Injuries are no excuse, unless you’re the Columbus Blue Jackets

Ken Campbell
(Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

When a team runs into a rash of injuries, it’s easy to say that it creates an opportunity for someone else, that injuries can’t be used as an excuse, that organizations should have enough depth to recover and that everybody just needs to play harder.

And some of those things are true. But then you have the Columbus Blue Jackets, who until recently were losers of nine straight games and currently 10 of their past 12. There’s a time where injuries have to stop being an excuse. But, when you look at it objectively, this is not one of those times. Read more

Detroit’s Jonathan Ericsson is new at being an old hand

Ryan Kennedy
Jonathan Ericsson (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Jonathan Ericsson made his eight-game debut with Detroit during the 2007-08 campaign, the Red Wings blueline was filled with big-time names such as Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios and Brian Rafalski. That team went on to win Detroit’s most recent Stanley Cup.

Two years later, Ericsson became a regular on the Wings back end and the team still had a huge veteran presence with Lidstrom, Rafalski and Brad Stuart, not to mention an ascending Niklas Kronwall.

Now Kronwall and Ericsson are the big names and the two Swedes are helping guide what is becoming a very solid defense corps once again for coach Mike Babcock. It’s all pretty startling for a player who was the last overall pick in the 2002 draft, in a ninth round that no longer exists.

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Rumor Roundup: Senators searching for the right swaps

Marc Methot

Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot is making some progress in his recovery from the back and hip ailments which have sidelined him since training camp. The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan reports Methot has resumed skating with his teammates, but he’s taking things day-by-day and there’s still no timetable for his return to action.

Methot is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. His average cap hit is $3 million, while in real salary this season he’s earning $3.75 million. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports there’s no sign of progress in contract talks between Methot’s agent and Senators management, fuelling trade speculation. He claims the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers are among the interested clubs. Read more

This old Gordie Howe ad for ESPN – & the reporter’s memory of meeting him – will make you love Mr. Hockey a little bit more

Adam Proteau
Gordie Howe (Getty Images)

All hockey fans have been thinking of Gordie Howe in recent weeks as the NHL icon attempts to recover following a number of strokes – and that group of fans includes ESPN anchor Keith Olbermann, who had his first adult encounter with the Red Wings legend when the two filmed this commercial for the American sports network in 1996:

Olbermann recently remembered his time on set with Howe, as well as a childhood meeting with the Hockey-Hall-of-Famer, and what an utter gentleman he was all along: Read more

Hockey’s 10 richest contracts, in honor of Giancarlo Stanton’s monster MLB deal

Shea Weber

On Monday, Major League Baseball’s Giancarlo Stanton signed the richest contract in North American sports history. At 13-years and $325 million, the Miami Marlins outfielder stands to make more money than the average Canadian or American could earn in one hundred lifetimes.

In fact, here’s how it breaks down. Those earning the average 2014 income in Canada (USD$42,719) and USA ($51,371) would have to spend 7,608 and 6,327 years in the workforce, respectively, in order to match Stanton’s monster deal. Something tells me that might be unattainable.

There was a time – around the formation of the World Hockey Association – when Bobby Hull and the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets made waves with a $1 million dollar signing bonus. And in 1998-99, Sergei Fedorov made $14.5 million, the most ever at the time, which was more than the entire Nashville Predators roster made – combined. The days of both these contracts are long gone. These are the most lucrative contracts in the history of the NHL, all coming during the salary cap era. Read more

The next great two-way center? Colin White headlines The Hot List

Team USA's Colin White (Photo courtesy of Tom Sorensen/USA Hockey)

It was a glorious weekend of Michigan hockey for me, as I took a road trip to Ann Arbor to take in games featuring the National Team Development Program (NTDP) and University of Michigan. The NTDP got two wins over United States League opponents while the Wolverines capped off a weekend sweep of American International on Saturday. All three games gave me a great look at some top prospects and here are a few of them below, plus more kids we can’t wait to see in the NHL some day.

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Playing past their prime didn’t hurt Forsberg, Modano & Hasek – & it won’t hurt Brodeur’s legacy either

Martin Brodeur (Getty Images)

When I look at the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014, the first thing I think of is the eye-popping talent and character of the players and people. The second thing that comes to mind, oddly enough, is Martin Brodeur.

Because as the former Devils goalie floats in limbo these days, not employed by any team but not ready to say he’s retired, I hear some say he’s doing himself a disservice by not realizing what the lack of job offers is telling him, and suggest Brodeur should call a press conference as soon as possible to put his 21-season career to bed. But when you look at the careers of this year’s HHOF inductees, it becomes clear even the best of the best can’t help but play past their best due date. Guys like Red Wings icon (and 2015 lock Hall-of-Famer) Nicklas Lidstrom or Canadiens great Ken Dryden, who retire before a precipitous decline in effectiveness sets in, are the exception. The majority of the elite – including 2014 honorees Peter Forsberg and Mike Modano, and to a lesser degree, Dominik Hasek and Rob Blake – did not leave the sport at their peak. Read more

Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher scored from a weird place

Adam Proteau
Brendan Gallagher (left) and Alex Galchenyuk (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Many, if not most goals scored in the NHL these days are scored because of traffic in front of the net: a deflection, a screen, or a physical push right into the goalie does the trick as often as not. But Sunday night in Detroit, Montreal right winger Brendan Gallagher scored from the most unlikely of places: behind the net and on one knee.

The Canadiens were leading the Red Wings 3-1 and nearing the midway mark of the third period when Gallagher begins the goal sequence: first, he fights for the puck behind Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard’s net; he loses control of it and winds up flat on his back after tangling with Detroit blueliner Jonathan Ericsson; but as he gets up, teammate Alex Galchenyuk pushes the puck back to him – and that’s when he scores from one knee (banking it in off of Howard’s backside) for the final goal of the night: Read more