The Toronto Maple Leafs have been attempting to rebuild the right way under the Brendan Shanahan/Lou Lamoriello/Mike Babcock regime and in winning Saturday night’s draft lottery, the most important piece has become available to them.
Anze Kopitar was nominated for his second 2016 NHL award on Saturday.
The Los Angeles Kings center was named one of the three finalists for the league’s Lady Byng Trophy, given to the “player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” Kopitar is also up for the Selke Trophy for the top defensive forward.
Joining Kopitar among the final three are Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov and Boston Bruins left winger Loui Eriksson.
Boston’s Patrice Bergeron will have a shot at the Selke Trophy three-peat — and his fourth nod as the league’s best defensive forward — but Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and Anaheim’s Ryan Kesler will stand in his way.
The NHL announced the Selke finalists Thursday night with Bergeron, Kopitar and Kesler as the top three vote-getters for the award given to “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.” Both Bergeron and Kesler have won the award before, but Kopitar, who has been a finalist in each of the past two seasons, has never taken home the hardware.
Unlike other awards that can be judged off of pure statistics, the voting for Selke can be a lot more vague. Really, each of the three have good cases for the award. Read more
If center Steven Stamkos fails to re-sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning this summer, it’s assumed the Toronto Maple Leafs will be his destination of choice via free agency. However, he could entertain an offer from another major Canadian franchise.
In an interview with Richard Labbe of La Presse, NHL Network analyst and former Lightning GM Brian Lawton said he believes Stamkos would consider a contract proposal from the Montreal Canadiens. He suggests Stamkos’ long-time friendship with Habs star P.K. Subban could be among the factors working in Montreal’s favor.
After missing the playoffs last season for the first since since 2006-07, the Boston Bruins shook up their management and roster. Having missed the postseason in consecutive years (also for the first time since ’07), more changes are expected.
It was assumed coach Claude Julien could lose his job, but GM Don Sweeney stated otherwise during his season-ending press conference. That comes as a big disappointment for teams (such as the Ottawa Senators) in need of a new bench boss next season.
Boston pundits, meanwhile, are speculating over this summer’s possible roster moves. Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald wonders if Sweeney will try to convince aging captain Zdeno Chara to waive his no-movement clause. He also suggests blueliner Dennis Seidenberg could be shopped, though that could mean picking up part of his annual $4-million cap hit through 2017-18. Conroy also thinks UFA rearguard Kevan Miller might not be back and underachieving winger Jimmy Hayes might benefit from a change of scenery. Read more
Before the Boston Bruins announced Thursday that Claude Julien will be coming back next season – he might want to freshen up that resume though, you know, just in case – it was assumed that it were let go that he’d instantly head to the top of the list of candidates to coach the Ottawa Senators.
Julien is one of the best, if not the best, coach in hockey today. What’s to say that a bench boss of that ilk would even want to coach the Senators? First, you’re working for a loose cannon. Second, you’re working for a loose cannon that owns a budget team. It’s one thing to be wildly eccentric and rich, a la George Steinbrenner or Jerry Jones. It’s quite another to work for a guy who writes checks with his mouth that his team’s bank account can’t cash.
Sorry, Ottawa Senators. You don’t have a slam-dunk replacement for coach Dave Cameron after all. You won’t get your man this off-season, as the Boston Bruins have decided to retain coach Claude Julien. General manager Don Sweeney announced it at a press conference Thursday.
“I emphatically believe that Claude’s a coach that can take us through what I’ll describe as a bumpy transition period,” Sweeney told reporters.
Sweeney added “I have work to do” and that he “believes in Claude as a coach.”
Can a decision be surprising and unsurprising at once? On one hand, it sure looked like Julien was done in Boston. Plenty of local pundits penned opinion pieces predicting Julien would be pink slipped after (a) his Bruins missed the playoffs a second straight season and (b) things ended with a hideous thud, as Boston was eliminated on the season’s penultimate day losing 6-1 at home to Ottawa and getting booed off the ice.
On the other hand, Julien won a Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011. He became the franchise’s winningest coach of all-time this season, surpassing Art Ross in March. Julien steered Boston to playoff berths in his first seven seasons there. He took them to the final twice. He helmed two 50-plus-victory squads. A resume like that earns you some leash. Coaches rarely survive in today’s NHL when they miss the big dance two straight years, but Julien is among the few who can get away with it. Considering what he’s done for the franchise since taking over as coach in 2007-08, firing him would’ve been a slap in the face in the eyes of some.
So is Sweeney loyal to a fault, or has he made a prudent and sober decision in retaining Julien?
With the NHL regular season completed, the fate of several coaches whose clubs failed to reach the playoffs is a hot topic of discussion. Much of the focus is upon Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins.
Since joining the Bruins in 2007-08, Julien’s guided them to four division titles, a Presidents’ Trophy in 2013, two Stanley Cup Finals and a championship in 2011. Over the past two seasons, however, the Bruins fell short of the playoffs. Their recent failure has some in the Boston media calling for a coaching change.
If Julien is let go by the Bruins, he won’t be unemployed for long. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggests the Ottawa Senators could come calling if they decide to drop bench boss Dave Cameron. Read more