How the Boston Bruins blew the Thornton, Kessel, Wheeler, Seguin trades…and lost out on T.J. Brodie, too

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Let’s play a little hindsight gymnastics.

Quick question: would you make this trade?

Joe Thornton, Phil Kessel, Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin for Matt Bartkowski, Loui Eriksson, Alexander Fallstrom, Matt Fraser, Dougie Hamilton, Alexander Khokhlachev, Jared Knight, Joe Morrow, Dennis Seidenberg and Reilly Smith.

Because that’s what the Boston Bruins are left with after trading three future superstars and one well above average player before their primes in four separate trades.

If Thornton, Kessel, Wheeler or Seguin were still with Boston today, each would be the team’s top scorer. Seguin, of course, leads the NHL in goals and points.

One dumb deal is a mistake. Two is a coincidence. Three is a trend. Four is…WTF is going on?

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Fun with numbers: Blue Jackets playoff prospects and Flames attendance

Brandon Dubinsky  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Getting Brandon Dubinsky back for their game tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers is almost as good news for the Columbus Blue Jackets as it is for teams like the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks that the salary cap is projected to go up to $73 million next season.

The presence of Dubinsky, who hasn’t played a game all season because of surgery to repair four tears in his abdomen and groin, will be an enormous boon to a Columbus Jackets team that is in need of an enormous boon. And we’re not talking about Jenner. At 6-foot-2 and 208, he’s already pretty enormous and thankfully, he’s one of the players who is healthy and productive at the moment for the Blue Jackets with a goal in each of his past three games. Read more

In playoffs by Thanksgiving? Good work, but don’t get too comfortable

Ken Campbell
Toronto Maple Leafs  (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s a fairly common belief in hockey circles that if you’re in the playoffs by American Thanksgiving, chances are you’re going to be in the post-season dance five months later.

So how does that notion hold up to scrutiny? Not badly, actually. But it would be very, very dangerous for the 16 teams that are in the playoffs to think they can basically put in on autopilot for the rest of the season. According to numbers crunched by thn.com over the past 10 years when they’ve actually been playing hockey on American Thanksgiving – something they didn’t do in 2004 and 2012 – teams that are currently in the playoffs have a 77 percent chance of keeping their spots in the top eight.

When you remove the two seasons from the past 10 that did not include the extra point for a shootout win, the probability of making the playoffs goes up to 78.9 percent. Read more

Maple Leafs, Rangers, Canadiens all billion dollar organizations according to Forbes

Madison Square Garden

My, what a difference one year and a massive TV contract can make.

In 2013, when American business magazine Forbes released their NHL franchise valuations, only one team was said to be a billion dollar organization: the Toronto Maple Leafs ($1.15 billion). That the Leafs were – and still are – the most valued team in the NHL comes to little surprise what with a fan base that continually shells out top dollar regardless of the outcome. It is hockey mecca, like it or not.

But Tuesday, when Forbes released its rankings for 2014, two franchises, the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers, found themselves in the billion dollar club thanks in large part to a friendly bump from the NHL’s league-wide television deals plus some added money from local television contracts. Read more

Celebrity Overtime: Five questions with Ice Pilot Mikey McBryan

Mikey McBryan (Shaw Media)

Stars (even reality stars) like hockey too, and everyone once in a while they’re more interested in chatting up last night’s game than they are in pontificating about their latest TV or film projects. In our weekly “Celebrity Overtime” feature, we take five minutes with various celebrities to discuss their love of the good old-fashioned game.

Mikey McBryan is best known as the general manager of Buffalo Airways, the Hay River, NWT airline that’s been featured on the Canadian series for the past six seasons. But when the personality isn’t trying to avoid emergency landings or coming up with cool Buffalo Airways swag to give fans, he’s all about the Stanley Cup—no matter what team wins it. Read more

‘Ulcers’ McCool came from nowhere to win a Stanley Cup, then disappeared

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By 1944-45, most NHL rosters had been decimated by enlistments in the Second World War. The Maple Leafs were Exhibit A, led by GM Conn Smythe, already a First World War hero, who organized a Toronto Sportsmen’s Battalion of athletes and sports media during the Second World War. The Leafs’ 1942 Cup-winning goalie, Turk Broda, followed Smythe’s patriotic lead in 1943, joining the Canadian armed forces.

That left Toronto’s interim GM, Frank Selke, Sr., in a bit of a jam. He didn’t have a single solid goalie in his lineup – not that Selke didn’t try to find a decent replacement. During 1943-44, Selke filled the Broda gap with an assortment of stopgaps including Benny Grant, Paul Bibeault and Jean Marois. The result was a third-place finish and a speedy first-round exit at the hands of the Habs, who disintegrated Bibeault and his mates in the final game, 11-0, to clinch the round.

The frustrated acting GM was ready to try anything in the autumn of 1944 and ultimately did just that. Against Smythe’s wishes, he hired a skinny netminder afflicted with a bad case of ulcers. What was worse, Frank McCool happened to be a 26-year-old goaltender with no pro experience and no serious action since his university years at Gonzaga five years earlier. But that was better than no goalie at all.

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Watch the Kings raise their championship banner

Adam Proteau
KINGSlogo (via sportslogos.net)

The Los Angeles Kings kicked off the defense of their 2013-14 Stanley Cup championship Wednesday the way champions before them did – with the raising of a banner to the rafters of their rink.

As their fans looked on in awe, Kings players gathered on the ice prior to their showdown with San Jose to hoist the Cup champions banner to the top of Staples Center. Read more