• Getting To Know: Curt Bennett

    Curt Bennett (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Status: NHL center/winger for St. Louis, Atlanta and the Rangers from 1970 to 1980. Resides in Maui, where he owns Hawaii Waterfalls, which creates rock ponds and waterfalls. He also works in real estate.

    Career Accomplishments: Played college hockey at Brown University, where he was NCAA first-team all-American in ’70; selected 16th overall in the ’68 Amateur Draft by St. Louis; played in the NHL All-Star Game in ’75 and ’76; scored 152 goals in 580 NHL games; scored 34 goals for Atlanta in ’75-76; played two years of pro hockey in Japan in the early ’80s.

    HT: 6-foot-3 WT: 195 pounds

    DOB: March 27, 1948 IN: Regina, Sask.

    First Hockey Memory: “When I was a little kid in Rhode Island, my dad was the goaltender for the Providence Reds. I went with him to practice. Back then I couldn’t get my skates tight enough and one of the players on the Reds tied them for me, nice and tight. I was about three.” Read more

  • Prospect Watch: Anaheim’s Matt Berkovitz brings to mind Ryan Suter

    Ryan Kennedy
    Matt-Berkovitz

    While the state of Wisconsin has produced numerous excellent NHLers in recent years, from Phil Kessel and Ryan Suter to Joe Pavelski, it’s a rarity to see a player drafted straight from the dairy state’s high school ranks.

    Long the domain of Minnesota, high school hockey in the Midwest was turned on its head at the 2014 draft when defenseman Matt Berkovitz of the Ashwaubenon Jaguars was selected 123rd overall by Anaheim. Later on in the fifth round, three Minnesota products went in a row when Luc Snuggerud, Tyler Nanne and Miguel Fiddler heard their names called. But for once, Wisconsin high school held the bragging rights, even if Berkovitz didn’t intend on using them.

    “I don’t try to hold it over anyone,” he said. “I’m just happy to be picked.”

    Sounds like “Midwest nice” is alive and well in the youngster. And it’s fine that Berkovitz doesn’t want to ruffle feathers off the ice, because he’s sure to make an impact on it in the future. During the season, one NHL scout told me that the Jaguars star reminded him of Ryan Suter thanks to the way he skates without wasting motion. Like Suter before him, Berkovitz has committed to the University of Wisconsin, but first the youngster plans on suiting up in the United States League for the Chicago Steel.

    Berkovitz could have joined the Steel this past season, but felt the timing wasn’t quite right.

    “I don’t think I was mature enough,” he said. “I didn’t like my situation there as much as I thought I would, so I thought the Elite League in Minnesota, with Team Wisconsin, was a good league to prove myself in. I wanted to dominate there before moving on to the USHL.”

    The Upper Midwest High School Elite League takes place before the regular high school season and features all-star teams from around Minnesota, Shattuck St-Mary’s prep school and a few other entries, including Team Wisconsin, where Berkovitz led his squad’s defense corps with 13 points in 21 games.

    “I’m a reliable two-way defenseman who can move the puck well,” he said. “I can play solid defensively and create a lot of offense.”

    Needless to day, Berkovitz wouldn’t have been waiting until the fifth round of the draft if he was a finished product – the youngster does need to get stronger, in scouts’ minds. But he does have a good 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame to build on and that skating acumen is hard to teach. Chicago missed the USHL playoffs this past season, but will return young scoring ace Robby Jackson (2015 draft) and 2014 Blackhawks pick Freddy Olofsson, a left winger originally from Sweden.

    After that, he’ll head back to his home state of Wisconsin to play for a Badgers program that has churned out NHL defensemen over the years, from Jake Gardiner and Justin Schultz to Ryan McDonagh and of course, Ryan Suter.

     

  • Ryan Kennedy’s Top 10 2015 NHL draft prospects

    Ryan Kennedy
    Connor McDavid (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

    The 2015 draft has been hyped for quite some time now and the crazy thing is, the season hasn’t even started yet.

    Potentially franchise-changing names lie at the top with Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin, but it’s also shaping up to be a deep draft.

    Here’s a look at 10 players to watch for, but also keep in mind University of Michigan commit Zach Werenski, Chicoutimi’s Nicolas Roy and Ottawa’s Travis Konecny.

    1. CONNOR MCDAVID
    C, 6-0, 185 LBS, Erie (OHL), 56-28-71-99-20
    Can create offense within the blink of an eye. Has been a phenom for years already.

