Fantasy Hockey: Who is this year’s…

Matt Larkin
Semyon Varlamov

You can set your watch to certain events every fantasy season. One free agent bust gives way to the next, and one breakout rookie passes the torch to another. The “Who is This Year’s…” game helps poolies because it provides a ton of information by comparing two names. “Jake Allen is good” says a little. “Jake Allen is this year’s Semyon Varlamov” says a lot. Time to play.




Post-hype breakout

Johansen, the fourth-overall pick in 2010, scored 14 goals in his first 107 games. In 2013-14, he exploded for 33 goals. A young gun set to go off this season is Alex Galchenyuk. He hasn’t been bad, tallying 58 points over his first two seasons, but he’s just scratching the surface of his ability, and he missed 17 games in 2013-14. He’s a future star, and a leap into the 60-point stratosphere is within reach.

Out-of-nowhere goalie sensation
Varlamov wasn’t a nobody entering 2013-14, but he was struggling. Then Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy arrived to coach Colorado. ‘Varly’ was a changed man and a profitable late-round grab in pools. This year, Jake Allen will pay off similarly. He’s guaranteed an NHL job and will post outstanding numbers with the stellar Blues defense in front of him. He’ll earn at least a split of the starts with Brian Elliott, with potential for a lot more.

Return to grace
Boston was silly to give up on Tyler Seguin. He was too talented to stay down after a poor year, and he was just 21. Dallas jumped at the chance to get him, and he finished fourth in league scoring. Watch for a bounce-back from Eric Staal. A 61-point campaign after eight straight seasons at a pace of 70 or more? Toss it out. He’s still just 29.

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NHL logo rankings No. 6: Dallas Stars

Rory Boylen

We’re almost at the home stretch of our NHL logo rankings and finish off this week at No. 6: The Dallas Stars.

Judging by comments on our previous articles, this will be a contentious one. The ninja star logo, introduced a year ago, was the first time the Dallas franchise moved away from a design that was used by the team from Minnesota – and the color was lightened again. You’re either going to love it or hate it. We loved it.

The THN staffers involved in the ranking process appreciated the new green (which is kind of a throwback to the North Star days) and how well it meshes with the silver star. The way the star (and the ‘D’) is sharply designed and colored kind of makes it look like a spur, which is a nice fit in Texas. We liked it enough to rank it No. 6 in the NHL – if you disagree, let us know why in the comments section below. We explain our reasoning for the ranking a little more later.

And, heck, you can even try and design our own logo for the Stars. Use your artistic skills and send your logo redesign to At the end of our logo rankings, we’ll publish our favorite reader redesigns.

(All logos below from Chris Creamer’s website.)

Originally, of course, the Stars came from the north. In 1967, when the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams, Minnesota was granted one of those franchises. As a result of a public contest, the team was named the North Stars, which gave a nod to the state’s motto L’Etoile du Nord, or The Star of the North.

The first logo had the full team name on it and a familiar looking ‘N’ pointing towards the northern star inside a green circle. The ‘N’ would be refined over the years, but this was the start of a green and yellow color combination I think most of us miss.


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Here’s what you’ve been waiting for: Gary Bettman dumps bucket of ice water on his head

Rory Boylen

The ALS Ice Bucket challenge rolls on.

We’ve seen Mikhail Grabovski and Nik Kulemin challenge old coach Randy Carlyle in hilarious fashion. We watched Paul Bissonnette pull off the best, and worst, looking water dump. Those are among many, many more.

Today, we got the one all hockey fans were probably looking forward to: Commissioner Gary Bettman stepped up and accepted his many challengers. Although, he did kind of wuss out with the rest of that ice. Do-over?

An honourable mention from Wednesday, and perhaps more enjoyable for the hockey fan who prefers an 82-game season, is Jeremy Jacobs accepting the challenge. And I kind of like this one more.

When Jacobs finishes talking about who he is challenging next, it starts to feel like he’s putting together a how-to video about dumping ice cold water on your head – in a way only an elder could.

“Here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna take this bag and I’m gonna put it in here like this. Oh that’s a lot of ice. What a waste of good ice. Where’s the vodka?”

He then instructs us how to stir the ice up in the bucket. Probably because he thinks everyone else has a Smithers who usually stirs their ice for them, too.

