Welcome to California, Milan Lucic. No one said it would be easy.
The erstwhile Boston Bruins bruiser joined the Los Angeles Kings via trade this summer, making L.A. even tougher to play against. So it was a bit of a shocker that San Jose’s Logan Couture was the one bringing the thunder on Lucic in the season opener:
In the summer of 2014, when San Jose stripped Joe Thornton of the captaincy, the rumors began that the next player named captain would be Joe Pavelski, the longtime Sharks winger who worked his way from seventh-round draft pick to top-10 scorer in the NHL. Monday, the Sharks finally made Pavelski’s captaincy official.
It’s become commonplace when a captain is announced that there are some who question the move. But when it comes to Pavelski donning the ‘C’ for the Sharks, it simply makes sense. Almost from the moment he has stepped into the NHL, he has worked his way into the hearts of fans in San Jose with his anything-to-win style of play and has turned himself into a vastly underrated offensive threat.
“It’s a huge honor,” Pavelski told media Monday. “I’m excited to have an opportunity like this. It means a lot, but it really can’t change a lot about the player I am or what my game is going to be like. I have to keep putting the work in and keep getting better every day.”
That’s what makes Pavelski an obvious choice for the captaincy: that it seems with each passing game, he finds a way to improve and make those around him better. Read more
Make no mistake, the NHL created the Raffi Torres who drilled his shoulder into Jakob Silfverberg’s head over the weekend. It created this player by continually slapping him on the wrist for being the kind of predatorial player he became. It created this player by enveloping itself in a culture of violence and hate, and justified his behavior with ridiculous “hitting zones” and encouraged it with its “finishing his check” mentality.
In that respect, it definitely has blood on its hands here. The league’s department of player safety is being lauded, as it should, for handing down a 41-game suspension to Torres for his most recent transgression. It was a long time coming and few would have complained if it had even been more. Torres will lose the right to play the game he loves for half a season and will miss out on almost $441,000 in salary. (Shockingly, even though this is the fifth suspension of Torres’ career, he’s not considered a repeat offender.) It’s a steep price to pay to be sure, and maybe, just maybe, Torres will get the message this time.
We had a feeling Raffi Torres wouldn’t play hockey again for a long, long time the minute Jakob Silfverberg fell to the ice Saturday night.
Torres had every conceivable strike against him. He’d run up a significant tab of suspensions in recent seasons. He got 25 games, appealed down to 21, for a devastating head shot that knocked Marian Hossa out of the 2011-12 post-season. Torres also earned a rest-of-playoffs ban for a head shot on Jarret Stoll in 2012-13. So Torres was in trouble the second he caught Silfverberg with a questionable hit Oct. 3. If the league deemed the play suspendable, Torres’ history of repeatedly violating one particular rule – 48.1, illegal check to the head – would greatly expand his sentence length.
But did anyone expect 41 games? Half a season? It’s a staggering punishment – and a staggeringly strong decision by the NHL Department of Player Safety.
Real hockey is here, folks. Erie’s Alex DeBrincat scored five goals against Niagara Thursday night and he did it without Connor McDavid or Dylan Strome – so he’s got that going for him. A lot of 2015 draft prospects seem to be sticking around for the start of the NHL’s regular season and one of those kids comes up in a question below. If you have a query about prospects and the draft, look me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy and include the hashtag #thnfutures. You may see the answer in the coming weeks. Let’s get to the bag.
The hockey world is mourning the loss of former NHL tough guy Todd Ewen, who passed away Saturday at 49.
CTV Calgary’s Amanda Singroy reported Sunday that Ewen’s death was the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and, “police are classifying his death as a suicide.” Singroy added that Ewen’s family said the former NHL enforcer had been battling depression, “for years.”
Ewen was drafted in the eighth round, 168th overall, by the Edmonton Oilers in 1984. Before he could play a game in the league, however, he was dealt to the St. Louis Blues, with whom he broke into the league in 1986-87. Upon the news of Ewen’s passing, the Blues and their alumni association released a statement. Read more
Welcome back to the Futures mailbag, where prospects and the draft are always in the spotlight. We’re getting into real games these days and the All-American Prospects Game hits Buffalo next Thursday, so we can officially say it’s hockey season. Remember: if you have a question you would like answered, hit up my Twitter page (@THNRyanKennedy) and tag your query with the hashtag #thnfutures. Let’s get to it:
By David Pollak
SAN JOSE – A lot needs to be fixed before the San Jose Sharks can regain their status as legitimate NHL playoff contenders.
But as training camp opened Friday, there is evidence that one repair job – healing last spring’s very public rift between Joe Thornton and general manager Doug Wilson – already has taken place.
Ask the veteran center, for example, what he thinks of the moves Wilson made this summer as the Sharks try to rebound from their failure to make the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
“I think Doug looked at our team and said, ‘Hey, what do we need?’ and I think he was bang on,” said Thornton of the acquisition of defenseman Paul Martin, forward Joel Ward and goalie Martin Jones.
Back in March, Thornton and Wilson were not seeing eye-to-eye. After the general manager told season-ticket holders that the former captain was known to lash out at teammates under stress, Thornton said his boss needed to stop lying and questioned the general manager’s work ethic. Read more