THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Colorado Avalanche

The Hockey News
Colorado Avalanche. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

2013-14: 52-22-8

Acquisitions: Brad Stuart, Jesse Winchester, Zach Redmond, Jarome Iginla, Bruno Gervais, Daniel Briere

Departures: Andre Benoit, Matt Hunwick, Paul Stastny, P-A Parenteau

Top five fantasy players: Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly, Jarome Iginla

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: Potential is, pardon the pun, mile-high in Denver. The Avalanche went from basement dwellers to Central Division champs in one season and much of what went right remains intact. Reigning Jack Adams Award winner Patrick Roy has the utmost trust of his players and has transformed the career of goalie Semyon Varlamov. Read more

Chicago’s Jim Cornelison sings Star Spangled Banner on The Colbert Report

Rory Boylen
Jim Cornelison. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

This weekend marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner. Written by Sir Francis Scott Key in 1814 as the British bombarded Baltimore’s Fort McHenry at a crucial battle in what was effectively a second American Independence War, the tune became the official national anthem of the United States in 1931.

In hockey, the best national anthem singer has to be Jim Cornelison, who sings at every Chicago Blackhawks home game. His powerful rendition is made even stronger by the fans who cheer alongside him as he belts out the verse. Read more

Why the NHL should get rid of the shootout

Ken Campbell
Ryan Strome (left) and Martin Brodeur. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

At some point early in this coming season, the NHL will record its 10,000th shot in the shootout. We can predict with a high degree of certainty two things that will not happen on that shot. First, it will not be a spin-o-rama. Second, the guy taking it probably won’t score.

The NHL guaranteed the former by banning the spin-o-rama on the shootout when it passed a flurry of new rules for the 2014-15 season. The latter is backed up by statistics that prove the shootout is anything but a skills competition. As Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman once told me, it has become a goaltending competition. With an all-time success rate of just 32.8 percent, shooters aren’t exactly forcing goaltenders to reach to the back of the net for the puck. Read more

THN’s 2014-15 NHL season preview: Arizona Coyotes

The Hockey News
Arizona Coyotes. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

2013-14 record: 37-30-15

Acquisitions: Devan Dubnyk, Alexandre Bolduc, Mike McKenna, Joe Vitale, B.J. Crombeen, Sam Gagner

Departures: Mike Ribeiro, Tim Kennedy, Radim Vrbata, Andy Miele, Thomas Greiss

Top five fantasy players: Keith Yandle, Sam Gagner, Shane Doan, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Mikkel Boedker

Boom, Bust and Bottom Line: The best, worst and most likely scenario
Boom: The Coyotes officially divorced themselves from their checkered past when they rebranded themselves as the Arizona Coyotes for this season. No longer are they an orphan ward of the state with a perilous future. Read more

NHL announces 10 rule changes: no more spin-o-rama, player/coach fines for diving

Rory Boylen
pucks

With less than a month to go until the start of a new season, the NHL announced 10 rule changes Thursday that cover a variety of areas. We’ll go through the changes as they appear on the NHL’s site and I’ll give my take on each.

Rule 1.8 – Rink – Goalkeeper’s Restricted Area
The trapezoid will be expanded by two feet from the goal post on both sides of the net.

This will give the goalie a little more room to freeze the puck and play with it around the net or as it comes off the boards. But c’mon – can we just get rid of the damn trapezoid altogether? More goalies struggle with handling the puck than help their teams by ejecting it to the neutral zone. And besides, Martin Brodeur isn’t long for this league and the rule was brought in because of him.

Rule 23 – Game Misconduct Penalties
A new Game Misconduct category will be created. Clipping, charging, elbowing, interference, kneeing, head-butting and butt-ending move from the general category into the same category as boarding and checking from behind (“Physical Fouls”), whereby a player who incurs two such game misconducts in this category would now be automatically suspended for one game. Read more

HBO’s 24/7 hockey series is toast – for now – but its impact was ‘humongous big’

Adam Proteau
An HBO camera team films at the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia. (Len Redkoles/NHL)

Reports indicate U.S. cable giant HBO will not produce a 24/7 reality series in advance of the NHL’s 2015 Winter Classic game as it has for the past three full seasons. It’s a shame, as everyone involved in that program helped put together one hell of a show.

The 24/7 series gave the NHL an NFL Films-type treatment, and those who appeared in front of the cameras – first, in 2011, when the Capitals and Penguins squared off in Pittsburgh; then, when the Flyers and Rangers played the following year; and finally, last season’s showdown between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs – were better for it. Okay, maybe that’s not true of Bruce Boudreau (NSFW language at this link) and Randy Carlyle:

But even with their imperfections laid bare, the coaches, players and league benefitted from the behind-the-curtain glimpse the series provided to a fan base that couldn’t get enough. Read more

Ryan Malone signs with Rangers five months after DUI, cocaine arrest

Rory Boylen
Ryan Malone. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

In mid-April of 2014, then-Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ryan Malone was arrested on charges of cocaine possession and driving under the influence. Two months later, the Tampa Bay Lightning used their second compliance buyout on Malone, who had one more year left on his deal at a $4.5 million cap hit.

Earlier this week, Malone joined the New York Rangers for informal skates as his agent worked on the terms of a new contract with GM Glen Sather. Today, the team announced it signed Malone, which is being reported as a one-year, two-way contract that would pay Malone $700,000 at the NHL level. Read more

The Florida Panthers: the NHL’s least-predictable team

Adam Proteau
Aleksander Barkov (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Quick, without looking at the particulars of their roster – how many points do you think the Florida Panthers will finish with this season? The measly (and second-worst in the NHL) 66 points they scraped together in 2013-14? The 94 points that helped them win the Southeast Division and secure the third seed in the playoffs in 2011-12?

But more to the point – regardless of how you think the Panthers will do this year, would you be confident enough to bet a notable amount of money on them? And if so, has your confidence level been surgically enhanced, or were you always this unfoundedly self-assured?

Because if there’s one thing I’m sure about this season, it’s that nobody quite knows what to make of Florida. Granted, that’s true to one degree or another of all but four or five teams at the top of the NHL’s echelon, and maybe one or two at the bottom. But whether it’s the THN editorial department or the hockey world at large, there’s no consensus on how the Panthers will perform.

Case in point: when THN staffers got together over the summer to debate and discuss our collective picks for our annual Yearbook, some of us saw Florida as a playoff team – enough of us to slot them in fourth overall in the Atlantic Division.

To be honest, I’m as shocked as you probably are. Read more