Five players who could go out on top this season

Shane Doan (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

The question everyone wanted answered following Sunday’s Super Bowl was if it was the final game of Peyton Manning’s career.

Manning, 39, has been one of the greatest quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen, and while Sunday may not have been the best game of his career, it would be a fitting, storybook ending to his career.

The possibility of Manning retiring on top hits home across professional sports. It’s the way every player wants to go out, but the way few rarely get to. That said, we’ve seen similar retirements in the NHL before. Most famously, there was Ray Bourque’s Stanley Cup-winning goodbye to the league. After him, there was Mark Recchi’s post-Cup retirement announcement, and the pre-Cup announcement from Kimmo Timonen in 2014-15 that, Stanley Cup or not, he was hanging up his skates following the season. Luckily, his career got to end with him triumphantly hoisting the Cup.

One player missing from our list of five who could go out on top is Jaromir Jagr. The 43-year-old has made it clear he’s got at least one more year in him. So, whether the Panthers win it all or come up short, he’s not going out on top if he wins this season. Here are five players without contracts for next season who stand a chance to make their last on-ice moment include the Stanley Cup: Read more

10 hockey commercials that blow away Super Bowl ads. But not really

Jason Kay
Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 12.34.54 PM

The revival of the classic Mean Joe Greene Coca-Cola ad for this year’s Super Bowl got us to reminiscing about hockey’s commercials of yesteryear. After some Google deep diving, it became apparent there are schools of fish in this sea of schlock, so we decided to offer up 10 of the best/worst.

The spots on this list either are either amusingly awkward, hilariously dated or just plain nostalgic fun. No modern-day slick ads allowed, no matter how funny.

1. Ron and Ally’s Pizza. The prototype for future SCTV spoof commercials. No? Check out Gilles Meloche glancing off-screen after he delivers his lines. And of course, the pizza parlor is on a street called Minnehaha. Ha.Ha.

2. Twohey beer. An Aussie brewery decided to use hockey to sell some suds and the result is, umm, compelling. It includes the memorable lyric, “They put you in to guard the bin not hand out gifts.” How do you feel?

3. Ford/Mercury. Mario Tremblay, some cars, 1980s music and Solid Gold dancers – what could go wrong?

4. Esso. This was a great promotion back in the day. What were Power Players. “Power Players were hockey stamps. Color stamps that Esso made.” The only hitch? You had to spend a minimum $3 on gas.

5. CCM. Two superstars yuk it up, particularly at the end with some engagingly forced laughter.

6. Mercury, part deux. Bobby Hull, Rob Gilbert, a cool-cat golfer and an announcer star in this floating heads ad that we believe was shot somewhere in the Twilight Zone. (Editor’s Note: an earlier version of this post identified Rod Gilbert as Marcel Dionne).

7. 7-Up. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe Canada turned 7-Up.

8. Grecian Formula. We couldn’t do this list without adding the classic Rocket Richard ad. Two minutes for looking so good! In a ref’s uniform. Guess the rioting days were over.

9. Swanson Hungry Man. Hey, the performances by Lanny McDonald and Brian Glennie aren’t too bad. It’s the laughter at the end that clinches it, though. Meow!

10. Weetabix. Darryl Sittler and Norm Ullman. Wooden sticks and wooden deliveries.

Five second-year players hit with the dreaded sophomore slump

Jared Clinton
Damon Severson (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s rare in today’s game that the sophomore slump hits rookie standouts hard. With the way the game has changed over the past several seasons, rookies who break out are usually able to maintain their level of play because the speed and skill that made them stand out as freshman doesn’t disappear in a single season.

That said, not all second-year players are able to avoid a step back in their sophomore season. Be it a coaching change, decrease in minutes or simply a lack of puck luck, not every rookie who stood out continues on an upward trajectory. Here are five players who’ve struggled in their second season in the big league: Read more

30 players we would love to see at the 2017 All-Star Game

Jared Clinton
Shane Doan (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

Whether or not the NHL wanted John Scott at the All-Star Game or not, his appearance was a resounding success. He received raucous ovations each time he was introduced, smiled ear-to-ear throughout the game and was voted the game’s MVP even though he didn’t appear on the ballot. For all the success of the 3-on-3 tournament format, Scott was the biggest story.

