The Hockey News Podcast: Episode 4 — NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan on Hockey & Heels; why the Canadiens need to fire Therrien

Ian Denomme
NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan at the league's first draft lottery. (via NWHL/Vimeo)

Welcome to Episode 4 of The Hockey News Podcast.

This week we’re joined by the commissioner of the National Women’s Hockey League, Dani Rylan, to talk about the somewhat controversial Hockey & Heels promotion put on by the Islanders. We also talk to her about how the NWHL’s inaugural season is going.

Then THN writers Ken Campbell, Ryan Kennedy, Matt Larkin discuss why the Montreal Canadiens need to fire their head coach, and we get into the messy situation with the OHL’s Flint Firebirds. Ken also tells us what his favorite Cheap Trick song is.

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[Music: Metz — Headache]

Denna Laing joins Pride teammates on ice as Boston celebrates ‘Denna Day’

Jared Clinton
Denna Laing (center) with her Boston Pride teammates (via Liz Maxim McDonald/Facebook)

For the first time since her tragic injury, Denna Laing was back out on ice with her Boston Pride teammates to help the club celebrate ‘Denna Day’ on their final home game of the season.

Laing made a special appearance at Sunday’s game between the Pride and Connecticut Whale, and the home crowd was delighted at the sight of Laing, 24, out on the ice with her teammates. Though Laing has remained in touch with fans throughout her recovery process through social media, she hadn’t made a public appearance since suffering the spinal injury that has left her with limited movement in her arms and no movement of her legs.

Before the game began, Laing joined her Pride teammates at center ice for a team photo and she even took to the crease pre-game with teammates to help rally the troops before the game. Read more

Women’s star Amanda Kessel returns after nearly two year bout with concussion

Jared Clinton
Amanda Kessel (Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Amanda Kessel’s battle with post-concussion symptoms nearly robbed her of her final year of NCAA eligbility, but University of Minnesota Gophers coach Brad Frost announced Wednesday that the 24-year-old sniper will be making her triumphant return after all.

Kessel, regarded as one of the best women’s players in the world, has missed the past two seasons of NCAA action for vastly different reasons. She redshirted the 2013-14 campaign to train with Team USA’s women’s team ahead of the Sochi Olympics, but a concussion put her tournament in jeopardy. She returned for the Olympics and led Team USA in scoring, but the post-concussion symptoms forced her to redshirt again in 2014-15 and, as of last July, were thought to have claimed her final college season.

“After her missing last year and the severity of the concussions last year, we had a feeling that she was not going to be able to play for us unless things turned around,” Frost told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in July. “We’ve had some discussions with Amanda and myself, but really, it’s never even gotten to the point where hockey is something she would do with us again.”

Well, it appears it’s gotten to that point. Not only is Kessel coming back, but she may be ready to get back in the lineup as soon as Friday against the University of North Dakota. Read more

NWHL coach Mastel reportedly resigns from league-leading Connecticut Whale

Jared Clinton
Jake Mastel (left) and Harry Rosenholtz (via Connecticut Whale/Twitter)

Jake Mastel, the coach of the NWHL’s league-leading Connecticut Whale, resigned from his post as the club’s bench boss Thursday and was replaced by assistant Lisa Giovanelli Zuba for Thursday’s practice.

According to Kaitlin Cimini, who first reported Mastel’s departure, the move comes little more than a month after the Whale watched their then-GM, Harry Rosenholtz, step down from his post. Rosenholtz, who stepped down Dec. 24, was replaced by NWHL COO George Spiers and the league has yet to find a replacement for him.

While the specifics surrounding Mastel’s resignation are unknown, the 45-year-old stepping away comes with his team one of the two favorites to win the championship in the league’s inaugural season. Through 13 games, the Whale are 11-2-0 with a plus-14 goal differential and boast two of the top five scorers in the league in Kaleigh Fratkin and Kelli Stack. Read more

NWHL sees first trade as Whale, Riveters swap goaltenders

Jared Clinton
Shenae Lundberg (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The list of firsts keeps growing for the NWHL as the burgeoning women’s league announced the first trade in league history. The swap saw the New York Riveters and Connecticut Whale flip goaltenders ahead of this weekend’s action.

The deal sees Chelsea Laden head to the Riveters, while fellow netminder Shenae Lundberg is headed to the Whale. The swap won’t have a major impact on the either club and likely won’t play a part in the fate of either club down the line.

According to the league, some players in the NWHL do have no-trade clauses written into their contracts but neither Laden nor Lundberg had that as part of their deals. Laden is set to earn $14,000 this season, while Lundberg earns slightly more at $15,000. Read more

Emily Field drops teammates with great celebration after NWHL All-Star Game goal

Jared Clinton
Emily Field (via Streamable)

The NHL All-Star Game is less than a week away and while the 3-on-3 tournament is sure to produce several highlight-reel goals, it’s going to be hard for any of the all-stars heading to Nashville to beat the celebration Team Pfalzer’s Emily Field busted out at the NWHL All-Star Game.

Field was the recipient of a nifty backhand pass with pressure on Team Knight’s goal and had the entire net to slip the puck into. After scoring, Field set up shop in the corner and started to take off her glove as teammates headed towards her. With her Team Pfalzer mates nearby, Field lobbed her glove into the air and waited for the glove, and those around her, to hit the ice: Read more

Denna Laing won’t sue NHL over Outdoor Women’s Classic injury

Jared Clinton
Denna Laing (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The New York Post reported earlier this month that NWHL player Denna Laing would be suing over the injury she suffered at the Outdoor Women’s Classic. However, that does not appear to be the case, as the Post is now reporting Laing will not sue the NHL or any other party involved in the game.

The original report stated the NHL expected a lawsuit from Laing, but the Post’s Josh Kosman reported Tuesday that “a source with direct knowledge of the family’s thinking” has informed the newspaper that Laing and family will not be suing.

Laing, 24, suffered a severe spinal injury when she crashed headfirst into the boards during the Outdoor Women’s Classic at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Dec. 31. The injury has left Laing with limited movement of her arms and no feeling in her legs. She has begun her rehab. Read more

Bruins, Jeremy Jacobs to donate $200,000 to injured NWHL player Denna Laing

Jared Clinton
Denna Laing (left) poses for a photo at the Outdoor Women's Classic (via The Denna Laing Team/Facebook)

The Boston Bruins have been rallying in support of Denna Laing, the 24-year-old NWHL player who suffered a severe spinal injury during the Outdoor Women’s Classic, and Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs has stepped up in a big way in support of Laing.

The Bruins announced this past weekend that Jacobs, along with the Bruins and Bruins Foundation, will be donating $200,000 to Laing to help in her recovery from the injury that has left her with limited movement in her arms and no feeling in her legs. Read more