Taylor Hall belonged to an Edmonton Oilers core often derided among hockey pundits for its lack of on-ice maturity. The group, which included first overall picks Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, dazzled with offensive skill but was criticized for a lack of defensive awareness, particularly Hall and Yakupov. They were paid like star players and honored as celebrities in Edmonton despite never making the playoffs.
But a conversation with Hall after his trade to the New Jersey Devils, however, bursts that bubble of supposed entitlement. He addressed a group of reporters in a scrum at BioSteel’s 2016 Pro Hockey Camp Tuesday in Toronto, and the one word he evoked: maturity. He spoke with a world-weariness, choosing frank answers to questions instead of cliches.
Was the stunning 1-for-1 trade sending left winger Hall to the Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson “just part of the game”? Not for Hall. He took it personally. It did not roll off his back by any means. He made that clear when one reporter asked him if the trade felt like breaking up with a lover.
“Yeah, in the sense that, in a breakup, you just try to forget about it as quick as you can, right?” Hall said. “And that’s what I’m trying to do. It’s not easy.”
Alex Pietrangelo’s growth has been steady over his career with the St. Louis Blues as he’s gone from first-round draft pick to all-star calibre defenseman in six short seasons. And as of Thursday, Pietrangelo’s growth has officially taken the next — and arguably biggest — step as he was appointed the 21st captain in Blues history.
“I’m up for this challenge, and I think I’ve surrounded myself with a group of guys in this locker room that can support me, no matter what happens,” Pietrangelo said in a release. “Personally I want to keep growing as a player and lead by example on the ice. All I’ve known is the St. Louis Blues and the city of St. Louis. To be in this position to represent not only the team but the organization as a whole, it means a lot to me.”
Pietrangelo was the obvious frontrunner for the captaincy, but he wasn’t the only possibility. Teammates Alex Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko and even relative-newcomer Paul Stastny all had somewhat legitimate claims to the ‘C’ that was vacated when David Backes left town for the Boston Bruins. However, each of Steen, Tarasenko and Stastny, as well as defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, will take on alternate captaincies this coming season with the top job going to Pietrangelo. Read more
It was the most obvious choice, but there was also a pretty good reason for it. Team Canada named Sidney Crosby captain of the upcoming World Cup of Hockey squad, with Jonathan Toews and Shea Weber earning ‘A’s on their sweaters as alternate captains. So what went into the decision?
The Avalanche are hoping an AHL and ECHL title can cross over to NHL success as they’ve hired now-former Cleveland Monsters coach Jared Bednar to take over as bench boss in Colorado.
Bednar, 44, is coming off of a tremendously successful season in the AHL in which he coached the Monsters to a Calder Cup in just his second year behind the bench. During the post-season run with the Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate, Bednar’s Monsters club lost just two games, with both defeats coming at the hands of the Grand Rapids Griffins in the second round. Cleveland, then known as Lake Erie, swept both the conference and Calder Cup finals.
“After profiling the type of coach I wanted for our team and going through an interview process with several good candidates, I believe that Jared Bednar is the best person to lead this team behind the bench,” said Avalanche GM Joe Sakic. “Jared’s track record of success as a head coach in the American Hockey League speaks for itself and he is considered to be one of the top up-and-coming coaches in our business.” Read more
The Detroit Red Wings are running into some injury problems and training camp, let alone the regular season, hasn’t even started.
In the same week that it was announced defenseman Niklas Kronwall is still battling a knee injury and can’t compete at the World Cup and that prospect Vili Saarijarvi will miss three months following wrist surgery, the Red Wings have also announced that winger Tomas Jurco may not be ready to go come opening night.
According to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, Red Wings GM Ken Holland has confirmed that Jurco, 23, injured his back while training in Slovakia and there are concerns about his ability to hit the ice in time for training camp, the pre-season and even the start of the regular season.
“He needs 4-6 weeks of rest, then start slow. Need to see how he feels,” Holland said, per Khan. “Don’t think he’ll be on the ice playing in 4-6 weeks. Not sure he’ll be ready to open the season. Won’t know for another month down the road.” Read more
Life as a budget team hasn’t been bad for the Arizona Coyotes this summer.
At the draft in June, the Coyotes swung a deal to land a prospect they were targeting — defenseman Jakob Chychrun — and all that was required of Arizona GM John Chayka was ensuring he had room to store Pavel Datsyuk’s $7.5 million salary for the coming campaign. That was no problem for the Coyotes, who had a mountain of cap space, and Chayka was at it again Thursday, utilizing his club’s cap space to further bolster his prospect stock.
The Coyotes used the team’s nearly $8 million of wiggle room under the cap to take on Dave Bolland’s awful five-year, $27.5-million contract from the Panthers, but Chayka wasn’t doing Florida any favors. In exchange for taking on the Bolland deal, Arizona also landed the Panthers’ top prospect, Lawson Crouse. And outside of taking on the salary, all it took for Chayka to land one of the 20-best prospects in the league was one second-round and one third-round pick. Read more
Team Canada’s chance at standing atop the podium at the World Cup has taken two significant blows over the past week.
First, it was Jamie Benn being ruled out of the tournament following off-season surgery to repair a core muscle injury. But Canada’s braintrust found a suitable replacement, Logan Couture, who can provide much of the same two-way ability and is still a solid offensive producer, though not necessarily at Benn’s level.
But the bigger blow came Wednesday, as Hockey Canada announced that Duncan Keith would be out of the World Cup to rehab a knee injury. And while there are any number of players who could have replaced Keith’s production, defensive skill and big-minute ability, Canada instead went with Jay Bouwmeester with his handedness and international experience as the deciding factors.
“Our management team and coaching staff felt it was critical to ensure continuity between the number of left- and right-handed defencemen on our roster,” Canada GM Doug Armstrong said. “And Jay’s experience with what it takes to be successful in these short tournaments can’t be undervalued.” Read more
The Dallas Stars were one of the most exciting shows on ice last season, but keeping the puck out of their net proved too onerous in the end. Dallas bowed out to St. Louis in the second round and although goaltending will continue to be a question this season, there will be one huge upgrade when the Stars take up arms on opening night: Tyler Seguin will be back.