    2. JACK EICHEL
    C, 6-1, 191 LBS, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 53-38-49-87-28
    Big, fast and talented, the Boston University commit will keep McDavid on his toes.

    3. NOAH HANIFIN
    D, 6-2, 201 LBS, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 45-8-24-32-34
    All-around force would be No. 1 in most draft years. Quebec or Boston College next.

    4. OLIVER KYLINGTON
    D, 6-0, 174 LBS, Farjestad (Swe.), 32-2-4-6-6
    Incredibly fast skater was too valuable to send to under-18s. Farjestad needed him in playoffs.

    5. MATT BARZAL
    C, 5-11, 171 LBS, Seattle (WHL), 59-14-40-54-20
    Brilliant playmaker skates well and made an impact for Canada at the under-18s.

    6. PAVEL ZACHA
    LW, 6-3, 201 LBS, Liberec (Cze.), 38-4-4-8-10
    Incredibly, played most of the season against men. Power forward can wire the puck, too.

    7. COLIN WHITE
    C, 6-0, 179 LBS, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 47-33-30-63-81
    Boston College commit is a complete player and leader who can really motor.

    8. DYLAN STROME
    C, 6-2, 178 LBS, Erie (OHL), 60-10-29-39-11
    Great frame, excellent hockey IQ. He’ll produce even more once older Otters move on.

    9. KYLE CONNOR
    C, 6-1, 170 LBS, Youngstown (USHL), 56-31-43-74-12
    Michigan commit is a preternatural scorer. Ranked second in league. Dazzled at under-18s.

    10. DANIEL SPRONG
    RW, 5-10, 177 LBS, Charlottetown (QMJHL), 67-30-38-68-20
    Potent shot, strong on his skates and whip-smart. Sprong was a force for the Islanders.

    FAVORITE FOR 2016: It’s not easy to fly under the radar when you play for Team USA’s National Team Development Program, but an early season injury had some folks missing out on Auston Matthews. Luckily, he did his best to jog their memories by putting a big stamp on 2013-14 at the world under-18s.

    The Arizona native rang up seven points in seven games en route to the gold medal. Only Jack Eichel and Sonny Milano beat him among Americans. And Matthews did it from the third line.

    “He’s unbelievable,” said one scout. “Smooth skating, incredibly skilled two-way guy. You notice him every time he’s on the ice.”

    A late-born 1997, Matthews is one of the few major NTDPers yet to make a college commitment, making him a hot commodity coming out of his star turn in Finland.

    TOP STUD IN 2017: Famous bloodlines continue to dot the prospect map and one name to watch for is big right winger Nolan Patrick of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings.The nephew of former NHLer-turned-coach James Patrick, Nolan is already 6-foot-3, even though he doesn’t turn 16 until September. He was taken fourth overall in the 2013 bantam draft. He has already played 12 games (including the playoffs) for the Wheaties and prides himself on playmaking.

    “I have pretty good vision out there,” he said. “I try to use that to my advantage.”

    And when he needs advice, Uncle James is always available.

    “I don’t think we’ve ever had a phone call that wasn’t about hockey,” Nolan said.

  • Dominic Moore’s charity event for wife & brother a “smashing” success

    The Hockey News
    Moore & Seguin (courtesy of NHLPA

    By Matt Cosman

    Players put down the sticks and picked up the paddles Thursday, as host Dominic Moore and a handful of other NHLers came together for a night of ping-pong at Steam Whistle Brewery in Toronto to raise money and awareness for two causes that have greatly affected Moore’s life.

    This year’s Smashfest raised $140,000 for concussions and cancer research. That’s in addition to the $100,000 raised at last year’s event.

    “Rare cancers are definitely underrepresented in terms of funding,” said Moore. “And concussions – there’s so much room to go in terms of understanding how they work, and treatments and awareness.”

    Fans had the opportunity to interact with players, while some were lucky enough to play alongside an NHLer in the doubles tournament.

    Money raised goes toward The Katie Moore Foundation for rare cancers and The Steve Moore Foundation, dedicated to Dominic’s brother Steve, who suffered a career-ending concussion in March 2004. Dominic’s wife, Katie, passed away last year from a rare form of liver cancer. Read more

  • Toronto signs Reimer for two years, but will he be a Leaf in two years?

