The five most evil hockey photoshops we could come up with

Lucic_MTL_Fixed1

Summer is a time for fun in the hockey world. But sometimes that fun can be a little dark. One of my favorite THN issues every year comes before the trade deadline, when we often take a player likely on the move and photoshop him into another team’s uniform based on his possible destination. For instance, we once had Mats Sundin in a Vancouver sweater – the team he would eventually leave the Leafs for, albeit not at the deadline.

With that in mind, I dare you to peruse the five photoshops here, which can only be characterized as wrong.

Above, we see what would happen if Boston’s Milan Lucic had a change of heart and joined Montreal, where he could celebrate goals with current enemy Alexei Emelin. With a special thanks to Andre Valle of the The Hockey News art team (who did all the hard work), here are more of the worst offenders we came up with.

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Hard to choose sides when it comes to Detroit’s future

Ryan Kennedy
Red-Wings-celebrate

“Seen that side of town/everybody’s always down. Why? Because they can’t get up.”

- Fugazi

How much do the Red Wings mean to Detroit? A silly question perhaps, but one residents of the city are being confronted with as the Ilitch family, who own the Original Six franchise as well as the Little Caesars pizza chain and numerous other interests, have unveiled new details for a long-planned development in the Motor City.

And this is more than just a new arena. No, this is an urban makeover on a grandiose scale, with entire neighborhoods planned around it. The renderings of the project certainly look cool, but not everyone is on board with the master plan.

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Ryan Johansen’s stare-down with Blue Jackets could have negative effect

Johansen

News and views from the meager scraps left by the hockey world in a very slow middle of July:

News: Columbus Blue Jackets president John Davidson says the organization is trying to figure out, “the right thing to do,” when it comes to restricted free agent Ryan Johansen.

Views: After scoring 33 goals in the regular season and being a force for the Blue Jackets in the playoffs, Johansen has earned the right to demand a long-term contract for as much money as he wants. But the fact remains that he would have earned that right even if he had been half as good as he was last season. It’s free agency and any player can ask for whatever he thinks he’s worth. Read more

What if Mike Babcock and Ken Holland were both free agents?

Ken Campbell
Babcock and Holland

These are interesting times for the Detroit Red Wings. They’re coming off a season in which they just made the playoffs after moving to the far inferior Eastern Conference, went 0-for-everyone in free agency and have a mix of wobbly veterans and kids that could well see their run of 23 straight seasons in the playoffs come to an end.

Head coach Mike Babcock, who has one year left on his contract and would be the biggest free agent on the market next summer if he got there, said recently that he won’t negotiate a contract extension during the 2014-15 season.

Adding another layer to the intrigue is the status of GM Ken Holland. Both he and Babcock are inextricably linked. In fact, Babcock has said in the past he wants to wait to see what Holland’s status will be before addressing his own. Read more

The NHL’s weakest division? Um, “congratulations”, Metro

Marc-Andre Fleury

When the NHL made its most recent realignment, last season, it reemphasized the importance of divisional play by also restructuring its playoff format. The wild card element throws a bit of a wrench into it from year-to-year, but for the most part, teams have to play their first two playoff rounds against division rivals – and that means a weaker division has the potential to make the road to the Stanley Cup easier for the team that can emerge from it.

I’d argue that’s one of the reasons the New York Rangers qualified for the Cup Final this past spring. They faced a flawed Flyers team in the first round and a Penguins squad in the second that had serious issues of its own before they beat the injury-depleted Canadiens in the Eastern Conference final. You have to give the Blueshirts credit for their resilience, but they had a much easier go of it than, say, Los Angeles or Chicago.

So which division is shaping up to be the NHL’s weakest in 2014-15? It’s not in the Western Conference, that’s for sure. Six of the Central Division’s seven teams (every one but Winnipeg) have a bona fide shot at making the playoffs, and the California Trinity Of Doom, combined with the desperation to make the playoffs in Vancouver and Edmonton, makes the Pacific Division daunting as well.

So, the “honor” of the league’s worst division has to go to either the Metropolitan or the Atlantic. And although the Atlantic has seen more separation between the haves and have-nots of its teams this off-season, I’d still make the case the Metro is the weaker of the two. Read more

Fantasy Pool Look: Stars and Red Wings off-season outlooks

Pavel Datsyuk (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s the 12th annual off-season look at each NHL team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint. Every year I run through the teams alphabetically – but switch starting points each year. This year I’m doing something different and reviewing the teams in reverse order of regular season finish. Next up – we kick off our reviews of the playoff teams.

Dallas Stars

Gone – Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Mueller, Alex Chiasson, Cristopher Nilstorp, Toby Petersen, Aaron Rome, Tim Thomas, Ray Whitney

Incoming – Jussi Rynnas, Patrick Eaves, Ales Hemsky, Jason Spezza, Anders Lindback.

Ready for full-time – Travis Morin is a 30-year-old American League veteran who is coming off of a career season with Texas. His 88 points in 66 games led all AHL scorers and beat his career high by 33 percent. It earned him a brief cup of coffee with the team, but he was used in a depth capacity. You may see that in the season ahead, so his fantasy value will be minimal if he makes the team. Read more

Three playoff teams who could miss in 2014-15, and three non-playoff teams who could get in

Datsyuk nailed

If only the puck bounced this way or that way. If only Wade Dubielewicz hadn’t stood on his head in a random shootout performance on the last day of the season. Making or missing the playoffs often comes down to a few chance occurrences. It’s thus reasonable to forecast a few teams falling on the reverse side of the coin a year later. Toronto, Ottawa, Washington, Vancouver and the Islanders swapped spots with Philadelphia, Columbus, Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Colorado this past season.

Here are three 2014-15 candidates to slide from in the big dance to out – and three to slide from out to in.

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Rumor Roundup: Are the Maple Leafs done making moves?

nazemkadri

Toronto Maple Leafs fans hoping for their club to make a big splash in this summer’s trade market are likely to be disappointed. The Toronto Star’s Rosie DiManno believes the rest of the summer will be a quiet one for the Leafs.

DiManno speculates the “small-beer” moves made by Leafs GM Dave Nonis – signing Stephane Robidas and Mike Santorelli via free agency, swapping Carl Gunnarsson for Roman Polak, bringing back Leo Komarov and Matt Frattin – could be his only significant ones this off-season. She also claims no one’s calling about Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf or unhappy backup goalie James Reimer, and she rejected talk of Martin Brodeur signing with the Leafs as mere rumor.

If DiManno is correct, that also means center Nazem Kadri and defenseman Jake Gardiner – fixtures in last season’s trade rumor mill – will also return with the Leafs for 2014-15. That means the only Leaf facing an uncertain future is defenseman Cody Franson, who (along with Reimer) was among 20 NHL players to file for salary arbitration. Nonis reportedly offered up Franson to the Montreal Canadiens in a failed bid to acquire Josh Gorges, who nixed that move. Read more