But then it crescendos when Jacobs dumps the icy water on himself and needs to get bleeped out.

But, kudos to Jacobs for not wimping out on his ice. C’mon Gary, do it again. It’s for a good cause.

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Legendary Hall of Fame referee Frank Udvari, who officiated game that led to Richard Riot, passes away at age 90

Rory Boylen
Frank Udvari

NHL referees and linesmen aren’t always remembered or recognized. But then again, some of them are fan favorites who hold a big place in the game’s history.

Ray “Scampy” Scapinello, was a small, quick linesman who had the longest career of any official. Paul Stewart, the boisterous American, was known for his old-school attitude, being blunt and to the point. He shares some his his fascinating stories today. Kerry Fraser is as much remembered for his perfectly placed hair as he is reviled for the missed high stick call on Wayne Gretzky (by Toronto fans anyway). And there are many others who fans have some sort of attachment to or memory of, for better or worse.

Frank Udvari was an NHL referee in the 1950s and ’60s who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973. According to Josh Brown of the Waterloo Region Record, Udvari passed away at the age of 90 on Thursday.


Udvari is perhaps best known for being the referee in charge of the infamous game that eventually led to the Richard Riots in Montreal. On March 13, 1955, the Montreal Canadiens played the rival Boston Bruins on the road. During play, Bruins defenseman Hal Laycoe caught Richard with a high-stick by the eye and Udvari put his arm in the air to call a penalty.

But Richard was ready to take the situation into his own hands. Read more

NHL logo rankings No. 7: Boston Bruins

Rory Boylen

So far, the top 10 NHL logos have included Philadelphia, Anaheim (still not over that one) and Pittsburgh. Today, coming in at No. 7, we present the Original Six look from the Boston Bruins.

At times in Bruins history, the logo has shown a bear, but we most associate the team to the spoked, black and gold ‘B’. But the Bruins weren’t always black and gold. Originally, their primary color was brown.

Although we’ve noticed some commenters poo-pooing Boston’s look as we’ve counted down our favorite NHL logos, the ‘B’ was almost universally favored by the seven THN staffers who were part of the voting – and debating – process. The goal was to look at all the NHL logos again for the first time, not taking history into consideration, and judge them on design, color and, if applicable, how it relates to the city. The Bruins logo stood up to these tests – and, hey, you have to give bonus points for using a color like yellow.

But if you think you can design a better logo for the Boston Bruins, send your art to At the completion of our logo rankings, we’ll share some of our best reader logo submissions.

(All logos are from Chris Creamer’s website.)

In 1924, Charles Adams purchased the NHL franchise rights for a Boston team from Thomas Duggan for $15,000. Adams, who was president of First National Stores Inc., (Finast) also purchased a share in Major League Baseball’s Boston Braves franchise in 1927.

Adams, along with GM Art Ross, settled on the name “Bruins” an old English term for bear. But the colors the team would use were settled on before the team name was selected.

The color scheme of Adams’ Finast chain was brown and yellow and he wanted his NHL franchise to share that combination. The name Bruins happened to fit rather perfectly with it.

As you’d expect for a logo from the 1920s, the original look wasn’t the most refined the team has ever had. This logo, which was placed on a brown jersey, was used for one season before the team added more white into the mix.


In 1925-26, a face was put on Boston’s Bruin and the whole logo was outlined. Brown was still the primary color used by the team, but white was added to the middle of the jersey, which made it easier to see the logo. During this time, Adams and Ross took advantage of a collapsing Western League to pick up a few star players, such as Eddie Shore.

The Bruin would last on the jersey for another seven years before it was kicked off in favor of a look that set the team on a path towards today’s spoked ‘B.’ Read more

Detroit signs Ken Holland to new deal. Is Mike Babcock next?

Matt Larkin
Ken Holland

The Detroit Red Wings have secured one piece of their future. Will the second domino fall soon?

First, GM Ken Holland. There was the occasional whisper of him leaving Detroit for a new challenge, but the odds were always slim. He’s fuelled the Red Wings’ seemingly endless success for decades, including the last 17 years as GM. The franchise is synonymous with finding diamonds in the rough, including current stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, and Holland has always been the mastermind behind that brilliant drafting.

