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.
One of the worst-kept secrets in hockey was confirmed Monday when the NHL announced former defenseman Stephane Quintal would be the permanent replacement for Brendan Shanahan as senior vice-president of the league’s player safety department.
But although the department was modernized and improved under Shanahan before he left in April to take the role of president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Quintal – who’s been working as interim chief of player safety since Shanahan departed – immediately will have more than his share of challenges ahead.
Some of those challenges come with the territory. The 45-year-old Quintal will have his motivations called into question constantly and unfairly, just as Shanahan did and just as his predecessor Colin Campbell did. Fans are going to examine every element of Quintal’s 16-year NHL career and toss out preposterous conspiracy theories on his motivations and supplementary discipline decisions. The truth about the process – namely, that the chief disciplinarian isn’t a dictator and works in concert with other members of the player safety department before rendering any verdicts – won’t register with every fan. So he’s just going to have to get accustomed to that. Read more
On the first weekend in September, here are a few medium-sized hockey thoughts for your consideration:
• Lightning star Steven Stamkos addressed the media in Tampa Bay Thursday and talked in greater detail about his adventures on social media this summer. Stamkos said he mistakenly pressed the favorite button on a Tweet from THN’s account linking to my story on him potentially coming to his hometown Maple Leafs when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2016.
“You press the favorite button by accident and an hour later Twitter blew up,” Stamkos said. “But you live and learn and I’ll be more careful on the favorite button the next time around.
Sounds reasonable, right? Who among us hasn’t made a similar slip? And here’s the thing – if it was only one tweet, I’d be inclined to take Stamkos at face value. But Stamkos didn’t just favor one tweet. He subsequently favorited a second tweet linking him to the Leafs.
Now, one mistaken favorite, I understand. Two? And both just happen to be about the same topic? Sorry, but I’ve yet to hear a satisfactory explanation of how that happened. Read more
More than a decade after it began, the Steve Moore/Todd Bertuzzi saga has come to an end. You don’t want to call it a merciful end, because the story of these two players, whose names will be bound together for the rest of time, never had much mercy at all.
This case was about the individual vs. the collective, and the terrible consequences birthed by a revenge culture that over the years has jutted out its chest and preened about how great it was, but that turned tail and scampered into the darkness when it was asked to defend its existence. Hockey players are among the toughest athletes on the planet, but the settlement announced between Bertuzzi and Moore late Thursday proves the game’s power brokers have no confidence in justifying professional hockey’s more contentious elements in a public forum that’s beyond the NHL’s control. Read more
In the winter of 2011, Penguins owner Mario Lemieux sent a strong and public message to the NHL in regard to a “sideshow” brawl between his franchise’s players and those of the New York Islanders. Calling the incident a “travesty”, the retired Hall of Famer went on to talk about the type of league and game he wanted to be associated with:
“We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players,” Lemieux said. “We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated.”
Three years later – with Matt Cooke’s infamous legacy in Pittsburgh still relatively fresh in the collective memory of hockey fans – Lemieux’s team has made moves that suggest the integrity of the game and player safety isn’t as much of a priority as he’s suggested it ought to be: In July, the Pens signed expert agitator Steve Downie to a one-year contract; and Thursday, they agreed to terms on a professional tryout deal with journeyman and fellow super-pest Daniel Carcillo.
When you hear Carcillo’s and Downie’s names, the words “integrity of the game” and “safety” do not leap to mind. In fact, they run screaming away from mind. Read more
Pre-season predictions are a mug’s game at the best of times, because the truth is often far stranger than any fiction we could dream up. Well, we’re going to put that to the test, because today’s predictions are all of the…um, far-fetched variety. So sit back, suspend your disbelief, and enjoy THN’s Top 10 Wacky Predictions for the NHL’s 2014-15 campaign.
10. After hearing one too many questions about his future in Detroit, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock snaps and vows to only say, “I am Groot” in all media interviews for the rest of his career. Babcock’s inimitable speaking style translates so well into the single line of dialogue spoken by the Guardians of the Galaxy character, he replaces Vin Diesel in the sequel to the blockbuster movie.
9. In their ongoing attempt to employ every key member of the 2004 Stanley Cup champion Lightning, Rangers acquire Vincent Lecavalier from Philly and Dave Andreychuk and Fredrik Modin from retirement. John Tortorella also hired as director of dressing room security.
