Auston Matthews or Jesse Puljujarvi – who’s No. 1 in 2016?

Auston Matthews (Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

During one of the off-days at the World Junior Championship, the way the camera lights were pointed, Auston Matthews of Team USA was literally standing in the shadow of Jack Eichel.

Don’t count on that lasting much longer. The Great American NHL Draft Hope of 2015™ (Eichel) and The Great American NHL Draft Hope of 2016™ (Matthews) were roommates at the WJC, a tournament that began what those at USA Hockey hope will be a long, championship-filled relationship. Read more

A letter to myself: Scott Hartnell tells his rookie self to keep his head up – literally

Scott Hartnell (Nhan Chu/Allsport)

(For our Rookie Issue earlier this season, we ask Blue Jackets veteran and NHL fan favorite Scott Hartnell to provide some advice to himself 15 years ago when he entered the league as an 18-year-old rookie with the Nashville Predators. This is what he had to say…)

Hey Buddy:

Wow, that was some hit, wasn’t it? You’ll probably never skate through the neutral zone with your head down when Darren Langdon is on the ice again, right? In case you’re wondering where you are at the moment, you’re in Raleigh, N.C. Actually, you’re in an ambulance and, yeah, that’s your dad riding with you. Way to screw up the Dads’ Trip there, pal. Read more

Lightning’s plan for rookie Jonathan Drouin was shocking but savvy

Adam Proteau
Jonathan Drouin (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Jonathan Drouin was sent back to junior three months after being drafted third overall in 2013, it raised the eyebrows of many. And nowhere were eyebrows higher than in the THN office, where staffers had almost unanimously predicted him to be that season’s Calder winner. After all, he was the perfect fit alongside superstar Steven Stamkos.

But Tampa’s braintrust had a plan. Read more

When Ron MacLean was George Stroumboulopoulos

Jason Kay
Ron MacLean (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

The George Stroumboulopoulos experiment at Sportsnet is still in its relatively early days, but that hasn’t stopped critics and fans from opining. The reviews have been mixed, with some old-school hockey viewers taking a harsh stance and millennials generally liking the work he’s doing.

A scan of some pointed comments on a website prompted one of my colleagues to state: “Nobody filling Ron MacLean’s shoes really had a chance.”

The reality is, 28 years ago, MacLean was in the exact same position as Stroumboulopoulos. He was the new kid on the block, replacing the highly respected Dave Hodge as the face of Hockey Night in Canada. MacLean had to battle aspersions that he was too young and lacked credibility.

Turns out, he filled Hodge’s chair rather nicely. A decade from now, we may be saying the same about Stroumboulopoulos.

The following story chronicles MacLean’s challenges in his early days on the job and the hurdles he had to overcome. It was written by Eric Duhatschek and appeared in The Hockey News’ now-defunct sibling publication, Inside Hockey, in November of 1987.

Read more

Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau setting the hockey world on fire. But what fuels him?

Ryan Kennedy
Johnny Gaudreau (Abelimages/Getty Images)

From the Hollydell Arena he runs in New Jersey, Guy Gaudreau can practically see the hockey-mad city of Philadelphia, though in the small town of Carney’s Point, hockey has historically taken a backseat to the other major American sports. The most famous person to come out of the town is actor Bruce Willis, but there’s a new name on the scene, and it happens to be Gaudreau’s son John.

Yes, in Carney’s Point, one of the most dynamic and unlikely hockey talents in generations is simply known to friends and family as ‘John,’ once a tyke whose dad put Skittles on the ice for him and his younger brother to skate toward while Guy was coaching 16-year-olds.

“It entertained them for the hour,” Guy said. “They were really wired up by the time they were done.”

But outside the confines of Riverside South Jersey, that tiny tyke is Calgary Flames right winger Johnny Gaudreau, a.k.a. ‘Johnny Hockey,’ a prospect whose legend grew so fast that the Flames literally had a private jet pick him up after his college career was finished so he and Boston College linemate Bill Arnold could be whisked away to join the NHL as soon as possible.

