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.
SUNRISE, FLORIDA – For the grand majority of their 20 seasons of existence, the Florida Panthers have done little to instill a sense of confidence in their fan base. An average of two playoff appearances every tenth of a century tends to have that effect. A regularly changing ownership group doesn’t help much, either. But the franchise’s current powerbrokers know full well they can’t change that with hollow guarantees, PowerPoint presentations or slick ad campaigns.
The only thing that will fill their 19,250-seat arena on a nightly basis is what they’ve consistently lacked since their inaugural season in 1993-94: wins, and many of them. Read more
As reported Thursday by TSN, the NHL has made its first significant legal reply in regard to the 2013 lawsuit filed by former players who believe the league seriously mishandled its approach to concussions and head trauma. And one only need give the reply a quick perusal to recognize it as the worst kind of victim blaming.
Filed in November of last year, the players’ lawsuit – now backed by a group of some 40 former NHLers including retired L.A. Kings star Bernie Nicholls and Toronto Maple Leaf Gary Leeman – alleges the league didn’t provide adequate protection from head injuries before a head trauma research committee was formed in 1997, and that, beyond that point, the results of that committee weren’t properly shared among players. Responding via legal documents filed in a Minnesota federal court this week, the NHL contends players forced to retire prematurely due to concussions should have realized on their own the risk they were taking and what could happen to them.
“Publicly available information related to concussions and their long-term effects, coupled with the events that had transpired – i.e., the players incurring head injuries – should have allowed (players) to put two and two together,” the NHL said in court filings obtained by TSN.
So let me get this straight – the league whose commissioner in 2011 said it was premature to link fighting in hockey with chronic traumatic encephalopathy is the same league that’s now saying players ought to have known what was up all along with head trauma in the sport because they should’ve read magazine and newspaper reports the league was questioning the veracity of? Does this make sense to anyone? Read more
Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin has built a mile-long list of highlight reel goals – and he added some more footage to the collection with a dazzling, nearly end-to-end rush against the Colorado Avalanche Thursday that was the deciding marker in a 3-2 Washington victory.
The Caps’ captain picked up the puck at his own blueline, swiftly carried it down the ice, deked Avs defenseman Jan Hejda and tried to fire the puck on his backhand at Colorado goalie Reto Berra; the puck went past the net, but it rebounded right back to him, and Ovechkin made no mistake from close range on his forehand, even at a difficult angle and Hejda on his heels: Read more
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has been one of the NHL’s busier wheelers-and-dealers of late, acquiring veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar from Dallas for Travis Moen last week and adding to the changes Thursday by dealing out-of-favor winger Rene Bourque to Anaheim in exchange for blueliner Bryan Allen.
That the soon-to-be 33-year-old Bourque was a goner from Montreal is no surprise; the team waived and demoted him to the American League earlier this month after being frustrated once again with his lack of production and engagement during the regular season. He bought himself some time last spring with eight goals and 11 points in 17 playoff games for the Habs, but after only posting a pair of assists in 13 games this season, Bergevin had seen enough. Read more
If you were desperately hanging on to the hope hockey legend Teemu Selanne would continue his professional playing career – either in Europe or back in the NHL – even as he approaches his mid-forties, you can let go of it: the surefire Hockey-Hall-of-Famer confirmed Wednesday he’s retired for good.
In an interview with the International Ice Hockey Federation’s website, the 44-year-old Selanne made it clear he won’t be tempted by lucrative contract offers from the KHL or any other league. Read more
When Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux was seen entering Madison Square Garden Wednesday before his team’s game against the New York Rangers, he was in a walking boot – so it was quite the shocker when the team announced Giroux would be playing the Blueshirts that night. But unfortunately for Flyers fans, neither Giroux’s presence nor a stellar showing from goalie Steve Mason would be enough to propel them to victory. Instead, they got a nasty tongue-lashing from GM Ron Hextall after their 2-0 loss.
You can see where Hextall’s frustration comes from: this was his team’s third straight loss and fifth defeat in their past 10 games. His Flyers now sit 13th in the Eastern Conference and sixth in the Metropolitan Division, just a single point ahead of the Hurricanes and three points ahead of the last-place Blue Jackets. And he also saw defenseman Michael Del Zotto – one of the few bright spots for a franchise that’s faced a number of physical ailments ready this season – sidelined with a lower-body
injury following a collision with Rangers blueliner Dan Girardi.
So although it was heartening in some ways to see Giroux tough it out after injuring himself in practice Monday, it also could speak to the desperation running through the Flyers at the moment. Read more
Teams revisit their past all the time when promoting themselves via a redesign of their jersey, logo or mascot, but the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders have made a sizeable mistake in doing so this season.
To wit: the Raiders unveiled their new mascot this week – an Arabian “raider” character named “Boston Raider” after a tie-in to an area pizza sponsor – which is based on their original logo from the early 1980s:
The new mascot’s appearance does not sit well with a number of people who believe it stereotypes those of Middle Eastern heritage. Rhonda Rosenberg, the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan’s executive director, told the Canadian Press she found it plays into discriminatory views of people from the region.
“The idea of a somewhat violent Muslim man is a stereotype that is really difficult for a lot of people to live with,” Rosenberg said. “Mascots are not where we should be depicting cultural groups of people. We just need to look at what values and ideas are being put forward, and whether they are really embodying what we want to be sharing.”
A team spokesman said the franchise never intended to offend anyone, nor does it believe the mascot to be “a negative representation of Middle Eastern people and their culture”. They might not, but in this day and age where society is rightfully trying to be respectful toward all ethnicities, the Raiders’ new mascot is a mistake. What may have been seen as appropriate decades ago isn’t always appropriate today; this is why a song like Ray Stevens’ “Ahab The Arab” – a top five radio hit when it was released in 1962 – is seen as patently offensive now.
Eras and tastes change, and sometimes the past is better left where it is. And if the Raiders are smart, they’ll send their new mascot to join former AHL mascot “Scorch” in the scrapyard.
On the most recent episode of Saturday Night Live, cast member Leslie Jones was on the Weekend Update segment of the show essentially arguing that women are crazy because they have to be in order to deal with crazy men. And I couldn’t stop thinking of that dynamic Tuesday night as I watched the outpouring of anger, frustration, confusion, and resentment from Toronto Maple Leafs fans during and after their team put in a thoroughly embarrassing effort in a 9-2 drubbing by Nashville at Air Canada Centre.
People outside of Toronto can make jokes about Leafs fans all they want – and believe you me, they want – but the truth is, if you’d lived in this city (as I have) for the past four-plus decades (as I mostly have), you’d understand why they’re beside themselves on a far-too-regular basis. If Leafs fans are crazy to keep subjecting themselves to this show of gongs – and to offer unrelenting support for a perennial disappointment year-in and year-out as they have is at the very least 1% crazy – they’ve got damned good reason to be. If you grew up having either had a small taste of the Leafs’ last Stanley Cup – or, like a growing number of Buds fans, were born after 1967 and thus had never seen a Toronto team win an NHL championship – you’d be a little sensitive to begin with. But it’s not just the volume of losing that’s made Leafs fans so tender to the touch. It’s the way the franchise has lost over the years that’s so maddening.