So 44 days and 19 games after the Dennis Wideman Affair began, we’re where most observers predicted we would be – with Wideman being hit with a 10-game suspension for abusing an official.
And nobody is particularly happy with this. The NHL, which originally mandated a 20-game suspension that was upheld in an appeal to the commissioner, said in a statement, “We strenuously disagree with the Arbitrator’s ruling and are reviewing the opinion in detail to determine what next steps may be appropriate.” That’s code for, “Don’t be surprised to see this thing end up in court.”
The NHL season is winding down, with just about four weeks of regular-season games remaining. There is still much to be determined in the standings, but as winter turns to spring it’s hard not to look ahead to the playoffs.
But the end of the season means it’s also time to look back. We at The Hockey News make a lot of predictions during the summer and fall before the season begins. Sometimes they’re solid, sometimes they’re way off.
These are our worst pre-season predictions:
When this season finally draws to a close, the Calgary Flames will likely be in the market for goaltending depth. Jonas Hiller and Karri Ramo are both eligible for UFA status this summer and aren’t expected to be re-signed.
Promising Joni Ortio will get a shot at forming part of the Flames tandem next season, but they’ll still need an experienced NHL starter. Options via the trade market could include Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings and Ondrej Pavelec of the Winnipeg Jets.
If the Flames look toward free agency, the Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis believes San Jose Sharks backup James Reimer could be a good fit. Francis cites the 27-year-old Reimer’s experience as a starting goalie with the Toronto Maple Leafs as reason for the Flames to consider him.
Flames first-year defenseman Jakub Nakladal nearly suffered one of the worst injuries imaginable this past weekend when he caught a high stick in the eye.
During Calgary’s contest against Pittsburgh Saturday, Nakladal, 28, was retreating into the Flames’ zone to recover a puck that had been dumped in when he became tangled with the Penguins’ Tom Kuhnhackl. As they battled towards the loose puck, Kuhnhackl’s stick rode up under Nakladal’s visor and made contact with the blueliner’s eye, causing him to drop to the ice clutching his face. Read more
Today is Simon Gagne’s ninth birthday. Of course, seeing as Gagne was born in 1980, he’s actually turning 36 today, but given that his actual birthday is the Leap Day, Feb. 29, Gagne has only celebrated his actual birthday nine times.
That means w Gagne made his NHL debut, he had only celebrated four actual birthdays. So, in a sense, Gagne made it onto the Philadelphia Flyers before celebrating his fifth birthday. A real prodigy for his age, you could say.
The thing is, though, Gagne wasn’t the first Leap Day-born player to make it to the NHL having celebrated only a handful of birthdays, nor was he the best. And while he ranks among the very best of the Leap Day players, he’s not the best, and it’s going to be tough for anyone to ever take the crown as the best Leap Day-born NHLer. Here are the five best players born on Feb. 29: Read more
By the time Dennis Wideman knows the neutral arbitrator’s ruling in the case of his 20-game suspension, it’s expected he will have served at least 90 percent of his original ban.
According to NHL.com’s Dan Rosen, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said it’s not anticipated that arbitrator James Oldham will have made his decision until the week of March 7, meaning any resolution to Wideman’s case is still at least one week away. Wideman was originally handed his 20-game ban by the league on Feb. 3 and he met with commissioner Gary Bettman to appeal the initial suspension on Feb. 10.
If Oldham upholds the suspension, Wideman will be forced to sit out until March 14 when the Flames host the St. Louis Blues, and it will have been a month and a half since he last suited up in game action. Read more
The Flames aren’t heading to the post-season after last season’s magical run, but that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to be excited about what the future might hold in Calgary. After all, putting Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan together seems to make magic, and Jiri Hudler was the lucky recipient of that magic Thursday night.
In the first period of a scoreless game, a pinching Mark Giordano managed to keep the puck in the Islanders’ zone, where the trio of Gaudreau, Monahan and Hudler took over. After taking a short pass from Monahan, Gaudreau drifted toward the net and drew a defender in before changing the angle of his body with a quick pivot and slipping an awesome pass back to Monahan. Monahan then slipped the puck over to Hudler, who had to do nothing but rifle the puck into a now wide-open net: Read more
The fate of Winnipeg Jets winger Andrew Ladd remains the hot topic in the NHL rumor mill. With the trade deadline fast approaching, there’s a feeling everyone’s waiting to see where the Jets ship the 30-year pending free agent. If so, his eventual destination will have a considerable effect upon the rest of the trade market.
NBC Sports’ Mike Halford reports Ladd’s been linked to the Florida Panthers for some time. Citing a recent report from Sun-Sentinel.com, Halford notes Panthers co-owner Doug Cifu sang the praises of the Jets’ captain, noting GM Dale Tallon knows Ladd well from their days with the Chicago Blackhawks. However, Cifu didn’t say if Tallon is actively pursuing him.
ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun also reports of the Panthers’ rumored interest in Ladd. He believes the Jets’ asking price could start with a first-round pick and go on from there as part of a package. LeBrun wonders at what point Ladd could prove too expensive for the Panthers. Read more