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 St. Louis Blues are in the conversation as frontrunners to win the Stanley Cup this year because management has built the roster the right way: patiently and methodically, with a primary reliance on drafting and development and trades/free agent signings to augment the lineup. But what has happened to them in the early goings of this current regular season – first, losing marquee off-season addition Paul Stastny to a shoulder injury Oct. 18; and now, without forwards David Backes and T.J. Oshie, who suffered concussions in Tuesday’s 4-3 win over Dallas – is out of anyone’s control. It should go without saying they’ll be a far less dangerous team with three top forwards on the sidelines, and all head coach Ken Hitchcock, GM Doug Armstrong and Blues brass can do is focus on the group treading water until it’s got all key components back.
If it makes you happy, you can talk day and night about the organization’s young players (for instance, blossoming 22-year-olds Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz) picking up the slack in the absence of the three veterans, but if Backes isn’t healthy in time for the post-season – and given his history of concussions, this should be a concern – St. Louis is going to have great difficulty winning more than one playoff round. Because the Blues aren’t built around a generational superstar the way the Lightning are with Steven Stamkos or the way the Penguins are with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, they’ll need all hands on deck to win in the highly competitive Western Conference. Read more
The New Jersey Devils did something Thursday night they hadn’t done in exactly 600 days: emerge from an NHL shootout with a victory.
That’s right, for the first time since March 10, 2013 – and with their fans looking on and dressed for Halloween – the Devils won in a shootout by beating the same Winnipeg Jets team they last beat in a shootout, and ended their NHL record 18-game losing streak in the process. They did so by recording the minimum number of goals a team can record in the shootout – a single goal from center Jacob Josefson: Read more
Despite the typically demure comments NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is famous for making on the subject of expansion to Las Vegas, the rumblings continue to grow louder: on Thursday, a report had casino giant MGM Resorts International holding talks with a group looking to situate a team in the Nevada city.
MGM is currently building a $375-million, 20,000-seat arena in the heart of the city – and their partner in the building is the Anschutz Entertainment Group. Anschutz as in Philip Anschutz, owner of the L.A. Kings and NHL power broker. If you want to get a foot in the door of the NHL, this is one of the ways you do it. Networking matters in this league. But if the NHL does decide to set up shop in the pre-eminent entertainment destination on the continent, there’s going to need to be some questions answered. Such as:
1. How on earth are they going to market a non-traditional product such as hockey in a marketplace that has hundreds of other options for consumers to dispose of their disposable income?
With all the glitz and glamor of the Vegas Strip fighting for the eyeballs and pocketbooks of tourists, what exactly can the NHL do to stand out from the rest of the pack? If you’re telling me an expansion team (with its lowered expectations and talent levels) in and of itself will be good enough to bring people through the doors, I’m telling you you’re wrong. The attraction can’t be the players on the roster, who will be the flotsam and jetsam of the league in an expansion draft. There’s also every chance the franchise will be mismanaged for years, if not decades (see Thrashers, Atlanta and Panthers, Florida). There has to be something more.
2. Once the honeymoon period wears off, how does hockey stay relevant?
There will be a certain amount of hype and happiness in Vegas if the NHL became the first professional sports league to operate there, but once that giddiness fades after a few years, there is next to no grassroots/amateur hockey scene in the area through which to reach young kids and cultivate them as players and fans. Absent that pipeline of support, what is going to grab the casual sports fan by the scruff of the neck and make them care about hockey? Read more
The phrase “the straw that broke the camel’s back” is tossed around too often, but when it comes to expanded video review in the NHL, the goalie interference call assessed to Detroit’s Luke Glendening Wednesday night certainly qualifies. Thankfully, the spectacular botch job didn’t decide the game’s outcome, but the fact a call this bad could be agreed on between two referees should be deeply disconcerting to league officials and every team in the league.
The reality is the game’s speed makes it tougher than ever to assess the action, and when one of the referees goes down to injury as can occur, it makes expanded replay even more vital. And imagine what would happen if a similarly awful penalty/rescinded goal materialized in the final game of the regular season and the result of that game meant the difference between a team making or missing the playoffs. Imagine if a call like that went down during the playoffs – say, in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final – and there were no option for the officials to skate over to the penalty box area, check a video monitor for a few brief minutes and make sure they got the call right. Fans and media of the team on the wrong end of such a predicament would go apoplectic, and rightfully so; any league unwilling to utilize technology readily available to assure the integrity of its game is a league painfully out of touch with what fans demand in return for their investments of time, money and emotion.
If it ever got to that point, the NHL would need to hold an IPO to raise its stock to laughing status. Read more
Each NHL season has its share of botched calls from referees. We know going in that, as mere mortals, they’re bound to make errors trying to make sense of a lightning-fast game. However, some blown calls are so egregious, they stand out for years afterward. And one of those calls went down Wednesday night during the game between the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings. As a matter of fact, this might not have been one of the worst penalty calls of the year. It might be the worst in NHL history.
It was early in the first period in Washington when Capitals goalie Braden Holtby left his crease and went behind the net. As he tried to get back into position, Holtby tripped over his own skates – and the Red Wings pounced immediately, with Drew Miller grabbing the puck and firing it into the Caps’ net.
However – and inexplicably – the officiating duo of Mike Leggo and Ghislain Hebert decided the goal would not count and that Wings center Luke Glendening deserved a goalie interference penalty. As you can see, he deserved nothing of the sort: Read more
The NHL’s department of player safety suspended New York Rangers defenseman John Moore five games for his headshot on Minnesota Wild center Erik Haula Monday. Moore will lose $51,859.75 in salary for the hit, which occurred in the second period of Monday’s game. But really, he should be thankful he plays in a league and in a culture that doesn’t take harsher measures to curb concussions.
When Moore barrelled into Haula, who had just finished shooting the puck, he clearly had no fear of the consequences for what at best can be termed a borderline hit. But imagine if he did. Imagine if he knew that, as the repeat offender that he was, he could be suspended for a minimum of 20 games. Having that knowledge in the back of his head might not have stopped him from making the same split-second decision, but who’s to say it would have no effect? Players (and their families) would be acutely aware of the significant financial penalty they would pay, and there’s every possibility their behavior would be modified and the likelihood of a repeat offense would decrease. Read more
No, the picture you see above you is not computer-generated trickery. That is a shattered puck. Junior hockey phenom Connor McDavid did that. Not with the assistance of any explosive materials, but with his hands and a hockey stick. Is the NHL ready for this kid? Pucks, apparently, are not.
McDavid didn’t break this poor, innocent puck during a game. He was at practice Tuesday with his Erie Otters team, when, according to assistant coach and former NHLer Jay McKee, the consensus No. 1 pick in the upcoming NHL entry draft did something he’d never seen in all his time at hockey rinks. Read more
Hockey icon Gordie Howe is resting comfortably at his daughter’s home in Texas after suffering a major stroke Sunday, but the 86-year-old, famously known as “Mr. Hockey”, has lost significant function on the right side of his body and is having difficulty speaking.
Dr. Murray Howe, one of three of Gordie Howe’s sons, told the Detroit News Tuesday his father fell ill early Sunday morning and is being cared for by Gordie’s daughter Cathleen and her husband Bob at their home in Lubbock, Texas.
“He’s unable to stand without help,” Murray Howe said of Gordie. “He’s able to speak, but (it’s) very, very difficult to speak. He knows who he is. He knows the people around him. But it is very difficult for him to get up and walk around. So he is pretty much confined to his bed right now.” Read more