8. Following years of speculation, NHL announces expansion to Long Island and Atlanta in 2016. “Don’t worry about it,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says in a news release welcoming expansion franchise owners Charles Wang and Atlanta Spirit, L.L.C. Jr. into the league. “Let’s just see what happens.” Read more
As the beginning of NHL training camps draws closer, it’s natural for fans to debate and discuss which teams had the most productive off-season. And although the answer to that question won’t be confirmed for months, if not years, that won’t stop us from ranking the 10 best off-season unrestricted free agent signings:
10. Thomas Vanek, Wild (3 years, $19.5 million). Granted, Vanek didn’t help his contract negotiating stance with a poor playoff showing for the Canadiens, but his regular-season production has been dependably above-average – and given that Minnesota struggled to put pucks in nets last season (their 207 goals-for was third-worst in the Western Conference), he’ll help a great deal and isn’t locked up to a contract with an onerous term.
9. Ales Hemsky, Stars (3 years, $12 million). The 31-year-old Hemsky hasn’t reached the 20-goal mark since he had 23 for Edmonton in 2008-09, but he’ll play on Dallas’ second line – alongside former Senators teammate Jason Spezza, with whom he enjoyed some solid chemistry in his 20-game stint in Ottawa last year – and should perform well playing in a non-fishbowl market with increased minutes.
8. Radim Vrbata, Canucks (2 years, $10 million). Vrbata has been under most people’s radar playing in Phoenix, but the 33-year-old has proven himself to be a reliable 20-30-goal-scorer. On the rejigged Canucks, he’ll see time on the same line as the Sedin twins and will get first-unit power play minutes. The term of this deal also makes this a win for new Vancouver GM Jim Benning. Read more
Until it happens, the notion of Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin departing the NHL in the prime of their careers and returning to their native Russia to play in the KHL should be considered a significant long shot. However, you shouldn’t take that to mean there’s no chance it takes place. As we saw this weekend when Russian president Alexander Medvedev commented cryptically on the possibility of Malkin and Ovechkin playing for a KHL team next season, there are many who would love nothing more than to convince the two superstars to shock the hockey world and head home.
First thing’s first: ultra-sensitive Caps and Penguins fans who read the above paragraph must be reminded to do some deep-breathing relaxation exercises before falling on their backs and squealing as if they’d been kneed in a soft personal place. If Malkin and/or Ovechkin chose to leave hockey’s top league, it wouldn’t be an indictment of their respective franchises or the NHL itself. Rather, they would be moving back to: the warm comforts of their own culture; a Kontinental League that would treat them like Faberge Eggs with legs; and friends and family who are an ocean away for three-quarters of every year. If the shoe were on the other foot and North American players had to ply their trade in Europe each and every season, North American fans would treat any prodigal son as a hero for choosing to leave a more prominent situation to play at home instead.
There’s also a whole lot of tax-free money that would be thrown at Ovechkin and Malkin, but – and this is where your trusty correspondent wishes there was a sarcasm font – we all know these decisions aren’t about money. It wasn’t about money when Ilya Kovalchuk dropped jaws in 2013 by leaving the New Jersey Devils just three years into a 15-year, $100-million contract, right? He just wanted to go home, and no financial payday could keep him in North America. (And make no mistake – anyone who would try to argue people expected Kovalchuk to leave the NHL that quickly after signing a contract extension is as disingenuous as they come.) Read more
The migration of on-and-off-ice talent from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Los Angeles Kings franchise that has won two of the past three Cups is not lost on observers. At various points in the past 15 years, the Flyers (a) employed L.A. GM Dean Lombardi as their western scout, and Kings assistant coach John Stevens as their coach; (b) centered their core of forwards around Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, who each have two rings with the Kings; and (c) had Ron Hextall as their director of player personnel before he joined L.A. and was part of their Cup win in 2012.
Hextall returned to the Flyers last summer and will enter his rookie year as Philly’s GM. His best chance to deliver a Cup is if owner Ed Snider leaves him alone to work at it. That hasn’t always been true in the nearly five decades Snider has owned the team. And the success of the Kings – the success of components not good enough for the Flyers – should show Snider the best thing he can do to satisfy his competitive urges is to wall himself off from hockey decisions.
Because in the modern era, it’s a fact: Stanley Cups are won by teams whose owners stay out of the picture.