Rumor Roundup: Stamkos’ next contract could impact Lightning’s future

Steven Stamkos (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

While superstar Steven Stamkos tries to help the Tampa Bay Lightning reach the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, speculation is brewing over his long-term future with the club. Stamkos’ eligibility next summer for unrestricted free agency and the Lightning’s efforts to re-sign him could dominate NHL headlines this summer.

The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa reports of chatter wondering if the high cost of re-signing Stamkos might prompt Lightning management to trade their 25-year-old captain. Shinzawa believes Stamkos could seek a deal comparable to the identical eight-year, $84- million contracts signed last summer by Chicago’s Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. He also speculates uncertainty over the salary cap in the future and the Lightning’s depth in young talent could factor in determining if they can afford to keep their franchise player. Read more

Pro wrestler-turned-UFC fighter CM Punk isn’t shy to show his true colors – Blackhawks’ red

UFC star, former pro wrestler and diehard Hawks fan CM Punk reacts after shooting the puck between periods of an NHL game between his favorite team and the L.A. Kings March 30 in Chicago. (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

You’ve got to understand this about Phil Brooks, professionally known as CM Punk: he was never handed anything as a blue-collar kid coming out of Chicago, as a student, as a pro wrestler who rose to the pinnacle of the industry or in his current line of work as a nascent mixed martial arts fighter. Punk, 36, has had to grind and scrape for everything he’s earned, and he’s plied his trade (often injured) in hockey arenas across North America and around the world.

No wonder Punk has a love for the NHL, and no wonder he’s come to be acquaintances with many NHL players. There’s a camaraderie at play here, an understanding of serious and constant physical sacrifice and a respect for performing through pain that both parties endure on the regular. “A lot of the physicality is the same, and I was always drawn to hockey because of that physicality,” Punk said. “There’s definitely similarities between what I did, what I’m currently doing, and what hockey players do. And there’s an appreciation there that goes both ways.” Read more

Memorial Cup preview: How each team wins or loses

Leon Draisaitl (Melissa Baecker/Getty Images)

We know our four teams for the Memorial Cup now. Thanks to Oshawa’s ousting of Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters, the Generals will represent the OHL, joining Kelowna of the WHL, plus Quebec (the hosts) and Rimouski in the QMJHL. So who is favored to win it all? Ah, that’s a thorny question in a tournament that often surprises. But let’s take a look at what you should know about the four worthy squads in contention.

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The family business: How Paul Reinhart helped sons Sam, Griffin and Max become top prospects

Sam Reinhart (Ken Andersen/NHLPA via Getty Images)

By George Johnson

Watching his father, Paul, on ESPN Classic is like being transported into another world for Sam Reinhart. But it’s not his dad’s skill that has Sam in awe. The effortless skating style, crisp passing and ability to read the play in the high-octane ’80s – all of that transcends eras and styles. Besides, as the most hotly anticipated teenage talent outside the NHL not named Connor McDavid, Sam has all those qualities himself.

No, it’s that luxuriant thatch above Paul Reinhart’s upper lip that gets Sam’s attention.

“I’ve been trying to grow that mustache for 19 years,” Sam said.

At 19, Sam may not be able to manage his father’s Chia Pet mustache, but as the baby of the hockey-playing Reinhart brood, he’s the closest in style and the highest in hype. Read more

How to snuff out a superstar

Oshawa's Cole Cassels  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The Oshawa Generals knew they had a tall task on their hands. Facing Erie in the OHL final, the Gens had to figure out a way to stop Otters superstar Connor McDavid, who came into Game 1 with a dizzying 42 points in 15 playoff games. At the end of the night, McDavid had been on the ice for more goals-against than goals-for and the Gens thrilled their fans with a 4-1 win.

If Game 1 was any indication, this series will be fought in both the trenches and the war rooms. Oshawa’s strategy for battening down McDavid was to have Vancouver Canucks prospect Cole Cassels on against the consensus No. 1 pick overall in the NHL draft this summer as much as possible.

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Rumor Roundup: Early exit could mean roster shakeup for Blues

(Scott Rovak/Getty Images)

Another St. Louis Blues early playoff exit sparked speculation a roster shakeup could be in the works this summer. However, such moves might not be easy to pull off.

Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the combination of the Blues’ limited cap space this summer and a marginal increase in the cap ceiling for 2015-16 could force GM Doug Armstrong into salary-dumping trades for draft picks and prospects or dollar-for-dollar deals. Read more

Islanders owner Charles Wang pens letter to Long Island fans

Jared Clinton
Charles Wang

The success of the New York Islanders in 2014-15 wasn’t something many saw coming. Few would have expected the acquisitions of Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk, the time spent atop the Metropolitan Division or that heading into the post-season the Islanders would be one of the toughest draws in the league.

So, as the magical season wrapped up and the ice was removed from the storied Nassau Coliseum, owner Charles Wang has written a letter to Islanders faithful in Friday’s Newsday. The letter thanks fans for a fantastic year, for the memories at the Coliseum and to let them know that losing a seven-game first-round series isn’t going to become habit for the Islanders: Read more

The final goodbye: Nassau Coliseum’s ice removed for good

Jared Clinton
Nassau Coliseum (via Bobby Cassidy/Twitter)

For the final time in the long, storied history of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, crews removed the ice surface and scraped away the last of the New York Islanders’ season.

After seeing its final NHL action 10 days ago, Tuesday was demolition day for the ice surface, and Newsday videographer Bobby Cassidy caught some fantastic photographs of the rink’s last moments. Read more