    Brian Costello
    Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers

    The ink is still drying on James Reimer’s new two-year contract with Toronto, but the betting is Reimer won’t be a Maple Leaf in two years.

    The two sides avoided an arbitration hearing Friday by agreeing to a two-year deal that will pay Reimer $2.3 million annually. That’s probably fair market value for the 26-year-old native of Winnipeg who had a cap hit of $1.8 million each of the past three seasons. The question remains, however, $2.3 million is a steep price tag for a position expected to be backup for Jonathan Bernier. It’s not a bad salary, however, for any team out there who partway through 2014-15 decides it’s not happy with its goaltending. Did we mention Reimer is a native of Winnipeg?

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  • Hey mate, Australian prospect Nathan Walker signs NHL contract

    Brian Costello
    Hershey Bears Hockey

    It’s just a matter of time before the first Australian drafted by an NHL team gets a chance to play in the big league. Nathan Walker was selected 89th overall by the Washington Capitals in the 2014 draft and Friday signed a three-year entry-level contract.

    “He’s probably still a couple of years away, but he’s on the right track,” said Capitals director, amateur scouting Ross Mahoney. “He’s one determined guy, I’ll tell you that. He’s had an incredible journey so far.”

    Walker, 20, was born in Cardiff, Wales, and was two when his family moved to Sydney, Australia. Though hockey is a bottom rung sport in Australia, Walker became fascinated with the game at the age of six watching Hollywood movies Mystery, Alaska and The Mighty Ducks.

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  • NHL logo rankings No. 21: Toronto Maple Leafs

    Matt Larkin
    MapleLeafsMain

    Sacred cow, meet slaughterhouse.

    How dare we slot an Original Six team 21st overall in our logo rankings? A healthy faction of Leaf haters will stand up and cheer at this decision. Those who bleed blue and white, however, have likely fallen off their chairs already.

    The easiest way to understand our logic: the voting process awarded more weight to aesthetics than to anything else. “But it’s so OLD!” is not a strong enough defense. Cultural significance and understated classiness are desirable qualities, but how good does the emblem actually look? Toronto’s simplistic design fails the eye test in its modern form. it earns points for its iconography – what’s more Canadian than a Maple Leaf? – but it’s rigid, almost too symmetrical, creating a coldness that robs it of its classic feel. The leaf on Canada’s flag looks more like an actual leaf. Toronto’s earlier logos, which often featured “veiny” leaves (leafs? ugh), were warmer, more organic, and far more pleasing to the eye.

    Also, covering the symbol in big, blocky writing robs it of its romanticism. There’s no danger of mistaking you for another team, Toronto. A leaf like the one adorning center ice at Maple Leaf Gardens would be far prettier.

    Are you brave enough to carve up the famous Maple Leaf logo and design a new one for Toronto? Send your best work to editorial@thehockeynews.com. At the end of our ranking process, we’ll publish our favorite submission for every team. If you enjoy drawing Toronto’s, keep the fun going and try one for all 30 NHL teams.

    (All logos below are from Chris Creamer’s website.)

    HISTORY OF THE MAPLE LEAFS LOGO

    The Leafs weren’t always the Leafs, of course. They began as the Torontos, a.k.a. the Blueshirts, a.k.a. The Arenas in their early NHL days from 1917-1919. The crest was as simple as it gets, but featured an elegant shield and the blue and white we’ve come to know so well.

     

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  • Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews & Mario Lemieux lead list of all-time most uncomfortable NHLer commercials

    Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Endorsing products has been a part of being a top talent in the NHL for nearly as long as the league has been in existence. Advertisers want the star power of hockey players, even if the low-key personalities of those players don’t make them natural public pitchmen.

    Although some players do well in the role, more often than not, NHL players hawking products on TV is an exercise in embarrassment. In reverse order, here are the five most embarrassing TV ads featuring NHLers of the modern era:

    5. Adam Oates goes dating for the NHL. When he was a member of the Boston Bruins, Oates inexplicably said yes to this commercial, which paints him as a lovelorn hockey star wearing his equipment in a restaurant, as as lovelorn hockey stars are wont to do. From the unfortunately-phrased “loose rebounds” comment to Oates’ weirdly shame-ridden “It wouldn’t be the first time” answer to getting shot down, this ad doesn’t make you want to buy an NHL ticket. It makes you want to sign him up for eharmony.com.


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