are hockey lifers with a background as a worker bee NHLer – but, for the most part, very few of the game’s elite stars have found success as bench bosses. The reasons for it are complex, but by-and-large, the best of the best usually prefer to spend their time away from the type of high-pressure environment occupied by a coach in hockey’s top league. And that’s why news the Red Wings were close to naming Hockey-Hall-of-Famer Chris Chelios as an assistant to new head coach Jeff Blashill is interesting: you rarely see a former player of his calibre at ice level without his equipment on.
Who are the best modern-era players who have evolved into NHL coaches or assistant coaches? Here are the Top 5:
5. Adam Oates. Like the other players who made this list, Oates is a Hall-of-Famer who amassed 1,420 points in 1,337 regular-season games and is regarded as one of the better playmakers in league history. He began his post-career coaching days as an assistant in Tampa Bay and then New Jersey, before the Capitals made him their head coach in June of 2012. And although he failed to make the playoffs in two years guiding the Capitals before he was fired at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, Oates quickly returned behind the bench with the Devils as a “co-coach” alongside Scott Stevens midway through this past year. He’ll likely get another shot, at least, as an assistant, with another NHL franchise. Read more
The NHL’s free agent scene this summer resembles a long and empty line of grocery store shelves, but there’s no fear among league executives of a serene environment in the off-season. While it’s true NHL GMs no longer can look to free agency as a quick and easy route to remake their roster, a number of them are expecting a slew of trades in the weeks ahead. And there’s one reason why.
“The worst thing you can be seen as today is complacent,” said one Eastern Conference GM, who spoke to THN in early June on condition his name not be used. “Each organization has different pressure points, but we’re all dealing with pressure. And just because we no longer really have free agency to do big things with a team, that doesn’t mean we can come back the next year with basically the same group of players. One team per season earns the option to do that. The rest have to find ways to improve. So I think teams won’t have much of an option in the future other than using trades to change up the mix. If you’re not developing new talent in-house, you don’t really have any other option.”
A cursory look around the NHL confirms that’s true.
The open war between the city of Glendale, Ariz., and the Arizona Coyotes continued Tuesday, as the municipality’s executives met and chose to press on in its legal battle over an arena lease with the NHL franchise.
Glendale city council held an executive session Tuesday and decided to continue its showdown against Coyotes ownership over its 15-year, $225-million lease with Gila River Arena. Glendale politicians voted last week to void the lease, prompting a harsh reaction from the team and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. But Glendale officials maintain they wish to keep the franchise in the building. Read more
The Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday named the three men who will serve as assistants to new head coach Mike Babcock next season – and one of them is a former Leafs player and now-former coach of the most recent Memorial Cup-winner.
D.J. Smith, who played 11 games for the Leafs in the late 1990s and 45 NHL games in his playing career, joins Babcock’s staff along with Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer. Smith had been head coach of the Ontario League’s Oshawa Generals for the past three seasons, and during the 2014-15 season, he led the team to both the OHL championship and Memorial Cup title. The year prior, the 38-year-old Smith was named the OHL’s coach of the year. Read more
You could see it in the dejection splashed across the face of Steven Stamkos, and hear it in the considered whisper of Jon Cooper: the Tampa Bay Lightning were spent, physically and emotionally, and at a loss for appropriate words in the wake of losing the Stanley Cup final to the superior Blackhawks Monday. Undoubtedly, their fans and management were devastated as well; you would be too if you cheered on or built up a speedy and skilled roster of players who defied the odds and two of the league’s very best goalies en route to their fourth-round showdown against the Hawks. To get within eye distance of a lifelong dream and fall short is about as excruciating as it gets for professional athletes and those who support them.
But the mourning period for this edition of the team ought to be short, because the Lightning are anything but one-year wonders. The group GM Steve Yzerman has in place will have just as good a chance of returning to next year’s Cup final and at least a couple more after that. The Bolts are young, their salary cap situation is tenable – and if you look closely enough at this year’s squad, you’ll see they should be a little more lucky when next they’re playing for the best trophy in all of sport. And they will be back, and at least as dangerous next time around. Read more
In case you were wondering which of Chicago’s players was the frontrunner to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP this spring, Hawks star defenseman Duncan Keith gave you a reminder when he scored the first goal of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final Monday.
The game was scoreless until late in the second period at United Center, when Keith took a pass from teammate Patrick Kane just inside Tampa Bay’s blueline, fired the puck on Bolts goalie Ben Bishop, then scored on his own rebound with 2:47 remaining in the frame: Read more
The goaltenders in the Stanley Cup final between the Blackhawks and Lightning aren’t regarded by the hockey community as the very best of the netminding community, but after Tampa goalie Ben Bishop stoned Chicago star Jonathan Toews late in the first period of Game 6 Monday, Hawks counterpart Corey Crawford made a stunning stop of his own, turning aside Bolts star Steven Stamkos on a breakaway early in the second period.
The heat has been on Stamkos during the Cup final, with the Tampa captain unable to score in his first five games against the Blackhawks. But despite being gifted with a breakaway less than one minute into the second frame, Stamkos was patiently waited on by Crawford and was unable to stuff the puck past the Hawks goalie: Read more