Canada names Sidney Crosby World Cup captain; happy with J-Bo

Sidney Crosby (Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images

It was the most obvious choice, but there was also a pretty good reason for it. Team Canada named Sidney Crosby captain of the upcoming World Cup of Hockey squad, with Jonathan Toews and Shea Weber earning ‘A’s on their sweaters as alternate captains. So what went into the decision?

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Down Goes Brown: Five teams that have had a quiet offseason, and what it means for 2016-17

Flyers GM Ron Hextall. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

An NHL offseason can be a funny thing. For some teams, it represents an opportunity to blow everything up real good, hitting the reset button entirely or at the very least radically changing direction. For others, it’s a chance to double down on what’s already working by loading up on the final pieces of a true contender. In either case, blockbuster trades can be made, big-name free agents can be lured, and coaches and GMs can be replaced. Things are happening.

And then there are the teams that decide to skip all of that, and largely sit out the offseason. They tinker a bit, re-signing a guy here and making a minor move there, but for the most part they decide to pass on doing anything especially newsworthy.

And let’s be honest: While that approach may not be all that exciting, sometimes it absolutely turns out to be the right one. Sometimes, it really is better to leave the bat on your shoulder. But only sometimes.

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Michal Neuvirth unveils checkerboard Czech Republic mask for World Cup

Jared Clinton
(via DaveArt/Facebook)

Michal Neuvirth is going to have to have his work cut out for him when it comes to challenging for the starting gig in the Czech Republic goal at the World Cup, but if he’s hoping to stand out in the crease ahead of Petr Mrazek and Ondrej Pavelec, Neuvirth’s flashy mask should help.

David Gunnarsson of DaveArt has revealed Neuvirth’s mask for the competition and the design is eye-popping with some interesting details, including a nod to the netminder’s NHL club and his hometown, Usti nad Labem.

The crown of the mask is big and bold, featuring the Czech Republic flag in full, with the coat of arms scrawled into the red portion of the flag. The front blue panel is the only section of the flag without a design, as the white segment has a sketched design that shows off Strekov Castle, one of the most notable landmarks from Neuvirth’s home. Take a closer look: Read more

Weise signed with Flyers due to Hextall’s honesty, opportunity to play important role

Jared Clinton
Dale Weise (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Dale Weise may not have set a new career-high in points this past season, but the 28-year-old did notch a career-best 14 goals, had a higher average ice time than any season prior and looked like he could be a constant contributor to a team’s bottom six. So when Weise hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent, it was no surprise he was snatched up quickly.

The offer Weise went with was a four-year, $9.4-million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, but he had no shortage of options. In speaking with the Montreal Gazette’s Stu Cowan, Weise said that the money on each of the offers he had was roughly the same, but it was Flyers GM Ron Hextall being the first to reach out and making it clear they wanted Weise — and weren’t chasing any other free agents — that persuaded him to sign in Philadelphia.

“With Philly, it was pretty direct, it was pretty honest,” Weise told Cowan. “They said: ‘Here’s how much money we have, we’re not trying to sign anybody else. You’re the guy we want. Here’s what we can offer, here’s where we see it.’ That was a big thing for me.” Read more

Five notable players who could opt for retirement following the upcoming season

Jarome Iginla (Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The rough and tumble ways of the NHL are starting to go by the wayside, but veteran winger Shawn Thornton is sticking around for one more season with the Florida Panthers. But Thornton, 39, admitted that before he signed a one-year contract extension in February, he was considering hanging up his skates for good.

Speaking with CBS Boston’s Matt Kalman, Thornton said that while the 2015-16 campaign wore on, he began to think about retirement. As he planned to retire from the game, though, along came a contract offer from the Panthers to come back on a one-year, $750,000 deal. The idea was to keep Thornton around as a locker room leader and a guide for the young players looking to get a foothold in the league.

However, once this season is done, that’s likely it for Thornton. And once his playing days are done, the one-time tough guy could be finding his way to the Panthers’ front office, working on the “business side of things” for the team he has spent the past two years of his career with.

“Things change year to year. This would’ve been a different conversation last year,” Thornton told Kalman. “But as of right now probably leaning more toward the business side of hockey. Once the season’s over I’ll probably move into that role in Florida.”

That this is likely Thornton’s final season in the league isn’t altogether surprising as his career has been winding down since he arrived in Florida. But he’s not the only player who could be riding off into the sunset following the upcoming campaign. Here are five other players potentially headed for retirement after 2016-17: Read more

Five 2015 draft picks set to make impactful NHL debuts next season

Dylan Strome during the 2015-16 pre-season (Harry How/Getty Images)

The hype surrounding Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick and first-overall selection Auston Matthews isn’t unwarranted, but sometimes lost in the excitement surround Matthews is the fact that there’s a fair chance he won’t be the rookie that makes the biggest difference this coming season.

That doesn’t just go for Matthews, either. Winnipeg Jets fans are excited about Patrik Laine, Edmonton Oilers fans have high hopes for Jesse Puljujarvi, Matthew Tkachuk’s got his sights set on the making the Calgary Flames this coming season and the Columbus Blue Jackets might even see Pierre-Luc Dubois make the jump to the NHL.

But the fresh faces of the 2016 draft class shouldn’t make us forget about the talented group of youngsters drafted in 2015 who could find their way into the NHL and become top scorers or go-to players for their respective clubs. Here are five 2015 draftees yet to see an NHL game who stand to be impact players in 2016-17: Read more

So why hasn’t your team done anything this off-season?

Flyers GM Ron Hextall. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

August marks hockey’s “silly season.” Very little happens. And idle hands are the devils’ playthings, right? Countless blog commenters and Twitter trolls dust off the “Slow news day?” insult whenever we find something to talk about. During the month before NHL training camps begin, fan bases twiddle their thumbs. And think. And overthink. And worry.

“Why hasn’t my team DONE anything this off-season?”

You know who you are. You, from that city with the sandwich everyone needs to try. Your team has been uncomfortably quiet this off-season, with nary a big trade or free agent splash. Should you panic over your team’s 2016-17 outlook? Or will you end up patting your favorite GM on the back for staying the course?

Here’s a rundown of the summer’s most tranquil teams – and whether their fan bases should worry.

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