From Seguin to St-Louis, NHLers train insane, just not the same

Ronnie Shuker
(Photo by Anthony Tuccitto)

At any given time in the summer, Matt Nichol has 
three or four of his 16 NHL clients working out at his gym in Toronto. They’re a mixed bag of stars, mid-range players and guys on the cusp. Each is as unique as the other, and no two train the same.

Take this quartet of Nichol’s, for example: Mike Cammalleri is 5-foot-9, 190 pounds and built like a brick. Wayne Simmonds is lean and lanky at 6-foot-2 and 183. Hal Gill is a small mountain at 6-foot-7 and 243. And then there’s Chris Stewart, who at 6-foot-2 and 231 pounds could easily pass for a linebacker.

“You couldn’t have four more different body types,” said Nichol, who also trains Tyler Seguin and Michael Del Zotto. “They can’t all do the same exercises.”

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The man who predicted the Rangers would go from last to the Stanley Cup

Jason Kay
Rangers Cup

The New York Rangers finished dead last in the Patrick Division in 1992-93, out of the playoffs and searching for answers.

Yet, remarkably, entering the subsequent season, THN senior writer Mike Brophy predicted they’d win the Stanley Cup when most figured Pittsburgh was a shoo-in for their third in four years. He explains why in the Oct. 15, 1993 issue of The Hockey News, and this edition of Throwback Thursday.

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Pixels and pucks: a history of hockey video games

Matt Larkin
NHL 94 image

Hockey video games have made an incredible journey over the past three decades, from pixelated characters to the spitting images of real players, from mindless fun to managing a salary cap, from something little kids play to something NHL players compete to represent. THN delves into the world of consoles to unearth the nuts and bolts of every 
landmark release and paradigm shift in how our great sport has appeared in game form.

 

THE 1980S: COLD, HARD STEEL

 

It is 1988. I am five years old. I kneel before a large Zenith television, encased in wood panelling, inches away from a black screen, brow furrowed in frustration. It worked yesterday. I thought Dad fixed it. I pop the hood of my Nintendo Entertainment System and yank out the cartridge. I stick my bowl-haircutted head against the console and blow inside of it until my lungs are empty. He said it was dust. I jam the game back inside, turn it on and hear the sounds I’ve giddily awaited. First the high-pitched SCHLING! Then the familiar, muffled voice: “Blades…of Steel.”

It brings Dad jogging into the room. We grab controllers, choose our teams and go head-to-head for three hours straight. He beats me 10 times in a row. I cry. His rapid puck movement reminds me of those Red Army guys he told me about. The game’s voice, which I swear has a hand covering it, haunts me: “HITS THE PASS. HITS THE PASS. HITS THE PASS.”

Mom, furious, tells Dad to let me win. “No way,” he says. “When he beats me for real, it’ll be that much better.” And he’s right.

Ice Hockey. The simplistic name implied its creator didn’t understand the material. You know who calls our sport “ice hockey”? People who don’t watch or play it.

It was thus not a huge surprise the Nintendo Entertainment System’s 1988 release Ice Hockey had four skaters per team, not five, and a few faceless nations to choose from. Colin Moriarty, senior editor for the juggernaut video game publication IGN and a classic games expert, describes it as one cog in NES’s nondescript sport series, which included such original titles as Golf and Baseball.

“The ice was a little bit more wide open and the game wasn’t a simulation at all as much as it was a very arcadey experience,” Moriarty says. “But it was still fun. It was still a classic game.”

Anyone who played Ice Hockey remembers it fondly for one fun feature. Among those gamers: Sean Ramjagsingh, producer of EA Sports’ NHL series, the pinnacle of modern hockey gaming.

“Nintendo hockey: the skinny guy, the fat guy and the medium guy,” he says. “Very basic game mechanics. The fat guy was strong and the skinny guy was quick and fast. That’s how it started. Back then it was figuring out the easiest way – the consoles weren’t anywhere close to what they are now – to get something that looked like hockey. That being a player moving on an ice surface, as opposed to all the other sports with running, and trying to make that as real as possible.”

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Penguins’ signing of Daniel Carcillo, Steve Downie makes Mario Lemieux a hypocrite

Adam Proteau
Daniel Carcillo (Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

In the winter of 2011, Penguins owner Mario Lemieux sent a strong and public message to the NHL in regard to a “sideshow” brawl between his franchise’s players and those of the New York Islanders. Calling the incident a “travesty”, the retired Hall of Famer went on to talk about the type of league and game he wanted to be associated with:

“We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players,” Lemieux said. “We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated.”

Three years later – with Matt Cooke’s infamous legacy in Pittsburgh still relatively fresh in the collective memory of hockey fans – Lemieux’s team has made moves that suggest the integrity of the game and player safety isn’t as much of a priority as he’s suggested it ought to be: In July, the Pens signed expert agitator Steve Downie to a one-year contract; and Thursday, they agreed to terms on a professional tryout deal with journeyman and fellow super-pest Daniel Carcillo.

