If Vancouver’s first-round series loss to underdog Calgary proved anything, it’s that the Canucks have some work to do if they hope to return to the upper echelons of the Western Conference. As is stands now, the franchise is in a bit of limbo, since the Canucks have a nice development pipeline going, but a lot of contracts already spoken for as well. So how fast can they re-tool?
At 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, 22-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Viktor Loov is no small man. And with his sizeable frame, he’s no stranger to throwing around the body. Unfortunately for Loov, he might also become no stranger to watching from the sidelines following a blindside headshot to Detroit Red Wings prospect Zach Nastasiuk in the second game of the first-round AHL tilt between the Toronto Marlies and Grand Rapids Griffins.
Nastasiuk received a pass in the neutral zone and put his head down to collect the puck off of the boards. Before he could even lift his head to take a look, Loov had come across the ice and delivered a massive blow that popped Nastasiuk’s helmet clean off and left the 20-year-old winger laying on the ice: Read more
By Warren Frank
Detroit-based company Original Stix appears to have found an extremely interested market for its game-used composite sticks phone cases.
The idea to turn old sticks into hockey-themed phone cases came from CEO Terry Johnson. He’s always been inspired by creative repurposing, but it was an experience during his time at Michigan State that was particularly influential.
“One of my friends built a table out of old sticks,” Johnson said. “I always thought it was interesting to repurpose something designed for an entirely different reason, and it got me thinking about other products built with authentic materials.”
After graduating, Johnson teamed up with two friends and fellow Michigan State alumni, Mario DiMercurio and Andrew Mestdagh, to found the company. The company’s first product, an iPhone 5 case, was launched in August, and its positive reception has led to the addition of Galaxy s5 cases, iPhone 6 cases and an apparel line. All Original Stix products are made in the U.S. – a point of pride for the business.
“The rubber cases are made using local injection molding facilities,” Johnson said. “The sticks are cut by hand, and then the inside is coated with a rubberized coating for added protection. When an order comes through, customers can request specific sticks so we match the sticks with the rubber frame and build to order.
“Everything is done right here in Detroit. The area has been going through some tough times in recent years, so creating jobs and bringing manufacturing back to the area is something that our fans have really gotten behind, regardless of what team they follow.”
And it’s not just fans interested in Original Stix products: the company recently completed a custom order for the New York Rangers, with cases featuring game-used sticks now sold at Madison Square Garden. Detroit Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who went to high school with Johnson and DiMercurio, has been to the Original Stix headquarters a number of times.
While Original Stix is looking to add additional teams, customers can currently choose stick pieces from more than 50 squads from the NHL, AHL, NCAA and OHL. The sticks can be swapped out without having to buy a new case.
“We’ve had a lot of customers who have sticks autographed by NHL players,” Johnson said. “We love seeing stuff like that. It’s like a portable piece of memorabilia as opposed to an autographed photo that just hangs on the wall.”
The Manchester Monarchs were one of the top teams in the American League this season and witnessing their Game 1 dismantling of Portland in the playoffs, it’s not hard to see why. But if you want to see the Monarchs flying next year, you’ll have to switch coasts and head out to California, when they become the Ontario Reign.
By DENIS GIBBONS
So, now they come?!
Hamilton Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer was probably trying to figure that one out when more than 10,000 fans paid to see an AHL game in Hamilton, Ont., Saturday night.
The sad news is the Bulldogs’ 4-3 shootout loss to the Lake Erie Monsters was their farewell to the steel city. The franchise will relocate to St. John’s, Nfld., until a new arena is ready in Laval, a suburb of Montreal.
Mid-week games at Hamilton’s First Ontario Centre sometimes attracted fewer than 2,000 fans.
The Bulldogs name will live on, however, with the arrival of a new OHL franchise for the 2015-16 season. The Belleville Bulls sold their franchise to Andlauer after the City of Belleville refused to make improvements to the tiny arena there. Read more
The Frozen Four is in the books and it was a classic, with Providence College winning its first-ever hockey title over Boston University. But the season still might not be over for Terriers frosh Jack Eichel, as he and Nashville pick Jimmy Vesey of Harvard were expected to play for Team USA at the World Championship in Switzerland. Meanwhile, we’re getting very close to the world under-18s as well in the Czech Republic. With CHL playoffs still going strong, let’s cruise around the prospect world once again.
With interim coach Peter Horachek included in team president Brendan Shanahan’s housecleaning Sunday, the Maple Leafs are going to have their fourth bench boss in three years by the time the 2015-16 season begins. And although it’s tempting for Leafs fans to speculate on and salivate over some of the names expected to be available, Toronto’s next hire doesn’t have to have a familiarity factor with fans in order for it to be right. The next head coach of the Leafs just has to have the right on-ice philosophy – one based on teaching and patience – to put the franchise back on track.
It will be tempting for Shanahan and whomever he hires as GM (if he doesn’t take that role himself) to be dazzled by the slew of accomplished coaches who’ll apply for the position, but the problem with those types of coaches can be they’re far more interested in winning now than they are in developing the young talent Toronto will placing its organizational bets on in the years to come. Read more
The Ottawa Senators have staged an incredible resurrection in the second half of the season, putting the squad on the precipice of a near-miracle playoff spot. And while goaltender Andrew Hammond has deserved every bit of praise he has received, he’s not the only diamond in the rough that has been shining in Canada’s capital. Read more