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.
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
It’s interesting how the same event, particularly in a game of contact that goes a hundred miles an hour, can be perceived so differently. Take the Radek Gudas hit on Scottie Upshall Thursday night as an example.
On its website, Rogers Sportsnet described the hit this way: “Florida’s Scottie Upshall gets caught with his head down as he accelerated into the arm of Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas.” Perhaps whoever wrote that really felt that way about the hit. Or perhaps this was the first test of Rogers’ new cozy relationship with the NHL and it failed miserably. Read more
Full disclosure: I really, really like Chris Pronger. On the ice, he was, in my opinion, one of the most dominant players of his era and a lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Off the ice, I consider him a friend. I’m honored to have been invited by him to share in the festivities when the Peterborough Petes raise a banner in his honor Nov. 2. I have his phone number in my list of contacts and we talk regularly, mostly about hockey, but of other things as well. During his career and even in the three years since he has played, Chris Pronger has filled my notebook and tape recorder with insightful, funny and downright eye-popping quotes. I find him intelligent, irreverent and refreshing.
I also have an enormous amount of sympathy for his current situation. Because he’s still listed as an active player for salary cap purposes, he cannot get on with his life. Because he’s still employed by and being paid by the Philadelphia Flyers, he’s stuck in a no-man’s land where he can’t retire and he can’t do much of anything else. Up until last season he was at least scouting for the Flyers, but that arrangement ended when Ron Hextall took over as GM in the off-season. Read more
While the countdown clock for the start of the NHL season has finally reached zero at the headquarters of Rogers Sportsnet, today cannot be a particularly festive day at the TSN studios. The network carried its NHL preview show Tuesday night and observers said there simply was not the same buzz in the place. That, of course, has to do with the fact that it was teeing up games it will not be showing, nor will have a chance to air for the next 12 seasons.
But for two of TSN’s most prominent insiders, the blow was softened at least a little when it was announced that former THN editor-in-chief Bob McKenzie and hockey insider Darren Dreger will be part of NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Rivarly broadcasts and other special events such as the all-star game, Stanley Cup final and NHL draft shows. Read more