When you hear Carcillo’s and Downie’s names, the words “integrity of the game” and “safety” do not leap to mind. In fact, they run screaming away from mind. Read more

Why do ex-Flyers personnel succeed in L.A.? More freedom

Ron Hextall won a Cup with L.A., but will he succeed as Flyers GM with owner Ed Snider influencing him? (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The migration of on-and-off-ice talent from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Los Angeles Kings franchise that has won two of the past three Cups is not lost on observers. At various points in the past 15 years, the Flyers (a) employed L.A. GM Dean Lombardi as their western scout, and Kings assistant coach John Stevens as their coach; (b) centered their core of forwards around Jeff Carter and Mike Richards, who each have two rings with the Kings; and (c) had Ron Hextall as their director of player personnel before he joined L.A. and was part of their Cup win in 2012.

Hextall returned to the Flyers last summer and will enter his rookie year as Philly’s GM. His best chance to deliver a Cup is if owner Ed Snider leaves him alone to work at it. That hasn’t always been true in the nearly five decades Snider has owned the team. And the success of the Kings – the success of components not good enough for the Flyers – should show Snider the best thing he can do to satisfy his competitive urges is to wall himself off from hockey decisions.

Because in the modern era, it’s a fact: Stanley Cups are won by teams whose owners stay out of the picture.

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Will any GM ever have a summer like Lou Lamoriello did in 1991?

The cover of the Sept. 20, 1991 edition of The Hockey News questions the landmark ruling that made Scott Stevens a Devil.

If Scott Gomez and/or Tomas Kaberle make the New Jersey Devils this season and contribute in a meaningful way, GM Lou Lamoriello will be able to claim another feather for a cap that is already bursting with plumage. The veterans are reclamation projects, looking to revive careers that are ever-so-gently flickering.

Barring the spectacularly unforeseen, however, those potential additions won’t be able to match the magic Lamoriello performed 23 years ago.

In this edition of Throwback Thursday, we remember the incredible summer of 1991, when the Devils acquired Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer via a series of head-scratching events.

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Why Mike Cammalleri and the Devils chose each other

Matt Larkin
MikeCammalleri

At the risk of sounding blasphemous, Mike Cammalleri’s deal with the Devils was all about faith. He chose the team that believed in him most and the team he believed in most.

Calgary fans were disappointed but not surprised when he left in free agency after a resurgent 26-goal campaign. After all, team president Brian Burke retained Cammalleri’s expiring contract at the trade deadline. Burke tried to deal his veteran, but he felt the offers weren’t good enough. He decided to risk losing Cammalleri for nothing and stated his desire to keep him.

Burke and new GM Brad Treliving made offers this summer to Cammalleri for a long-term pact, but they couldn’t compete with what Lou Lamoriello and the New Jersey Devils tabled: five years and $25 million for a 32-year-old who’s missed 15 or more games in four of his past five seasons and is six years removed from his best numbers.

That didn’t matter to Lamoriello, who says he followed and admired Cammalleri’s game all the way back to the University of Michigan.

“He played with an edge and had results,” Lamoriello said. “He’s very diligent and he competes. When you see that in a player, it naturally sticks out. When we were looking at the potential free agencies and the type of player we needed, we felt we needed a scorer. Mike stood right out, and he was one of the top players we looked at, if not the top player.”

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Top 20 defining moments from 2013-14

The Hockey News
hertlfpl-183676767

From blockbuster trades to harrowing human dramas, there was a lot to remember in 2013-14. And that’s not even counting the fact the schedule got a bit squished thanks to a
little ol’ tournament called the Olympics. Here’s a look at the top 20 moments that defined the greatest hockey league in the world this year.

1.
 Tomas Hertl’s four goals vs. New York, Oct. 8, 2013
In just his third NHL game, the rookie Tomas Hertl put up his statement performance with four goals in 11 minutes of playing time against the Rangers. Hertl’s final goal was a breakaway between-the-legs instant classic that drew gushing reviews from most of the hockey world and the occasional dissenter, such as then-Washington coach Adam Oates, who said the move was disrespectful. Nonetheless, Hertl became a frontrunner for the Calder Trophy from that game until mid-December, when he required knee surgery after being hit by L.A.’s Dustin Brown. Marty Biron, the goaltender who gave up Hertl’s famous goal, would play just one more NHL game before retiring.

2. T.J. Oshie’s shootout heroics vs. Russia, Feb. 15, 2014
It was the most anticipated matchup of the Olympic round-robin, a Cold War classic starring the United States and the host Russians. Controversial Russian President Vladimir Putin was even in the building as the two rivals went at each other for 65 minutes without resolving matters. So with the score tied 2-2, the game went to a shootout where, under IIHF rules, only the first three shooters had to be different. So with the score still tied, Team USA sent out Blues winger T.J. Oshie five additional times in a row, while Russia countered with Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk. Oshie finished with four goals to win the match for America and earn the nickname ‘T.J. Sochi’. Read more