Jason Kay is the Editor in Chief of The Hockey News and has been with the brand since 1989. No, that's not a typo. Born in England, raised in Toronto, he arrived in his home and adopted land as a baby in 1967, just in time to see the Maple Leafs win their last Stanley Cup. A stay-at-home defenseman once upon a time, Kay knows his NHL dreams are long dead, but he hasn't given up hope of winning the Brier.
In the August issue of The Hockey News, in the wake of baseball star Tony Gwynn’s death this past June, columnist Adam Proteau wrote a critical piece about the use of chewing tobacco in hockey.
A few pages earlier, in our table of contents, we published an image of Thomas Vanek throwing out the first pitch in a Minnesota Twins game. In the front right pocket of his shorts is the outline of what appears to be a cell phone. In the front left pocket, there’s something shaped like a tin of chew.
Apparently, the picture was worth about 10,000 words. We received a high volume of letters to the editor (particularly for July), mostly bemoaning our photo choice. Here’s an example:
Brad Richards has had a very good, well-decorated career. He’s won a Stanley Cup, the Conn Smythe Trophy and been paid richly for his efforts.
He’s also been the subject of some criticism, particularly in New York the past few years, and was bought out following the Blueshirts’ playoff run.
During his latter days in Tampa Bay, Richards was part of a triumvirate of stars, along with Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St-Louis, who were eating up a healthy helping of the Lightning’s cap space and there was strong speculation one would be moved. The needle landed on Richards.
The news of Patrick Cote’s sentencing for two bank robberies the other day was in parts sad, shocking and curious. What happened to lead to his descent from one-time NHL enforcer to a life of crime?
The tale also brought to mind Attila Ambrus, the most notorious and engaging thief hockey has ever known.
If you’re not familiar with Ambrus, he was a Hungarian hard-drinking, womanizing, puck-stopping (sometimes) goalie whose legend reached iconic status. His adventures were expertly told in the 2004 book The Ballad of the Whiskey Robber, written by Julian Rubinstein.
A one-time NHL enforcer has been sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to committing two bank robberies in Montreal, according to online reports.
Montreal radio station CJAD is reporting Patrick Cote, a second-round pick of the Dallas Stars in 1995, confessed to the heists in May after police questioned him in connection with a stolen vehicle. The report says the car had broken down when police spotted it.
As you might imagine, there were some intense discussions around our office following a free agency feeding frenzy a few weeks ago that lived up to the hype. Our staffers were dissecting the moves that were and weren’t made, the winners and losers, when someone floated the Buffalo Sabres.
On July 1 they splurged, adding Josh Gorges (via trade), Brian Gionta, Matt Moulson, Andrej Meszaros and Cody McCormick. That’s nearly $19 million towards their cap this season dedicated to five new players.
But money wasn’t the issue. The Sabres had oodles of cap space. The concern was whether they had done too much and had critically wounded their chances of landing the first overall pick in 2015, most likely Connor McDavid.
How much credit does Bobby Hull deserve for the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty of the 1980s? A fair bit, according to the Golden Jet, in this edition of Throwback Thursday.
In the July, 1988 edition of The Hockey News, Hull told Stan Fischler that Oilers’ GM Glen Sather got the idea for remaking his team when “myself, Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg terrorized his Oilers in the last years of the WHA. He’d get so frustrated watching us throw the puck around that he finally vowed to build a team on our (European-style) lines.”
I can’t vouch for the state of hockey in Australia. Its men’s program is, after all, ranked 34th by the International Ice Hockey Federation, tucked just behind powerhouses Mexico and Israel.
But there are signs of shinny positivity emanating from the land down under.
A couple weeks ago, an Aussie-bred player was drafted by an NHL team for the first time ever when the Capitals spent the 98th overall selection on Nathan Walker. The 5-foot-10, 20-year-old left winger was actually born in Wales, but grew up in Sydney.
The news that Radek Bonk and Miroslav Satan had announced their retirements a couple weeks ago came as something of a surprise: not that they were hanging them up, but that weren’t already out to pasture.
Bonk, 38, hadn’t played in the NHL since 2009, when he had nine goals in 66 games for Nashville. Satan, 39, spent the past four seasons mostly playing in Bratislava, a club which eventually joined the KHL.
It was a little reminiscent of when Petr Nedved materialized in Sochi in February. We hadn’t heard from him in North America since he played out the string with Edmonton in 2007. But he was plying his trade year-in, year-out in the Czech league.
It also brought to mind a line uttered years ago by one-time journeyman Greg Adams, in which he said (and I’m paraphrasing), “Guys like Gretzky retire. Guys like me fade away.”
Thanks to the Internet and databases such as hockeydb and hockey-reference, it’s significantly easier to track the whereabouts of hundreds NHLers who do the Adams fade. At least, it’s simpler to find out when they were last active.
So I did a quick surf and played the “dead or alive” game; or more appropriately, the “retired or active” search? It was easy to get sucked into this vortex.