Rumor Roundup: Change might be the only way for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Lyle Richardson
Toronto Maple Leafs v Los Angeles Kings

After the Toronto Maple Leafs were humbled 6-2 by the NHL’s worst team, the Buffalo Sabres, and followed it up with a humiliating 9-2 loss to the Nashville Predators, the calls for change from Leafs Nation are growing louder. In some cases, they reached banshee-like proportions.

The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons believes how Leafs president Brendan Shanahan addresses this situation will say much about Shanahan’s managerial style going forward. He could fire coach Randy Carlyle or GM Dave Nonis. Perhaps both. Maybe neither. So far, he appears willing to stand pat. Read more

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

Rumor Roundup: Harding’s waiver troubles and Winnipeg’s scoring worries

Lyle Richardson
Minnesota's Josh Harding (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding cleared waivers on November 18 and was demoted to the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa. The Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff explains the Wild prefer placing Harding on waivers, rather than simply sending him to Iowa on a two-week conditioning stint. This way, the Wild can keep Harding in the minors for as long as they wish.

Harding has one season remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $1.9 million, paying him $2.1 million in actual salary. He’s returning from a broken foot suffered in training camp. The 30-year-old netminder is also battling multiple sclerosis, earning the Masterton Trophy for perseverance in 2013. Read more

Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon tackles pros and cons of a team in Las Vegas

Jared Clinton
Fallon on Vegas

Unlike some in late night television, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon hasn’t been shy about using hockey as the butt of his jokes. While it may be the least followed of the four major sports in the US, hockey is still ripe for a jab here and there.

So, with late last week of a potential team in Las Vegas, Fallon took it upon himself to make up a handy list of pros and cons for what fans could expect if the league were to expand to Nevada: Read more

Ranking the NHL’s fan bases, from 1 to 30

Matt Larkin
Leafs fans top our rankings because they keep paying absurd amounts of money to support their team despite its struggles. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

What constitutes true fanhood? The easy explanation is the eye and ear test. The loudest, most decked-out supporters come across as diehard fans – like those of the big, bad Boston Bruins.

To THN, however, fanhood is about faith above all else. It’s not just supporting your team when the going is easy. What about standing behind your team when the losses pile up and paying to watch it lose when it costs you an arm and a leg? The Bruins fill the TD Garden, but the last time they missed the playoffs – twice in the season-and-a-half following the Joe Thornton trade – they ranked near the bottom in attendance. On the other end, look at a team like Edmonton. Year after year, the Oilers struggle to progress in their “rebuild,” yet the fans keep coming, selling out Rexall Place and paying top dollar to watch a flailing operation.

It’s easy to make fun of fan bases that blindly support their struggling franchises, but isn’t that what true fanhood is, unconditional love? We set out to create a fan ranking system that rewards such a quality. The formula applies the past five completed NHL seasons. The final rankings were an aggregate score over each category. Perfect science my algorithm ain’t, but we believe we’ve concocted an objective system. We published the results in our Nov. 24 Fan Issue of THN.

The following legend breaks down the fan ranking criteria:

Read more

Pascal Dupuis out six months, career in jeopardy after blood clot in lung

Jared Clinton
Pascal Dupuis

In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced winger Pascal Dupuis will miss at least six months with a blood clot in his lung.

The 35-year-old native of Laval, Que., was diagnosed with the clot on Monday after Dupuis said he was feeling discomfort in his chest. Team doctors said they were lucky that Dupuis came to them and that they could catch the clot before any serious damage was done. Read more

Predators blowout of Maple Leafs makes for night of firsts

Taylor Beck (Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Craig Hagerman

The 9-2 shelling of the Toronto Maple Leafs by the Nashville Predators Tuesday night crushed fans of the blue and white, shocked hockey fans around the league, and provided a lot of firsts in the process.

For the Leafs, Tuesday’s embarrassing loss on home ice was the first time in the team’s history that they had allowed more than eight goals against at the Air Canada Centre. The game was also the first time since 1991 that the Buds have allowed nine goals in a single game. Read more

Rocco Grimaldi double dips, plays in AHL, NHL in the same day

Jared Clinton
Rocco Grimaldi

In the span of 11 hours, Florida Panthers winger Rocco Grimaldi played in two games in different leagues, covered 1,350 miles on a three-hour flight, crossed over an entire time zone, and suited up for his fifth career NHL game. Not a bad Tuesday for the 21-year-old prospect.

It all began at 10:30 a.m. (8:30 PST) in San Antonio as the Rampage, Florida’s American League affiliate, hosted the Oklahoma City Barons for their fifth annual Cool School Day. The game, which begins early and serves to host kids from around the region, would be the saving grace for the Panthers and allow Grimaldi to take part in both an AHL and NHL game in the same day. Read more