The San Jose Sharks are panicking, but their Stanley Cup window is still wide open

Rory Boylen
The San Jose Sharks blew a 3-0 series lead to the Los Angeles Kings last season. (Photo by Rocky Widner/Getty Image)

The San Jose Sharks and their GM Doug Wilson panicked this summer. They were going to rebuild, they weren’t going to rebuild. They were going to trade Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, they weren’t going to trade Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. They signed John Scott. Management didn’t act as San Jose Sharks management usually acts – calm and measured. They acted like a team that just blew a 3-0 series lead to the eventual Stanley Cup champions.

Believe it or not, the window for the San Jose Sharks to win a Stanley Cup is still open. The team didn’t get melted down the way Wilson made it seem like it would when he talked about being a “tomorrow team” at the start of the summer. They still have their best player (Thornton) and their leading playoff scorer (Marleau). Had the team got a little better than the terrible goaltending they got at the end of that Kings series, or if Marc-Edouard Vlasic didn’t have to sit out due to injury, the Sharks may have won that series against Los Angeles. The way they were playing in Games 1-3, they may have won the Cup.

Unlike the potential movement of Thornton and Marleau this summer, the departures of Dan Boyle and Martin Havlat always seemed inevitable and obvious in the wake of that loss. Boyle was still an important player on the blueline who pulled in huge minutes, but he had lost a step and Vlasic had emerged as the No. 1 on the blueline. Havlat had lost two or three steps and though he still sees himself as a fleet-footed scorer, those days are gone. There was no room for him in this lineup anymore. Read more

NHL logo rankings No. 1: Chicago Blackhawks

Rory Boylen
blackhawksmain

When THN’s seven-person panel sat down to come up with our rankings of the 30 NHL logos, we were basically in full agreement which team would be No. 1.

We didn’t want history to influence our decisions. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens sit outside the top 10 for that reason. Ranking all the Original Six 1-6 is boring, predictable and doesn’t accomplish what we wanted to do here: reward the best logos, not the longest history.

Even still, the Chicago Blackhawks stood up to that measurement. The vibrant color combination and the respectful way it honors a WWI battalion and a Native American chief sets this logo apart from the rest. If we handed out the Three Stars of these logo rankings, the Blackhawks logo would be one, two and three.

As we’ve done with the rest of the logos, we’re opening it up to you the reader to redesign the Blackhawks look. It may be hard to do, but if you think you can design a better (or fresher) logo for the Blackhawks, now is your chance. Send your redesign to editorial@thehockeynews.com and we’ll run our favorites next week.

All logos from Chris Creamer’s website.

HISTORY OF THE BLACKHAWKS LOGO
In 1926, coffee tycoon Frederic McLaughlin was awarded an NHL franchise for a $12,000 entry fee. To build a roster, McLaughlin purchased players from the Portland Rosebuds, a franchise from the disbanding Western League. But rather than take the name of the WHL team they had purchased – as the Red Wings initially did with the name Cougars – McLaughlin wanted his own nickname. Rosebuds simply wasn’t good enough for a hockey team.

In World War I, McLaughlin was a commander in the 333rd machine gun battalion of the 86th division in the U.S. Army, whose members called themselves “Black Hawks.” The name honored the Sauk Indian chief who sided with the British in the War of 1812. In the 1830s, Chief Black Hawk fought again against the Americans when he brought his tribe back across the Mississippi River and into Illinois to plant crops and reclaim their land. In 1832, he lost the brief war to the Americans, was captured and taken on “tour” of the East Coast. He would briefly be put in jail before he was released.

The original Chicago Black Hawks logo was a crudely drawn black and white Native American, inside a circle that spelled out the team’s name.

hawks1

Read more

With Tim Leiweke on his way out as CEO of MLSE, who will take over?

Rory Boylen
MLSE's CEO Tim Leiweke will remain with the organization until June of 2015, or until his successor is found. (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Elliotte Friedman reported that Toronto Maple Leafs CEO Tim Leiweke would “soon” leave the organization to find a new challenge. The team and its CEO quickly denied the report, saying he was “committed” to all the franchises under MLSE’s umbrella and was “looking forward to the end of the season with TFC, and the upcoming season with the Raptors and defending our (Atlantic Division) title, and getting the Leafs back in the playoffs.”

