Score one for the trolls.
Meghan Duggan, captain of the American women’s Olympic team, did an ingenious job poking fun at a controversy surrounding the New York Yankees Thursday night. Duggan, a Massachusetts native, was on hand at Fenway Park to throw the game’s ceremonial first pitch, clad in a Red Sox jersey. Before she popped the mitt, she made a cheeky little gesture, touching her neck:
Photo by Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY sports
She did so in reference to Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda, who was busted a night earlier for having pine tar on his neck. He was dabbing his fingers with it to improve his grip on a cold night. It’s a wise move in theory, but it’s technically cheating and he did so with the subtlety of How I Met Your Mother (Yep, I went there. Vastly overrated show.)
For Ryan O’Reilly to be passed over for the Lady Byng Trophy this season would require members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association to blunder almost as badly as they did last year when they made Alexander Ovechkin an first-team all-star at both left and right wing.
O’Reilly plays big minutes – 24th in the league in 5-on-5 ice time per game – against the opponents’ best lines and led the league in takeaways, all the while only getting two penalty minutes this season. In his 72nd game, he broke his stick on a faceoff against Logan Couture and kicked the puck back to his defenseman before being called for playing with a broken stick. O’Reilly led his team in goals, logged more ice time than any other forward on the team and manages to get the puck away from his opponents without going on the wrong side of the rulebook. Read more
In the last moments of his last news conference at the Sochi Olympics, Canadian coach Mike Babcock had the following observation: “Does anybody know who won the scoring race? Does anybody care? Does anybody know who won the gold medal? See ya.”
And with that he left for the closing ceremonies, having coached Canada to its second straight gold medal. It bears mentioning that most of us still remember who won the scoring championship in Sochi. Phil Kessel had five goals and eight points for Team USA, finding the back of the net more often than Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Corey Perry, Rick Nash, Ryan Getzlaf, Patrick Marleau, Martin St-Louis, Patrice Bergeron, John Tavares, Matt Duchene and Chris Kunitz combined. Read more
There will be no need for Hockey Canada to give Bob Nicholson a golden handshake or a gold watch when he officially announces his departure on Friday. Nicholson already has approximately as much gold as Fort Knox.
Under his watch as president and CEO of Hockey Canada, his country has won seven Olympic gold medals (three men, four women), five World championship golds, 12 World Junior golds and 10 World Women’s gold medals. And speaking of gold, he has presided over Hockey Canada becoming a money-making monolith, both in terms of attracting sponsorship money and generating revenues from events. For example, the WJC in Montreal and Toronto could make a profit of up to $30 million, 50 percent of which goes to Hockey Canada. Read more
Longtime Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson is scheduled to officially announce his resignation from the organization at a news conference in Toronto Friday. There was no indication as to what he planned to do after spending more than 15 years in the position, but the longtime executive has been linked to NHL GM discussions in the past – and given that he leaves with Canada’s national team enjoying an incredible run of success, it’s unlikely he’ll be out of work very long.
Nicholson has held the title of president and C.E.O. for Hockey Canada since 1998, but was senior vice-president of the Canadian Hockey Association for the previous six years. During his time running the program Nicholson led Hockey Canada to seven Olympic gold medals (three men’s and four women’s, including both golds at the 2014 Sochi Games), 12 International Ice Hockey Federation world junior championships, five IIHF men’s world championships and 10 IIHF women’s world championships. To say other hockey federations want to match his results is an understatement. The Vancouver native has also steered the organization in its role as Canada’s sole governing body for the amateur side of the sport (ice hockey and sledge hockey) and produced phenomenal metrics in growing the game. Read more
Just when we thought Jaromir Jagr was out, he pulled us back in.
It appeared No. 68 was done being relevant when he petered out with 22 goal-free playoff games as a Boston Bruin last spring. Signing with the New Jersey Devils meant he’d toil in obscurity and fade away. Instead, he’s busted out his best season since his three-year Kontinental League vacation. Not only have his 24 goals and 64 points in 76 games at age 42 blown us away, they’ve clinched fantasy titles for plenty of poolies who scooped him in the final rounds of drafts.
Better yet, Jagr has tacked a few more memorable moments onto a Hall of Fame career. His latest: making his teammates look away when it was a Devil skater’s turn in last night’s shootout against Buffalo. Was it superstition or was Jagr sparing his mates from watching a team that is 0-11 in shootouts? Either way, it was awesome.
It inspired me to list 20 of the best things about Jaromir Jagr, in random order, inspired by his 20 amazing years in the NHL.
1. Those rosy cheeks. Don’t you just wanna pinch ‘em? He brings out the inner grandma in all of us.
2. He shepherded us through the worst of the dead puck era. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the NHL became molasses on ice, Jagr was still tossing up 120-point seasons and winning scoring titles by 20 points.
3. Game-winning goals. Gordie Howe lovers be damned, the recorded stats say ‘Jags’ has more clinchers than any player in history. And this is a Jagr list, not a Howe list, so Jagr deserves a tip of the cap. Actually, better yet…
4. The salute. Annoying if he did it after scoring on your team, but awesome whenever he was easing the dagger into any other squad’s heart.
5. A wild man behind the wheel. Remember that? When he was a teenager? He was a menace to the road, and it was somehow endearing at the time. Especially the glove box full of speeding tickets.
Tuukka Rask should be accustomed to taking a backseat to a Canadian goalie. If he doesn’t win the Vezina Trophy this season and Carey Price does, it will be the second time it’s happened to him. And he doesn’t appear to be any worse for it.
The first time was in 2006 when the Toronto Maple Leafs chose Justin Pogge over him. The Leafs, with the two stars from the 2006 World Junior Championship in their system, signed Pogge and, in one of the worst trades in recent history, moved Rask to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Andrew Raycroft.
The Maple Leafs, apparently oblivious to the fact that Pogge had backstopped arguably the best defensive World Junior team in the history of the tournament, feared the public backlash they would face if they chose a Finnish-born goalie over a Canadian World Junior hero. The move has haunted the Maple Leafs for years and was one of the main reasons why former GM John Ferguson was fired. Read more
After Team USA crushed the dreams of Canada on Thursday with a 3-0 win and Russia outplayed Norway in a 4-0 victory, the Americans and Russians squared off for gold in the Paralympic ice sledge hockey final today.
Both teams matched up well against one another, with USA coming in as the favourite on paper, while the Russians were favoured in the crowd.