Ken Campbell

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.

Steve Montador ‘knew he was going to pass away early’

Ken Campbell
Steve Montador  (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

The first time Chris Montador noticed a change in his brother was the Christmas of 2011 when he came home for a short visit while playing with the Chicago Blackhawks. That would be Steve Montador’s last NHL season and after shorts stints in the minors and the KHL, his career ended last season, in large part because of concussion problems.

Chris Montador always knew his brother as an upbeat person with a positive outlook on life and someone who always looked for solutions. What he saw that Christmas was a completely different personality. “He wasn’t my brother,” Chris Montador told thn.com in an interview Thursday. “He was like a different person inside his body and it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart today. He wanted to be the same guy, but he just couldn’t.” Read more

Could Scott Gomez actually be a wanted man at the trade deadline?

Ken Campbell
Scott Gomez Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

The first and only time Scott Gomez was traded, the results were a disaster. That trade started a series of falling dominos that led to Gomez’s career spiraling downhill and to him becoming one of the NHL’s biggest pariahs.

So how cool is it that almost six years later, Gomez could become a wanted man at the trade deadline? All right, wanted might be gilding the lily a little. But the fact that Gomez has played his way into the conversation of players who could be moved by March 2 is nothing short of remarkable.

The NHL trade deadline seems becoming less about blockbusters – those big trades for players with term left on their deals are usually done at the draft now – and more about bolstering and tinkering. Some of the deals that turn out to be the best ones are the relatively minor ones that don’t cost the team acquiring the player much. And all the uncertainty surrounding the salary cap next season might impact this year’s trade deadline even more in that respect. (The Los Angeles Kings, though, are outliers in this one. Both of their Cup wins were preceded by big pre-deadline deals with the Columbus Blue Jackets that paid off in a big way in the playoffs – getting Jeff Carter in 2012 and Marian Gaborik last season.)

There are some GMs who think this year’s deadline will be dominated only by rentals because teams are wary of taking on too much money and term without know what the cap will be next season. And the uncertainty over whether the NHL Players’ Association will trigger the five percent inflator, because that will mean more in escrow payments, is adding to the worry.

So if the market is going to be flooded with rentals, teams looking for some inexpensive help might do worse than pick up Gomez, who rededicated himself to fitness and seems intent on proving he’s still got game. His 20 points in 33 games puts him pace for full season total of 50 points. Read more

Power Rankings: Deadline buyers in Nashville move to No. 1

Ken Campbell
Matt Cullen (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

Just what the Nashville Predators needed – another scoring defenseman. Even before Predators GM Davie Poile swung a deal to acquire Cody Franson from Toronto, he had the highest-scoring defense corps in the NHL.

Franson, who now gives the Predators three of the top-20 scoring defensemen in the league, will add to that dimension. Now if the Predators can just avoid having to play the defending Stanley Cup champs in the first round of the playoffs, they’ll be just fine.

For now though, the Predators are the top team in the league in thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.) Read more

If Sabres are tanking, who could blame them?

Ken Campbell
Jack Eichel (left) and Connor McDavid  (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Most would have to acknowledge, the optics of it don’t look great. After pulling off a blockbuster eight player trade Wednesday morning, Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray traded a bona fide No. 1 goaltender (Jhonas Enroth) who had compiled a .939 save percentage in his previous two games for a backup who is statistically one of the worst goaltenders at the NHL level (Anders Lindback) and a conditional third-round pick.

The move led a lot of observers to opine that the Sabres, already four points in arrears of the Edmonton Oilers for 30th place overall, were tanking the season in an attempt to get the best possible shot at the first pick overall and the coveted Connor McDavid. One tweet yesterday said jokingly that Murray had seen his team almost win a game Tuesday night against Ottawa and decided something had to be done. Read more

Toronto minor hockey league aims to further curb bodychecking

Ken Campbell
Minor hockey  (Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Depending upon how you look at it, the Greater Toronto Hockey League is on the verge of becoming either an outlier or a pioneer. It could become one of the first jurisdictions to have its older kids to play at a competitive level without bodychecking, even if it means they won’t be able to compete in tournaments and championships at the provincial level.

The GTHL, which is home to some 40,000 players and bills itself as the largest minor hockey association in the world, intends to put a vote to its membership a rule change that would take bodychecking out of all age groups at the ‘A’ level. Presently, bodychecking is not allowed at any competitive level below bantam (12 years old and under) or at any age level in house league competition under Hockey Canada’s rules. But this rule would take bodychecking out of the game at all age levels, including the bantam and midget levels, for all ‘A’ leagues. Read more

How Evander Kane and Tyler Myers respond is key to blockbuster deal

Ken Campbell
Tyler Myers  (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

It took Kevin Cheveldayoff exactly 1,335 days to make his first NHL player-for-NHL player trade as GM of the Winnipeg Jets. Suffice it to say that once he finally got around to it, he swung for the fences.

Given that it had taken him almost four years to make a swap of significance, and given that Evander Kane is out of the picture for the rest of the season, most would have expected the most methodical GM in the league to take his time with this transaction. But just a week after the Kane situation imploded, Cheveldayoff and his counterpart Tim Murray rained players and prospects. Read more

Power Rankings: Red Wings soar to top spot

Ken Campbell
Pavel Datsyuk  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

When your trusty correspondent informed Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland at the team’s rookie tournament in Traverse City in September that The Hockey News had picked his team to miss the playoffs, Holland was incredulous.

He spent much of the next two days making a case for his Red Wings, saying that if Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg could stay healthy and their goaltending could improve, they could surprise some people.

Well, there’s surprising people, then there’s knocking their socks off. The Red Wings are near the top of the league in the NHL standings and, for this week at least, at the top of thn.com’s weekly Power Rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.) Read more

Claude Ruel: The Canadiens forgotten superstar

Ken Campbell
Claude Ruel  (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Montreal Canadiens had the first pick of the 1980 draft and the top prospect, according to everyone ranging from the Central Scouting Bureau to The Hockey News, was a big center from the Regina Pats named Doug Wickenheiser.

Claude Ruel disagreed. Vehemently. Even though he had stepped in for Boom-Boom Geoffrion as the team’s coach 30 games into that season, he had seen enough of Denis Savard to know that the Montreal-born star of the Montreal Juniors, who had put up 181 points in an inferior Quebec League, was destined for NHL stardom. Read more