The same day Connor McDavid wore his Edmonton Oiler colors for the first time ever on the ice, his bosses were upstairs going about the process of giving him some legitimate NHL players to surround him.
It’s difficult, nay impossible, to declare the winners and losers of a free agent frenzy day before Canada Day has even included, but it’s difficult to not get excited about what’s going on in western Canada these days. The oil patch has been sucked dry of good hockey for so long that sometimes it looked as though neither the Oilers nor the Calgary Flames were ever going to get it right.
When the braintrust for Canada’s World Cup of Hockey team met Monday to begin the task of assembling the Canadian team for the tournament, each member of the management team was asked to present a mock roster based on the playoffs and recent World Championship. And the way GM Doug Armstrong sees it, everybody’s first list probably has the same 15 or 16 players on it.
We’re not giving anything away when we say that list almost certainly includes Carey Price in goal, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Shea Weber, P.K. Subban and Alex Pietrangelo on defense and Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Claude Giroux, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin at forward.
The hockey world has quickly become obsessed with the two-way game and that was obvious at the first-ever National Women’s League entry draft in Boston.
It has officially been 35 years since the ‘Miracle on Ice’ in Lake Placid, N.Y., wherein an upstart squad of U.S.-born hockey players defeated a mighty Soviet Union team that was seen as gold medal favorites at the 1980 Olympics. To pay tribute to one of the most incredible Olympic sports stories and one of the most iconic hockey moments, the AAA Rochester Red Wings, a minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, are hosting a ‘Miracle on Ice’ night on Aug. 1.
The evening, of course, will include brand new threads for both Rochester and their opponents, the Syracuse Chiefs. Rochester, the home team for evening, will wear the classic white jerseys that the American team wore during their defeat of the Soviets, while Syracuse will suit up in the blue visitors sweaters. And what hockey-themed night would be complete without the umpires wearing referee jerseys? Read more
TAMPA – Just the other day, Manon Rheaume went to get the oil changed on her car at a garage near her home in suburban Detroit. While she sat in the waiting room, one of the grease monkeys came out from the back with the work order in his hand. “He was looking at the name and he looked at me and said, ‘Are you the hockey player?’ ” Rheaume said. “He was like, ‘I used to have a poster of you on my wall.’ And I was thinking, ‘This is weird, you know?’ ”
Weird perhaps, but still gratifying for the first and only woman to ever appear in an NHL pre-season game. Rheaume’s world changed forever after she stopped seven of the nine shots she faced Sept. 23, 1992 for the Tampa Bay Lightning against the St. Louis Blues. She went on to play for eight different men’s teams in four minor leagues over the years, along with a team in Austria. She founded a foundation, worked in hockey and is raising two hockey-playing boys, one of whom is on the fast track with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. And starting this winter, filming will begin on Between the Pipes, the story of Rheaume’s life from the time she started playing hockey at five to when she appeared with the Lightning.
Judging Team USA on its recent finishes at the world juniors is a tricky thing. Sure, the Americans have landed fifth in the past two outings, but in both cases they fell to the rival Russians in the quarterfinal; they also could have won it all had fate bounced their way.
That is the challenge now accepted by former NHL coach Ron Wilson. Last seen behind the bench with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2012, Wilson has been announced as Team USA’s coach for the 2016 world juniors in Finland and despite his professional hiatus, I can see him being very successful in the role.
TAMPA – You could certainly tell who’s been here before. When the Tampa Bay Lightning knocked off the New York Rangers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final, they reacted, well, like a bunch of guys who were thrilled to be going to their first Stanley Cup final. When the Chicago Blackhawks took the Anaheim Ducks out in Game 7 of the western final, they looked as though they had just won a Silver Stick regional playdown.
But Lightning captain Steven Stamkos could be excused for his unbridled exuberance. This moment was seven years in the making for him. The individual accolades and the huge contract have been great, but until now Stamkos has been pining for his moment on the big stage, one that was robbed of him when he broke his leg three months before the Sochi Olympics. Sometimes when Stamkos gets out of bed, a pain shoots through that leg and gives him a reminder of the injury. Not that he needs those to recall how excruciating it was to watch his country win a gold medal, knowing full well he should have been there helping them.
Full disclosure: your trusty correspondent is in a playoff hockey pool and currently sits in first place. Take that, haters. My remaining players are Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane for the Chicago Blackhawks. I’m nine points ahead of a guy who has Hedman, Stamkos and Ryan Callahan of the Lightning and Sharp, Kane and Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks. I’m 10 points ahead of another guy who has Hedman and Stamkos from the Lightning and Toews, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith from the Blackhawks.
So, the way I see it, the only thing standing between me and lining my jean shorts with some bills is Toews having a monster Stanley Cup final and Johnson doing virtually nothing. And let’s face it, if that happens, the chances of the Blackhawks winning their third Stanley Cup in six seasons and becoming a kind of, sort of dynasty will go from very good to a virtual certainty.