On Thursday, Leiweke and the team announced he was in fact leaving the company.

Leiweke’s intention is to remain in the CEO’s role until June 30, 2015 or until a successor is found.

“Under Tim’s leadership, MLSE has made a number of key moves to strengthen our organization on the path to championship success,” said MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum. “We look forward to working closely with Tim to build on this foundation and further accelerate our momentum as we seek a new leader for MLSE.”

It was a good time, not a long time, Leiweke spent in MLSE’s head office. The former CEO of AEG, which owns and operates the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy, made a good amount of “culture” change inside Toronto’s organizations. In the NBA, he brought in Drake as an ambassador, oversaw the team’s return to the playoffs and made inroads towards getting the Raptors a new practice facility. For the soccer team, he oversaw an aggressive off-season that landed them a few big acquisitions, such as Jermain Defoe and now Toronto FC is third in its conference with a real shot at the playoffs. The Maple Leafs didn’t make the playoffs under Leiweke’s reign, but serious, positive change came about. Brendan Shanahan was brought in to institute a new, fresh, open-minded management core, which led to such hirings as 28-year-old assistant GM Kyle Dubas and the introduction of an analytics department. Read more

The OHL’s new rules against “staged” fights and what they mean to the NHL

Rory Boylen
The OHL brought in rules to crack down on fighting two years ago and are taking them to another level next season. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Does fighting have a place in the game of hockey? It’s a question we’ve debated again and again and again. Each injury, each staged fight, each donnybrook that breaks out after a clean hit leads to the inevitable conversation or shouting match.

Whatever you think of the subject, it’s clear the fighting role and its place in a lineup is slowly changing.

In the NHL, we’re seeing fewer one-dimensional fighters taking up five-minute roles on a fourth line. They’re still there (Shawn Thornton found work in Florida and John Scott somehow got a contract from the San Jose Sharks), but for the most part, the teams who acquire and use these types of players are either scrambling in disarray (San Jose) or have a history of bad, behind the curve management (Florida).

Analytics will dictate you need skill players, even on your fourth line. Recent Stanley Cup champion rosters will show how important it is to have a depth of quality talent without wasting a spot on a player whose best or only feature are his knuckles. Perhaps the one-dimensional fighter will never be eradicated from the highest level of the sport, but they do appear to be in decline.

Two years ago, the Ontario League instituted a rule that a player would be automatically suspended after his 10th fight of the season. Only one player reached that threshold the following season and nobody in the league did last year. This year, the OHL is expanding its discipline not just for fighting, but for dangerous infractions, which could potentially lead to a fight too.

Here are the new rules being adopted by the league, from its website: Read more

Don Cherry dumps ice water on his head in most stylish ALS Ice Bucket Challenge yet

Rory Boylen
Don Cherry

As the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge rolls on, raising awareness of and money to combat the terrible disease, we’ve shared with you some of our favorite highlights. Ex-Maple Leafs Mikhail Grabovski and Nik Kulemin made a funny one, Paul Bissonnette made one of the more creative ones, while NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and resident curmudgeon Jeremy Jacobs did a couple must-sees, but we can’t share every single hockey-related video with you.

What we can do is continue to share our favourites. Today, we present another one of those.

Don Cherry, who is either your favorite or least favorite first intermission entertainment, was challenged by partner Ron MacLean and he accepted it. In true Grapes form, his is the most fashionable video. The flowery suit he’s wearing in the video is like a camouflage with the garden behind him. But he really did it folks. He dumped a bucket of ice water on his head while wearing one of his patently excessive suits. Read more

NHL logo rankings No. 2: Arizona Coyotes

Rory Boylen
coyotesmain

We’re nearing the end of our NHL logo rankings, which are the result of a seven-person THN panel who discussed and debated each logo. Rather than judge by longevity and rank the Original 6 teams 1-6, we tried to look at the designs again for the first time.

