Adam Proteau

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.

Don’t look now, but the Buffalo Sabres are in the playoff hunt

Adam Proteau
Jhonas Enroth and Brian Gionta (Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

After their 18th game of the season, the Buffalo Sabres had a 3-13-2 record and were being talked about the way you talk about that cousin nobody in your family likes to talk about: in hushed tones, with faint hope that things will turn around for them.

One month later – and after Monday’s 5-4 shootout win over the division rival Senators – they’re riding a four-game win streak and a six-game home win streak, their longest since they won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2006-07. Their record in that time is 10-3-0, and they’re only two standings points behind the Sens, four points behind the Bruins, and four points out of the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.

That’s correct. The Sabres could make the playoffs this season. This may give you the distinct sensation of being in a dreamlike state, but this is in fact occurring in real life. Read more

Trade Taylor Hall? Is it April 1 already, Oilers?

Adam Proteau
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall (Getty Images)

A TSN report that suggested Oilers star left winger Taylor Hall will be on the trade block should alarm Edmonton’s long-tortured fan base.

Trade Hall? Is it April 1 already?

There should be no sacred cows with a team this incapable of competing, but the idea the franchise could retain the services of president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and trade away its most talented player is galling and will rightfully raise ulcer rates across the city. There’s nothing wrong with breaking up the core of talent the Oilers have assembled – in fact, that’s exactly what should happen – but if Edmonton management is going to retain one or two of their current young talents to move forward with a new roster, it’s probably a good idea if they held on to the best one they’ve got.

Now, you can argue Hall has the most value of anyone currently in an Edmonton jersey, and you’d be right. But if he’s the most proven talent of all Oilers youngsters, why not deal Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov and/or Jordan Eberle instead? Surely any competent GM could use any combination of those three players (or at least two of them in separate deals) to address the depth and talent issues the organization clearly faces, right? Even if they draft Connor McDavid this summer, they’ll need to fix their defense and goaltending or it will all be for naught again. Surely MacTavish can acquire some blue-chip prospects and/or experienced defensemen able to contribute, right? Garth Snow did so in the form of Johnny Boychuk for a far cheaper return. It’s just about doing it right, and that brings me to the most important point.

In the same report, TSN’s Darren Dreger said Hall “at least from a culture standpoint – in the room, not on the ice – hasn’t been what they hoped he would be”. The same was undoubtedly true for former Oilers coach Dallas Eakins, who was fired Monday morning after blowing away MacTavish two summers ago in a job interview. But after so many of these decisions have failed to work out, when does it become fair to point the finger of blame at management’s concept of a winning culture and the people who are continuously choosing the wrong people for the jobs? Read more

Report: veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun retiring after 15 NHL seasons

Tomas Vokoun (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

According to a report from a Czech publication Sunday, veteran NHL goalie Tomas Vokoun, who won 300 regular-season games over 15 seasons with five teams, is retiring at age 38.

“I think I can be proud of the career I had,” Vokoun told iSport.cz reporter Zdenek Janda, referring to accomplishments that included a 300-288-78 record, appearances in two all-star games and gold medals representing the Czech Republic at IIHF world championships in 2005 and 2010, as well as an Olympic bronze medal in 2006 and a bronze at the 2004 World Cup. Read more

Another NHLer with the mumps: Rangers’ Derick Brassard the latest to come down with a case

Derick Brassard (Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

Just a few hours after Penguins star Sidney Crosby was confirmed to have come down with a case of the mumps, the NHL had another player linked to the virus when Rangers center Derick Brassard was sent from a road trip in Edmonton back to New York City with a suspected case.

Brassard, who was the Blueshirts’ second-leading point-getter (24 in 27 games), is the 14th player of the season to show symptoms of the mumps, which was contracted by teammate Tanner Glass in November. Other players affected include New Jersey’s Travis Zajac and Adam Larsson; Anaheim’s Corey Perry, Francois Beauchemin, Clayton Stoner and Emerson Etem; and Minnesota’s Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Keith Ballard, Marco Scandella and Christian Folin. Read more

Bobby Ryan’s brilliant goal a bright spot in a bad stretch for Senators

Adam Proteau
Bobby Ryan (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Ottawa Senators have won just twice in their past 10 games, fired head coach Paul MacLean Monday, and lost 5-3 Thursday to the Los Angeles Kings in the debut of MacLean’s replacement, Dave Cameron. However, Sens star right winger Bobby Ryan played the silver lining in his team’s clouds with a stunning goal that ranks among the best he’s ever scored.

