When the Arizona Coyotes’ AHL affiliate Springfield Falcons takes the ice for the beginning of the 2015-16 season, it will be under the watch of a brand new coaching staff.
According to Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy, the Coyotes have relieved just about every single coach from their duties, including coach Ray Edwards and assistants John Slaney and Trent Whitfield. The firing comes as somewhat of a surprise after the Portland Pirates, the Coyotes’ 2014-15 AHL affiliate, made the post-season this season and are preparing a big move to Springfield for next season.
We know our four teams for the Memorial Cup now. Thanks to Oshawa’s ousting of Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters, the Generals will represent the OHL, joining Kelowna of the WHL, plus Quebec (the hosts) and Rimouski in the QMJHL. So who is favored to win it all? Ah, that’s a thorny question in a tournament that often surprises. But let’s take a look at what you should know about the four worthy squads in contention.
One of the most vexing problems regarding the Memorial Cup is that the host teams haven’t been earning their spots lately. London, Shawinigan and Saskatoon all “backed in” to the CHL classic after bombing out early in their respective league playoffs.
So here’s a shout-out to the Quebec League, which already has its two bids sewn up this year thanks to a couple of elite teams who did what they were supposed to do.
Veteran center Antoine Vermette sat in the press box as a healthy scratch in the first two games of Chicago’s first-round series against Nashville, but in Game 4 Tuesday, he made a case for remaining in the lineup by scoring his first playoff goal for the Blackhawks.
Playing before a typically raucous home crowd, Chicago had just fallen behind 1-0 to the Preds a little more than midway through the first period when Vermette moved to the middle of the ice a few feet from Preds goalie Pekka Rinne and was able to redirect a pass from Michal Rozsival into the visitors’ net: Read more
Was the NHL’s draft lottery presentation the pinnacle of television entertainment? Of course not. But, admit it, your heart pounded through your chest every time Bill Daly flipped over a rectangular team card in his hellish Rorschach test. It was quite the emotional ride, and that was just for fans and journalists. Imagine how team executives felt.
That’s why we should forgive Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray for his downtrodden reaction in the immediate aftermath of seeing the Edmonton Oilers land the first overall pick for the fourth friggin’ time in six years. Sure, Buffalo’s “plan” for Connor McDavid consisted of a mere 20 percent chance of winning the lottery, preceded by what may or may not have been an elaborate season-long tank operation. But in the moment, with a generational talent of McDavid’s ilk closer to Murray’s fingertips than to any other GM’s, who could fault him if his emotional, human side really wanted No. 97 in Western New York?
So Murray’s remark, “I’m disappointed for our fans,” deserves a pass. Who wouldn’t be disappointed? It could’ve been perceived as an affront to prospective No. 2 selection Jack Eichel, but that’s not what it was. Murray also said, “We’re disappointed not to get first, but we’re happy with second. Two franchise-changing guys in this draft.”
Despite the sting of losing McDavid, Murray and the Sabres realize they still very much have a franchise pillar waiting for them on draft day. Sabres fans should do the same. Especially considering how many other pieces the team has amassed in recent seasons.
Spoiler alert: The Buffalo Sabres will win tonight’s NHL draft lottery with the numbers 11, 5, 6 and 7. Your trusty correspondent knows this because he went to this really cool website that simulates the NHL draft lottery and it told him so.
Then he did it 99 more times because, like a certain potato chip, you can’t do it only once. The website, http://nhllotterysimulator.com/#/official, took on a new life on Friday when the NHL made public the lottery number combinations for each of the 14 teams in the event. Suddenly, fans everywhere could, with the click of a keyboard, determine where Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will end up next season. Read more
It’s amazing how things will change by Saturday night. Connor McDavid will know which NHL team he will belong to. The McDavid parents will know in which city their son’s adult life will begin to unfold and flourish. Vendors will go crazy preparing McDavid jerseys, signs and apparel.
(And make no mistake, McDavid will be the first overall selection in the June 26-27 NHL draft in Sunrise, Florida. There will be zero drama with that pick.)
The NHL’s draft lottery will be televised Saturday night at 8 pm. The proceedings will begin about 7:30, but the drawing of lottery balls will take place about a half hour later. McDavid’s most likely destination is a city other than Buffalo, but Buffalo has the best odds of all the 14 non-playoff teams. Here’s how it works.
Recently, 13-year-old aspiring journalist Haley Smilow had the chance to sit down with Arizona’s Shane Doan for a Q&A. Their conversation revealed some interesting facts about the Coyotes captain, who is one of the game’s genuinely good guys.
HALEY: What’s the best part about being a hockey player and what’s the worst part about being a hockey player?
SHANE: The best part about being a hockey player is definitely the competitiveness. They’re competing and having fun and, you know, you get challenged every day to do something that you love to do. As a kid, I mean playing a sport doesn’t get much better than that. So that’s obviously the best part. And the hardest part is being away from my family. I have a wife and four kids and it really kind of takes control of your life for six or seven months of the year and forces them to kind of get pushed back a little bit. I don’t enjoy that part of it.
HALEY: Who are the greatest influences on your hockey career?
SHANE: The greatest influence on my career would probably be my dad. He played, I admired the way he was and the way he played the game. And then guys that I played with, that I watched growing up. I loved Paul Coffey. I thought he was amazing. He was a phenomenal hockey player. And the guys that I’ve played with since, probably Teppo Numminen, Keith Tkachuk and Kris King are the 3 captains that I had, I admired them, along with Mike Gartner.
HALEY: Who would you not want to fight? Read more