Brian Costello joined The Hockey News in 1990 when the likes of Bruce Boudreau, Randy Carlyle and Joel Quenneville were players, not coaches. Costello covered major junior hockey for five seasons before getting called up to THN. He likes to focus his attention on pre- and post-NHL careers, following closely the progress of the draft, up-and-coming prospects and fancying himself a Hall of Fame expert.
For a team that was supposed to be one of the frontrunners in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes when the season began, the Calgary Flames have hit it out of the park so far in 2014-15.
A lot of credit has to go to the defense tandem of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie, the Nos. 1 and 2 blueline scorers in the NHL this season. But it goes way beyond that.
It starts with the coaching staff, led by third-year Flames coach Bob Hartley. Once described as a bench boss who relied heavily on veterans while being tough on rookies, Hartley has evolved since his time with the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.
The hockey world lost a great this week when Jean Beliveau passed away at age 83. His first appearance in The Hockey News was as a 19-year-old junior sensation for the Quebec Citadels, when he went by the name Jean Marc Beliveau. The roar back then was Jean Marc was better than half the centers in the NHL.
Here’s a re-print of that story from Vol. 4, No. 25 of The Hockey News, March 24, 1951.
Beliveau Most Fabulous Junior in Ice History
Better Than Half NHL Centers, Some say
Detroit Scribe rates Him as Popular in Quebec City as Richard in Montreal; He’ll play for Habs
By Marshall Dann
Quebec City, Que. – Jean Marc Beliveau may be the greatest junior in hockey history and the finest prospect ever to loom for pro hockey. Or, he may not.
The hockey world is mourning the loss of hockey great Jean Beliveau today. He died Dec. 2 at age 83 after a lengthy illness. He are some of our favorite Beliveau images from The Hockey News archives.
Vladimir Tarasenko’s highlight-reel goal Monday against Cam Talbot of the New York Rangers inspired an artist to draw a frame-by-frame account of the play. The hand-drawn animated flipbook was created by an artist who admittedly doesn’t watch much hockey. “This goal hypnotized me into making a flipbook,” the artist wrote. “It’s just beautiful.”
Check it out.
We’re officially through the first month of the season, which is as good a time as any to look at the players who have surprised me in 2014-15. Some in a good way, others in a bad way. The common denominator is I never would have predicted these starts from a statistics perspective.
Anaheim – Emerson Etem. Doughnuts across the board in 11 games. I thought the winger had 20-goal potential. Also, to a lesser degree, Frederik Andersen. John Gibson was supposed to steal the No. 1 job, but Andersen is 6-1 with a 1.69 GAA and .940 SP.
Arizona – Sam Gagner. Just two assists in nine games for the skilled center. Also, Mike Smith. His numbers have bloated to 2-5, 3.96 GAA and .866 SP.
Boston – Tuukka Rask. My projected Vezina winner has struggled to a 4-4 start with a 2.81 GAA and .899 SP.
The NHL’s revamping to the draft lottery format will probably backfire this year when the league’s bottom feeders make a concerted effort to sink to 30th place. There’s just too much to gain from finishing last overall.
First, some background.
In August, the league announced changes to the draft lottery to be phased in over two years. The changes for 2015 are small adjustments to the odds of winning – they’re more evenly balanced now and the last-place team has a 20 percent chance of winning rather than 25 percent under the old format.
The real change doesn’t happen until 2016 when the lottery will be used to determine the top three selections in the draft.
By not making these sweeping changes right away for 2015, the NHL inadvertently will encourage the league’s worst teams to tank it in an effort to secure 30th place. That’s because for the 2015 draft, there are two generational prospects available. Connor McDavid has been called the stud of the 2015 draft for close to three years now. He’s been incredible this season. And in the past year, Jack Eichel has emerged as a close second option to McDavid. They’re head and shoulders better than the rest of a deep draft class.
The Calgary Flames locked up the game’s top-scoring defenseman for another five seasons, and by the time the deal kicks in next season, it might look like a huge bargain.
T.J. Brodie, who is tied with Victor Hedman and Brent Burns atop the NHL defensemen scoring parade with seven points, signed a five-year contract with the Flames worth $4.65 million annually ($23.25 million total). Brodie, 24, is in the second-year of a two-year bridge-deal that pays him $2.125 million. He would have been a restricted free agent next July.
For those who don’t watch the Flames on a regular basis, Brodie and defense partner Mark Giordano have been the team’s best players the past couple of seasons. ‘Brodano’, as they’re referred to, match up against the opponent’s top line, are on the first power play unit, play upwards of 25 minutes per game and boast strong possession and zone entry numbers.
One great part of another NHL season is the launching of a few dozen careers in the next few days. No matter how well you think you follow the game – and prospects in the development system – there are always some names that arrive from left field.
In perusing the 30 season-opening rosters this morning, there were a handful of names that were Greek to me – and we’re not talking about the Gyros of Hockey team. There were some other names that I didn’t anticipate arriving on the scene, either so soon or this season. (I’m not including young top prospects such as Sam Reinhart and Alexander Wennberg because the probability was high they’d make it.)
Without further adieu, here’s my list of 30 NHL player names you, too, may not be that familiar with.