Friday’s Rangers-Sabres game postponed due to Buffalo blizzard

Matt Larkin
SnowBuffalo

Weather isn’t always news, but the situation in Buffalo can no longer be ignored. It’s astounding and scary.

Lake Effect snow has pummelled Buffalo this week, including an unbelievable 65 inches in one 24-hour span. That’s more than five feet, with several more feet expected to accumulate by the end of Thursday before the storm moves out Friday and warmer temperatures arrive.

The storm has taken a devastating toll, claiming eight lives and stranding countless people in their homes and vehicles. It’s affected the sports world, too. The Buffalo Bills/New York Jets game this weekend is in jeopardy, or at least could be moved to another city, after Ralph Wilson Stadium accumulated the most snow in its history.

The Sabres managed to play Tuesday, except for agitator Patrick Kaleta, who lives in Hamburg, N.Y. and was completely snowed into his house.

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Giroux makes unexpected return, but it’s not enough to end Flyers’ troubles – or prevent a Ron Hextall rant

Adam Proteau
Claude Giroux (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux was seen entering Madison Square Garden Wednesday before his team’s game against the New York Rangers, he was in a walking boot – so it was quite the shocker when the team announced Giroux would be playing the Blueshirts that night. But unfortunately for Flyers fans, neither Giroux’s presence nor a stellar showing from goalie Steve Mason would be enough to propel them to victory. Instead, they got a nasty tongue-lashing from GM Ron Hextall after their 2-0 loss.

You can see where Hextall’s frustration comes from: this was his team’s third straight loss and fifth defeat in their past 10 games. His Flyers now sit 13th in the Eastern Conference and sixth in the Metropolitan Division, just a single point ahead of the Hurricanes and three points ahead of the last-place Blue Jackets. And he also saw defenseman Michael Del Zotto – one of the few bright spots for a franchise that’s faced a number of physical ailments ready this season – sidelined with a lower-body
injury
following a collision with Rangers blueliner Dan Girardi.

So although it was heartening in some ways to see Giroux tough it out after injuring himself in practice Monday, it also could speak to the desperation running through the Flyers at the moment. Read more

Prince Albert Raiders’ new mascot is an offensive nod to the past

Adam Proteau
Prince Albert Raiders mascot (CTV Saskatoon)

Teams revisit their past all the time when promoting themselves via a redesign of their jersey, logo or mascot, but the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders have made a sizeable mistake in doing so this season.

To wit: the Raiders unveiled their new mascot this week – an Arabian “raider” character named “Boston Raider” after a tie-in to an area pizza sponsor – which is based on their original logo from the early 1980s:

The new mascot’s appearance does not sit well with a number of people who believe it stereotypes those of Middle Eastern heritage. Rhonda Rosenberg, the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan’s executive director, told the Canadian Press she found it plays into discriminatory views of people from the region.

“The idea of a somewhat violent Muslim man is a stereotype that is really difficult for a lot of people to live with,” Rosenberg said. “Mascots are not where we should be depicting cultural groups of people. We just need to look at what values and ideas are being put forward, and whether they are really embodying what we want to be sharing.”

A team spokesman said the franchise never intended to offend anyone, nor does it believe the mascot to be “a negative representation of Middle Eastern people and their culture”. They might not, but in this day and age where society is rightfully trying to be respectful toward all ethnicities, the Raiders’ new mascot is a mistake. What may have been seen as appropriate decades ago isn’t always appropriate today; this is why a song like Ray Stevens’ “Ahab The Arab” – a top five radio hit when it was released in 1962 – is seen as patently offensive now.

Eras and tastes change, and sometimes the past is better left where it is. And if the Raiders are smart, they’ll send their new mascot to join former AHL mascot “Scorch” in the scrapyard.

Rumor Roundup: Senators searching for the right swaps

Marc Methot

Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot is making some progress in his recovery from the back and hip ailments which have sidelined him since training camp. The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan reports Methot has resumed skating with his teammates, but he’s taking things day-by-day and there’s still no timetable for his return to action.

Methot is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. His average cap hit is $3 million, while in real salary this season he’s earning $3.75 million. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports there’s no sign of progress in contract talks between Methot’s agent and Senators management, fuelling trade speculation. He claims the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers are among the interested clubs. Read more

Evgeni Malkin shows his nasty side again with a crushing hit on Dan Girardi

Josh Elliott
Evgeni Malkin

Evgeni Malkin is either having a really bad week, or a really good one.

The big Pittsburgh Penguins center has had an extra hint of snarl to his game lately. On Saturday night, he looked like a black-and-gold missile when he smashed New York Rangers defenceman Dan Girardi behind the net.

Girardi never saw Malkin coming, and had to be helped off the ice after the hit.

It happened behind the Rangers’ net, with the score tied 2-2. Marc Staal slipped the puck along the boards to Girardi, and Girardi was about to slide it into the corner when Malkin came streaking in.

Malkin caught Girardi looking the wrong way and slammed into him with his hip and back. Girardi went down on his back and did not get up.

The hit touched off a scrum, and Malkin got a minor penalty on the play.
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Rumor Roundup: Nervous GMs may make moves near American Thanksgiving

Tyler Myers

Since the implementation of the salary cap in 2005, early-season NHL trades have become rare. Even the ability for teams to absorb part of a player’s salary failed to spark an increase in player movement during a season’s opening weeks.

That partially explains why it took a month for this regular season’s first trade to occur, when the Dallas Stars shipped aging defenseman Sergei Gonchar to the Montreal Canadiens for forward Travis Moen. Since that deal there’s anticipation over when the next NHL trade will take place. Read more

Penguins winning with possession, penalty killing, goaltending. Who knew?

James van Riemsdyk (left) and Evgeni Malkin (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

As has been the case for the better part of the past decade, the proof will be in the playoffs for these Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re the No. 1 team in the NHL at this moment in terms of winning percentage, but we’ve seen this act before. Nobody will believe this team is for real until the players and their goalie prove they can excel in the post-season.

But there is a different feel around this team. With guys like Nick Spaling, Patric Hornqvist and Steve Downie in the lineup, they’re certainly a little more difficult to play against. Heck, even Evgeni Malkin got into a fight in the Penguins 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Friday night after he responded to a perfectly clean hit by Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf. There is a sense that not only do these Penguins have more of an edge, they also have more of a team concept in their own end of the ice. Read more

NHL draft prospect Nick Merkley is making a statement on The Hot List

Nick Merkley (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

The CHL-Russia Super Series kicked off in Saskatoon Monday night and the visitors continued their hot streak by winning 3-2 in a shootout over the Western League’s squad. The six-game showdown usually starts in Quebec and goes West, but things are flipped this time and will be interesting to see if that affects the results at all. In other news, top 2015 Swedish prospect Oliver Kylington was loaned out to AIK in the country’s second-tier league, the Allsvenskan, where he will get more playing time. Here’s a look at some of the other youngsters we’re keeping an eye on.

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