10 players who could be buyout candidates this off-season

Bryan Bickell (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nothing says the off-season quite like the threat of buyouts, and we’re inching ever-closer to the NHL’s buyout window opening and several players could see their time with their current teams come to a close.

For some of the candidates, massive contracts are at fault, while other will fall victim to underperforming or simply not fitting within a team’s structure any longer. Unfortunately, some are a combination of all three.

With the salary cap remaining relatively flat according to all reports, several teams are going to be in tough financial situations. Even a rise of $2 million in the salary cap, which is a rough estimate of the maximum amount the upper limit will rise, would still see several teams in tough cap positions. That’s not to say all players on this list will be bought out, but there’s at least a fair chance several from this list will be sent packing by way of a buyout. Read more

Johnny Bower on Gordie Howe: ‘He’ll meet his wife up in heaven now’

Gordie Howe and Johnny Bower. (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

A turn of events many decades ago, after an exhibition game in Saskatoon, told Johnny Bower exactly who Gordie Howe was.

Bower, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ stalwart goaltender, was leaving the rink, and Howe, star right winger of the Detroit Red Wings, caught up to him. The two were off-season buddies, so Howe wanted to walk and talk with Bower en route to their next destination. Bower, now 91, doesn’t necessarily remember where they were going, but he remembers clear as day what happened next.

“We got about a block away, and all of a sudden, he turns around and goes back,” Bower said. “He said, ‘John, don’t go too far. I’ll be right back. Stay right here.’ ”

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Phil Kessel starring as the best player in a supporting role for Penguins

Phil Kessel  (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

SAN JOSE – This is something that simply needs to be said. The Pittsburgh Penguins are on the verge of winning their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history because of Phil Kessel. Now sit back and let that sink in for a minute. And if you’re a fan of the Boston Bruins or Toronto Maple Leafs, please stay a safe distance from sharp objects.

Since the Penguins last won the Cup in 2009, they were beaten out in the playoffs six of seven years by a team that finished lower than they did in the standings. What they failed to grasp is that superstars get shut down in the playoffs, so you need very good support players to succeed. And in Kessel, they might have one of the most talented support players in the history of the game.

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How ‘Babsocks’ went from a dressing room windup to a budding clothing empire

Ian Denomme
babsocks

Not many good ideas are born out of beer league hockey dressing rooms. Trust us. But Jake Mednick and Thomas McCole have turned what seemed like an off-the-cuff joke into a booming business.

That business is Babsocks – a unisex, one-size-fits-all sock in blue and white adorned with the animated, disapproving face of Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock. “For a reason I can hardly remember, I joked about Babsocks being something funny to create,” Mednick said. “While I was joking, Tom knew I was on to something and he hustled to get a prototype made. . .We have been coming up with creative and goofy ideas for years but this is the first time any thing materialized.”

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Matthews defies odds to crack Team North America lineup

Auston Matthews  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

So just how good is the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft, Auston Matthews? Well, he’s so good that apparently he can skate uphill.

When Peter Chiarelli and Stan Bowman, the two men most responsible for putting the North American roster for the World Cup of Hockey together, announced their initial selections for the 23-and-under team less than three months ago, Chiarelli declared that Matthews had an “uphill road” in his attempts to be on the roster. But with an impressive World Championship to his credit where he was one of the best players in the tournament, Matthews bucked the odds and will find himself part of what will easily be the most intriguing team in the tournament.

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Mitch Marner is destroying the Memorial Cup, so what can we expect from him next season?

Mitch Marner (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The London Knights are steamrolling the competition at the Memorial Cup and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner is leading the way, just as he did in the OHL playoffs. All told, the right winger has 57 points in his past 21 games (13 in three Memorial Cup wins). Add in the 116 points he had during the regular season and you’ve got a weaponized threat on the ice.

The Knights have already clinched a spot in the Memorial Cup final thanks to a 3-0 record (in which they have outscored their opponents 20-5), so with one game left on the docket for the team, it’s hard not to speculate what Marner’s future holds next season.

So let’s speculate, shall we?

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John Brophy and the most epic, F-bomb-filled rant in hockey history

Ken Campbell
Photo by Frank Lennon/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Legend has it that when John Muckler was running the Long Island Ducks of the old Eastern Hockey League, he traded John Brophy six times and traded back for him seven times. Things sometimes become a little blown out of proportion when it comes to these larger-than-life legends, but that one is pretty easy to believe.

That’s because you couldn’t have made this stuff up. Brophy, who died over the weekend at the age of 83, was a true throwback. He kicked around the minors as a player for 20 seasons and with 3,848 penalty minutes to his name, is one of the most penalized players to ever play the game. He retired in 1973 at the age of 39, not because he could no longer play, but because the league he was playing in folded. As a coach, he was behind the bench for nine teams, all of them in the minors with the exception of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL and the Birmingham Bulls of the WHA, winning three ECHL championships and piling up almost 900 career wins.

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Former Maple Leafs coach, longtime ECHL bench boss John Brophy passes away at 83

Jared Clinton
John Brophy (Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

The hockey world is mourning the loss of John Brophy, 83, who is one of the most iconic minor league coaches in the history of the game and one of the winningest bench bosses in professional hockey history.

In a statement released Monday, the ECHL, where Brophy coached for 13 seasons, announced his passing following “a lengthy illness.”

“The entire ECHL is saddened to hear of the passing of John Brophy,” said ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna in the release. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Brophy family. There was no greater competitor than John Brophy.” Read more