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.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly implied the league did have the National Football League incidents on its mind when it suspended Slava Voynov in light of the domestic assault arrest against the Los Angeles Kings defenseman, but said it was not the only factor involved in the decision.
In light of the fact that Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov was also arrested on domestic assault charges a year ago and was not suspended by either the league or the Avalanche, it might be natural to tie the NFL’s troubles with domestic violence to the league’s decision to suspend Voynov, who is due to appear in court Oct. 22. Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson are two high-profile NFL players, among others, who have been involved in domestic violence incidents of late and it would be naïve to think the NFL’s bungling of those situations was not a factor. But it wasn’t the only one, Daly said. Read more
If Gustav Nyquist hadn’t known that he arrived as an NHLer last year, he certainly does now. After all, it takes Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and awful lot to admit he screwed up and Nyquist made him do that.
Babcock has been giving himself a public flogging since Wednesday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Boston Bruins. The Red Wings got a 4-on-3 power play with 41 seconds remaining in overtime and Babcock went with Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Riley Sheahan up front and Nicklas Kronwall on defense. In doing so, he left Nyquist on the bench cooling his heels, despite the fact he tied the game with a power-play goal in the third period.
“I don’t need good analytics to know that Nyquist has three goals,” Babcock said. “We had a 4-on-3 power play at the end of the game and I didn’t have him on the ice. This is my own analytics. After the game, we went through it and we went with the 4-on-3 we always have, but the hottest guy was sitting on the bench. You don’t need analytics to figure out that wasn’t very smart.”
For the most part, though, Nyquist has made the Red Wings look like geniuses. Brought through the organization in typically methodical fashion after being taken in the fourth round, Nyquist didn’t play an NHL game until more than three years after he was drafted in 2008 and didn’t become an NHL regular until five years later. In between were productive careers with the University of Maine and the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American League, where he won a Calder Cup championship two seasons ago.
So by the time the Red Wings turned to Nyquist and a host of other minor leaguers to save their season, he was ready to face the challenge. He was, without a doubt, the most valuable player the Red Wings had last season, scoring 23 of his 28 goals last season in a 28-game stretch from mid-January to early April. This season, he’s picked up where he left off, with three goals in the Red Wings first three games.
So is Nyquist a better NHL player because he was brought along so slowly? Read more
Well played, Mr. Babcock. Well played.
Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, the undisputed prize catch among potential unrestricted free agents after this season, came into the Center of the Hockey Universe™ and managed to get out of the morning skate without addressing his future. That he did so in a hockey market that many speculate would be a prime destination for him if he decides to leave the Wings made it all that more impressive.
Babcock and the Red Wings have vowed to not make his contract situation a distraction and he did a good job of it, helped along by a broadcast media scrum that, for reasons only known to them, did not even broach the subject. Babcock only spoke of his personal situation when pulled aside after the cameras were turned off.
“My situation is great,” Babcock said. “I’m in love with my wife and I have three great kids at home and I coach the Red Wings. I’m from Saskatoon and I love my life. See you guys.”
With that he departed down the hallway to the Red Wings bus, but as long as he remains unsigned, the question will continue to be asked. It would be absurd to suggest there have not been talks between the team and Babcock about a new deal. After all, he and Red Wings GM Ken Holland speak every day. (On a related note, Holland and new Toronto Maple Leafs president and former Red Wing Brendan Shanahan spent much of the Red Wings morning skate chatting in the stands of the Air Canada Centre.)
Your trusty correspondent has long maintained that the Sudbury Wolves are the Toronto Maple Leafs of the Ontario League. Both teams play in hockey-mad markets where the love of the team is unconditional regardless of how good or bad they are. Both have had long periods of dysfunctionality, punctuated by short bursts of promise and hope. But for the most part, both teams have given their long-suffering fans too little to cheer about for too long.
In fact, it might even be worse in Sudbury than it is in Toronto. The Leafs are closing in on 50 years since their last Stanley Cup. The most recent and only time the Sudbury Wolves have won the Memorial Cup was 1932. So you’d have to be close to 90 years old to even have a faint recollection of what it was like to experience this team winning something. (And pre-season junior club tournaments in Russia don’t count.) Read more
If you like what you’ve seen from the Los Angeles Kings, get ready for a lot more of the same. For a long, long time. That’s because their core players keep coming up and GM keeps knocking them down, and all of them on long-term, cap-friendly deals.
The Kings, in fact, are building themselves some kind of empire. And as anyone knows, all empires need foot soldiers, which is why Lombardi was eager to get defenseman Jake Muzzin’s name on a five-year contract extension worth $20 million. It’s a great contract for the Kings – who get a No. 3-4 defenseman for an average of $4 million – and further proof that the Kings are now a desired destination for players who are willing to take far less money in exchange for the chance to have a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup every year. If you take into account the fact that Muzzin’s cap hit for this season is just $1 million, the Kings have him for the next six seasons for $21 million, an average of $3.5 million.
According to the NHL’s director of hockey operations, linesmen Greg Devorski and Scott Driscoll acted of their own accord when they decided to intervene before Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf could start fighting Tuesday night, and were not following a league edict.
And that’s because there isn’t an edict for them to follow.
There was no shortage of consternation from fans and television analysts when the two linesmen intervened in what everyone assumed would have been a doozy of a fight between Phaneuf and Iginla, former teammates and friends who have attended each other’s weddings. This was not a staged fight, they argued. It was more of an “organic” fight that is much more palatable because it arose from the high emotions of the game. And to be fair, there was a lot of contact and some questionable hits prior to the incident. Read more
More than anything, I want to meet the guy (or woman) who stood up in the planning meetings for the Adirondack Flames this summer and said the following: “Hey everyone, I have a great idea. Let’s give our new mascot a name that conjures up recollections of a fire that almost destroyed our whole town once.” (Slow clap follows.)
Suffice it to say, it has been an inauspicious debut for Calgary’s American League farm team in Glens Falls, New York. At its first news conference, the dais was adorned with a banner that had Calgary’s flaming ‘C’, then Adirondack’s flaming ‘A’, followed by the ‘C’ then the ‘A’. Which seems innocuous enough until you realize that it spells, C-A-C-A. Flaming C-A-C-A, no less.
On the ice, the Flames are 0-2-0 and have been outscored 11-2, so they’ve got that going for them. And in their first game of the season, resident meathead Trevor Gillies got himself suspended for 12 games with an act as senseless as you’re going to see on the ice this season. Read more
A compendium of thoughts and analysis for your Tuesday reading pleasure:
SHOOTING OUT THE SHOOTOUT: The first thing we’re going to say about this is we realize the sample size is small, so don’t get all over us for jumping to conclusions. But if the first week of play in both the NHL and American League are any indication, the answer to avoiding the shootout is longer overtime periods with 3-on-3 play and not a dry scrape and changing ends.
The NHL has had seven games go to extra time so far this season and only two of them have been decided before the shootout. The AHL, by contrast, has had six games go to extra time, but all six of them have been decided in overtime and without the need of a shootout. Read more