News Wednesday that actor and famous hockey/Boston Bruins fan Denis Leary was producing for IFC a new series centered around an amateur hockey team should inspire puck fans to pitch more hockey-themed shows to TV networks in the hope they might get picked up and put on air. Here, I’ll show you what I mean, using titles of TV series as examples:
The Walking Dead An outbreak of a mysterious virus ravages the Sabres, Coyotes and Maple Leafs and leads to locals staggering aimlessly and dead-eyed in the streets in Buffalo, Arizona and Toronto. While death sometimes seems to be a merciful option for our heroes during such a bleak time, they bravely continue to search and hope for a place to settle and grow. Read more
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi reports Flyers GM Ron Hextall doesn’t believe he needs to make many off-season moves. Hextall claims there won’t be a massive turnover, though Carchidi notes the Flyers have limited cap space this summer unless they can shed some salaries.
Topping the list of those who could be moved is unhappy forward Vincent Lecavalier, who has three years remaining on his contract at an annual cap hit of $4.5 million. Lecavalier, 34, has been largely consigned to fourth-line duty this season when he hasn’t been a healthy scratch.
A report in the Philadelphia Daily News suggests the Flyers’ first preference is to trade Lecavalier. With $12 million of his $22.5 million already paid out, the veteran center could be attractive to small-market clubs. A buyout is an option, though it would cost the Flyers $1.75-million annually in dead cap space for the next six seasons. Lecavalier could also retire, though that’s not an option he considers palatable. Read more
Before any Pittsburgh fans go and get their jerseys in a jumble, just pause for a second, take a deep breath and think about it: if the Penguins fail to get back to the Stanley Cup final for the sixth straight season, what else is left for the franchise to do but blow up the core?
After an off-season of upheaval in which Pittsburgh brought in a new coach, a new GM and a new supporting cast for Sidney Crosby, there would be few options left but to raze the roster to the ground and begin anew. Sure, the Penguins could use Marc-Andre Fleury as a scapegoat and try using the same roster again next season with a different goalie, but that would only be putting off the inevitable. (Just ask the San Jose Sharks, who are years behind on the rebuilding schedule after sticking with their core despite perennial playoff failures, including their first-round faceplant last year.)
The best thing for the Penguins to do would be to try to trade Crosby for the next Crosby.
According to an ESPN.com report, former NHL star defenseman Chris Pronger’s road to the Hockey Hall of Fame was cleared Thursday when the HHOF’s general voting members ratified changes to the induction eligibility criteria for players. The decision means it’s possible Pronger will be welcomed into the HHOF’s next group of honorees – and regardless of what you think of the process that led to this point, you can’t argue the 40-year-old doesn’t deserve to be acknowledged as one of the game’s all-time great blueliners and competitors.
The report states one of the HHOF’s new bylaws (No. 26, in this case) includes this section, which directly addresses Pronger’s situation: “a person is not eligible for election in the player category if he or she has played in a professional or international hockey game (which terms shall not be considered to include games played only or primarily for charitable or recreational purposes, or for any other limited purpose that the Chair of the Board of Directors determines, in his or her discretion, should not disqualify for nomination a person otherwise eligible) during any of the three (3) playing seasons immediately prior to his or her election.”
In effect, the new bylaw means that players such as Pronger – someone who everyone knows won’t play again because of injuries, yet who doesn’t file retirement papers because of salary cap issues – can be considered after the standard three-year period following their final game. Read more
The joke used to be that Philadelphia was where goaltenders went to lose their way. Year after year, some new hope would enter and before the season was through, he was gone and forgotten. No one would have been surprised had that been the case for Steve Mason.
In two seasons, Mason, now 26, has recovered from what looked like potential for a miserable end to a once very promising career. When the Flyers acquired him from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Michael Leighton and a third-round pick, he was coming off three straight seasons with a goals-against average above 3.00 and had posted save percentages of .901, .901 and .894 over his past three campaigns.
To say the move was questioned would be an understatement. No one knew what the Flyers were doing trying to recover the game of the 2008-09 Calder Trophy winning goaltender who had seemingly lost his way. But now, as the second anniversary of the trade approaches, maybe the Flyers saw something in Mason no one else did. Read more
In early October, Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider told THN he was more than happy to allow GM Ron Hextall to build the team slowly and not engage in blockbuster trades, as has been the franchise’s custom as often as not under his stewardship.
“Ron Hextall has come in and preached patience,” Snider said at the time. “Ron said, ‘We’re not going to rush guys along. We’re going to develop our kids and really work on that phase of the game.’ That was my philosophy when I started the team.”
That was five months ago. Now, talking to Philly.com, Snider sounds as if he’s not quite so certain about the whole patience thing. Read more
For months now, hockey fans have slowly built their anticipation for one of the most highly-consequential NHL draft lotteries since the process was introduced in 1995. And now it appears the league has settled on a date people can circle on their calendars.
According to a Sportsnet.ca report, the league has decided to hold this year’s draft lottery Apr. 18, as part of a Hockey Night In Canada playoff broadcast. That leaves a little more than three weeks for fans of sad-sack teams to firm up viewing party plans and binge on lottery simulation websites – and when you look at some of the teams with a decent chance of drafting nascent superstars Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel (and the stakes involved if they fail to win the lottery), you’ve got near-perfect conditions to deliver what could very well be hockey’s most drama-packed off-ice night in history.
For one thing, the increasingly-improving chance the Maple Leafs have at McDavid is going to push TV ratings to record levels. Like them or not, the Leafs have millions of fans, and after their brutal free-fall through the NHL standings this season those fans are going to try every superstitious trick in the book in the hope it allows fortune to smile on their beloved Buds. If that does happen, the city of Toronto is going to instantly explode in the biggest hockey-related celebration since a Stanley Cup was won here in 1967.
And for as dramatic as that result would be for the Leafs franchise – it would almost certainly tempt team management to fast-track their rebuild – think of the ripple effect it would have on the rest of the league, and on Toronto rivals in particular: Read more
As much as a story like the resurgent New York Islanders or the Andrew Hammond-led Ottawa Senators pleases us, there will always be teams or players that fail to meet expectations.
Be it simply a down year or a minor – or major, when it comes to a team – injury, no NHL season goes by without teams and players facing their fair share of difficulties. If they respond positively, they’re heralded for their efforts. But, if things go sideways in a hurry, we’re left wondering how exactly our predictions could have been so wrong.
And these are the predictions that were the farthest off — the teams and players still making us wonder how prognostications could have been so misguided. These are the 10 most surprising struggles of 2014-15: