All hail the Frozen Four champs from North Dakota. The Fighting Hawks stomped all over Quinnipiac in the final and while Vancouver pick Brock Boeser has confirmed his return for another campaign, several free agents are drumming up interest now. Boeser’s linemate, Drake Caggiula, helped his cause with two goals in the final, while defenseman Troy Stecher is expected to leave school early for an NHL contract. In the meantime, San Jose won the derby for Lithuanian goalie Mantas Armalis and the Michigan Wolverines lost their two best players to the pro ranks. Read about them and more in our weekly prospect wrap:
The five-year suspension levied to Flint Firebirds owner Rolf Nilsen by the Ontario League does not include off-ice activities, nor will it prevent Nilsen from participating in board of governors’ meetings or conducting league business, thn.com has learned.
And that’s a very important aspect of the suspension. Because the OHL is not denying Nilsen the opportunity to run his business and make a living from his hockey team, the suspension would have a far better opportunity of surviving a court challenge, should Nilsen choose to go that route. Nilsen has not declared his intentions and several calls to Patrick Ducharme, Nilsen’s Windsor-based lawyer, were not returned.
Welcome to Episode 11 of The Hockey News Podcast.
This week, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press joins the podcast to discuss the Red Wings’ chase to extend their playoff streak to 25 years, their youth movement, and the rumors about Pavel Datsyuk finishing his career in Russia.
We also discuss the latest controversy with the Flint Firebirds, and Jonathan Drouin’s impact on the hurting Tampa Bay Lightning.
[Music: Metz-Headache; Quicksand-Omission]
Faced with the possibility of a mass revolt from teenaged prospects against the Flint Firebirds, Ontario League commissioner David Branch had no choice but to take decisive and punitive action against Firebirds owner Rolf Nilsen three days before the league’s annual draft.
Branch announced Wednesday night the league has suspended Nilsen for five years – with an opportunity to apply for reinstatement in three years – revoked the third overall pick in the draft and fined the team $250,000 for violations, “contrary to the best interests of the players, the Team, and the OHL.” If Nilsen is found to violate the order by getting involved with the team in any way, the league reserves the right to force him to sell the team.
The playoffs have certainly not disappointed at the prospect level so far. The Frozen Four had numerous overtimes and now the field is set for the final weekend, with North Dakota battling Denver and Boston College taking on Quinnipiac. In major junior, it’s been just as crazy, with big upsets and a couple other underdogs taking the favorites down to the wire – Kelowna finally iced Kamloops, while Barrie and Mississauga needed seven games to determine a winner. We’re also nearing the world under-18s in North Dakota, so look for more info on that in the near future. Here’s what’s going on in the world of prospects:
For years, I have covered the NHL draft combine and with my very unscientific eye, tried to read just how hard the players were pushing themselves on the two notorious bike tests – the Wingate and the V02 Max. The Wingate is the shorter of the tests, taking just 30 seconds. But players fear it nonetheless. In the past, I would mentally tsk-tsk those who noticeably slowed down as the test wore on, but I will never do that again.
See, I did the Wingate bike test last week – and it is Hell.
Ken Hitchcock’s St. Louis Blues have given up seven goals in their past seven games. But there was a time, almost 30 years ago to the day, that a team coached by Hitchcock gave up that many goals in just a touch more than a half of one game. Then it scored nine of its own in just over 26 minutes.
In one of the more wild games in Western League history, heck in the history of the game at any level, Hitchcock and his Kamloops Blazers went into the Seattle Center Ice Arena leading their best-of-nine – yes, best-of-nine – playoff series by a 2-0 margin over the Seattle Thunderbirds on the night of April 3, 1986. To give you an idea of what junior hockey was like at that time, the Blazers went into the playoffs with 449 goals in 72 games in the regular season. That’s an average of 6.23 per game, which is more than both teams in the NHL score in a game these days.
It’s been eight years since my last game as an amateur athlete. The day I had dreamed of had finally arrived, although it wasn’t quite as imagined. I finished my OHL career on a warm spring day – I remember so vividly because it was the day that began my slide from my wonderful seat atop the world. After the playoffs ended, I was banged up. My shoulder was a mess, my legs were shot (not to mention how emotional of a time the past 12 months had been), but of course there was still work that needed to be done as the Columbus Blue Jackets weren’t about to let me enjoy my summer just yet, and I was shipped off to AHL Syracuse to begin my quest to play in the NHL.