Rory Boylen

Rory Boylen is the editor of Post-to-Post and has been with The Hockey News since 2007. A former OMHA referee for 10 years out of Coldwater, Ont., he grew up an unlikely fan of the Florida Panthers and - perhaps even more unlikely - was crushed by Uwe Krupp in 1996. Toss out Big Lebowski lines and he'll be your friend for life.

10 RFAs who missed training camp and how their disputes were resolved

Jamie Benn (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Ryan Johansen’s contract negotiations with the Columbus Blue Jackets are…contentious. Yesterday started with Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen drawing a line in the sand by insinuating the start of training camp as a cut off point. Later on, team president John Davidson took aim at Johansen’s agent Kurt Overhardt by saying the numbers he was throwing out made no sense and were embarrassing.

This sounds like it could be one of the bigger RFA battles the NHL has had in recent years, but there’s still a little time before training camps open. And it’s not like it would be the first time a player has missed the start of training camp with a contract dispute.

It actually used to happen a lot more in the NHL. In the 1990s, it was a regular, yearly thing most teams would have to deal with at one point or another. The only great leverage an RFA without arbitration rights has is to stay home and make the team sweat. It maybe doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but the Johansen situation is hardly unique to the NHL today. Heck, Torey Krug, Jaden Schwartz, Reilly Smith, Darcy Kuemper and Cody Eakin are going through their own, less-publicized negotiations right now too.

We take a look at some of the more recent RFAs who missed all or a portion of training camp over a contract dispute and what the outcome was. We didn’t want to look too far back at every situation because market conditions have changed, especially when looking back past the 2004-05 lockout. Anything before then is basically no influence on Johansen’s situation. Just don’t call these guys holdouts.

Derek Stepan, New York Rangers
Prior to last season, Stepan missed 16 days of training camp before settling on a bridge deal with the Rangers. Stepan ended up signing a two-year deal that has a $3.075 million salary cap charge. Read more

NHL 15 review: Gameplay is good, but way too much is missing

Rory Boylen
NHL 15 P.K. Subban

The following is a review for EA Sports’ NHL 15 on Playstation 4 and Xbox One.

NHL 15 arrived on the next generation consoles Playstation 4 and Xbox One last week to great anticipation. The player and fan graphics took a step up, NBC’s commentary crew was added to enhance the gaming experience, and the physics engine was also upgraded.

But how you grade the game depends on how you like to play it. If you’re a casual gamer who only pops on from time to time for a 1-on-1 game online, if you’re a big fan of HUT, or if you play offline against a friend on the couch, then you’ll get what you want out of it. The look of the game has taken a big jump forward and the feel of it has moderately changed as well. The fan animations and gameplay provide a rich experience. As one user who gave a positive review on metacritic said: “I couldn’t care less about the superfluous crap that’s been jammed into these games the past few years. Focus on the game play. That’s what matters, that’s why people loved these games throughout the ’90s.”

The problem is, the ’90s have been over for a decade and a half and sports games have evolved since then. Most users have gotten used to a more comprehensive package, filled with an in-depth GM mode, an RPG-like career mode, an online “GM Connected” where you manage a team against other players from around the globe or in your neighborhood – and more. It’s here that NHL 15 takes a dive. Read more

See KHL’s Sochi expansion team score 19 seconds into first home game with beautiful goal

Rory Boylen
Bolshoy Ice Dome. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images)

The Bolshoy Ice Dome opened in 2014 for the Winter Olympics and this year it’s home to a KHL expansion team. The Sochi Leopards won one of their first three games on the road and yesterday they played their home opener.

And here’s the first-ever home goal scored by the Leopards, which came just 19 seconds into the game against Ekaterinburg’s Avtomobilist. Alexei Krutov, a player who’s spent his entire career in Russia and Switzerland, left former NHL defenseman Sami Lepisto in the dust and on his butt, and then beat goalie Jakub Kovar through the five hole.

Sochi won its first home game 6-3. According to the KHL’s website, there were about 8,000 people in attendance. Read more

Check out Pekka Rinne’s excellent new “Gladiator” mask design

Rory Boylen
rinnemain

When you’re the goalie for a team called the Predators, your options for a fearsome mask design are wide. Last year, Rinne used a “facehugger Alien” design and before that he used a “Hardcorelicious” monster.

