Fans in Buffalo can’t wait for Connor McDavid to come to the Sabres – in fact, some of them already have jerseys with his name and No. 97 on the back. A little matter of the draft lottery stands in their way, but for one magical night, McDavid was wearing gold and blue and tearing around First Niagara Center.
One of the wonderful things about hockey is that the names of players can enter the lexicon of the hockey fan to signify things that are much more than just the players themselves.
Take, for instance, the Forsberg. The term evokes the image of his one-handed goal that led the Swedish men’s team to a gold medal in 1994’s Olympic games. And how about Gordie Howe Hat Trick? The ferocity of Howe’s play and his absurd amount of talent was enough for the term to be coined and the recognition given to any player who registers a goal, assist, and fight in a game.
For Maple Leafs fans, there are some terms that hit a bit closer to home. One of which, for all the wrong reasons, is The Toskala. Infamously, former Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala once allowed a goal to Rob Davison. The catch? The “snipe” came from 197 feet away from Toskala’s goal.
It took a few funny hops and it’s happened to the best of keepers, but a goal of this ilk has become synonymous with Toskala in hockey circles. Vancouverites may argue otherwise, claiming it to be the mark of Dan Cloutier.
In any event, Andrew Hammond, an undrafted goaltender who is currently under contract with Ottawa, is going to be hoping that Binghamton Senators fans have shorter memories than most.
During the first period of Binghamton’s 6-5 loss to the St. John’s IceCaps, the 26-year-old keeper allowed a goal he’d surely like to have back:
The looping puck from center ice was Jets’ prospect Carl Klingberg’s first of the season, coming just over a minute into the contest. All told, Hammond would allow six goals in what was surely an off night for the goaltender.
Here’s hoping the young netminder can laugh it off.
In 50 years, there will be three separate sets of grandkids hearing tell of Tuesday night’s NHL action. The reason being for rookies Jonathan Drouin, Adam Lowry, and Seth Griffith, it was the night they registered their first NHL point.
The Bruins’ Griffith and Jets’ Lowry both registered their first of what will hopefully be many NHL goals, while the shifty Drouin notched an assist on the game-tying goal in Tampa Bay’s overtime victory over the Calgary Flames.
Drouin, who has been lauded for his playmaking ability, showed it off in fantastic fashion. The 19-year-old Quebec native won a puck battle below the Flames goal line, worked the puck up the boards, and made a seeing-eye backhand saucer pass that landed right on the tape of defenseman Jason Garrison:
Valtteri Filppula pushed the blast by Garrison home. In overtime, Drouin would get an excellent opportunity on a 2-on-1 with Steven Stamkos – with whom Drouin lined up with throughout the game – but was stopped on an incredible save by Karri Ramo.
For Griffith, he’ll be able to tell his children and grand children about an absolute laser of a shot:
A product of Wallaceburg, Ont., Griffith was a rookie sensation at the American League level last season, putting home 20 goals and 50 points. The goal couldn’t have come at a bigger time, either.
With the Bruins down 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks, Griffith’s big-league snap shot found the back of the net and brought the Bruins even. The Bruins would go on to win the game 5-3, thanks in large part to Griffith’s timely tally.
Finally, Adam Lowry, the son of former NHLer Dave Lowry, did what his father managed to 164 times at the big league level:
With the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps last season, Lowry stood out for his gritty play and nose for the net and was a large part of what made Winnipeg’s farm club so successful. As an AHL rookie, Lowry amassed 17 goals and 16 assists, good for 12th on the team in scoring.
His big body and powerful forechecking ability are what got him into the lineup with the Jets, but they certainly won’t shake a stick at him contributing in other ways on the score sheet. Lowry’s marker would stand as the game-winning goal.
He has been one of the most talented players in his age group for years, yet Josh Ho-Sang has never been given the chance to shine on a big stage…until now.