But now the NHL faces a tough decision. With Scott’s success and the attention paid to his appearance, does the NHL try to capitalize on this sort of thing again next season? There’s a good argument to be made Scott’s appearance was the perfect lightning-in-a-bottle example and it would be impossible to recreate. And if the NHL wants to make a Scott-esque player a feature of the All-Star Game, how do they do it?

The league will definitely consider their options, but if they choose to send some fan favorites next season, here are 30 players — one from each team — we’d love to see participate in the all-star festivities: Read more

Second-half preview: 30 storylines to watch

Jared Clinton
Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd (Lance Thomson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Once the all-star break is over, the race to the NHL post-season really begins and every fanbase has something to keep an eye on as the trade deadline approaches and playoff races kick into high gear.

Teams on the bubble will have to decide whether they’re buyers or sellers at the deadline, some clubs near the bottom of the standings will start selling off parts in hopes of landing the first-overall pick and a shot at 2017 top prospect Auston Matthews and some teams will stand pat with hopes that only minor moves will be necessary to take home the Stanley Cup.

We’ve already seen coaching changes and major trades, and there are some big name players who remain without contracts for next season as the Feb. 29 deadline approaches. That means they could be hot commodities on the UFA rental market. But the deadline isn’t the only major storyline. Here are 30 things to keep your eye on following the break: Read more

In honor of Thornton and Luongo’s major achievements, five other milestones to watch for post-break

Jaromir Jagr (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Joe Thornton and Roberto Luongo will both say the most important thing about Tuesday’s games were that their respective clubs picked up victories, but both veteran stars added to their Hall of Fame resumes.

In the Sharks’ victory over the Avalanche, Thornton extended his point streak to 10 games and racked up two assists in the 6-1 win. Thornton’s helpers were the 1,299th and 1,300th points of his career, as he moved became just the 33rd player in league history to reach the 1,300-point mark for their career.

As for Luongo, his milestone wasn’t as round as Thornton’s but it continued the Panthers netminder’s climb up the all-time ranks. The Panthers’ convincing 5-1 victory over the Maple Leafs gave Luongo 423 wins in his career, putting him into a tie for seventh-place all-time with longtime Chicago Blackhawks netminder Tony Esposito. He’s now 14 wins back of Jacques Plante and 24 wins away from reaching a tie for the top-five alongside Terry Sawchuk.

With the all-star break upon us, there’s not much time left in the season for others chasing down major career milestones: Read more

10 of the best fan signs in honor of Bobby Ryan’s puppy-goal

Jared Clinton
Young fans hold up a sign putting pressure on Bobby Ryan (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Bobby Ryan is going to have a puppy named after him thanks to a goal that won a young fan a bet.

The bet was between Cole Jansen and his father, and the bet was quite simple: if Ryan scored during Sunday’s game against the Rangers, the Jansen family was getting a puppy. As Cole’s luck would have it, Ryan banged home a loose puck Sunday and Cole was able to start thinking about names for his new dog. There was only one choice, really. The puppy will be named Bobby: Read more

Five of this season’s most surprising success stories

Jared Clinton
Shayne Gostisbehere (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

To say the expectations surrounding Vincent Lecavalier when he came in Los Angeles weren’t high would be an understatement.

In Philadelphia, Lecavalier was a healthy scratch more often than not and had contributed just 21 points over his final season and a half with the Flyers. His contract seemed a burden in Philadelphia and it looked like Lecavalier may retire sooner than he’d ever become a regular in the Flyers lineup again. So when Philadelphia swung him to Los Angeles, he seemed like a depth piece that could maybe help out, but wasn’t likely to make a difference for the Kings.

Much to everyone’s surprise, though, the 35-year-old center has found some offensive spark. In his past three games, he’s scored three goals and he’s up to four points with the Kings in six games. That’s great production from a veteran brought in with the hope he could be a half-decent depth contributor. If Lecavalier keeps it up, he could pot at least 20 points in the back half of the campaign, and it’d be hard to think of a more unlikely success story this campaign than Lecavalier’s.

Whether or not the former 50-goal scorer keeps up his scoring pace is to be seen so it’s too soon to crown him one of the great stories that no one saw coming. There are five players who have been unexpectedly turning heads this season, though. Read more