Worry not, Wings fans. Your GM is back. Holland has signed a four-year extension, keeping him in Hockeytown through 2017-18. Owner Mike Illitch’s statement mentioned stability as “key to success of any organization,” and that Holland is crucial for maintaining that stability. It makes sense with a new arena all the way and this team in serious transition.

On the surface, 23 straight playoff berths say it’s business as usual in Detroit, but we know that’s not the case. This team barely squeezed into the playoffs last season, and Datsyuk and Zetterberg seem destined to battle health problems for the rest of their careers. Jimmy Howard’s goaltending hasn’t met the expectation set by the six-year, $31.75-million deal he commenced last season. With the team’s future success in flux, it’s good news for the Wings to have Holland manning the ship.

More good news: the youth movement is in full-swing, and Detroit seems more wiling than ever to give youngsters chances to play. Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar look like the latest late-round draft steals, poised to become building blocks for years to come at forward. Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan, who were higher-regarded prospects than Nyquist and Tatar when drafted, made the team last year as well. Anthony Mantha, who scored a goal a game in junior last season, could be the exception to Detroit’s unwritten rule of making every drafted prospect wait three to four years before making the NHL. That’s what happens when Detroit gets a top-20 pick after none from 2006-2012. The Wings’ blueline is solid if unspectacular, with clever college signings like Danny DeKeyser complementing solid vets like Niklas Kronwall. Maybe now that Holland has a contract, he can work on upgrading the defense corps further with an acquisition like, say, Mike Green.

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Is the NHL destined for Seattle? Potential owner calls it “the perfect match”

Rory Boylen
Gary Bettman

Currently, there are two arenas being built in what are considered potential NHL relocation or expansion markets. Quebec City’s arena is scheduled to be finished in September of 2015 and the MGM Resorts/AEG project in Las Vegas will be finished in two years. In fact, the mayor of Las Vegas has talked about building a second arena, which would partially be covered by public money.

But Seattle, which is not building a new arena right now, remains the most intriguing destination for the NHL. It’s a west coast team, which would balance the conference split if an eastern team needed to be relocated. It would be a competitive, rivalry market for Vancouver. And it has plans to build a brand new arena…as soon as it gets an NBA franchise.

Chris Hansen holds the rights to build the new arena in Seattle, but he has no interest in owning a hockey team. That’s where Victor Coleman comes in. The CEO and president of Hudson Pacific Properties is very optimistic about Seattle as an NHL market.

“I think the demographic base and the desire of the NHL in that marketplace is the perfect match right now. The expansion of the NHL into the Pacific Northwest, with Vancouver and the presiding area, makes it a perfect fit,” Coleman said to KING 5′s Chris Daniels. “There are built in synergies. That’s a ‘Day 1’ rivalry.” Read more

Teddy Purcell has no hard feelings after Tampa Bay traded him

Matt Larkin
Teddy Purcell

There are trades, and then there are trades that ship you 2,366 miles northwest.

The late-June swap that sent right winger Teddy Purcell from Tampa Bay to Edmonton was a shock. His closet said it all. It contained zero winter jackets and hadn’t for seven years. He’d spent his entire NHL career in California and Florida, and it seemed as recently as a year ago he wasn’t going anywhere for a long time.

The undrafted college free agent didn’t blossom in parts of three seasons with L.A., but the Lightning took a chance on him with a 2010 trade. He realized his potential as a top-six forward, posting 51- and 65-point seasons, often as Steven Stamkos’ linemate.

Something changed this past season, however. Young guns Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat burst onto the scene, and Purcell’s role diminished. Coach Jon Cooper, and even teammates like Valtteri Filppula, publicly asked Purcell to shoot more. He slipped to 12 goals in 81 games and tumbled to the fourth line. Purcell became expendable when the team identified other needs and off he went in the Sam Gagner deal.

Standard storylines would have Purcell entering 2014-15 motivated to prove Tampa wrong, but that’s just not him. He’s about as easygoing as it gets. He’s happy to call frigid Edmonton his new home, pointing out he grew up in Newfoundland and played in Saskatchewan and Maine. And he’s not angry at Tampa Bay. He speaks highly of GM Steve Yzerman.

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