• Why injuries should factor far more in suspensions

    Ronnie Shuker
    (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images Sport)

    According to at least one report, Paul Byron may avoid suspension after ending the NHL regular season on an ugly note.

    There have been worse hits, for sure, but that shouldn’t lessen any disciplinary action he receives for his hit on Daniel Sedin Sunday evening.

    That’s because an injury caused by a penalty should be the primary factor when determining a suspension.

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  • Why your team will not win the 2014 Stanley Cup

    Boston Bruins lose Cup

    Just like the start of the regular season, any fan with a horse in the race starts the NHL playoffs with a giddy optimism. Even if you don’t believe your team will win it all, you’re surely thinking they can pull off an upset or two.

    Well, sorry to break it to you, but you’re wrong. Your team isn’t as good or as complete as you believe it to be. They will not win the Stanley Cup.

    And here’s why your favorite team will come up empty this spring:

    Anaheim: Because the stats community says you’re doomed to fail. Your team’s 49.8 percent Corsi percentage is second-worst among Western playoff teams, which means you don’t possess the puck enough. You were upset last year and it’s going to happen again. Read more

  • On first day as Leafs president, Shanahan embarks on learning period, won’t make knee-jerk changes

    Adam Proteau
    Brendan Shanahan

    Brendan Shanahan was formally introduced to the media as new president and alternate governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs before a packed concourse inside Air Canada Centre Monday, but there were no fireworks, fanfare or grandiose pronouncements from the Hockey Hall of Famer on his first day on the job. This was the start of a new era for the NHL’s most visible franchise, but the only thing that was assured was Shanahan’s famous work ethic and pedigree of success would be added to the management mix.

    “This is the time for me to start learning about the organization,” the 45-year-old Shanahan told the massive media contingent. “It is a time for me to listen, to learn and get to work. That’s all that’s really worked for me in my career. That’s what worked for me when I was done playing hockey, and that’s what I intend to do here.”

    As the Leafs players packed their bags for the summer in the building’s basement, Shanahan sat at a podium with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president and C.E.O. Tim Leiweke and GM Dave Nonis, and the trio talked realistically about the task ahead. And the message was clear: they’re a work-in-progress that hasn’t worked and needs to see way more progress. Leiweke used particularly strong language to indicate his displeasure with the Leafs’ brutal conclusion to the 2013-14 regular season (12 losses in their final 14 games).

    “I definitely sense we lack an identity,” Leiweke said. “Right now we’re a team that lacks a direction and we want to change that.” Read more

  • Barry Trotz should be next coach of Toronto Maple Leafs

    Ken Campbell
    Barry Trotz

    Talk about the luck of the Irish. On his first day on the job, Brendan Shanahan was handed a gift in the form of Barry Trotz being fired by the Nashville Predators.

    And there is no move that Shanahan, the new president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, could make that would create as much excitement and give this team the boost it so desperately needs than to fire current coach Randy Carlyle and replace him with Trotz. It’s been speculated that Shanahan had his eye on Peter DeBoer, but the New Jersey Devils coach still has a year on his contract and will soon sign an extension. John Tortorella if he loses his job in Vancouver? Well, this crew of defensive misfits could do worse, but that might just be a little too toxic.

    The Nashville Predators decided not to renew Trotz’s contract because it was time for a new voice. With 1,196 games and just two playoff series victories to his credit, Trotz cannot say he is being hard done by in losing his job. Hockey is a results-oriented business and the tandem of GM David Poile and Trotz did not deliver.

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  • Barry Trotz is out – but can Nashville’s new coach develop better forwards?

    Rory Boylen
    Barry Trotz

    The Nashville Predators started out as an NHL franchise in 1998 and will only now make their first coaching change.

    Today came news Barry Trotz is out as head coach of the Predators after the team missed back-to-back playoffs for the first time since the formative years of the franchise. Trotz brought Nashville its first two playoff series wins – in 2011 and 2012 – but never went beyond the second round. Even so, Trotz’s tenure will be remembered as a success, since he always seemed to get more out of a budget roster than it appeared he should.