The big news in the prospect world right now concerns the class-action lawsuit filed against the CHL and without going into too much detail, I think this could have a dramatic effect on junior hockey. With profits and losses so extreme across the continent, I believe a minimum wage policy would have to be supported by revenue sharing. But let’s get back on the ice, shall we? Because that’s what The Hot List is, a round-up of the kids we can’t wait to see in the NHL one day.
Drouin, who coach Jon Cooper had earlier said would not be making his debut until later in the Lightning’s Western road trip, likely would have made the Lightning right out of training camp had his preseason derailed by a slight fracture of the thumb on his right hand which sidelined the much-talked about rookie for nearly four weeks. Late last week, the Lightning and Drouin made a bit of news with his activation and subsequent transfer to the American League’s Syracuse Crunch for a conditioning stint.
It didn’t take long for Drouin to make his mark on the professional ranks, scoring on an absolute laser of a wrist shot in the third period of his AHL debut.
On a macro level across North America, there’s an ongoing battle for the hearts, minds – and most importantly, the monies – of elite teenaged athletes who are major revenue generators for their development leagues. In the United States, the NCAA collegiate system is involved in a momentous high-stakes showdown with former athletes – with potential repercussions that could shake their business model to its foundations. And in Canada, a similar war is being fought at the major junior hockey level, with the latest volley taking place Friday: a $180-million lawsuit filed against the Canadian Hockey League by former players (including former Niagara IceDogs player Sam Berg, son of retired NHLer Bill Berg) seeking outstanding wages, holiday, overtime and vacation pay and employer payroll contributions and alleging basic minimum wage laws were broken.
Leave aside the particulars in both cases, and you’re left with the same essential questions: if we’ve turned amateur sports into big business, how much of the cut do amateur athletes deserve? And why do owners get to dictate that players’ dreams of playing in the best league they can has a monetary value equal or greater to the actual money their current organizational structures bring in? It’s been a Canadian tradition to romanticize players chasing their dreams for free, but when everyone can see the amount of money that’s being made, why is it so unfair for athletes to be included in the financial windfall?
Certainly, it’s worthwhile to ask who is involved with any particular lawsuit – and in their initial response to Friday’s suit, the three commissioners involved at the junior hockey level (OHL commissioner David Branch; QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau and WHL commissioner Ron Robison) did exactly that. While promising they would “vigorously defend” against this latest legal action, the trio accused brothers Randy and Glenn Grumbley, union activists who attempted to start the Canadian Hockey League Players’ Association, of being behind it. Read more
So much for the Anaheim Ducks’ goaltending controversy.
Entering training camp, no one knew much about Anaheim’s plans in net. We did know unrestricted free agent Jonas Hiller was a goner, but that was pretty much it. The Ducks were blessed with John Gibson, the NHL’s top goaltending prospect and No. 2 overall prospect according to THN Future Watch, and Frederik Andersen, a less-heralded but highly effective Dane who flourished in his rookie year. It was anyone’s guess as to who would win the starting job in 2014-15. The long-term edge seemed to be Gibson’s, considering his pedigree and the fact Bruce Boudreau had enough confidence in Gibson to toss him into a Game 7 against the L.A. Kings.
But things haven’t gone exactly as expected between Anaheim’s pipes in this young season – and it’s actually great news for the Ducks.
John Gibson, 21, wasn’t ready for a Game 7 last spring, and he didn’t look ready for a No. 1 job in the NHL in his first start this fall, a six-goal clobbering, albeit it came against Pittsburgh.
And then there’s Andersen. The towering Dane, 25, has been the mightiest of Ducks, starting the season 5-0-0 and allowing just seven goals, producing a 1.38 goals-against average and .950 save percentage. He’s made some serious history, too. Andersen is now 25-5-0 to start his career, which makes him just the second stopper in NHL history to win 25 of his first 30 decisions. The other was Boston’s Ross Brooks, who opened 25-2-3 from October 1972 to February 1974.