Alex Pietrangelo’s tender tribute to his brave niece will warm your heart

Adam Proteau
Alex Pietrangelo (Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

For St. Louis Blues star defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, the decision to shave his head this week was easy: it was for his five-year-old niece, Ellie Kannel, who was battling a rare cancer.

In the off-season, Pietrangelo used his Twitter account to discuss Ellie’s diagnosis: she had a Wilms tumor, a kidney cancer that mainly affects children. And since she was undergoing chemotherapy, Pietrangelo cut his hair in a show of support:
Read more

Nathan Horton’s potentially career-threatening injury a blow to Jackets’ playoff hopes

Adam Proteau
Nathan Horton (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

After he signed a seven-year, $37.1-million contract with the Blue Jackets in the summer of 2013, right winger Nathan Horton appeared in only 36 games thanks to injuries to his shoulder and abdomen last season. And Tuesday night, there was even worse news coming out of Columbus: the 29-year-old is dealing with a degenerative back injury that might be career ending.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Horton, who has experienced back issues for several years, felt the problem worsen this summer while training in Florida and has been diagnosed with a serious degeneration of the lower back area. He may be out of action for at least this season, if not for good. There is a surgery he can undergo to address it, but it’s viewed as a last resort and offers no guarantee of success.

“He’s in constant pain,” Horton’s agent Paul Krepelka told the Dispatch. “He’s in constant discomfort.”

The majority of Horton’s $5.3-million-per-season salary will be covered by insurance and he can be placed on long term injured reserve to free up cap space with which to replace him. But that’s easier said than done for Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen. Read more

Rockstar Rask: Bruins goalie lights up the stage

Jared Clinton
Tuukka Rask

There are a lot of things you may not know about Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask. For instance, he’s got a habit of taking shootout losses poorly. He also served in the Finnish military. Also, did you know Rask has beaten every single team in the NHL at least once?

If you didn’t – and hey, even if you did – now you can watch him beat something that’s not your favorite NHL team: a drum set alongside Buffalo band the Mustn’ts. Read more

Martin Brodeur appears during Devils’ home-opening 3D show

Jared Clinton
Martin Brodeur. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Martin Brodeur may still be a free agent, but on the New Jersey Devils’ opening night, the Devils’ legend covered the ice.

In a stunning 3D display on-ice display, some of the former Devils goaltender and legendary NHL keeper’s career highlights were included in an eye-popping opening video. For their home opener, the Devils revealed a state-of-the-art on-ice projection system that is the first of its kind in the NHL. Though you’ve seen on-ice projection in the Quebec League and even just across the border in Montreal, the Devils system is the first permanent fixture in the pros.

The light show, which highlighted the entire history of the team to the tune of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, was breathtaking. In just three short minutes, the video outlined the Devils first victory, three Stanley Cups, and other big moments in the franchise’s history. Read more

Paul Maurice lets profanity fly as Jets spiral downwards

Jared Clinton
(Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)

I guess you could say Paul Maurice is a bit fed up.

Who could blame the Winnipeg Jets coach, really? After a decisive 6-2 defeat of the Arizona Coyotes on opening night, the Jets have been able to muster just two goals in their next four outings. That’s not a typo.

Following the Jets’ 4-1 loss at the hands of the Calgary Flames – a game in which the Flames were playing their final road game of a six-game road trip – Jets’ winger Blake Wheeler reportedly spoke to media about whether it was the players’ responsibility to hold each other accountable for their on-ice performance.

The question was then posed back to Paul Maurice in his press conference on Monday. While you can watch the whole press conference below, and there are certainly some great sound bites, you should fast-forward to the 8:30 mark for the goods. Read more

Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens supports mental health via special masks

Adam Proteau
Ben Scrivens (Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ben Scrivens is one of the more conscientious NHLers of his generation, so it was entirely within character to see the Oilers netminder stand up for mental health Monday by announcing he’d wear a series of goalie masks to raise awareness of the issue.

Scrivens’ “Ben’s Netminders” program, in support of the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta, is providing a platform for four local artists diagnosed with schizophrenia to design a goalie mask for him that touches on the disease. The masks will be auctioned off to raise funds for the organization – and the first artist selected, Richard Boulet, stressed the words “empathy” and “hope” on his version: Read more

This is the biggest, strangest hit of the year

Matt Larkin
BigHit

Note the headline. It ain’t hyperbole. And to throw around “biggest hit of the year” is bold in October.

But this WWE-inspired body blast by Kristaps Zile earns such high scores in brutality, creativity and originality that it’ll be tough to top. The hit happened in an MHL (the Kontinental League’s junior circuit) game last Friday. Zile, an HK Riga defenseman, laid a hip check on Lukas Pozgay of HC Red Bull. Pozgay made the mistake of holding on for dear life, and Zile proceeded to carry Pozgay several meters before stapling him to the boards, as forcefully as you would a particularly thick document. Here’s the unstoppable finishing move, complete with death metal:

Read more

Blink and you’ll miss it: Rangers score twice in four seconds

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Scoring goals is hard enough these days for NHL teams, but the New York Rangers got two in a hurry Sunday against San Jose. In fact, when Rick Nash scored on Sharks goalie Alex Stalock just four seconds after teammate Martin St-Louis did, they set a franchise record for consecutive goals not including an empty-net goal.

In what would eventually end in a 4-0 win for the Blueshirts, St-Louis made it 2-0 for the Rangers late in the second period when he whacked away at the puck from close range and pushed it past Stalock:

Then, off the ensuing faceoff, Nash fires the puck in at Stalock, who comes far out of his crease, misplays the puck and allows the Rangers winger to swat at it and somehow bat it into the Sharks net: Read more