    The Predators announced Trotz’s contract won’t be renewed and that he’ll be offered a different position within the organization. Maybe he’ll remain with the franchise he helped pick out team office carpeting for a year before the Predators were competing in the NHL, or maybe he’ll seek out another coaching job in the league. If he does the latter, he’ll have no problem finding employment. Read more

  • Rumor Roundup: Could Ovechkin be traded or “retire” to KHL?

    Lyle Richardson
    Washington Capitals v Carolina Hurricanes

    For Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, this season is one he won’t fondly remember. The Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007, his father underwent heart surgery and Russia’s men’s hockey team failed to medal at the Sochi Olympics. The only bright spot was reaching the 50-goal plateau for the fifth time in his NHL career and leading the league in goals for the fourth time.

    This disappointing season prompted some speculation over Ovechkin’s future with the Capitals and the NHL. The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson mused about the possibility of Washington shopping their captain. THN columnist Adam Proteau dismissed the idea, pointing out the difficulty of moving or buying out the remaining seven years and $70 million of his contract.

    It’s been suggested Ovechkin might follow the lead of countryman Ilya Kovalchuk by retiring from the NHL to return to Russia and the Kontinental League. ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun reported of rumors a KHL team could try to lure Ovechkin away from the Capitals. KHL president Alexander Medvedev told LeBrun the only way that could happen is if the 28-year-old negotiated his way out of his current NHL contract. Read more

  • New York Islanders should keep 2014 pick, defer Buffalo pick to 2015

    Matt Larkin
    Snow

    My overlord esteemed colleague Brian Costello laid out a compelling case for the New York Islanders giving their 2014 first-round pick to Buffalo as part of the Thomas Vanek trade. He makes some excellent points, but I disagree. The Isles should work with what they have and use their selection this June. Here’s why;

    It’s far easier to plan a team’s future working with what you know. No one can take away that the New York Islanders possess a high first-round selection in the 2014 draft. That pick can end up as high as first and no worse than sixth, depending on the draft lottery. Mr. Costello is correct to say the 2014 draft class is weaker than 2015′s projects to be, but that only applies once you leave the top 10. In the top five or six picks, there are plenty of talented players with superstar upside. Does 2014 have a potentially once-in-a-generation find like Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel? No, but there’s no way of knowing the Isles can land those two anyway. What we do know is they are guaranteed a player from the talented group of Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett, Leon Draisatl, Michael Dal Colle, Brendan Perlini, Willie Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen, among others. Why throw away a sure thing for a maybe?

    The Islanders will almost certainly be better next year. In the shortened 2012-13 campaign, this team (albeit with Matt Moulson and Andrew MacDonald still there) was good enough to make the playoffs and give Pittsburgh a healthy six-game fight. Next year, John Tavares should be fully healthy and reunited with Kyle Okposo on a powerhouse line. The Isles should also have Ryan Strome in the lineup all season. He’s the No. 5 overall prospect in THN Future Watch and has little left to prove at the American League level, having ripped up the circuit for 49 points in 37 games with Bridgeport. He tallied a respectable 18 points in 37 NHL games this season, too, and will give the Isles a legit secondary scoring threat. A center core of Tavares, Strome, Frans Nielsen, Anders Lee and Brock Nelson ain’t half bad. Maybe hulking blueliner Griffin Reinhart, No. 11 in Future Watch, makes the jump by next year, too.

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  • John Scott gets drilled by Isles rookie, then has a laugh

    Ryan Kennedy
    John-Scott-Buf

    John Scott is one of the most intimidating figures in the NHL, but that didn’t stop Justin Johnson from having a memorable debut by tagging the Sabres enforcer.

    Johnson, a 32-year-old rookie for the Islanders, gave up seven inches and 50 pounds to the gigantic Scott, but popped off the Buffalo brawler’s helmet like a wine cork with a devastating left.

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