• NHL 15 has no GM Connected or EASHL mode on Xbox One, PS4

    Matt Larkin
    Oshie15

    We’re just weeks away from the NHL 15 launch date, Sept. 9. Early teaser videos have whetted many diehard gamer appetites, as has talk of new game physics and recently released overhead footage.

    The gameplay in the new next-generation console clips (Xbox One, PlayStation 4), looked crisp and shiny, but surprisingly similar to that of previous versions, especially in how goals were scored, as my colleague Rory Boylen noticed. The pressure is on to deliver a major upgrade in the hockey gaming experience – especially in light of a disappointing announcement this week.

    EA Sports released its NHL 15 game modes for the next-gen consoles. Excluded from them are popular EA Sports Hockey League mode, or EASHL, and GM Connected mode. Both will still appear on Xbox 360 and the PS3. The key hook of both: they allow teams of six humans (five skaters and one person controlling the goalie manually like a maniac) to battle other teams of six humans in a fully functioning, take-over-your-life experience. We’re talking leagues, schedules, and even skill-based promotions and relegations like you’d find in your local beer league. In GM Connected, 30 different people can run 30 different franchises. It means giving up your job and love life but, still, it’s friggin’ hardcore.

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  • Rumor Roundup: Will Blackhawks cap crunch eventually cost them Brent Seabrook?

    Lyle Richardson
    Brent Seabrook's contract with the Chicago Blackhawks carries him through the 2015-16 NHL season.

    Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman’s focus is on how to become cap compliant before the start of this season. With the Blackhawks sitting $2.2 million above the $69 million salary cap, there’s ongoing speculation over which players (Patrick Sharp? Johnny Oduya? Nick Leddy?) Bowman could move to get under the cap ceiling.

    Following this season, however, Bowman will face more salary cap issues. His re-signings of franchise players Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to matching eight-year, $84-million contracts leave the Blackhawks with over $65 million invested in 15 players for 2015-16.

    Assuming the salary cap rises to $75 million next summer, there won’t be much room to retain most of their other key free agents. Oduya, Brad Richards, Michal Rozsival and Peter Regin are eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer, while Leddy, Brandon Saad, Marcus Kruger and David Rundblad become restricted free agents. Read more

  • Draft lottery changes reduce incentive to tank for supreme talent

    Brian Costello
    Erie Otters v Guelph Storm

    The NHL is making changes to its draft lottery ostensibly to discourage teams from tanking in order to get a higher pick. What that means for the 2015 draft is the team finishing 30th now has just a 20 percent chance of winning the lottery and getting first overall pick. That’s down from 25 percent the past two drafts and down from 48.3 percent since the creation of the draft lottery in 1995.

    What’s more, starting with the 2016 draft, the league will now have a lottery to determine the top three picks in the draft, not just the top pick. In past years, if the 30th-place team didn’t win the lottery, it slipped just one spot to second pick. Starting next year, the 30th-place team could conceivably slip to fourth pick if its number doesn’t come up during the draws for the first three picks.

    Here are some other new facets of the adjusted lottery odds.

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  • Mark Giordano says breakout was about confidence, not stats

    Matt Larkin
    Mark Giordano

    We still have a month left of summer, but you wouldn’t know it standing face to face with Mark Giordano. He’s in great shape, and he has great posture. He’s alert, almost bouncing on his heels. He very much looks ready to play NHL games today.

    He’s enjoyed the usual hockey player off-season, full of golf – more than he’d like, considering he was free to hit the links in April – and visiting family. But Giordano, 30, says all the activities designed to get his mind off the game are winding down now.

    “At this point of the summer, now you’re getting those butterflies, because you know camp is coming back,” he said.

    Back to that exemplary posture of his. He’s by no means cocky, but he has a quiet confidence about him. He doesn’t look like someone just one year into life as an NHL captain. That or it’s simply clear the Calgary Flames made the right choice.

    He says his life hasn’t changed too much since the ‘C’ was stitched onto his jersey for the start of 2013-14, that he simply leads by example, and that he believes young players look up to that more than anything. After all, Giordano says, that’s what he always did in his early years in the NHL.

    “Lead by example” has become a classic hockey cliché in this era of captain by committee, but Giordano sure seems to back up what he says. His first season as captain was the best of his career. His 14 goals and 47 points were career highs, and he hit those marks despite missing 18 games. He still ranked sixth and 11th among NHL blueliners in those two categories, higher when you exclude Brent Burns, who played forward last year but was listed among D-men. Pro-rate Giordano’s totals over 82 games and he’d have 18 goals and 60 points. Only Erik Karlsson and Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith averaged more points per game. Giordano finished 10th in Norris voting (with one first-place vote), and would’ve been higher if advanced statistics carried more weight on the ballot. Giordano’s Corsi was the best in the NHL relative to who he played with and who he played against.

