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 Tampa Bay Lightning got a welcomed sight Thursday morning when defenseman Victor Hedman joined them for an on-ice workout for the first time in a month. The fact that he took shots for the first time was an even better sign for a team that has weathered the storm well since Hedman left the lineup after breaking the index finger on his right hand in mid-October.
Nobody was happier, perhaps than Hedman himself, than Lightning coach Jon Cooper, whose team has gone 10-4-1 in his absence.
“I don’t want to throw numbers out but he’s a top-10-slash-top-five defenseman in the NHL,” Cooper said. “You pull the top defenseman from any team in this league and everybody would have issues. We’ve weathered this storm without him, but we can’t go much longer.”
When a team runs into a rash of injuries, it’s easy to say that it creates an opportunity for someone else, that injuries can’t be used as an excuse, that organizations should have enough depth to recover and that everybody just needs to play harder.
And some of those things are true. But then you have the Columbus Blue Jackets, who until recently were losers of nine straight games and currently 10 of their past 12. There’s a time where injuries have to stop being an excuse. But, when you look at it objectively, this is not one of those times. Read more
Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray would have preferred to keep his personal life to himself. His inclination was to not go out and tell the world that his colon cancer had reached Stage 4 and that it had spread to his lungs and liver. Given his druthers, he would have rather not shared to the world that he is dying.
But then he saw a chance to leave a positive legacy. Murray finds himself in his current situation because he put off getting a simple colonoscopy. And if going public could convince people to not make the same mistake, he saw a lot of value in it. So last week, he told the world via Michael Farber and TSN the news. Read more
When the NHL announced it would be adopting a dry scrape of the ice before the overtime period, it flew in the face of all the gains it had made since the 2004-05 lockout. Ever since then, the league had been obsessed with the flow of the game and keeping things moving along. Then to try to reduce the number of shootouts, it ground everything to a complete halt with the dry scrape.
Well, the scrape was scrapped yesterday when the GMs voted unanimously to get rid of it. The new rule, which will see two Zambonis replaced by good, old man and woman power behind shovels, will come into effect for Saturday’s game, meaning the dry scrape was an experiment that will have lasted a total of 294 games. Read more
People are beginning to compare Vladimir Tarasenko to Alex Ovechkin (in a good way), the STL Line is producing at a mind-boggling rate, T.J. Oshie is back in the lineup and the St. Louis Blues are starting to sell out their games. Things are truly looking up in the Show Me State.
Whether or not the Blues can parlay that success into the franchise’s first Stanley Cup remains to be seen, but if the playoffs started today, they’d be a consensus choice to win it all. That’s why they’re at the top of thn.com’s Power Rankings for this week. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses).
1. ST. LOUIS (6): The Blues start a four-game road trip Tuesday night coming off a stretch in which they’ve won 10 of their past 11. They’ve scored 49 goals this season and the line of Jori Lehtera between Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko has accounted for 24 of them.
2. PITTSBURGH (1): Penguins coach Mike Johnston told me last Friday night that the Penguins are far more comfortable in tight-scoring games than they were early in the season. That was after they defeated Toronto 2-1 and the night before they vanquished the Rangers 3-2 in a shootout. Power play, good.
Like a lot of people who turn their lives around, Scott Darling experienced a dramatic epiphany. To be sure, his decision the morning of July 1, 2011, came much more quickly than the process it took to get him where he was – which was in a bed in his uncle’s home in Boca Raton with a pounding head and a guilty conscience. Out of options and out of hockey, he was helping out at his uncle’s memorabilia company and, aside from doing arm curls with a beer bottle, hadn’t worked out in months. Read more
A popular notion is the impact of Quebec on goaltending has diminished significantly. That’s not true, not at all. After all, almost a third of NHL teams – eight to be exact – employ Quebec-born goaltending coaches. The shocking, and blasphemous if you’re from La Belle Province, fact is that total represents double the number of goalies from Quebec who are actually playing in the NHL.
Not including Martin Brodeur, who may or may not find NHL employment, the NHL’s Quebec goaltending fraternity could easily hold its meetings in a Mini Cooper. There was a time, when Patrick Roy made goaltending cool and the position attracted the province’s best athletes, when half the league had a starter or backup goalie from Quebec on its roster. Of the 60 possible goaltenders in the NHL in 2014-15, that number will have likely dwindled to four: Chicago’s Corey Crawford, Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier and Florida’s Roberto Luongo.
After a brief glimmer of hope following a stroke last month, hockey legend Gordie Howe has taken a turn for the worse over the past 10 days and, “is having a really difficult time here,” according to Howe’s son, Mark.
“Things are definitely headed in the wrong direction,” Mark said.
The younger Howe, in fact, sent an email out to family and friends last week telling them that Gordie Howe’s condition has been in rapid decline and that it might be time to consider hospice care for him. “Father Time and all Dad’s illnesses are pains are catching up with him rapidly,” he wrote. Read more