Rumor Roundup: Stars eyeing pair of Maple Leafs defensemen

Cody Franson. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

In recent days there’s been some buzz claiming the Dallas Stars could be interested in Toronto Maple Leafs defensemen Dion Phaneuf or Cody Franson. The basis for this was a report on the Stars needs by Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.

Heika, however, didn’t say the Stars were actively interested in the pair, only that the club’s focus “seems to be on minute-munching defenders with size.” He merely listed Phaneuf and Franson among several blueline options (Arizona’s Zbynek Michalek and Ottawa’s Marc Methot being the others) who might be available leading up to the March trade deadline. Read more

Report: Minnesota, Colorado to host NHL outdoor games next season

The crowd at Chicago's Soldier Field for the 2014 Stadium Series game between the Hawks and Pens. (Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild will each host outdoor games next season, according to a report Wednesday from TSN’s Bob McKenzie. The games will complement the Jan. 1 Winter Classic, which will take place in Boston’s Gillette Stadium and feature the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. Read more

What’s it going to take for Mike Babcock to win the Jack Adams?

Adam Proteau
Mike Babcock (Getty Images)

If there is a hockey god, one of these years, Mike Babcock is going to get recognized as the NHL’s top coach. It didn’t happen for him last year, when he dragged the league’s second-most injured team to its 23rd consecutive playoff appearance; Colorado’s Patrick Roy won it then, and there was a good case to be made as to why he should’ve. Babcock also didn’t win it the season he led Detroit to a Stanley Cup championship; then-Caps coach Bruce Boudreau won it that year. Year-in and year-out, Babcock works with whatever lineup he’s been given – more recently, an injury-riddled roster with star players in their twilight, as well as youngsters developing their game – and wrenches the most out of it.

Despite leading the Wings to at least the second round of the playoffs in six of his nine seasons behind their bench, Babcock has never garnered enough votes among the NHL Broadcasters Association to win the Jack Adams. You understand why it’s happened – voters often look at the “which coach has reversed his team’s fortunes to the most shocking degree” formula (that’s the one Roy won on in 2013-14) – but sooner or later, we need to recognize the value of Babcock’s consistency as at least equal to the one-hit wonder coaches who may or may not have been the beneficiaries of extraordinary, unsustainable goaltending or another factor beyond their control.

If you look at the last 10 Adams winners, three (John Tortorella, Dan Bylsma and Paul MacLean) are currently looking to get back into the league after the expiration of their contracts with the teams that fired them; another three (Lindy Ruff, Alain Vigneault and Bruce Boudreau) were fired by the teams with which they received the honor; and another two (Dave Tippett and Ken Hitchcock) could feel the heat at the end of the current campaign. This isn’t to say any and all of them aren’t deserving. There are great arguments for different coaches every season. It is to say it’s wholly unfair to punish Babcock in the balloting because the Wings organization does an exemplary job of assimilating young talent into the NHL level. Read more

Goalies scoring goals: a fluky and fabulous history

Mike Smith scores

Reto Berra joined some heady company on Friday when he scored a goal by shooting the puck down the ice in an AHL game. It’s a rare occasion when a goalie gets credit for the other team scoring on their own net, but it’s even rarer for a goalie to actually score on a shot.

It’s such a tremendous freak occurrence that each instance is a footnote in the history books.

Fourteen goalies have received credit for scoring a goal in NHL history, but only seven of those goals were scored by a goalie who actually shot the puck down the ice.

In honour of Berra’s great goal (and even greater celebration), here’s a look at those goals.

Note: If they sound repetitive, they are. The goalie’s team gets a two-goal lead, the goalie stops a dump-in, the goalie throws it over everyone’s heads and hits the net at the other end.

And yet it never gets old.
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Coaching insanity led Maple Leafs to NHL’s most miraculous comeback

Syl Apps (HHOF Images)

It never happened before, nor has it happened since. And it very likely never will happen again.

Coached by Clarence ‘Hap’ Day, the 1941-42 Toronto Maple Leafs remain the only team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the Stanley Cup final. They accomplished that feat because Day went totally against the coaching grain, and then some. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Avalanche’s O’Reilly, Sabres’ Myers center of trade talks

Ryan O'Reilly (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche’s struggles this season continue to provide fodder for trade rumors involving versatile forward Ryan O’Reilly, winner of the 2014 Lady Byng Trophy.

It’s well known the Avalanche lack skilled blueline depth, which is reflected in their woeful shots-against per game and puck-possession numbers. Some pundits believe the 23-year-old O’Reilly could fetch the Avs a top-two defenseman. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggests shipping O’Reilly to Arizona for Coyotes blueliner Keith Yandle makes sense for both clubs, though O’Reilly’s unrestricted free agent status in 2016 could be a sticking point. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Kessel, Phaneuf could be traded in off-season

Kessel-Phaneuf (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

In the week since the Toronto Maple Leafs replaced coach Randy Carlyle on an interim basis with Peter Horachek, trade rumors continue to dog the club. Much of it centers upon Leafs star Phil Kessel, whose critics were out in full force last week.

During the Kessel-bashing fest, Sportsnet’s Luke Fox noted Nashville Predators GM David Poile appeared on TSN radio to defend the 27-year-old winger. Poile was the architect of the 2014 Men’s Olympic hockey team and Kessel was part of the lineup. Fox claims Poile’s comments “raised eyebrows”, pointing out the Predators GM expressed interest in trading for Kessel in 2009 before the winger was dealt by the Boston Bruins to the Leafs. Read more