When you’re nine years old, even a 5-foot-9, 150-pound NHLer looks like a giant.
Diminutive Calgary Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau was the biggest kid in the room on Friday night when he surprised a team of minor hockey players before practice.
Gaudreau walked into the Atom Blackfoot Chiefs’ dressing room in full Calgary Flames workout gear, much to the surprise of the nine- and 10-year-olds on the squad.
After months of speculation, the AHL officially announced on Thursday that five teams are moving to California for the 2015-16 season. The teams will form the new Pacific Division.
On hand for the announcement were AHL president Dave Andrews, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and representatives from the five clubs – the San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames – that will have affiliates in the AHL’s newest division next season.
The relocations were voted through unanimously by the AHL’s Board of Governors. Read more
Say hello to the American League’s Pacific Division. The dramatic shift that will see five AHL teams shifted to California not only shakes up the continent’s second-best circuit, but will also have big ramifications for how the game is embraced by the population in the Golden State.
“Hockey is growing in California and the West Coast,” said Anaheim GM Bob Murray at the official press conference. “This is going to take it one step further.”
From a grassroots perspective, the Pacific Division will nurture more hockey fans in a state that is already producing some pretty nice talent. Because it’s not just important that kids can watch players and prospects in the process of achieving NHL dreams, but that cities such as San Diego and Stockton get anchor teams that hopefully help the kids themselves start to play the game locally.
The AHL announcement is one of just several big projects on the go that will help the game as a whole. Here are four others to keep an eye on:
The Toronto rumor mill continues to churn with speculation over possible moves by the struggling Maple Leafs leading up to the March trade deadline. TSN’s Darren Dreger believes the next few weeks will determine if the Leafs become deadline buyers or sellers.
Over the weekend, the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran cited a source claiming the Leafs were quietly shopping defenseman Dion Phaneuf, winger Phil Kessel and others exclusively to Western Conference teams. McGran claimed nothing was imminent, suggesting interested clubs could wait until the deadline to pursue Phaneuf and Kessel because of their hefty contracts. Read more
If you don’t know by now the NHL’s points system is essentially a competitive funhouse mirror designed to give more teams the appearance they’ve got a shot at a playoff spot, you should. The league has, to the credit of its business acumen, recognized more teams can sell tickets to fans deeper into their regular-seasons if those fans see the teams are only four or five points out of a post-season berth; now, there’s very likely a very slim chance that team can leapfrog a bunch rivals playing each other down the stretch for one of the last playoff positions, but that’s not the point. It’s a mirage of sorts, and it works.
But the way things are shaping up in the Eastern Conference this year, not even the “loser point” looks like it’s going to create the illusion of competitiveness between the teams that make the post-season and the ones that don’t. Of course, most teams still have approximately 35 games to play, so you can’t be sure about anything just yet, but with the trade deadline set for March 2, it’s starting to look like the East’s eight non-playoff teams are going to serve as a feeder system for the much tighter West. Read more
The busy season continues, with lots to report on in the prospect world. The CHL Top Prospects Game was last week, while the North American League Prospects Tournament field was just announced. Toss in the American League’s All-Star Game and there’s a lot to cover off, so let’s look at some of the kids we’re excited to see in the NHL one day.
With the 2015 NHL All-Star Game now history and teams returning to action on Tuesday, the focus shifts toward the approaching NHL trade deadline on March 2. It’s expected trade activity will increase over the next five weeks as more clubs fall out of playoff contention.
As the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch observes, only four teams – Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes and Edmonton Oilers – can be considered non-contenders and therefore sellers in the trade market. Between now and the trade deadline, Garrioch believes they will be joined by the Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers. Read more
Monday night’s game between the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings is one of those you remember for many reasons once the season is over.
For the entire 64-minute contest, the action was great, fans got a glimpse of 3-on-3 overtime, and the finish was incredible. The only problem, however, was that Calgary’s Dennis Wideman was the only one who knew the game was over.
With less than a minute left in overtime, Wideman got the puck down close to the Los Angeles goal line and, with Kings netminder Jonathan Quick down and sliding across the crease, the Flames defenseman buried the puck in the top shelf. You can hear Wideman after the puck goes in, with his arms raised, hollering, “Yeah!” It would have been an incredible moment to end a fantastic game, but Wideman was the only one who knew he scored. Read more