And while Arnold is still learning the pro game one season later in the minors, Gaudreau is one of the top-scoring rookies in the NHL – not to mention one of the smallest in recent memory. When Calgary drafted Gaudreau in the fourth round in 2011 out of the USHL, the youngster was listed at 5-foot-6 and 137 pounds. He’s not a whole lot bigger now, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting together one of the most impressive pre-NHL careers around and silencing the many doubters he had. Read more

Meet the “very, very smart” man who will win this year’s Calder Trophy

Ken Campbell
Filip Forsberg (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

At Christmastime, we North Americans have our egg nog. Nordic countries have their glogg (pronounced “gloog,” with a heavy accent on the ‘oo’). You could say that in Sweden they love to glug their glogg, a sweet, high-octane mulled wine that is served warm so as to raise the temperature of the mouth and stomach, thereby pushing the blood to the skin to create an all-round glow, warming the body and the soul from the inside out. Swedes like to spend all Christmas Day sitting around drinking glogg and watching Donald Duck cartoons.

Anyway, it was only a couple sleeps before Christmas and the Presidents’ Trophy-contending Nashville Predators found themselves with a rare day off. Now, Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm could have spent their off-day concocting a brew of wine, brandy, cardamom, orange peels and cinnamon sticks themselves. Yeah, that’s what a couple of guys in their 20s could have done. But that wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun as taking a road trip to Ikea to pick up some glogg themselves.

The only problem is Nashville got itself an NHL team 16 years ago, but sadly still has no Ikea store. Atlanta, on the other hand, lost its team, but can take solace in the fact its residents can buy reasonably priced particle board furniture with names like ‘Kottebo’ and ‘Riffla’ that they have to assemble themselves to their hearts’ content. So it was on this December day when Forsberg and Ekholm decided to jump into Ekholm’s 2015 Audi SQ5 SUV and take the I-24 past Chattanooga to the I-75 into Atlanta, which accounts for a drive of about three-and-a-half hours. Then they got their brew and a little taste of home at the local Ikea outlet and promptly turned around and drove back. Read more

For New York Islanders, it’s just about closing time in Nassau

Stu Hackel
Barclays Center (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In the months remaining before the NHL’s most reviled arena gives way to what will be its most unusual, the Islanders continue to celebrate their 43 years at Nassau Coliseum. With on-ice ceremonies featuring alumni greats, promotional giveaways, jersey revivals and a “Tradition on Ice” commemorative logo on their jerseys and at center ice, the club has been honoring its four consecutive Stanley Cup championships and today’s young rising stars.

The Islanders are bound for Brooklyn – New York City’s largest borough – and the Barclays Center next season. That’s 25 miles west of their current locale but a light year away from their suburban enclave in the Nassau County town of Hempstead. That’s where politicians, voters and team executives couldn’t agree on a plan to revive the old barn and keep the franchise in place.

Fans were relieved the team wasn’t headed far away, but hearing the news still shocked many in Isles country, whose distaste for the city parallels their antipathy toward the rival Rangers. The club’s traditions and identity were formed at the Coliseum, which still has some of the best sightlines in the league and retains an intimacy modern arenas lack. “One of the things great about the Coliseum was we never got too banged up,” said former Islanders all-star winger Clark Gillies. Read more

From Eva Mendes to Brian Burke, trade deadline day is a wacky ride at TSN

The Hockey News
James Duthie (TSN/Bell Media)

By Jamie Duthie

The phone rings at 3:45 a.m. Sorry pings, not rings (it is March 9, 2004, and I have an old-school Blackberry). You know those sudden jolting wake-ups that interrupt the sweetest, deepest of dreams? One second you’re rubbing sunscreen on Eva Mendes’ back while she lies in the sand…of the bunker beside 18 at Augusta where you just won your third Green Jacket…wearing a mask and flippers for the entire final round (I have no idea)…and PING! PING! PING!

Suddenly Eva’s gone and you jump up in your bed and have no idea where you are or why it sounds like there are five fire trucks in your room.

I finally grasp that it is my phone and not Ladders 65-68 driving under the bed. PING! PING! PING!

“Wha…Uhh…Helloooo?

“James, it’s Mark.”

Mark? Mark who? Mark Ward or Mark Tadiello, my two best friends from high school? Mark Messier? Mark’s Work Warehouse saying my polar fleece socks are in? Mark Wahlberg? (I’m still groggy.)

“Wha…what time is it?”

“It’s 3:45. You need to get in right now.” (Oh. Mark Milliere. My boss.) “It’s been a crazy night. Todd Bertuzzi badly injured Steve Moore. We’re going on early.”

“How early?”

“As soon as you get here.” Read more