It began in late July, when Minnesota Wild left winger Thomas Vanek made a surprising appearance at a federal government building in Rochester, N.Y., where the Austrian national had once played for the American League’s Americans. Vanek was co-operating with investigators in a gambling probe and no charges were laid against the hockey player.
But with one of the men charged in the case pleading guilty to money laundering on Thursday, Vanek’s name is back in the news.
Nathan Horton, Boone Jenner, Brandon Dubinsky and Sergei Bobrovsky. That’s a lot of core to have on the shelf but the Columbus – oh wait, add Mark Letestu to the IR – Blue Jackets are doing what they – also, James Wisniewski, are you kidding me? – uh, can.
Spirits were high in Columbus this summer after the franchise’s second-ever playoff berth ended with its first-ever post-season victories, even if the Jackets fell to Pittsburgh in the first round. But it seems the only spirits present now in Ohio are phantoms of the operating table, as the Jackets have been killed by injuries throughout the lineup. Along with the players mentioned above, players such as Ryan Murray, Matt Calvert, Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson have also missed time.
On the eve of the new season, I was talking to Boston coach Claude Julien about the importance of Zdeno Chara to his younger defensemen. The behemoth captain naturally gave a boost of confidence to his mates when he was out there and one of the beneficiaries was Torey Krug. The young offensive defenseman had a pretty sweet rookie campaign for the Bruins and Julien expected Krug to have a big opportunity to continue that success this season. Then Chara went down with a knee injury.
Now, Krug has been sidelined with a broken finger that will keep him out of the lineup for two to three weeks. With Kevan Miller also on the shelf and Johnny Boychuk traded to the Islanders, the Bruins defense corps is in dire need of reinforcements. Do they have the right personnel?
The American Hockey League announced Tuesday a 20-game suspension for Binghamton Senators Brad Mills after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
The 31-year-old Mills, who had one goal and two points in 34 games of NHL experience with the New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks, was in his first year in Binghamton after an eight-year AHL career that included stops in Lowell, Albany and Rockford; he has already sat out four games after the Senators removed him from the lineup last week once the test result came in, and he’s eligible to return to the lineup Dec. 12. Read more
One of the wonderful things about hockey is that the names of players can enter the lexicon of the hockey fan to signify things that are much more than just the players themselves.
Take, for instance, the Forsberg. The term evokes the image of his one-handed goal that led the Swedish men’s team to a gold medal in 1994’s Olympic games. And how about Gordie Howe Hat Trick? The ferocity of Howe’s play and his absurd amount of talent was enough for the term to be coined and the recognition given to any player who registers a goal, assist, and fight in a game.
For Maple Leafs fans, there are some terms that hit a bit closer to home. One of which, for all the wrong reasons, is The Toskala. Infamously, former Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala once allowed a goal to Rob Davison. The catch? The “snipe” came from 197 feet away from Toskala’s goal.
It took a few funny hops and it’s happened to the best of keepers, but a goal of this ilk has become synonymous with Toskala in hockey circles. Vancouverites may argue otherwise, claiming it to be the mark of Dan Cloutier.
In any event, Andrew Hammond, an undrafted goaltender who is currently under contract with Ottawa, is going to be hoping that Binghamton Senators fans have shorter memories than most.
During the first period of Binghamton’s 6-5 loss to the St. John’s IceCaps, the 26-year-old keeper allowed a goal he’d surely like to have back:
The looping puck from center ice was Jets’ prospect Carl Klingberg’s first of the season, coming just over a minute into the contest. All told, Hammond would allow six goals in what was surely an off night for the goaltender.
Here’s hoping the young netminder can laugh it off.
The big news in the prospect world right now concerns the class-action lawsuit filed against the CHL and without going into too much detail, I think this could have a dramatic effect on junior hockey. With profits and losses so extreme across the continent, I believe a minimum wage policy would have to be supported by revenue sharing. But let’s get back on the ice, shall we? Because that’s what The Hot List is, a round-up of the kids we can’t wait to see in the NHL one day.
So much for the Anaheim Ducks’ goaltending controversy.
Entering training camp, no one knew much about Anaheim’s plans in net. We did know unrestricted free agent Jonas Hiller was a goner, but that was pretty much it. The Ducks were blessed with John Gibson, the NHL’s top goaltending prospect and No. 2 overall prospect according to THN Future Watch, and Frederik Andersen, a less-heralded but highly effective Dane who flourished in his rookie year. It was anyone’s guess as to who would win the starting job in 2014-15. The long-term edge seemed to be Gibson’s, considering his pedigree and the fact Bruce Boudreau had enough confidence in Gibson to toss him into a Game 7 against the L.A. Kings.
But things haven’t gone exactly as expected between Anaheim’s pipes in this young season – and it’s actually great news for the Ducks.
John Gibson, 21, wasn’t ready for a Game 7 last spring, and he didn’t look ready for a No. 1 job in the NHL in his first start this fall, a six-goal clobbering, albeit it came against Pittsburgh.
And then there’s Andersen. The towering Dane, 25, has been the mightiest of Ducks, starting the season 5-0-0 and allowing just seven goals, producing a 1.38 goals-against average and .950 save percentage. He’s made some serious history, too. Andersen is now 25-5-0 to start his career, which makes him just the second stopper in NHL history to win 25 of his first 30 decisions. The other was Boston’s Ross Brooks, who opened 25-2-3 from October 1972 to February 1974.
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