When the NHL announced last fall its seven-year partnership that will see adidas become its official outfitter starting next season, your trusty correspondent asked commissioner Gary Bettman whether the deal would be extended by a year if there were another labor dispute. Bettman responded with a one-word answer.
“Really?” Bettman asked, with a good amount of offense and incredulity. Well, about as much offense and incredulity as someone who has shut down the game three times in the past 20 years could muster.
From their days together as roommates at boarding school in Saskatchewan to winning a Memorial Cup together in Rimouski to a Stanley Cup in Tampa and signing contracts later in their careers that didn’t quite work out as well as everyone had hoped, Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier have had almost parallel tracks when it comes to their hockey careers.
So it is only fitting that they would retire from the NHL in the same year and maybe, just maybe, enter the Hall of Fame together in the fall of 2019. The call on both players will be a vexing decision for the Hall of Fame selection committee. To be sure, there are players who are inferior to both Richards and Lecavalier and accomplished less in the NHL than they did who are in, but induction into the Hall seems to be something of a moving target that is unpredictable.
Richards and Lecavalier had very good NHL careers. But were they truly great, Hall of Fame careers? It’s debatable, which makes things really interesting. Let’s take a look at both players:
There’s still nearly three months until the NHL campaign opens, which will leave the league’s 30 teams with ample time to tune and tweak their rosters as opening night approaches.
However, a few teams have made big splashes this off-season. Some have gotten creative, such as the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers, by trading for a player’s exclusive negotiating rights to ink them to a deal before free agency opened, while others have gone the more traditional route, like the Boston Bruins, who shelled out a five-year, $30-million deal to David Backes.
Meanwhile, some clubs have gone the trade route, with the New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators linking up to make one-for-one deals that both teams hope will improve their situations going forward.
And though there are still a number of free agents who could sign and make a difference next season, the biggest names are off the market. So here are the five off-season moves that have been made (so far) that will have the biggest impact this coming season: Read more
Patrick Kane is coming off a season in which he scored a career-high 46 goals, 106 points and took home the Art Ross Trophy, Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award.
And if there’s any wondering how Kane, 27, was able to capture both MVP awards and win the scoring title by nearly 20 points, a new video that shows off Kane’s almost unparalleled ability to handle the puck makes it pretty clear why the Chicago Blackhawks winger is able to make opposing defensemen look foolish on a regular basis.
Kane is thrown into an obstacle course called the “Stickhandler’s Playground” in the video, produced by Bauer, and he does everything from scooping the puck on his blade to flipping it through the narrow opening in a tire on his backhand. Check it out: Read more
Chicago Blackhawks fans can breathe easy right now. Their team addressed a dire need Friday and did so with minimal risk, signing Brian Campbell to a one-year deal carrying a $1.5-million cap hit and $750,000 in performance bonuses. As for the future? Well, GM Stan Bowman just has to take this one year by year.
Last summer the Hawks, squeezed up against the salary cap for the umpteenth year in a row, had to let blueliner Johnny Oduya walk as an unrestricted free agent. Oduya would never have been mistaken for a Norris Trophy candidate but was a highly capable and experienced second-pair blueliner. He and Niklas Hjalmarsson formed such a strong tandem that coach Joel Quenneville could almost roll with just four defensemen, the other two being Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, in the playoffs. Oduya won Cups with Chicago in 2013 and 2015 and averaged 24:45 of ice time during the 2015 run.
The Montreal Canadiens have signed center Andrew Shaw to a six-year contract worth $3.9 million per season and $23.4 million overall. For a team looking to bounce back from a bad year, adding a two-time Stanley Cup winner is a good start.
BUFFALO – In what has become an annual event, the Chicago Blackhawks have done a summer dismantling of their team in an effort to fit their roster under the salary cap. Along with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Montreal Canadiens are the beneficiaries. And it may have come one year late, but Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin got a Blackhawk he coveted.
It was widely believed Bergevin was prepared to give Brandon Saad an offer sheet last summer, which was what prompted the Blackhawks to trade him to the Columbus Blue Jackets. But at the draft this year, Bergevin got Andrew Shaw, a player he scouted for the Hawks when he was their director of player personnel in 2011.
Entering the 2016 NHL draft, the trade speculation is ramping up on several notable NHL stars.
Topping the list is Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. The trade chatter reached a fever pitch on Thursday when Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning admitted he contacted Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin to inquire about Subban. Meanwhile, Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli claimed he looked into acquiring the Habs blueliner but the asking price was too high.
The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey reports Bergevin insists he’s not shopping Subban but he can’t prevent rival clubs from calling about the defenseman.