For each one, he’s worked with goalie mask designer extraordinaire David Gunnarsson and he did the same this year. This is my favorite of the bunch: a beastly gladiator named Maximus. You can see the beast’s hungry teeth at the bottom of the helmet and the Gladiator mask he’s hidden behind at the top.

Gunnarsson described the design on his Facebook page: Read more

Blue Jackets GM on Ryan Johansen contract talks: “When training camp starts, that’s it”

Rory Boylen
Ryan Johansen. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

We’re 22 days away from opening night of the NHL season and Columbus’ Ryan Johansen is still without a contract. The 22-year-old, who was picked fourth overall in the 2010 draft, is coming off a terrific 33-goal season. The problem is, he’s only once posted those kinds of numbers in the NHL. In the 107 big league games he played from 2011-13, Johansen scored 14 times.

So it’s tricky to define what his next contract should be worth. Should he get more than Jamie Benn’s $5.25 million, a deal the Dallas Star signed after a 26-goal season in 2011-12? Should he get more than Jeff Skinner’s $5.725 million, which kicked in three years after his phenomenal rookie season? Should he get more than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ $6 million, a first overall pick who has been scoring at a fairly consistent rate across his three years in the league?

Each of those deals are long-term contracts running five years or more. If the Blue Jackets sign Johansen, it seems it’ll be on a short-term deal – but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports team and player are around $3 million apart even on a two-year extension. The Blue Jackets are coming in around $3.5 million on a bridge contract, similar to the one Matt Duchene signed with the Avalanche in 2012. Portzline reports Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, is seeking around $6.5 million. In other words: no break for a bridge deal. Read more

The Montreal Canadiens won’t have a captain this year – will P.K. Subban get it next year?

Rory Boylen
Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban. (Courtesy the Montreal Canadiens)

Ever since Brian Gionta signed with the Buffalo Sabres, there has been plenty of speculation on who would be the next captain of the Montreal Canadiens. Would it be Max Pacioretty? Andrei Markov? Tomas Plekanec? Or how about Norris winner and face of the franchise, P.K. Subban?

How about all of the above?

Monday, the team announced that each of those players would act as assistant captain this season, instead of selecting one to wear the ‘C’ full time. Since NHL rules dictate that only three players can wear an ‘A’ during a game where there is no captain, the four will be on a rotation. Read more

Malcolm Subban’s awesome new mask features death and Bible verse

Rory Boylen
Malcolm Subban mask pictures from David Leroux's Instagram account (dielairbrush).

In 2012 Malcolm Subban was a member of the Ontario League’s Belleville Bulls and a recently drafted prospect of the Boston Bruins. He wanted to change his goalie mask and give it a meaner and morbid look and he worked with Montreal painter David Leroux to do it.

The results were pretty awesome. Subban’s mask represented the Bulls on the front and had a Bruins logo on the back plate. But that’s not all: the mask also had the Grim Reaper staring into your soul and a striking red, yellow and orange color scheme that fit nicely with the Bulls.

Also appearing on the back plate was a verse from the Bible, Psalm 23:4:

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Pretty cool, right?

Well today Leroux showed off an updated design for Subban, who has since moved on from the Bulls and will likely play his second consecutive season with the American League’s Providence Bruins – and possibly with the NHL club. The mask still has the Grim Reaper and the Bible passage on it, but has been updated to fit a Boston Bruins theme.

This thing is menacing…and totally awesome. Read more

Chicago’s Jim Cornelison sings Star Spangled Banner on The Colbert Report

Rory Boylen
Jim Cornelison. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

This weekend marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. Written by Sir Francis Scott Key in 1814 as the British bombarded Baltimore’s Fort McHenry at a crucial battle in what was effectively a second American Independence War, the tune became the official national anthem of the United States in 1931.

In hockey, the best national anthem singer has to be Jim Cornelison, who sings at every Chicago Blackhawks home game. His powerful rendition is made even stronger by the fans who cheer alongside him as he belts out the verse. Read more