Yost Arena in Ann Arbor can be a fun place to play. With nine minutes to go before the game starts, the fans at the University of Michigan rink begin to sing the Canadian national anthem, even though only three Canucks are in the lineup that night. They even have a Maize and Blue-colored Canadian flag. The locals had a Texas flag when Chris Brown (now with Washington) skated there and New York Rangers speedster Carl Hagelin got a Swedish flag. Hagelin, who captained the Wolverines in his junior year, made such an impact that the team all signed that flag for him and the pep band learned Sweden’s anthem for his final game.
But with success comes attrition and after making the NCAA tournament for more than two decades without missing, the Wolverines have been left at home the past two seasons. If they hope to return to the promised land, they’re going to do it with youth.
He’s the greatest Buffalo Sabre to never play the game: Taro Tsujimoto, a dynamic forward drafted out of the Japan Ice Hockey League who never made the leap to the NHL. But it wasn’t size, talent or conditioning that kept Tsujimoto from cracking the Sabres’ lineup in the 1970s.
It was the fact he didn’t exist.
The most famous made-up hockey player in history turned 60 on Sunday, according to the birthdate provided by his hockey ‘dad,’ the late coach/GM legend Punch Imlach.
Since the implementation of the salary cap in 2005, early-season NHL trades have become rare. Even the ability for teams to absorb part of a player’s salary failed to spark an increase in player movement during a season’s opening weeks.
That partially explains why it took a month for this regular season’s first trade to occur, when the Dallas Stars shipped aging defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Montreal Canadiens for forward Travis Moen. Since that deal there’s anticipation over when the next NHL trade will take place. Read more
That the Buffalo Sabres are struggling this season is no surprise. Are they a bit worse than anticipated? For now, yes. But it’s not like the team is devoid of talent. We know the organization has a lot of potential wrapped up in its youth and even though he’s a little older, towering defenseman Tyler Myers still has a lot of upside.
With a tally late in an Oct. 27 contest against the Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello became the highest goal-scoring Norwegian NHLer of all-time.
His 31st career marker was one more than Espen Knutsen, who the 27-year-old Zuccarello trails by only 14 total points. Knutsen’s 111 points has been the high-water mark for Norwegian NHLers and has stood since he left the league in 2005.
With the young Ranger well on his way to surpassing Knutsen’s mark and becoming the most prolific Norwegian to play in the NHL, it’s time to look at some of the other great scorers from similar sized nations. Read more
What does a slow start mean in the NHL? In some cases, it’s a harbinger of more poor play. Other times, it’s bad puck luck, which is correctable. Regardless of the cause, however, poor starts make heads roll every year. The advanced stats tell us GMs are often too hasty to axe their coaches, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The most common victims are bench bosses who ended the season prior on thin ice. They often get the boot as soon as they give their GMs an excuse to do so.
Here are five coaches who have to think about updating their resumes in the near future.
This season could be the last for defenseman Paul Martin as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 33-year-old blueliner will be eligible for unrestricted free agency in July, leading some observers to suggest he might not finish the season with the Penguins.
The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson notes Martin lost his power-play spot to youngster Olli Maatta, and wondered if the Penguins will bother to re-sign him or deal him before his UFA eligibility. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun also took note of Martin’s reduced role. He speculates the blueliner will be gone before the deadline, but not before Maatta returns from his upcoming surgery to remove a cancerous tumour from his neck. Read more
The big prospect news of the week came with Buffalo sending Sam Reinhart back to junior after a nine-game tryout and one assist. I’m totally on board with this move. Reinhart now gets a chance to do some serious damage at the world juniors for Canada and pull the Western League’s Kootenay Ice out of an early season funk. He’ll get his NHL shot again next year and perhaps one day, the players listed below will, too.