Chicago star Duncan Keith: “Practices tire me out more than games”

Ryan Kennedy
Duncan Keith (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

The first time Duncan Keith played in the Olympics, he returned to Chicago with a gold medal and then helped the Blackhawks win their first Stanley Cup in nearly 50 years while averaging about 27 minutes of ice time in 104 total NHL games between the regular season and playoffs. Last year he earned his second Olympic gold with Canada and would have won his third Cup had the Hawks not lost a heartbreaking Western Conference final to Los Angeles (admit it, New York…). You would think the compressed NHL schedule in those Olympic years would be tough to shoulder, but Keith sees things the opposite way.

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Prince Albert Raiders’ new mascot is an offensive nod to the past

Adam Proteau
Prince Albert Raiders mascot (CTV Saskatoon)

Teams revisit their past all the time when promoting themselves via a redesign of their jersey, logo or mascot, but the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders have made a sizeable mistake in doing so this season.

To wit: the Raiders unveiled their new mascot this week – an Arabian “raider” character named “Boston Raider” after a tie-in to an area pizza sponsor – which is based on their original logo from the early 1980s:

The new mascot’s appearance does not sit well with a number of people who believe it stereotypes those of Middle Eastern heritage. Rhonda Rosenberg, the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan’s executive director, told the Canadian Press she found it plays into discriminatory views of people from the region.

“The idea of a somewhat violent Muslim man is a stereotype that is really difficult for a lot of people to live with,” Rosenberg said. “Mascots are not where we should be depicting cultural groups of people. We just need to look at what values and ideas are being put forward, and whether they are really embodying what we want to be sharing.”

A team spokesman said the franchise never intended to offend anyone, nor does it believe the mascot to be “a negative representation of Middle Eastern people and their culture”. They might not, but in this day and age where society is rightfully trying to be respectful toward all ethnicities, the Raiders’ new mascot is a mistake. What may have been seen as appropriate decades ago isn’t always appropriate today; this is why a song like Ray Stevens’ “Ahab The Arab” – a top five radio hit when it was released in 1962 – is seen as patently offensive now.

Eras and tastes change, and sometimes the past is better left where it is. And if the Raiders are smart, they’ll send their new mascot to join former AHL mascot “Scorch” in the scrapyard.

Reported “dramatic changes” to World Cup of Hockey would be a breath of fresh air – on one condition

Adam Proteau
Team Canada at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey (Getty Images)

For years now, many who follow the NHL have expected the league to announce the return of the World Cup of Hockey. That’s on the verge of being made official, but what nobody was quite prepared for was the stunning Sportsnet report concerning “dramatic changes” made to the structure of the off-season, league-controlled tournament.

According to the report, the NHL is considering a format that would see the six top hockey nations (Canada, the United States, Sweden, Russia, Finland and the Czech Republic) take part – but in a new twist, two “all-star” teams would join the competition: one squad would be comprised of the best players from countries other than the aforementioned six nations: Slovakia (who could offer Zdeno Chara), Slovenia (Anze Kopitar), Switzerland (Nino Niederreiter), and Germany (Christian Ehrhoff, Dennis Seidenberg), among others. The composition of the second team has yet to be determined, but one of the concepts being bandied about is taking all of the game’s best young players and giving them the same jersey to create a “Generation: Next”-type lineup.

As soon as the news broke, the reaction was less than universally positive. But you know what? I think the new format would be a terrific breath of fresh air – that is, so long as the return of the World Cup doesn’t mean the end of NHL participation in the Olympics. Read more

NHL says a decision ‘should be made quickly’ on 2018 Olympics

Matt Larkin
The NHL and its owners are openly skeptical about sending players to South Korea in 2018. (Getty Images)

Just when Michael Corleone thought he was out, they pulled him back in. And every time it seems the NHL’s Olympic adventure will die – no, seriously, this time we’re never going back – the twinkle returns to the league’s collective eye.

The league currently has no arrangement to participate in a sixth straight Winter Games, which shifts to South Korea for 2018, and no short-term timetable to make a decision. At a sport management conference Monday, NHL deputy commissioner Billy Daly told Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston a decision “should be made quickly,” but that the league needs more information from the Olympic organizing committee. Daly hopes to learn soon “where hockey fits in the pecking order.”

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2014 Hall of Fame class highlights global reach of the game like never before

Hall of Fame Class of 2014 (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Take a close look at the four men who will be inducted in the players’ category of the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday night. You’ll see something you’ve never seen before, and may never see again.

Four players, four different countries represented. A Hall of Fame cohort that includes Rob Blake, Mike Modano, Peter Forsberg and Dominik Hasek belongs in the debate of the best of all-time. We’re not going to get into that debate, but hey, the 1972 class included Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion, Hap Holmes and Hooley Smith. But there is no Hall of Fame induction group that represents the global reach of the game more prominently than this one. Read more

World Anti-Doping Agency to appeal Nicklas Backstrom ruling

Ken Campbell
Nicklas Backstrom  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was cleared of any wrongdoing and had his Olympic silver medal awarded to him six months month after a positive drug test in Sochi, but if the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has anything to say about it, Backstrom is still guilty of cheating.

A spokesman for WADA confirmed to thn.com that the agency has appealed the decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) to clear Backstrom of any wrongdoing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. Read more

Canada’s first gold medal winning team remembered with new Heritage Minute

Jared Clinton
WinnipegFalconsFeatured

Canada’s jubilation over the past two Olympic gold medals – 2010 in Vancouver and 2014 in Sochi – is warranted, but the little piece of hockey history that Canadian fans may not know is that the very first gold was brought home by a Canadian squad.

In one of the newest Canadian history minutes (remember these?), the tale of the 1920 Winnipeg Falcons is told. You can watch the video below: Read more

Hockey Canada gesture leaves Stamkos nearly speechless

Jared Clinton
Steven Stamkos (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

A broken tibia didn’t just derail Steven Stamkos’ 2013-14 season, it robbed him of the opportunity to represent his home country at the Olympics.

While there’s no telling the impact Stamkos may have been able to make during the Sochi games, his scoring ability surely would have been a welcome addition to Team Canada. Though he fought valiantly to rehab his injured right leg in time for the tournament, he was unable to reach full speed in time, and Team Canada named Martin St-Louis as his replacement. Read more