Sunday Long Read: Pronger and Lidstrom polar opposites as Hall of Famers

Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Pronger shake hands after their 2009 playoff series. Photo by Tom Turrill/NHLI via Getty Images)

During what is now a Hall of Fame career, Nicklas Lidstrom garnered so much respect that he earned the nickname, The Perfect Human. Not The Perfect Hockey Player. Not The Perfect Defenseman. The Perfect Human. People called Chris Pronger lots of things during what is now a Hall of Fame career, too. None of them is suitable for publication on a website that might be viewed by young people. Many of those words begin with the letter ‘F’.

It was not easy to play the game the way Lidstrom did, but he made it look that way. Playing the game and preparing for it the way Lidstrom meticulously did and maintaining a ridiculously high standard on and off the ice presented its fair share of challenges. But it’s also not easy going to the opposing rink from the time you’re a kid and knowing that you’re going to be the most hated guy there. But like Lidstrom, Pronger embraced his role and status. Lidstrom wore the white hat and Pronger donned the black, and both of them managed to do it while becoming two of the most dominant defensemen of their generation.

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Teen rookie Dylan Larkin is shaking up the Detroit Red Wings

Dylan Larkin (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

There are few certainties in the hockey world, but one of them used to be that the Detroit Red Wings didn’t bring teenagers into the NHL. In fact, it’s been about 15 years since Jiri Fischer pulled the trick, as Chris Peters discovered. But Detroit coach Jeff Blashill confirmed on Monday that Larkin made the final cut for the Wings, so now it’s on to the next challenge for the kid: sticking with the squad full-time.

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Happy 50th Super Mario and St. Patrick – which one would you take?

Mario Lemieux and Patrick Roy  (Photo by Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images)

Separated by only a couple of hours and about 150 miles, two of the greatest players of their generation were born on this day in 1965. So, Happy 50th Birthday to Mario Lemieux and Patrick Roy.

Google tells me that Andy Griffith and Marilyn Monroe were born on precisely the same day. So were Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. But the best parallel we can make for two people of bound by precisely the same birthday and excellence in the same craft are B.B. King and Charlie Byrd, who were a couple of pretty decent guitar players.

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Jayna Hefford, Gillian Apps and Catherine Ward announce retirement from Team Canada

Jared Clinton
Jayna Hefford, Gillian Apps and Catherine Ward celebrate their gold medal at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

When Team Canada takes the ice to defend its Olympic gold medal in Pyeongchang, South Korea, they’ll have to do so without the help of three women who have won a combined nine Olympic golds.

Jayna Hefford, Gillian Apps and Catherine Ward each announced their retirement from competitive hcokey Thursday, which means they won’t be back when the Canadian squad attempts to win its fifth consecutive Olympic gold.

Hefford, 38, is one of the greatest women’s players to ever lace up the skates and it’s hard to imagine what Team Canada will look like without her.

Her first appearance in a major international tournament was at the 1997 World Women’s Championships. In what would be foreshadowing for the rest of her international career, Canada won gold at the tournament. Read more

The Jack Eichel era is almost here, Buffalo

Ryan Kennedy
Jack Eichel (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

The latter half of summer seems to drag on forever in the hockey world. Sure, you’ll have the occasional event pop up, but free agency has long lost its luster, no big trades are happening and in general, it’s a quiet time.

So if you’re a Buffalo Sabres fan, take solace in the fact that the season is almost here. And with it comes rookie center Jack Eichel, the type of prospect that can change a franchise’s fortunes.

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Sundin, Lidstrom, Alfredsson join Swedish national team in advisory roles — free of charge

Swede Daniel Alfredsson watches his backhander in the final Olympic game of his career (Getty Images)

The Swedish men’s national team is one of the most successful programs in international hockey history, and now three of the country’s greatest players are now joining the front office staff.

The Swedish Ice Hockey Association announced Tuesday that Mats Sundin, Nicklas Lidstrom and Daniel Alfredsson will all be aiding Sweden’s men’s national program going forward — and they’ll be doing so free of charge. Reason being, said the Swedish Ice Hockey Association’s development chief Tommy Boustedt, is the three legendary national team members want to give back to the program.

“We have not talked about any compensation whatsoever,” Boustedt told Swedish news outlet Aftonbladet. “All three have said they want to be involved and give back what they have received from the Swedish ice hockey.” Read more

Russian Ice Hockey Federation fined more than $85,000 for leaving ice at Worlds

Jared Clinton
Alex Ovechkin (Martin Rose/Getty Images)

The Russian national team has been hit with an CHF 80,000 fine — roughly $85,000 USD — as the result of their actions following the gold medal game at May’s World Championships in Czech Republic.

During the post-game ceremony, the Russian team, including staff and players, left the ice before the Canadian national anthem had been played and the flags of the three medalling countries were raised in celebration. Following the incident, IIHF president Rene Fasel told Russian news outlet TASS he was, “deeply disappointed,” and that it was the first time he had seen such actions at a World Championship.

Following the incident, Andrei Safronov, Team Russia’s GM, was apologetic about the incident, saying it wasn’t the fault of anyone but the team. Read more

Crosby, MacKinnon donate World Championship earnings to Cole Harbour minor hockey


Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon have been spending part of this off-season running the first Sidney Crosby Hockey School in Cole Harbour, but the hockey camp isn’t the only way the two NHL stars are giving back to their hometown.

Crosby and MacKinnon, who were both part of the Canadian squad that won gold at the 2015 World Championship, have donated their shares of the winnings to the Cole Harbour Hockey Association. According to the Chronicle Herald, Hockey Canada’s Tom Renney presented Crosby and MacKinnon with checks Wednesday for their participation, and the pair of first overall picks saw it as a way to give back to the community in which they played the game as children. The value of the checks was not disclosed.

“Obviously this is where Nate and I started so to have the opportunity to give back and…to be able to have it go directly to the minor hockey associations that we were apart of means a lot to us,” Crosby told the Chronicle Herald. “I’m sure it’ll go a long way so we certainly appreciate (Renney) taking the time to come here and share his experience and wisdom with people here, and educate them. For the parents who were here and listened to him, I’m sure it means a lot that he would take time out of his busy schedule to come here.” Read more