BUFFALO – The main attraction at today’s draft combine access was top-rated Auston Matthews, as it probably should be. But for the few reporters who went to Jesse Puljujarvi first, a new personality could be seen. Puljujarvi, it seems, won’t be taking a back seat to anyone for much longer.
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Grant Clitsome last suited up on Jan. 3, 2015, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Little did he know it would be the last time ever that he would do so.
Following that contest, a 5-1 Jets victory in which Clitsome would skate 20-plus minutes, he would be forced to go under the knife for back surgery. He missed the final 43 regular season contests, all four playoff games and then was placed on the injured reserve before the 2015-16 season began. Clitsome didn’t play a single game this past season, and Tuesday, the 31-year-old rearguard officially announced his retirement.
“It is with great regret, that today I announce my retirement from hockey due to a back injury,” said Clitsome in a release. “It’s tough when something unexpected, and out of your control, suddenly ends your career. Despite the circumstances, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to fulfill my childhood dream and play in the NHL. I am also very grateful for all the great people that I have met, and all the friendships that I have made playing hockey.” Read more
The first time AHL teams from Cleveland and Hershey played in a Calder Cup final was 75 years ago, when the Barons beat the Bears in five games. Now, during the league’s 80th anniversary celebrations, the Cleveland-based Lake Erie Monsters will try to take the glory over Hershey again – but it won’t be easy.
The Detroit Red Wings are looking for some added experience behind the bench, and the help the Red Wings are seeking could come courtesy of former divisional opponent the Columbus Blue Jackets.
According to The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline, the Blue Jackets have granted the Red Wings permission to speak with former coach Todd Richards, who was fired by Columbus two weeks into the 2015-16 campaign after the team limped out of the gate to an 0-7 record. Richards was fired following the seventh loss to open the campaign, and was almost immediately replaced by veteran coach John Tortorella.
Portzline reported that Richards, 49, will not interview for the position until after he returns from the World Championships, where he’s currently an assistant for Team USA. Read more
Blue Jackets fans may not have a vested interest in what happens during the NHL post-season, but down in the AHL, Columbus’ AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters, are looking like a team to keep an eye on. Especially if 19-year-old top prospect Sonny Milano is going to keep putting up highlight-reel goal.
The Monsters entered Game 4 of their second-round series against the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Detroit Red Wings’ affiliate, leading 3-0 with a chance to complete the sweep, and while a three-goal third frame from the Griffins stopped the Monsters from sending home their divisional rivals in four games, it was a Lake Erie goal that stood out most about the game.
With the score knotted at one in the first period, Milano took a pass while crossing into the Grand Rapids zone and went to work. Breaking in on Griffins defenseman Xavier Ouellet, who spent a handful of games with the Red Wings this season, Milano opened up his body as if to show pass or shot before corralling the puck on his backhand, pulling off a perfect spin-o-rama and letting go a backhand in one motion. Griffins goaltender Tom McCollum was baffled and beaten by the shot: Read more
Back in March, we took a look back at five forgotten games from NHL history that, in hindsight, changed the results of a draft lottery. It was a reminder of just how close we came to Patrick Kane as an Oiler, or Vincent Lecavalier as a Canuck. It was meant to be a fun concept, and most fans seemed to enjoy it, with the exception of Capitals fans who saw Alexander Ovechkin photoshopped into a Blue Jackets uniform and immediately had coronaries.
This year, the NHL changed the lottery rules, expanding the process to include three draws instead of just one. And that’s good news for us, because it leaves us with plenty of opportunity to play the “one forgotten game” card with this year’s results. Now that we know what the winning spots in the standings were – that would be 30th, 25th and 27th – we can come up with all sorts of scenarios that would have changed the identity of the teams holding them.
So today, that’s what we’ll do. Granted, given how close the standings were around the key spots, we could pick virtually any game from the season for some of these teams. But that’s no fun. We want something that’s at least vaguely memorable, since it makes it more entertaining to point back and say “We didn’t realize it at the time, but that game changed everything.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets, like many teams throughout professional sports, try to offer their season-ticket holders the best possible experience. That’s especially true after a tough season that saw an up-and-coming Jackets team face a difficult start to the season and finish with the league’s fourth-worst record.
One of the ways the Blue Jackets are trying to thank their fans is by having some of the players ring up season-ticket holders and thank them for renewing their tickets and sticking with the team. And in a video released by the team Friday, it was winger Cam Atkinson who was doing his best to show his appreciation for fans who will be back to watch the team next season. There was more than meets the eye to Atkinson’s day on the phones, though, as Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno was waiting for his moment to try to get under his teammate’s skin.
Atkinson is asked to ring up “Tony Mazza,” a season-ticket holder who feels like he isn’t getting enough access to meet the players or be a part of special events. Little did Atkinson know that Mazza was actually Foligno sitting in another room. Read more
For the first time in a long time, the Columbus Blue Jackets actually had a very successful season — just not in the most typical sense of the word successful.
A lot of the hockey world had pegged the Blue Jackets as a lock for a wild-card spot before this season even started, and after a seven-game losing streak to start the year, they proved any expectation of a playoff birth to be unrealistic at best.
Although the team did win some games after the team fired coach Todd Richards and replaced him with John Tortorella, things still didn’t change all that much. To top it all off, starting goaltender, and former Vezina winner, Sergei Bobrovsky suffered three groin injuries throughout the year, crippling the Jackets already slim playoff hopes.