Suspend him or not: Massive hit leaves Gionta stunned, gets Bartkowski kicked out

Jared Clinton
Bartkowski Bruins featured

Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski may be getting a call from the Department of Player Safety after a massive open ice check left Buffalo Sabres captain Brian Gionta stunned.

The hit occurred in the final six minutes of the first period of the Bruins tilt with the Sabres on Sunday night, and the impact was enough to send Gionta literally spiraling through the air: Read more

THN oral history: the 2005 Canadian world junior team, a.k.a. the greatest of all-time

Jeff Carter, Corey Perry, Mike Richards and Danny Syvret were part of a stacked 2005 Canada squad. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Hungry for redemption. Fed by the greatest draft class ever. Boosted by the lockout. A perfect storm created the best world junior team in history. Ten years later, they share their story.

With Ken Campbell & Matt Larkin

The night is always 
darkest just before the dawn, and Canada’s greatest anguish on the World Junior Championship stage came one year before its greatest triumph. Flash back to Helsinki, Finland, 2004. Canada desperately wanted to be crowned hockey’s best under-20 nation after six long years in the cold. Since a five-year run of golds that ended in 1997, the Canadians had finished eighth, second, third, third, second and second, with each heartbreak worse than the last. They blew a 2-1 lead to Russia on Canadian ice to lose the 2003 final. Then, in Helsinki, the nightmare continued. Canada led upstart U.S. 3-1 entering the third period of the gold medal game. The U.S. stormed back to tie it and, with less than five minutes remaining in a 3-3 contest, Canada goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s clearing attempt bounced off teammate Braydon Coburn and into his own net. The Americans won their first world juniors ever. Canada’s drought reached seven years.

BRAYDON COBURN, D: With Marc-Andre, it was just unlucky, I don’t even know how to explain it. It was just one of those things that happened.

SIDNEY CROSBY, LW: You dream about playing for that team as a kid and winning gold, and to be up two goals going into the third, you think you’re in pretty good shape. All of a sudden, things turn quickly and you’re disappointed. You don’t know if you’ll get an opportunity to do it again.

BRENT SEABROOK, D: It was fast. Once it started rolling downhill, it kept rolling, but you’ve got to give the Americans a lot of credit. They had a great team that year. Once they smelled blood, they kept going, but it’s a tough one to lose.

NIGEL DAWES, LW: We really couldn’t believe what just happened and the way it happened. It took a bit of time to honestly get over it. We were at a loss for words and very disappointed with the way it went.

BLAIR MACKASEY, HOCKEY CANADA HEAD SCOUT: It’s funny how the loss will stay with you a lot longer than the wins do. I remember someone congratulating me on winning two gold medals in a row at the juniors (in 2005 and 2006). The first thing out of my mouth was, “Yeah, but it should have been three.” I remember (Hockey Canada president) Bob Nicholson saying to me, “Get over it.” But I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

COBURN: It’s heartbreaking. It’s the world juniors, it’s the pinnacle of junior hockey, and it’s a tough pill to swallow, but one of the things you learn in hockey right away is you move past those things. So it was a good thing for us returning guys that we got another crack at it, and I feel sorry for the guys who didn’t.

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Red Wings’ Mrazek, Howard don incredible Christmas masks to support charity

Jared Clinton
Howard Mrazek Red Wings featured

Days after unveiling special masks for the holiday season, Detroit Red Wings goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek are set to auction them off for charity.

Fans of the Red Wings, or fans who simply want the chance to take home either mask, can start bidding on them now as they’re live on the NHL Auctions website. All proceeds will go to benefit Volunteers of America Michigan’s Adopt-A-Family program, and will go towards purchasing big-ticket items for the families, such as a washer and dryer for one family who lost their appliances due to flooding in August.

Both goaltenders donned the masks for the Red Wings’ Dec. 16 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and will continue to wear them throughout Detroit’s current homestand. The final appearance for the masks will be on Dec. 23 when the Red Wings host the Sabres. You can see both below. Read more

Flames inexplicable run comes to an end, but it was never going to last

Jared Clinton
Calgary Flames v Florida Panthers

Losers of six straight games, the numbers game has finally caught up to the Calgary Flames.

Let’s not mistake this for grave dancing. It’s anything but. What it is, however, is yet another example of a team playing over their collective heads simply coming back to earth. And though the Flames may still be able to right the ship and fight for a playoff spot, it’s far more likely that the slide will continue and the team will simply start playing sub-.500 hockey. After all, it’s what has been coming all along. Read more

Gordie Howe improving: ‘We will never give up on Gordie,’ his son says

Ken Campbell
Wayne Gretzky Gordie Howe

The son of Hall of Famer Gordie Howe confirms that his father’s recent recovery is going so well that there are plans for him make a public appearance with Wayne Gretzky in February.

Marty Howe confirmed his father is due to appear at the Kinsmen Celebrity Sports Dinner Saskatoon alongside Gretzky Feb. 6. Howe, who had strokes in October and November and has severe dementia, has been at his daughter’s home in Lubbock, Texas, but could be ready to leave soon.

“As long as he keeps improving and doesn’t have another setback, we feel he should be well enough to travel,” Marty said in an email to thn.com. “We will never give up on Gordie and giving up is something Gordie has never done.” Read more

Clayton Stoner avoids discipline for Pacioretty hit. Here’s why the NHL got it wrong

Matt Larkin
Pacioretty hurt

Swing and a miss, NHL player safety department.

It was a particularly scary night for Max Pacioretty and the Montreal Canadiens. Pacioretty was already sensitive to dangerous hits, having sustained a career-threatening fractured vertebra in 2011 when Boston’s Zdeno Chara drove him into a stanchion. Chances are, ‘Patches’ experienced some traumatic flashbacks after last night’s collision with Anaheim blueliner Clayton Stoner.

After Pacioretty “admired a pass,” as the homer-as-it-gets Anaheim broadcasters put it, Stoner sent him hurtling into the boards with a late hit. Pacioretty struggled to get back to his feet, was in obvious pain and was taken to hospital for precautionary reasons. Here’s a look at the play:

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Giroux at it again, bites Gudbranson’s jersey. Has he snapped?

Jared Clinton
Claude Giroux (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Claude Giroux has had a strange year, to say the least. There was the incident over the summer in Ottawa involving a cop, he wiped some snot on a linesman, and now he’s gone and bitten Florida Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson.

That’s right. During Thursday’s game against the Panthers, Giroux was skating alongside the massive blueliner, turned to face him, bit his jersey, then tugged at it with his teeth. The whole thing is very strange to see: Read more