Capitals will be back – and they’ll win a Stanley Cup someday

Braden Holtby  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Tuesday night was a terrible night to be a Washington Capitals fan. Wednesday will be an even worse day to be one. And the coming days, both in the short- and long-term in the off-season, will be tinged with regret and lamentations about what might have been.

This was a year when the Stanley Cup was the Capitals to lose…and they lost it. With a number of the heavyweights already out of the tournament in the first round, the Capitals came into the second round as the best team in the NHL and the prohibitive favorite. Instead, the Capitals and their fans will be left to ponder why a team with such an abundance of talent at all positions is such an abject failure in the playoffs.

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Canadiens, Bruins to play pre-season game in Quebec City

Jared Clinton
Videotron Centre (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

There’s not yet any official word on whether or not an expansion team will be granted to Quebec City for the 2017-18 season, but NHL hockey will be played at the Videotron Centre as early as next season.

The Montreal Canadiens announced Tuesday that they will head to Quebec City on Oct. 4 for a pre-season game against the Boston Bruins. The contest will mark the second-consecutive season the Habs have hosted an exhibition game at the Quebec City arena, and the seventh such time since the 2009-10 season. It’s become a pre-season tradition for the Canadiens to head to Quebec City for at least one game of their exhibition schedule. However, that tradition could be coming to a close and the October 2016 pre-season contest could potentially be the final time the Canadiens are the home side at a game played in Quebec City.

If the NHL decides to expand to Quebec’s capital, the Videotron Centre will become the home of the new Canadian franchise and a place where the Canadiens are one of the most despised visiting teams. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Is friendship with P.K. Subban enough to lure Steven Stamkos to Montreal?

Steven Stamkos. (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

If center Steven Stamkos fails to re-sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning this summer, it’s assumed the Toronto Maple Leafs will be his destination of choice via free agency. However, he could entertain an offer from another major Canadian franchise.

In an interview with Richard Labbe of La Presse, NHL Network analyst and former Lightning GM Brian Lawton said he believes Stamkos would consider a contract proposal from the Montreal Canadiens. He suggests Stamkos’ long-time friendship with Habs star P.K. Subban could be among the factors working in Montreal’s favor.

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Prospect Need to Know: Cliff Pu is making London a nightmare

Cliff Pu (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The world under-18s are going full-bore in North Dakota right now and there is some fantastic talent assembled. Sure, Russia’s under-18s were pulled out because of a drug scandal, but youngsters such as Klim Kostin and Andrei Svechnikov just get to make their impressions a year earlier. And with Jesse Puljujarvi joining Finland, the Americans will have several rivals to fend off if they want to defend their gold medal from last year. We’ve also got CHL playoffs getting serious and a special guest star from the coaching ranks in this week’s prospect round-up.

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It might be a good idea for Eugene Melnyk to, you know, shut up a little bit

Eugene Melnyk (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Before the Boston Bruins announced Thursday that Claude Julien will be coming back next season – he might want to freshen up that resume though, you know, just in case – it was assumed that it were let go that he’d instantly head to the top of the list of candidates to coach the Ottawa Senators.

Julien is one of the best, if not the best, coach in hockey today. What’s to say that a bench boss of that ilk would even want to coach the Senators? First, you’re working for a loose cannon. Second, you’re working for a loose cannon that owns a budget team. It’s one thing to be wildly eccentric and rich, a la George Steinbrenner or Jerry Jones. It’s quite another to work for a guy who writes checks with his mouth that his team’s bank account can’t cash.

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Rumor Roundup: Canadiens not trying to trade Subban, but he’s not untouchable

P.K. Subban. (Getty Images)

Monday was locker clean-out day for the 14 NHL teams that failed to qualify for the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. It was also time for some general managers and players to field questions from the media regarding their off-season plans.

Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin attempted to squelch recent trade rumors about defenseman P.K. Subban. The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey reports Bergevin said he’s not shopping the 26-year-old superstar or other core players such as goaltender Carey Price and left winger Max Pacioretty.

