After 16 seasons, defenseman Hal Gill officially announces retirement

Hal Gill (Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

After 16 seasons in the NHL and stints with the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators and Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Hal Gill has officially announced his retirement from the NHL.

Gill was drafted in the eighth round of the 1993 draft by the Bruins, and went on to play 1,108 regular season games, scoring 36 goals and 184 points. Gill also suited up for an additional 111 post-season games, tallying six helpers. His best playoff year came in 2008-09, when he picked up two assists and played nearly 19:30 per game en route to a Stanley Cup victory with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Read more

Hi, my name is Ken…and I’m addicted to the draft lottery simulator

Connor McDavid (Photo by Ken Andersen/Getty Images)

Spoiler alert: The Buffalo Sabres will win tonight’s NHL draft lottery with the numbers 11, 5, 6 and 7. Your trusty correspondent knows this because he went to this really cool website that simulates the NHL draft lottery and it told him so.

Then he did it 99 more times because, like a certain potato chip, you can’t do it only once. The website, http://nhllotterysimulator.com/#/official, took on a new life on Friday when the NHL made public the lottery number combinations for each of the 14 teams in the event. Suddenly, fans everywhere could, with the click of a keyboard, determine where Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will end up next season. Read more

Draft lottery odds: the most likely outcome for your team

Connor McDavid (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

It’s amazing how things will change by Saturday night. Connor McDavid will know which NHL team he will belong to. The McDavid parents will know in which city their son’s adult life will begin to unfold and flourish. Vendors will go crazy preparing McDavid jerseys, signs and apparel.

(And make no mistake, McDavid will be the first overall selection in the June 26-27 NHL draft in Sunrise, Florida. There will be zero drama with that pick.)

The NHL’s draft lottery will be televised Saturday night at 8 pm. The proceedings will begin about 7:30, but the drawing of lottery balls will take place about a half hour later. McDavid’s most likely destination is a city other than Buffalo, but Buffalo has the best odds of all the 14 non-playoff teams. Here’s how it works.

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Prospect Hot List: Vande Sompel charging from the back in Oshawa

Mitch Vande Sompel (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The Frozen Four is in the books and it was a classic, with Providence College winning its first-ever hockey title over Boston University. But the season still might not be over for Terriers frosh Jack Eichel, as he and Nashville pick Jimmy Vesey of Harvard were expected to play for Team USA at the World Championship in Switzerland. Meanwhile, we’re getting very close to the world under-18s as well in the Czech Republic. With CHL playoffs still going strong, let’s cruise around the prospect world once again.

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Milan Lucic’s state-of-mind, Leafs’ implosion prove mental side of sports is a massive influence on winning

Milan Lucic (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the wake of the Bruins’ shocking fall out of a playoff spot, GM Peter Chiarelli shared this tidbit of information that won’t please Bruins fans:

The idea that any player – let alone one like Lucic, whose game is predicated on physical aggression – could have their performance waylaid by mental struggles is one regularly derided by some fans who believe multi-million-dollar salaries are a panacea for all athletes. If only it were that easy. If only an NHLer could strap on horse blinders and focus solely on the task at hand, the Stanley Cup would go to the team that had the most talent every season.

But these guys aren’t robots. Nothing is guaranteed with any player. And you don’t just have to take Chiarelli (or Lucic) at their word to see how what happens between the ears has a direct effect on what happens between two ends of a hockey rink. The evidence of it is all around. Read more

Brendan Shanahan provides huge breath of fresh air

Ken Campbell
Brendan Shanahan  (Chris So/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brendan Shanahan spoke for only 21 minutes Monday afternoon, one day after he took a pressure washer to the team’s front office, but kicked every crutch out from underneath his organization and dispelled almost every myth under which it has operated for years.

It’s great when you have the support of the board of directors to do and say what Shanahan has done and said over the past couple of days, but it was refreshing nonetheless. Shanahan made it absolutely clear, with no grounds for any reasonable doubt, that the rebuild is on in Toronto. Nobody has ever had that kind of latitude before and Shanahan plans to use it. Read more

New Leafs coach must be hired based on on-ice philosophy, not NHL resume or familiarity factor

Claude Julien (Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

With interim coach Peter Horachek included in team president Brendan Shanahan’s housecleaning Sunday, the Maple Leafs are going to have their fourth bench boss in three years by the time the 2015-16 season begins. And although it’s tempting for Leafs fans to speculate on and salivate over some of the names expected to be available, Toronto’s next hire doesn’t have to have a familiarity factor with fans in order for it to be right. The next head coach of the Leafs just has to have the right on-ice philosophy – one based on teaching and patience – to put the franchise back on track.

It will be tempting for Shanahan and whomever he hires as GM (if he doesn’t take that role himself) to be dazzled by the slew of accomplished coaches who’ll apply for the position, but the problem with those types of coaches can be they’re far more interested in winning now than they are in developing the young talent Toronto will placing its organizational bets on in the years to come. Read more

Why the Maple Leafs should try to get Mike Futa or Paul Fenton

Mike Futa  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It has been exactly 25 years and one day since notorious tyrant, skinflint and former Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard died. And you could argue that 9,131 days later, the franchise is in even more disastrous shape on the ice than it was a quarter century ago.

Ballard died 11 days after the Leafs posted a record of 38-38-4 and a goal differential of minus-21 and one day before they were knocked out of the playoffs by the St. Louis Blues in five games. This season’s edition of the Leafs just put a bow on a miserable 30-44-8 season with no hope of the post-season and a goal differential of minus-51. Read more