In some ways, the most unlikely team in this year’s playoffs carries much of a country’s hopes on its back. The Winnipeg Jets, picked by this publication (ahem) and many other pundits to finish last in their division, are in the playoffs.
And there are some who believe the Jets have what it takes to defeat the Anaheim Ducks in the first round. This corner is not one of them, but there is a sentiment that the Jets are flying high and the playoff-underachieving Ducks are once again ripe to be upset. Read more
Olympic hockey will happen in 2018, NHLers or not. At the very least, the tournament will feature the world’s best female players. Will the men’s elite make the trek to PyeongChang, South Korea? We’ll see. Whatever happens, the IIHF is proceeding as if everyone will come to play. It released the respective formats for Olympic men’s and women’s hockey qualification Wednesday. Let’s break down how each field will be determined – under the assumption NHLers play.
It was only fitting that the first Russian to ever referee an NHL game would do it in Detroit, the city that assembled the Russian Five and is home to one of the all-time greatest Russian players in NHL history in Pavel Datsyuk.
Evgeny Romasko made history Monday night by becoming the first-ever Russian-born official to work an NHL game when the Red Wings defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. It took Romasko just four minutes and 52 seconds to call the first penalty of his NHL career, a highsticking minor against Marek Zidlicky of the Red Wings, which impressed his boss, NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom. Read more
The message of the #LikeAGirl campaign struck a chord with Boston Blades forward and U.S. Olympian Hilary Knight the moment she saw the commercial during the Super Bowl.
In the minute-long spot, a voice from behind the camera asks men and women, young and old, to mime tasks, “like a girl.” In the first half, the men and women mimic someone barely capable of accomplishing athletic feats like running, throwing and fighting. In the latter half, young women show exactly how they do those same tasks, running furiously on the spot and fighting with all their might. That’s what struck Knight most.
“The commercial actually changed the way that I saw the phrase previously,” Knight said following her three-goal, five-point game to lead the Blades to the Clarkson Cup final. “Being in the sport that I am, I’ve heard, ‘Oh, you shoot like a girl.’ That implied that you didn’t shoot well enough to be on the ice.” Read more
Her pal Tessa Bonhomme likes to refer to Rebecca Johnston as, “a defenseman’s worst nightmare.” And if this season was any indication, it’s only going to get worse.
That’s because Johnston, who already has two Olympic gold medals around her neck, is about the closest thing you can be to a professional in women’s hockey. Her decision to move full-time to Calgary this season was made on the premise that she would only get better being so close to Hockey Canada’s headquarters and all the training facilities it has to offer women’s players. By day, she works part-time for an insurance company, but aside from that it’s all training and playing. Whether it’s Hockey Canada skills sessions or practices with the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, there aren’t many days when Johnston isn’t on the ice. Read more
By Hayley Wickenheiser
The last few days have almost felt like a fog, a total blur in so many ways. On Saturday, we said our final goodbyes to our good friend, Steve Montador. I truly believe in my heart that he is finally at peace, he certainly looked that way to many of us who paid our respects.
I have lost a few friends at a very young age, mostly tragic accidents or terminal illnesses. Steve’s death doesn’t really fit either criteria. It also hits home much more because our lifestyles were very similar. We have both played a game we have known and loved for our entire lives. The only difference is that Steve’s career ended before mine did and he was left facing the challenges of moving on and coping sooner. Read more
When the Montreal Canadiens lost defenseman Alexei Emelin to an injury in the first period of Wednesday night’s game against Ottawa, the pressure on the team’s defense corps ratcheted up significantly. There was no immediate word on the severity of Emelin’s upper-body ailment, but in the immediate wake of losing the veteran and the 20 minutes he averages per game, head coach Michel Therrien leaned on a blueliner he’s been leaning on more of late: star P.K. Subban was on his way to playing more than 30 minutes for the third time in five games when he was forced out of the game late in the second period after blocking a shot. Subban returned to start the third and still finished the night with 30:45 of playing time, but it very easily could’ve been a higher number than that.
The Canadiens are already rumored to be seeking a defenseman on the trade market, and the injury scares to two of their veterans should be considered a warning shot across the bow to accelerate the process. Because while the 25-year-old Subban is clearly capable of being on the ice for more than half of every game, Therrien and GM Marc Bergevin must be delicate with his minutes. Just as an NHL GM must balance the needs of the now with the needs of tomorrow on the salary cap front, so too must he keep an eye on the big picture when it comes to the use of his star players. And because Subban is one of the NHL’s most marketable, personable and talented players, Bergevin needs to be aware of the demands that are going to be placed on him not only this year, but beyond. Read more
Americans love their underdogs. Even more so, perhaps, because America so rarely plays the role of the underdog. That’s why the United States’ victory over the Soviet Union at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., remains one of the country’s greatest sports stories ever told.
For every underdog story, however, there is the favorite’s tragedy. Of Miracles and Men, the latest documentary in ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 series, takes the Miracle on Ice tale and tells it from the other side. Like the recently released Red Army, it humanizes the supposed robots of the Big Red Machine that were upset by a group of college kids on a Friday night in February some 35 years ago. Read more