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  • NHL logo rankings No. 3: St. Louis Blues

    Rory Boylen
    bluesmain

    We’re nearing the end of our NHL logo rankings and today we crack the top three with the St. Louis Blues.

    The Blue Note has represented St. Louis’ NHL team since its inception in 1967, with some alterations along the way. It’s a symbol that stands not just for the team, but the city and region, which is renowned for its history of jazz and blues music. The color blue is an obvious fit with the name and is accentuated with a yellow that used to take up more space on the logo and jersey.

    What we liked about the design were the colors and stylized look that jumps at you. It’s clean, to the point and representative of the city. It’s a slick look that’s easily identifiable. What else can you ask for from a team named the Blues?

    If you think you can design something better, now’s your chance. Send your redesigned St. Louis Blues logo to editorial@thehockeynews.com and next week we’ll run all our favorite reader submissions from each NHL team.

    HISTORY OF THE BLUES LOGO
    In 1967, the St. Louis Blues were one of six expansion franchises that were added on to the NHL’s Original Six. What would the new team be called? For owner Sid Saloman Jr., it was an easy decision. From the St. Louis Blues website:

    “The name of the team has to be the Blues,” exclaimed Salomon after being awarded the new franchise. “It’s part of the city where W.C. Handy composed his famed song while thinking of his girl one morning.”

    Handy wrote a song called St. Louis Blues, which you can listen to here.

    At first, the newly structured NHL was split into Eastern and Western conferences, with the Original Six in the East and the expansion teams in the West. The competition was very lopsided and though the Blues made it to the Stanley Cup final in each of their first three seasons, they were swept every time, twice by the Habs and once by the Bruins.

    The original St. Louis Blues logo had the recognizable blue note inside a yellow cycle that said “St. Louis Blues” and “National Hockey League.”

    blues1

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  • Concussed Swedish player writes heartbreaking retirement letter

    Ryan Kennedy
    sticks-492280919

    Albin Blomqvist is just 20 years old, but his hockey days are over due to a history of concussions. Blomqvist, who played for Lethbridge in the Western League alongside his brother Axel (a Winnipeg Jets prospect), is now back in Sweden and has penned an article for Hockeysverige.se. It’s a tough read and brings up a lot of important issues for the hockey world.

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  • Steve Moore’s brother Mark says “there is no deal yet” with Todd Bertuzzi

    Rory Boylen
    Steve Moore

    Tuesday, there was a report that the lawyers representing Todd Bertuzzi and Steve Moore had come to an agreement on a settlement ahead of their Sept. 8 court date.

    Today, that settlement isn’t so clear anymore.

    According to TSN’s Rick Westhead, Steve Moore’s brother Mark claimed there has been no settlement in the lawsuit.

    From Westhead:

    “I got a text message from Steve last night and he’s very concerned,” Mark Moore told TSN. “He says there is no deal yet and isn’t sure what to do about all the media speculation.

    “Because of the injury he has trouble making decisions and so he doesn’t know how to handle the media.” Read more

  • Alex Kovalev on P.K. Subban’s $72 million contract: “I don’t understand why he got so much money”

    Rory Boylen
    Alex Kovalev scored 430 career goals in the NHL. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

    In his time as an NHLer, Alex Kovalev was a divisive figure. He had all the natural talent and size to be a dominating player and sometimes he was just that. In 2000-01, he scored 44 goals and 95 points with the Pittsburgh Penguins, a career high. But he was also inconsistent and his dedication was constantly called into question. In 2003-04, three years after that career-best season, Kovalev managed just 45 points in 78 games between the New York Rangers in Montreal Canadiens.

    But he still made his money. In that 2003-04 season, the last without a salary cap, Kovalev earned $6.6 million. He made $4.5 million in the first four years of the cap and finished his career with two years at $5 million each. In all, Kovalev made around $52.6 million in his career.

    So it’s kind of funny to hear what Kovalev said about P.K. Subban’s eight-year, $72 million extension with the Montreal Canadiens. It’s not Subban’s dedication that he calls into question, but that he doesn’t have the rounded game a defenseman should have to be a high-salaried player. Like him or not, Subban brings excitement, offence and marketability to the Habs, which is why owner Geoff Molson stepped in to make sure a deal got done outside of arbitration. After the defenseman signed a relatively cheap two-year bridge contract with the team in 2012, it was time to give him his due on this deal. Failure to do that would likely have led to Subban leaving the team as a UFA in two years. And who would they have had to replace the Norris winner?

    Still, Kovalev of all people, didn’t believe Subban was worth the investment. Read more