The Senators were trailing 2-0 with six minutes remaining in the second period at Canadian Tire Centre when Ryan picked up a pass on Ottawa’s side of the center ice line, broke into the Kings zone, deked L.A. defenseman Brayden McNabb into next week, and does the same to goalie Jonathan Quick: Read more

Jonathan Toews suffers apparent head injury on brutal hit – so why was he playing immediately after?

Adam Proteau
Jonathan Toews (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

You want to believe the medical officials entrusted with NHL players’ health are always erring on the side of caution. Then you see Jonathan Toews returning to play immediately after taking an absolutely brutal hit from Boston’s Dennis Seidenberg Thursday, and the doubts don’t creep in – they stampede over you.

The Blackhawks captain and NHL star was driven headfirst into the boards at an awkward angle by Seidenberg midway through the second period of Chicago’s game against the host Bruins, and the result was enough to turn your stomach regardless of whether you’re a Hawks fan:

We can sit here and argue about the cleanliness of the hit itself – and the play will be reviewed by the league – but the fact Chicago’s medical staff and coaches allowed Toews to play his next shift is even more troubling. If this wasn’t the time to have Toews – a superstar who has a history of concussions – sent to the quiet room to be evaluated, then there isn’t ever a good time to do so. But what likely happened was the Hawks trainer asked Toews if he was good enough to continue with his next shift – and, just as every NHLer has been conditioned over the course of his life to answer, Toews said yes. He eventually left the game, but the sight of a star player being left open to additional injury (and perhaps an early end to his career) because nobody had the stones to tell him to get off the ice for his own good was and is deeply disturbing.

Even if you presume Toews wasn’t in a haze and knew full well what he was saying, his word alone isn’t good enough for him to continue playing after a hit like that. Read more

Report: Mike Babcock on verge of announcing contract extension with Wings; team’s success made choice easy

Adam Proteau
Mike Babcock (Getty Images)

That sound you’re hearing is Red Wings fans exhaling a giant sigh of relief: according to Windsor Star columnist and THN contributor Bob Duff, Detroit coach Mike Babcock is on the verge of agreeing to a multi-year contract extension. Babcock had been the subject of intense speculation he would move on – to the Wings’ division rival Maple Leafs, some said – when his current deal expired at the end of this season, but his links to the team were not easily broken, especially considering how well it has started the 2014-15 campaign.

Although the Wings were beaten at home by Toronto Wednesday night, they still had the Eastern Conference’s best record (17-6-6) and only Anaheim had more points (43) than Detroit’s 40. This, despite a roster whose two best players aren’t far from retirement. This, despite a patchwork defense corps that’s hardly the envy of the NHL. This, despite the hiccups and backsliding that can occur when you’re attempting to assimilate a new generation of young talent into the sport’s top professional league. The Red Wings throw aside more phoney crutches than a fraudulent religious healer’s act and just go out there and win, and when you’re as much a part of that culture as Babcock is, it’s next to impossible to walk away from it. Read more

Reimer steals win for Leafs; where does he rank on list of goalies available via trade?

Adam Proteau
James Reimer (Getty Images)

Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer has lost the starter’s job to Jonathan Bernier, but despite not starting since Nov. 18, he stopped 41 of 42 shots Wednesday to steal two points in a 2-1 shootout win over Detroit:

That won’t change his status with the Buds, who are committed to Bernier for now and the future, and Reimer is well-aware his best chance to start on a regular basis again lies outside Toronto. But where does Reimer rank among goalies who are or might be available on the market between now and the March 2 trade deadline? Let’s have a look at who else is out there:

– Carolina’s Cam Ward has a winning pedigree, but the 30-year-old’s stock has plummeted in recent years and he still has another season left on his contract at a $6.3 million salary cap hit. He’s played decently at times, but that salary alone will make teams in need of netminding hesitant to take a chance on him when there are cheaper options available.

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