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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Montreal’s superstar netminder Carey Price hasn’t played since Nov. 25, but the nature of the injury he suffered against the New York Rangers has been kept under wraps by the Canadiens until now.
The Canadiens announced Wednesday that Price, 28, has officially been shut down for the season due to an MCL sprain, meaning any chance at returning for either of Montreal’s final two games is now out of the question. The official statement goes into complete detail about the significance of Price’s injury and makes clear why the 2014-15 Hart Trophy winner hasn’t been able to return to action.
“The MCL provides support to the inside of the knee and is essential for stability and knee function,” said Dr. Vincent Lacroix, the Canadiens’ head physician. “Acute, isolated MCL injuries are managed without surgery. Rehabilitation treatments lead to full functional recovery. The recovery process can be long in the case of an elite netminder such as Carey, due to the high demand placed on this anatomical structure by modern goaltending techniques.” Read more
Brian Campbell has never missed a game in a Florida Panthers uniform, although there are probably a few along the way that he wished he had. It wasn’t always winning and fun and Spacey in Space hoodies for these guys. Campbell knows what the dark days were like, which makes the bright ones the Panthers are having this season seem all the better.
With their 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night, the Panthers earned their 99th point of the 2015-16 season. No Panthers team has ever had that many points before. And when Campbell steps on the ice Tuesday night in Montreal, it will be the 1,000th game of his career and his 374th consecutive as a Panther. And if things go the Panthers way, Campbell could be part of a Panther team that clinches the Atlantic Division and secures home ice advantage for at least the first two rounds of the playoffs. Should the Panthers win Tuesday night in Montreal and the Tampa Bay Lightning lose, either in regulation or extra time, when they visit the New York Rangers, the Panthers will clinch the division.