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.
Interesting story about Bo Horvat. He’s from Rodney, Ont., which is about 50 miles southwest of London, but he spent some of his most formative hockey years in Toronto.
Well, not really Toronto. When he was an atom in 2005-06, Horvat and another player from Sarnia would drive to Toronto every weekend to play for the Toronto Red Wings of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. The player’s father would drive from Sarnia, pick Horvat up along the way and they’d spend the weekend in a hotel room for $89 a night. Read more
The words “much-maligned” and the name Marc-Andre Fleury so often go together that those who don’t follow hockey closely might have the idea it’s actually part of his name. The Much-Maligned Marc-Andre Fleury. Hey, at least it beats the likes of Pilot Inspektor Lee or Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette or Blanket Jackson.
The much-maligned one made his mark on history Monday night when he stopped 27 shots in the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 overtime victory over the Boston Bruins. In doing so, Fleury became the 31st goaltender in NHL history to record 300 career wins. Fleury accomplished the feat in his 547th career game, which makes him the third fastest to 300 in NHL history behind Jacques Plante and Andy Moog – yeah, Andy Moog. And at 29 years and 361 days, he’s also the third youngest in NHL history to reach the benchmark, behind Martin Brodeur and Terry Sawchuk. Read more
The New York Islanders are not in first place in the NHL today. They’re not even in the top five of the NHL standings. But is there a team in the league any team would like to meet less than the Islanders at the moment?
We doubt it. The Islanders have won eight of their past nine, including back-to-back wins over the team most consider to be the best in the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’ve scored at least four goals in each of their past five victories and are playing with a swagger we haven’t seen from this team in years.
And that’s why they’re on top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)
1. N.Y. ISLANDERS (9): “This is a new hockey club with a new attitude,” said coach Jack Capuano after a home-and-home sweep of Pittsburgh. Coming up: Four Metro division games.
2. ST. LOUIS (1): Jay Bouwmeester’s Ironman streak ends at 737, Ryan Reaves’ consecutive goals streak starts at one. Coming up: Three winnable games at home to Ottawa and Edmonton, on the road to Minnesota.
3. ANAHEIM (5): Rene Bourque played 9:54 and had three shots and three hits in his Ducks debut against Arizona Sunday night. Coming up: Two more at home and a trip to San Jose Saturday night.
4. MONTREAL (3): In the seven games Montreal has lost this season, they’ve been outscored by a margin of 33-5. Coming up: Home-and-home against suddenly hot Buffalo, then a four-game western road trip. Read more
When I think of Pat Quinn, I harken back to the dark days of February, 1999. Quinn was just months into his tenure as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs and I was equally green as the Maple Leafs beat reporter with The Toronto Star covering him.
I had found out not long before that my father was dying of cancer. Word somehow got to Quinn and one day during a post-practice scrum when I think he could see I was smiling on the outside and dying on the inside and was being cajoled by my colleagues, he pulled me into him with his big right arm and held me close for just a second. He never mentioned a word of it ever again, and neither did I. Read more
Stephane Robidas has made $25 million during the course of his NHL career, with another $5 million coming to him within the next two years. That’s enough money to set himself, his children and probably his children’s children up for life if he’s responsible with it.
That’s the best part of being a professional athlete. You’re among the best in the world at what you do and you get paid wildly enormous amounts of money to do it. The downside is that in working so hard to become that hockey player, you often become so singularly focused that other areas of your life, like money management, take a back seat. And that opens you up to having others manage your money, which can lead to situations such as the one involving Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Despite career earnings of almost $21 million, Johnson filed for bankruptcy last month after firing his agent and leaving his finances to his parents.
Given the circumstances, perhaps it’s surprising it doesn’t happen more often.
“I find whenever you start making money, you have lots of friends,” Robidas said. “It’s tough to earn money, but it’s really easy to burn money.”
And the more money you have, the easier it is to watch it burn, or at least have it burn without you knowing about it. According to the excellent report on the Johnson situation by Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, Johnson allowed his parents complete access to his finances without any accountability checks. And when he did ask questions about where his money was going, he took the answers at face value.
Even when the Toronto Maple Leafs do something right, they find a way to mess it up. On a day when people should be talking about how they put the brakes on a three-game losing streak with an impressive win, the narrative will surround how a bunch of pampered millionaires stuck it to the paying public.
Here’s what happened. On the heels of perhaps the most negative scrutiny they’ve faced from their fan base all season – including a fan throwing a Maple Leafs sweater on the ice during a 9-2 loss to the Nashville Predators Tuesday night, the Maple Leafs had an inspired effort, one of their best of the season, and defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday night. Read more
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