• Maple Leafs’ Grabner’s gift allows former billet, a Broncos fan, to witness Denver win Super Bowl

    Jared Clinton
    Michael Grabner (Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Thanks to Toronto Maple Leafs winger Michael Grabner, the Denver Broncos had one extra fan in the stands to watch them win Super Bowl 50 Sunday night. It wasn’t Grabner himself, though.

    Grabner, like many kids playing major junior, needed a billet family to stay with during his time with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. The Austrian native ended up spending his years in Spokane with the McCann family, and it was there he met Rachel McCann, a teacher and diehard Broncos fan. According to The Spokesman-Review, Grabner lived with the McCann’s during his WHL stay until 2007, when he left Spokane and headed to Manitoba to play for the AHL’s Moose.

    It turns out McCann is a huge Broncos fan even though she’s right in the middle of Seahawks fan territory. Grabner knew of McCann’s fandom, in large part because he liked to tease her about the Broncos whenever they were playing. But when the Broncos made the Super Bowl, Grabner had an idea of how to repay McCann for all she had done for him. Read more

  • Rumor Roundup: Bruins may deal Eriksson rather than lose him to free agency

    Loui Eriksson. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Boston Bruins right wing Loui Eriksson remains a hot topic of NHL trade speculation. Eligible for UFA status in July, recent reports claim the 30-year-old could seek a five-year deal worth over $6 million per season. That’s too expensive for the Bruins, who could trade Eriksson rather than lose him to free agency in July.

    The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa reports the Bruins could try moving Eriksson for a defenseman. While that deal would address a pressing need for the Bruins, it will be difficult replacing a reliable two-way right winger. Indeed, trading Eriksson could adversely affect their playoff hopes.

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  • Young Blues fan makes heartwarming gesture, gifts Tarasenko stick to another youngster

    Jared Clinton
    (via NHL.com)

    Every young fan at a hockey game thinks of the moment a puck comes sailing into the crowd and they make a great grab to take home a souvenir. That’s a moment that kid will never forget. So imagine instead of a puck, it’s a stick, and instead of catching the stick, he or she is handed it by one of the best players on the home team.

    That’s exactly what happened in St. Louis this past weekend, as post-game a young fan leaned over the railing and held his hands out only for Vladimir Tarasenko, arguably the best Blues player, to hand off his stick as a souvenir.

    The young fan who snatched it up and was ready to leave, but instead of taking off with his newfound treasure, the young man, who was wearing a Jori Lehtera jersey, spotted a youngster in a Tarasenko jersey and did the selfless thing: he walked back down the stairs, up to the kid and passed off Tarasenko’s stick: Read more

  • Watch draft-eligible Carlsson score on fantastic solo effort in SHL

    Jared Clinton
    Lucas Carlsson (via HockeyWebCast/Twitter)

    During his 18-year-old season in the SHL, Ottawa Senators star defenseman Erik Karlsson managed five goals and 10 points in 45 games. It would have been hard to predict that seven years later he would be one of the highest scoring players in the NHL. With that in mind, there might be reason for teams to get excited about another Karlsson — or Carlsson, we should say.

    Lucas Carlsson, 18, plays for the SHL’s Brynas IF turned some heads this past weekend with a dazzling goal for his sixth point in 25 games in the SHL. Projected as the 22nd best European skater in the NHL’s mid-term rankings, Carlsson, a speedy young blueliner, may have seen his stock rise with a must-see solo effort: Read more

  • Five second-year players hit with the dreaded sophomore slump

    Jared Clinton
    Damon Severson (Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

    It’s rare in today’s game that the sophomore slump hits rookie standouts hard. With the way the game has changed over the past several seasons, rookies who break out are usually able to maintain their level of play because the speed and skill that made them stand out as freshman doesn’t disappear in a single season.

    That said, not all second-year players are able to avoid a step back in their sophomore season. Be it a coaching change, decrease in minutes or simply a lack of puck luck, not every rookie who stood out continues on an upward trajectory. Here are five players who’ve struggled in their second season in the big league: Read more

  • If Coyotes can’t get extension done, Boedker should be a top trade candidate

    Jared Clinton
    Mikkel Boedker (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

    The Arizona Coyotes were one of the season’s best stories through the first half. After a 29th-place finish in 2014-15, it was believed the Coyotes were destined for a basement finish again this season. Instead, the youthful skill in Arizona carried the Coyotes to a playoff spot as teams broke away for the all-star break.

    But since mid-January, things haven’t looked so great in Arizona. While the Coyotes held a playoff spot, they were quickly losing ground in the Pacific and the slide isn’t showing any signs of stopping in Arizona. Coach Dave Tippett’s club has only won two of their past 10 outings, have a league-worst minus-14 goal differential since Jan. 14 and are beginning to look like a team that’s going to be on the outside looking in come playoff time.

    Considering the Coyotes’ play and position in the standings, it puts GM Don Maloney in a tough spot. The trade deadline is three weeks away and the Coyotes will have to decide whether or not they want to sell off pending free agents, of which Arizona has eight. The most interesting of all the pending unrestricted free agents, though, is Mikkel Boedker, and he could be a hot commodity come deadline day. Read more

  • Skills not required on new IFC hockey-related sitcom

    Sal Barry
    (Courtesy of AMC)

    We all know that guy who buys the most expensive hockey stick but can barely hit the net, or the guy who plays beer league hockey more for the drinking than the game itself. It’s those types who inspired the IFC comedy Benders, which follows the on and off-ice misadventures of four men who have an unhealthy obsession for playing on their terrible team.

    “If you’ve been in a locker room before, or on any kind of rec league hockey team, these guys exist,” said actor Mark Gessner, who plays the bespectacled Dickie Litski on the show.

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