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.
Spoiler alert: The Buffalo Sabres will win tonight’s NHL draft lottery with the numbers 11, 5, 6 and 7. Your trusty correspondent knows this because he went to this really cool website that simulates the NHL draft lottery and it told him so.
Then he did it 99 more times because, like a certain potato chip, you can’t do it only once. The website, http://nhllotterysimulator.com/#/official, took on a new life on Friday when the NHL made public the lottery number combinations for each of the 14 teams in the event. Suddenly, fans everywhere could, with the click of a keyboard, determine where Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will end up next season. Read more
It’s been almost 20 years since Patrick Roy walked the length of the bench, past coach Mario Tremblay, and straight to president Ronald Corey to tell him he had played his last game for the Montreal Canadiens. Since that fateful night, a total of 20 men have occupied the blue paint for the Habs. Jose Theodore, the NHL’s most valuable player in 2001-02, was a supernova that crashed and burned in a tire fire of controversy and was traded for a career backup. Andy Moog and Stephane Fiset were No. 2 goalies on Stanley Cup winners. Cristobal Huet and Tomas Vokoun went on to greater things and more money elsewhere. And a number of them have been clearly part of the “we-hardly-knew-ye” variety. Olivier Michaud, the youngest man ever to stop a puck for the Canadiens, currently lives in Montreal and operates Ecole de Gardiens de But Olivier Michaud.
One of those 20 men is Carey Price, the 27-year-old bow hunter and rodeo champion from Anahim Lake, B.C., whose father flew him in his own plane from his remote village to Williams Lake so he could play youth hockey. Price is unflappable and engaging, has a quiet swagger and is on his way to becoming one of the all-time greats in a conga line of all-time greats produced by the Canadiens. Of the 35 goaltenders enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame, seven of them have earned their way there by backstopping the Habs. (An eighth, Riley Hern, won four Stanley Cups with the Montreal Wanderers, a pre-NHL juggernaut.)
The Vezina Trophy appears to have Price’s name already engraved on it, and the notion of Price winning the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP is gaining a lot of steam. That’s because, under scrutiny by both eyeballs and hockey analytics, the Canadiens are decidedly mediocre without him. They start games dreadfully, they rarely knock their opponents off the puck and they are one of the worst possession teams in the league. When they get a lead, they give up a ridiculous number of shots, in terms of attempts and those that end up in Price’s glove to die. To suggest Montreal is a rag-tag team that would be life-and-death to make the playoffs if not bound by chicken wire and Price’s lasso rope isn’t a stretch. He proves it time and again when he is great, which is almost all the time, and when he is shoddy, almost never. Simply put, if Price isn’t the best player on the ice, the Canadiens don’t win. Read more
It’s not exactly Evan Longoria-like, but if you can come up with a player with less NHL experience who has ever signed a longer, more lucrative contract than John Klingberg has with the Dallas Stars, let us know.
Because we certainly can’t come up with one. After just 65 games in the best league in the world and only 13 in the American League prior to that, and coming off double hip surgery last summer, Klingberg signed a seven-year deal with the Stars worth $29.75 million. It’s a contract that will take him and the Stars through the 2021-22 season. (Longoria, the superstar third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, agreed to a six-year contract extension in 2008 worth $17.5 million just six games into his major league career, a deal that has since been extended.) Read more
In some ways, the most unlikely team in this year’s playoffs carries much of a country’s hopes on its back. The Winnipeg Jets, picked by this publication (ahem) and many other pundits to finish last in their division, are in the playoffs.
And there are some who believe the Jets have what it takes to defeat the Anaheim Ducks in the first round. This corner is not one of them, but there is a sentiment that the Jets are flying high and the playoff-underachieving Ducks are once again ripe to be upset. Read more
Well, the old-time hockey guys in the NHL’s head office must be doubling over patting themselves on the back right about now. They’ve instantly created a gong show in the first-round series between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators. And in a league that openly admits that it sells hate, it just got exactly what it wants.
No matter that its ludicrous decision not to suspend P.K. Subban for his two-handed slash to the hand of Mark Stone has suddenly hijacked this series. Between now and Friday night for Game 2, few people will be talking about how the Canadiens fourth line depth players, who had been dormant for much of the season, rescued them in Game 1. Fewer will be talking about how arguably the two best goaltenders in the NHL going into the playoffs, Carey Price and Andrew Hammond, have to be much better in Game 2 than they were in Game 1. Read more
You’d have to think Peter Chiarelli’s fate in Boston was sealed back in January when team CEO Charlie Jacobs said it would be “a complete failure” and “absolutely unacceptable” for the Bruins to miss the playoffs this season.
Tough crowd there in Boston. One bad season and you find yourself out on your ear. And when the Bruins power brokers asked themselves what Chiarelli had done for them lately, they didn’t like the answers. When you frame it that way, there was an avalanche of reasons for the Bruins to fire Chiarelli this morning. On-ice performance aside, it has been kind of a skeleton-in-the-closets kind of run of moves for Chiarelli of late. Read more
At the recent GM meetings, Bryan Murray’s 29 colleagues broke tradition by honoring him, despite the fact he hasn’t retired and has no immediate plans to do so. They’ll have another opportunity to make it official when Murray receives the NHL GM of the Year Award at the league’s awards ceremony in Las Vegas in June.
Perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves a little, but you’d have to think Murray is a shoo-in for the honor this year. Read more
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brendan Shanahan spoke for only 21 minutes Monday afternoon, one day after he took a pressure washer to the team’s front office, but kicked every crutch out from underneath his organization and dispelled almost every myth under which it has operated for years.
It’s great when you have the support of the board of directors to do and say what Shanahan has done and said over the past couple of days, but it was refreshing nonetheless. Shanahan made it absolutely clear, with no grounds for any reasonable doubt, that the rebuild is on in Toronto. Nobody has ever had that kind of latitude before and Shanahan plans to use it. Read more