Coming in at No. 2: The Arizona Coyotes.

For sure, some people are going to hate this selection. We’ve already seen the comments about the “roadkill” logo, but we couldn’t disagree more.

The Coyotes logo, which is a massive improvement on their original, is a nice-looking canine with a sun-dried color combination you don’t see every day. For me, I like the Coyotes logo for the same reasons I like the UConn Huskies logo: it’s just a good looking animal. The Coyotes design isn’t a cartoon, or one that looks soft and too happy for its own good. The howling Coyote is a sophisticated design that also sits nice on the jersey with smooth colors. Some will wonder how we ranked it No. 2 in the NHL – I’ll wonder how others don’t see the beauty in it. So goes the logo ranking process.

But if you think you can design a better logo for the Coyotes, now is your chance. Send in your design to editorial@thehockeynews.com and we’ll run a collection of our favorite readar redesigns next week. And why not try designing new logos for the other NHL teams we’ve ranked?

Tomorrow we release the NHL logo we ranked No. 1. But you can probably figure out which one it’s going to be.

All logos from Chris Creamer’s website.

HISTORY OF THE COYOTES LOGO
The Coyotes didn’t start in the desert, as the Coyotes, or even in the NHL. This team has its roots in Winnipeg and the WHA.

The Winnipeg Jets were one of the founding franchises in the WHA, a rival upstart to the NHL, and would become a powerhouse in that league. The first big splash the team ever made was signing Bobby Hull away from the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, making him the first player to earn a $1 million contract.

In 1972-73, the first year of the WHA, the Jets lost in the Avco Cup final to the New England Whalers.

The first primary logo ever used by the team isn’t the one we equate to the original Jets, but this design of a red circle with a hockey player and a jet taking off in the distance. The team would continue to use these colors, but this logo stood as the team’s main image for only its first two years of existence.

coyotes1

Read more

NHL 15 has no GM Connected or EASHL mode on Xbox One, PS4

Matt Larkin
Oshie15

We’re just weeks away from the NHL 15 launch date, Sept. 9. Early teaser videos have whetted many diehard gamer appetites, as has talk of new game physics and recently released overhead footage.

The gameplay in the new next-generation console clips (Xbox One, PlayStation 4), looked crisp and shiny, but surprisingly similar to that of previous versions, especially in how goals were scored, as my colleague Rory Boylen noticed. The pressure is on to deliver a major upgrade in the hockey gaming experience – especially in light of a disappointing announcement this week.

EA Sports released its NHL 15 game modes for the next-gen consoles. Excluded from them are popular EA Sports Hockey League mode, or EASHL, and GM Connected mode. Both will still appear on Xbox 360 and the PS3. The key hook of both: they allow teams of six humans (five skaters and one person controlling the goalie manually like a maniac) to battle other teams of six humans in a fully functioning, take-over-your-life experience. We’re talking leagues, schedules, and even skill-based promotions and relegations like you’d find in your local beer league. In GM Connected, 30 different people can run 30 different franchises. It means giving up your job and love life but, still, it’s friggin’ hardcore.

Read more

Rumor Roundup: Will Blackhawks cap crunch eventually cost them Brent Seabrook?

Lyle Richardson
Brent Seabrook's contract with the Chicago Blackhawks carries him through the 2015-16 NHL season.

Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman’s focus is on how to become cap compliant before the start of this season. With the Blackhawks sitting $2.2 million above the $69 million salary cap, there’s ongoing speculation over which players (Patrick Sharp? Johnny Oduya? Nick Leddy?) Bowman could move to get under the cap ceiling.

Following this season, however, Bowman will face more salary cap issues. His re-signings of franchise players Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to matching eight-year, $84-million contracts leave the Blackhawks with over $65 million invested in 15 players for 2015-16.

Assuming the salary cap rises to $75 million next summer, there won’t be much room to retain most of their other key free agents. Oduya, Brad Richards, Michal Rozsival and Peter Regin are eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, while Leddy, Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger and David Rundblad become restricted free agents. Read more