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.
Film and TV star Jon Hamm – best known for his iconic role as Don Draper in the AMC series “Mad Men” – is also famous for being a fan of his hometown St. Louis Blues. And in newly-unveiled footage of a little-seen movie made long before he became known worldwide, Hamm got the chance to talk some smack about the rival Chicago Blackhawks while pumping the tires of his favorite NHL team.
In the movie “Cheese And Crackers”, a black-and-white film shot in St. Louis in 1997, the characters played by Hamm and fellow actor Jason Newman have a spirited debate about the merits of the Blues and Hawks. The language isn’t safe for work or children, but if you can get past that, it’s a neat look into the past – and the absence of color footage makes Hamm look like a star from the golden age of Hollywood. Read more
The first round of the 2014 NHL playoffs hasn’t ended, but we’ve already seen a little bit of everything, including high-scoring games, low-scoring games, dirty hits and a series sweep. But the post-season is always more fun when fans have an old-fashioned villain on whom they can focus their disgust. And this year, they’ve got a couple gems who are so proudly roguish, they might as well twirl their moustaches while cackling with glee: Boston’s Brad Marchand and the Rangers’ Daniel Carcillo.
Carcillo and Marchand are arguably the NHL’s most talented agitators. Both willingly wear the hate of the opposition and their fans. And both were in prime rabble-rousing form Tuesday night. Marchand absorbed a knee-on-knee hit to his left knee and came up favoring his right leg, drawing criticism from fans and media who accused him of faking an injury.
The NHL’s unrestricted free agency period is a crapshoot and sometimes the emphasis is on the crap. For every savvy signing – say, Tampa Bay’s five-year contract with Valtteri Filppula, or Boston’s one-year deal with Jarome Iginla – there is at least one free agent deal that sends fans screaming for the weeping tissues. Here are the worst free agent deals signed last summer:
10. Damian Brunner, Devils, two years, $5 million. Some devout Red Wings fans were sad to see Brunner depart the organization after a rookie NHL campaign that included 12 goals and 26 points in 44 games last season. They were less sad after watching him score just 11 times in 60 games this year while averaging only 13:32 of ice time.
9. Derek Roy, Blues, one year, $4 million. Yes, Roy only signed a one-year contract with St. Louis, but it hardly could’ve gone worse for him. The onetime 32-goal-scorer had only nine goals in 75 games as a Blue and was a regular-season and playoff healthy scratch. There’s no chance the 30-year-old returns to the team or makes nearly as much money next season.
8. Daniel Briere, Canadiens, two years, $8 million. Briere is renowned as one of the league’s good guys and seeing the Montreal native head home to play for the Canadiens made for a nice off-season story. It didn’t translate on the ice, though: he had only 13 goals and 25 points in 69 games – nearly one-third of the totals he posted for Philadelphia in 2010-11 (34 goals and 68 points in 77 games). Read more
As the Winnipeg Jets’ season wound down, a controversy involving one of their players flared up. Interim coach Paul Maurice made star winger Evander Kane a healthy scratch for a game in Toronto – and just like that, harsh words were hauled out to criticize the 22-year-old: he had an attitude; he was arrogant; he wasn’t a good fit with the Jets; he needed to be traded post-haste. If it sounded familiar, that’s because it was. Ever since the franchise relocated to Manitoba from Atlanta, Kane has been a target for critics.
Some of that, he’s earned. When he posed during the 2012-13 lockout in front of the lights of Las Vegas pretending a giant stack of money was his cell phone, fans and media rightfully ripped him for not understanding how it would be perceived.
But put aside the specifics of that situation for a second and answer these questions: Were you ever 21? Did you ever make a mistake at that age? Do you think that, if you were making millions of dollars and existed in a massive public fishbowl at that age, you might make the odd error in judgment?
The answer should be “yes.” That’s why there’s something about the relentless negativity surrounding Kane that doesn’t sit right. I’m not pointing to anyone specific when I say this, but I have to say it: some of the criticism hurled at Kane – as well as teammate Dustin Byfuglien and Canadiens star P.K. Subban – is about his race more than his character. It’s what Kane referred to last year when he told THN’s Ken Campbell “a good portion” of the criticism is racially motivated.
The NHL playoffs are famous for their increased physicality, but we’re only three days into the 2014 post-season and the nastiness is already starting to boil over. On Friday night alone, NHLers Jamie Benn and Danny Dekeyser found that out the hard way when both were speared in the groin area by Corey Perry and Milan Lucic respectively.
Lucic attacked the Red Wings defenseman from behind in Detroit’s 1-0 Game One first round win over Boston, jamming his stick into Dekeyser’s lower mid-section. No penalty was called on the play.
With four minutes remaining in Game One of Boston’s first-round playoff series against Detroit, neither team had scored. Then Red Wings star center Pavel Datsyuk put on a one-man clinic to score a dazzling goal – and the only one in a 1-0 win over the Bruins.
Datsyuk began the play by reaching back at his own blueline and corraling the puck in traffic; he then moved quickly up the ice and across Boston’s blueline before beating goalie Tuukka Rask with a perfectly placed wrist shot at the 16:59 mark of the third period.
Since arriving from Calgary in a trade two years ago, Rene Bourque hasn’t lived up to expectations as a member of the Canadiens. But in Game Two of Montreal’s first-round series against Tampa Bay, he scored a nifty little goal that stood up as the game-winner in the Habs’ 4-1 win over the Lightning.
Halfway through the first period, Bourque split Tampa Bay’s defense and delicately pushed the puck to the outside of netminder Anders Lindback for the Canadiens’ second goal of the night. The 32-year-old winger – who added a second goal against Tampa late in the third period of Game Two – had just nine goals and 16 points in 63 games with Montreal this season, but he did have a pair of goals and three points in five post-season games with the Habs last year. He’s matched that goal total in just two playoff games this year and if he can continue producing, star goalie Carey Price will have a lot more room to breathe.
Once again, I’m privileged enough to receive a ballot for the NHL’s annual individual player awards. It’s a huge honor for any hockey journalist and one I think deserves the respect of full transparency to the public. If we’re supposed to represent the fans, we owe it to them to reveal and stand behind our choices – choices I make after numerous discussions with NHL executives and players.
So here are my picks, along with some brief thoughts on why I chose the players I did for the five awards. You probably won’t agree with all of them, but the last thing these honors are about is pure consensus.
HART TROPHY (“to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team”) — Five selections.
1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
2. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
3. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
4. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
5. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
The Rationale: As I’ve noted in the past, I’ve come to see the Hart as a most valuable player award, if only because the concept of “value” is so nebulous. But certainly, Crosby’s value to the Penguins – especially during Pittsburgh’s injury-plagued season – cannot be questioned. Nor can his status as the game’s best all-around individual force. Getzlaf was a very close second, while Giroux got the nod over Bergeron because he was the catalyst in Philadelphia’s remarkable season-saving turnaround. Read more