Ken Campbell, The Hockey News' senior writer, is in his second tour with the brand after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native once tried out for the Ontario League's Wolves as a 30-year-old. Needless to say, it didn't work out.
The record will show that P.K. Subban was officially traded by the Montreal Canadiens on June 29, 2016. But in reality, the seeds of it were sown on Feb. 1, 2013 when a GM who used to be a fringe player and a stubborn coach tried to beat the individualism out of their best skater. That’s the day that GM Marc Bergevin and coach Michel Therrien killed the ‘Low 5’ celebration that Subban used to do with goalie Carey Price.
They got past that, but like the couple that we all knew would divorce one day, the split became inevitable. And the Canadiens can spin this any way they’d like, but they’re decision to move Subban for Shea Weber has the potential for being an absolutely terrible hockey trade, one that could set the franchise back enormously. And it was done because one player brought too much attention to himself and some of the people around him couldn’t stand that.
We can only assume that Steven Stamkos’ agents aren’t terribly excited at the moment. His accountants? Well, since there’s no state tax in Florida and Stamkos will earn an average salary of $8.5 million each of the next eight years, well, that should make them fairly happy. We know fans in Toronto are a little down, as they probably are in Detroit, Montreal and Buffalo, too.
But Steven Stamkos is happy and that is the most important part of the equation. And it’s why, despite a year-long soap opera that accounted for a petrified forest worth of newsprint and countless gigabits in cyberspace, he decided to stay with the only NHL team he has ever known. As first reported by Bob McKenzie at TSN and confirmed by thn.com, Stamkos has agreed to an eight-year deal with the Lightning totaling $68 million. The deal involves a full no-movement clause, which means Stamkos isn’t going anywhere unless he approves of the deal.
As of today, NHL teams are permitted to get in touch with restricted free agents in advance of the free agency period opening July 1. Which is kind of like when Communist governments would hold elections. The fix is pretty much in. Chances are overwhelming that nobody is going to get an offer sheet, despite the fact you could make an all-star team out of the players who are available.
“Over the years you can probably count the number of visits teams have had with restricted free agents on one hand,” one agent said. “And I don’t think there will be too many this year.”
If Glenn Healy wants to escape the public scrutiny that has followed him around for the better part of the past 15 years as a broadcaster, he might want to avoid getting involved in politics. But surprisingly, that’s one of the career paths Healy is contemplating after being let go as the between-the-benches analyst for Hockey Night in Canada.
If Healy thought there were haters, and there were, when he was a broadcaster, that will pale in comparison if he does decide to dip his toe into the political waters. “There has been interest in the past in getting into the political side of things,” Healy told thn.com early Monday night. “When (former Canadian finance minister) Jim Flaherty was alive, I was approached about being an MP on a couple of occasions. The next chapter will come. I’m only, what, seven hours into this.”
The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee, you’d have to think, just can’t help itself. Try as it might, it is simply unable to resist the urge to act like an old boys’ network. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that it’s made up of 18 white guys, the youngest of whom is 50 years old.
With a blank slate due to the fact that there were no first-time eligible players who were worthy of induction, the committee righted a wrong by finally inducting Eric Lindros seven years after one of the most dominant players of his generation was eligible. Sergei Makarov, a talented winger in the former Soviet Union and a vital cog on one of the most dominant teams in the history of the game. Another solid choice. Tough to argue the induction in the builders’ category with Pat Quinn, a career coach who didn’t win the Stanley Cup, but was the only coach in history lead a team to a World Cup, Olympic gold medal and World Junior Championship.
BUFFALO – In the words of veteran Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Bob Cole, “Everything is happening.” Even though the draft wrapped up Saturday afternoon in Buffalo, the off-season heavy lifting for most teams begins now.
With the free agent courting period beginning Saturday, that should create quite a frenzy over the next few days, particularly when it comes to pending unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos. Teams have called. Teams will continue to call. Whether Stamkos does a tour of each team who wants to speak to him or they come to him at the Newport agency’s offices in suburban Toronto, not unlike the conga line that showed up at its doors when Brad Richards became a free agent in 2011 is not known. But the line will be long and the talk will be rich leading up to the opening of free agency next Friday.
BUFFALO – A week from Friday night, we’ll almost certainly find out what the future holds for Steven Stamkos. But when all the dust settles, don’t be surprised if it turns out the fact that Jakob Chychrun’s stock plummeted in the draft had a huge effect on the situation.
Here’s why. With Chychrun still available when the Detroit Red Wings were picking 16th, Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka finally found a trade partner willing to give up his pick so Chayka could choose Chychrun. The Coyotes are thin on defense among their prospects, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take Clayton Keller with the seventh overall pick. Chayka was convinced Chychrun wouldn’t still be available when they picked next in the first round in the No. 20 slot.
BUFFALO – There was a definitive St. Louis flavor to the Calgary Flames first round in the draft. Not only did they use the sixth overall pick to take Matthew Tkachuk, a product of the St. Louis minor hockey system and son of former Blues star Keith, they got the No. 1 goalie they’ve coveted when they traded for Blues goalie Brian Elliott in exchange for the 35th overall pick and a conditional third-rounder in 2018.
The Flames came to Buffalo with a single-minded purpose and that was to get an NHL-caliber goaltender for next season. They had permission to talk to Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning and that created a fair bit of traction. But in the end, the Flames were unable to come to terms on a contract extension and turned to Elliott, a player who has one year left on his contract with a $2.5 million cap hit.