Bergevin, however, didn’t state that Subban is untouchable. With the blueliner’s no-trade clause kicking in on July 1, his name could resurface in the trade rumor mill by late-June. TSN analysts Darren Dreger and Jamie McLennan suggest Bergevin is merely keeping his options open. While acknowledging he could listen to offers, both doubt that Subban’s going anywhere this summer.

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Rumor Roundup: Subban’s name back in rumor mill, coaching changes expected

PK Subban (Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the NHL regular season completed, the fate of several coaches whose clubs failed to reach the playoffs is a hot topic of discussion. Much of the focus is upon Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins.

Since joining the Bruins in 2007-08, Julien’s guided them to four division titles, a Presidents’ Trophy in 2013, two Stanley Cup Finals and a championship in 2011. Over the past two seasons, however, the Bruins fell short of the playoffs. Their recent failure has some in the Boston media calling for a coaching change.

If Julien is let go by the Bruins, he won’t be unemployed for long. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggests the Ottawa Senators could come calling if they decide to drop bench boss Dave Cameron. Read more

Remembering the Top Three hockey cartoons ever

Sal Barry
(National Film Board of Canada)

There have been over a dozen cartoons featuring hockey, but sadly, most of them are not very good. Cartoons like The Raccoons on Ice (1981) and The Magic Hockey Skates (2012) are your typical children’s stories where the good guys come out on top no matter the odds. Others, like Hockey Homicide (1945) and an episode of South Park from 2006 entitled “Stanley’s Cup” play up the violent aspect of the sport without giving any of the game’s more graceful elements a second thought.

But among the clichés of heroes overcoming impossible odds or hockey really just being about the fights are three excellent cartoons that are required viewing for hockey fans, young and old.

No. 1 – The Sweater (1980)

What it is about: A Montreal Canadiens’ fan recalls his boyhood in Quebec during the 1940s, where every boy idolized Maurice (Rocket) Richard and owned a Habs sweater with No. 9 on the back. When the boy’s mother orders him a new Canadiens’ jersey from the Eaton’s mail order catalog, he receives a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey by mistake and is ridiculed by his friends and teammates.

Why it is awesome: No other hockey-themed cartoon comes close to The Sweater, written and narrated by Roch Carrier, and based on his book The Hockey Sweater. We know what it is like to be a kid in awe of an athlete — and what it is like to love a team and to hate that team’s rival. Carrier’s tale is as funny as it is relatable, regardless of your age, nationality or favorite team.

No. 2 – Shaybu! Shaybu! (1964)

What it is about: In this Russian cartoon, a young hockey player gets his shot on a local team during a championship game when a player is injured.

Why it is awesome: Shaybu! Shaybu! — Russian for “Puck! Puck!,” or more specifically, “Give me the puck!” — is your typical hero’s journey. Most who play hockey aspire to make it to the next level, to prove themselves and dream to be the hero of the game. The cartoon, by animation director Boris Dёzhkina, has virtually no dialog, meaning that anyone can appreciate this tale of rising to the challenge. Four years later, Dёzhkina created another hockey cartoon, aptly titled The Rematch, which is not as good but still fun to watch.

No. 3 – The Simpsons: Lisa on Ice (1994)

What it is about: In this episode from the sixth season of The Simpsons, Lisa is failing gym class. To get credit for gym, she joins a youth hockey team and plays goalie — much to the chagrin of her brother Bart, who is the star forward on another team.

Why it is awesome: Released back when The Simpsons was still at the height of its popularity, “Lisa on Ice” has many great hockey references. Lisa joining an all-boys team as their goalie is an obvious nod to Manon Rheaume, while Bart’s team — The Mighty Pigs — is clearly meant to riff on one of the NHL’s newest expansion teams at the time. Even Homer Simpson does a great job at being a stereotypically-bad hockey dad. The episode culminates in a championship game between the siblings, but in the end proves that the bonds of family are stronger than the thrill of competition.