Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin scores first NHL goal with perfect wrist shot

Jared Clinton
Dylan Larkin (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s only his first game, but Dylan Larkin has already made himself a fan favorite in Detroit.

In the Red Wings’ season- and home-opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Larkin got himself on the score sheet less than 10 minutes into the first frame with the primary assist on Justin Abdelkader’s second goal of the game. But in the second period, Larkin didn’t waste any time getting himself his first career goal.

Shortly after the puck had dropped for the second, Larkin was streaking down the left wing and snapped an absolutely perfectly placed wrist shot over the shoulder of Maple Leafs netminder Jonathan Bernier: Read more

How documentary ‘Soul On Ice’ redefines what it means to be black in hockey

Matt Larkin
Director Damon Kwame Mason and goaltender Malcolm Subban. (courtesy of Soul On Ice)

A basement full of hockey players snacking on pizza doesn’t typically make for an intense environment. But this humid August evening is an exception.

Strewn across the considerable couch space at the beautiful home of Mike Wilson, famous Toronto memorabilia collector: Joel Ward, Devante Smith-Pelly and Anthony Stewart. They represent a small chunk of the NHL’s growing black population. Also on hand: retired trailblazer Mike Marson, one of the game’s first black players. Some other NHLers, such as Mike Hoffman and Michael Latta, have tagged along, too.

And there’s tension in the air. We all wait as intrepid documentarian Damon Kwame Mason tinkers with the audio of a giant home theatre setup. He’s about to unveil a rough cut of his labor of love, Soul On Ice: Past Present & Future, and he wants everything to be absolutely perfect. The sound system isn’t quite on point for the first few seconds of his film, and that just won’t cut it. He starts it from the top several times until he knows it’s just right.

And from the minute the opening credits of Soul On Ice arrive, bathed in edgy hip-hop, everyone in the room understands how important this screening is. Mason has spent the last several years pouring his energy into documenting the history of black players in hockey, what hardships the pioneers overcame to break into the sport and why our perception of black players in the game is changing. He’s on a mission to show that black hockey roots run deeper and longer than so many of us realize, and he wants to shatter stereotypes of what it means to be a black hockey player today.

The seeds of Mason’s project were planted in his childhood, playing road hockey on the streets of Toronto in the late 1970s. Every kid pretended to be his favorite player, and Mason loved Guy Lafleur. “No, you can’t be Lafleur,” he remembers one kid telling him, because Lafleur was white.

“I wasn’t upset about it, because it’s a fact that he’s not black, you know?” Mason said. “So I had to deal with that. You grow up thinking that: ‘We don’t play hockey. This is one of the games we don’t play.’

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Former NHLer Aaron Ward arrested, charged with ‘assault against a woman’

Jared Clinton
Aaron Ward (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Former NHL blueliner and TSN analyst Aaron Ward was arrested Friday at his home in Cary, N.C., and has been charged with two misdemeanors.

Ward, 42, was charged with “assault on a female” and interfering with emergency communications, according to WNCN. Ward allegedly pushed his wife during what TSN called a “domestic disagreement” and took her phone, resulting in the interfering with emergency communications, according to The News & Observer’s Luke DeCock.

DeCock also reported that Ward’s wife, Kelly, was also arrested and charged with an assault misdemeanor, a charge which was rescinded by Cary Police, and that Ward will have to spend the next 48 hours in jail, as per North Carolina state law. Read more

Simon Despres signs five-year extension with Anaheim Ducks

Ryan Kennedy
Simon Despres (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images)

When Pittsburgh GM Jim Rutherford traded Simon Despres to Anaheim for Ben Lovejoy, he had his reasons. But his gambit quickly failed as the young defenseman thrived with the Ducks and Rutherford even admitted shortly thereafter that he wouldn’t have made the trade with the benefit of hindsight.

Now, the Ducks have signed Despres to a five-year contract extension with an average value of $3.7 million per season. Anaheim, pardon the pun, is lining all its Ducks up in a row.

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With Lehner out at least two weeks with sprained ankle, does Tim Murray look for a goalie?

Ken Campbell
Robin Lehner (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

BUFFALO – Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray could be on the lookout for a goaltender after starter Robin Lehner went down with an ankle injury in the first game of the season and is expected to miss at least between two-to-four weeks, a layoff that could be longer once the team has a better chance of examining him.

Lehner was injured in the Sabres 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators Thursday night when he went out to play a puck behind the net and his skate hit a rut and he had to leave the game. He left the arena in a walking cast and was still wearing it when the Sabres practiced Friday morning.

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Futures mailbag: Canada’s top WJC center, the best for 2017 and more

Brayden Point (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

It’s mailbag time, folks. We’ve got some very interesting questions this week, concerning prospects from many different levels. Most developmental leagues have already begun play (American prep and high schools are still on the sidelines), so there’s actual action to consider, though naturally we’re just at the start of what is shaping up to be a very fun 2015-16 campaign. If you have a question, hit me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy and use the hashtag #thnfutures so I don’t miss it.

Let’s get to it.

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Report: Kings, Mike Richards reach settlement in contract termination dispute

Jared Clinton
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHL)

The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards appear to have finally, officially, put an end to the contract termination saga.

According to a report from TSN’s Rick Westhead, the Kings and Richards have reached a settlement regarding the termination of Richards’ contract in June, citing a “material breach.” In August, the NHLPA filed a grievance against the Kings on Richards’ behalf, but no hearing had taken place. Nothing has been officially released from the Kings, but Westhead added that the settlement is likely to be announced today.

The termination came following a June incident at the U.S.-Canada border-crossing in Emerson, Man., where Richards was allegedly found to be in possession of a controlled substance, which led to Manitoba RCMP charging Richards on Aug. 27. Read more

Antti Niemi’s Stars debut: shutout, two assists and NHL history

Jared Clinton
Antti Niemi (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 2014-15 Dallas Stars’ greatest strength was their offense and biggest weakness was arguably between the pipes. The signing of former San Jose Sharks netminder Antti Niemi was supposed to help solve the goaltending issue in 2015-16, but if his debut in the Stars net was any indication, Niemi is going to be contributing on the other side of the ice, too.

In Thursday’s contest against Pittsburgh, Niemi got the nod for Dallas and proceeded to shutout the Penguins high-flying offense. In closing the doors on the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, Niemi also managed to outscore every player on Pittsburgh’s roster thanks to assists on the Stars first two goals of the 2015-16 campaign.

His first assist came thanks to a blocker save on Beau Bennett. After turning the shot away, the puck ended up on the stick of Ales Hemsky, who made a slick cross-ice pass to Mattias Janmark to give the rookie his first career goal: Read more