Ex-NHLer Andre Deveaux faces criminal charges in Sweden, proving hockey can’t always protect its “protectors”

Adam Proteau
Andre Deveaux as a member of the New York Rangers in November of 2011. (Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

The news former NHLer Andre Deveaux would face criminal charges in Sweden for a blind-side, stick-swinging attack on an opponent prior to a playoff game last week isn’t entirely unexpected. Once video of the incident surfaced, there were bound to be severe repercussions for the 31-year-old, and it’s looking like being released from his contract (as he was Monday) will be the least of Deveaux’s concerns.

The day after his release from Swedish League team Rogle BK, Deveaux had a warrant issued for his arrest, the TT news agency reported. Swedish prosecutors saw what we all saw – Deveaux inexplicably charging VIK Vasteras HK player Per Helmersson as his back was turned in warmups, winding up with his stick, swinging it baseball-style at Helmersson’s ankles, then clubbing him in the head – and decided a hockey punishment wasn’t nearly enough. And they were right. There was no major injury on the play, but what if that massive slash had shattered Helmersson’s ankle and decimated his ability to play at peak form for the rest of his career? In effect, Deveaux was gambling with an opponent’s career – and as it turns out, his own career.

You can argue whatever you like about whether or not Deveaux had been provoked in an earlier playoff game between his team and Helmersson’s, but that is missing the point. This is another cautionary tale, and it’s the one hockey’s fundamentalist old-schoolers don’t like to talk much about: the culture of the game can push you to levels of hyper-aggression you never thought possible, but there’s a Rubicon you can cross – and once you do cross it, the game’s gatekeepers won’t always be there to protect you. Read more

We’ve entered the two-minute warning phase of the NHL season – and man, is it glorious

Adam Proteau
Lance Bouma and Jiri Hudler  celebrate a Flames goal Sunday. (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

I’ve argued recently that, for the sake of competitive integrity, the NHL ought to do away with its loser-rewarding points system. However, I’ve also said on a number of occasions that the league maintains the system because it functions as it’s intended to function: to create as tight a playoff race as possible in order to help more teams sell more tickets for longer into the regular season, to fans who hope their franchise somehow continues to play after its conclusion.

Never was that more true than on Sunday – the day it felt like the NHL has entered this season’s equivalent of the two-minute warning of a football game. Eight games were played, and every one of them had playoff implications. Read more

Retired NHL players’ concussion lawsuit takes another step in U.S. court; what’s next for both sides?

Adam Proteau
Bernie Nicholls (Getty Images)

The ongoing lawsuit filed against the NHL by former players in U.S. court took its next step with a Wednesday ruling from a judge who denied the league’s motion to dismiss it. It appears unlikely there will be any end to the legal proceedings anytime soon. In fact, these are still the early days of a high-stakes, protracted battle that almost assuredly has numerous twists and turns ahead.

The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. district court in Minnesota, has six named plaintiffs – retired NHLers Bernie Nicholls, Gary Leeman, Reed Larson, Dan LaCouture, Mike Peluso and Dave Christian – who claim the NHL was derelict in its duty to inform and protect players of risks associated with concussions and traumatic brain injuries. And Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled the league’s attempts to have the case thrown out – by arguing on three fronts: the case not being “adequately pled”; jurisdiction issues; and time sensitivity – was not enough to stop players from continuing on with it.

“We are pleased the Court has confirmed the validity of our claims and found the NHL’s arguments insufficient to warrant dismissal of this case,” co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs said in a statement after the ruling. “It is time for the NHL to be held accountable for deliberately ignoring and concealing the risks of repeated head impacts, and finally provide security and care to retired players whom the League has depended on for its success.”

In a statement to THN Wednesday evening, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly acknowledged the case is in its infancy and indicated the league intended on presenting a vigorous defense as it moves ahead. Read more

Abysmal Leafs draw smallest crowd in Air Canada Centre’s history; will we see more non-sellouts?

Adam Proteau
Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier bats a puck away against the Minnesota Wild. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

As evidenced by the Maple Leafs’ 2-1 loss to Minnesota Monday – their 11th defeat in the past 13 games – they’re staggering to the conclusion of the 2014-15 season. And with news the team failed to sell out the Air Canada Centre for the Wild’s visit with the lowest attendance for hockey (18,366) since that building opened in 1999, it’s clear fans in Toronto are tired of seeing them.

But don’t take that to mean Leafs fans are about to abandon this organization. There may be a handful of non-sellouts here and there (including a potential back-to-back non-sellout when Florida comes to town on Thursday), but this will not be Chicago in the dark Bill Wirtz years. The team has been smart enough to recognize how ludicrous a ticket price increase would look after this debacle of a season, so they’ve announced they’re freezing prices at current rates. And as team president Brendan Shanahan’s plan becomes more apparent in the months and years to come, fans will find reasons to fill the rink to the ACC’s officially listed 18,800-seat capacity for hockey games. Read more

Canadiens star Max Pacioretty goes undercover to sell burgers to Bruins fans

Max Pacioretty (Jared Silberg/Getty Images)

Hamburgers and hockey are enjoying a mutually-beneficial relationship of late. And in a new ad for McDonald’s, Montreal Canadiens star left winger Max Pacioretty puts a fun twist on the trend by going undercover to sell burgers to fans of one of the team’s biggest rivals, the Boston Bruins.

In the ad (seen here in its Quebec version and via Reddit user Microdinosaurus and Youtube.com channel Grenierauxnouvelles), Pacioretty jumps on a private jet to Boston and manages to quietly get Bruins fans to say they enjoy the burger, then drops their jaws by revealing who he really is: Read more

Don Cherry creates new foundation to promote and support animal welfare

Adam Proteau
Don Cherry poses with his dog, Blue, in 2004. (Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

Legendary hockey coach Don Cherry is partnering with a dog treat company to create a charity in his name promoting and supporting the well-being of animals.

Run in collaboration with Simply Pets dog treats, Don Cherry’s Pet Rescue Foundation will provide financial aid to registered pet rescue groups, and educate the Canadian public on animal welfare. All of Cherry’s portion of proceeds raised from the purchase of Simply Pet products will go to the organization, and the former pro player and onetime NHL bench boss couldn’t be prouder to be assisting animals in need and the people who devote their lives to that end. Read more

Canadiens support women’s hockey, enter partnership with CWHL’s Montreal Stars

Adam Proteau
Toronto Furies forward Natalie Spooner and Montreal Stars forward Julie Chu shake hands after the semi-final game of the 2014 Clarkson Cup. (Richard Lautens, Toronto Star via Getty Images)

In thrilling news for elite women’s hockey and young women playing the game at all levels, the Montreal Canadiens strengthened the NHL’s connection to the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Thursday by announcing a partnership with the league’s most successful team, the Montreal Stars.

“With the growing popularity of women’s hockey over the last decade, I think this is the right time to concretely support women who play professional hockey, and, at the same time, promote the sport among up-and-coming players,” Canadiens president Geoff Molson said in a news release. Read more