• Is the hockey goon really dying this time?

    Jason Kay
    Goon 2

    At the beginning of the 2006-07 season, the second in the so-called “new” NHL, The Hockey News proclaimed on a cover that goons were dying.

    The game had changed. There was a crackdown on obstruction and an emphasis on wide-open play. One-dimensional fighters were having a difficult time cracking lineups. Some teams didn’t even carry fight-only thugs.

    And the numbers bore out the perception. The previous campaign, there were 0.38 fights per game, down from 0.64 the year prior to the lockout and the lowest level since the late 1960s.

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  • Giroux makes unexpected return, but it’s not enough to end Flyers’ troubles – or prevent a Ron Hextall rant

    Adam Proteau
    Claude Giroux (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

    When Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux was seen entering Madison Square Garden Wednesday before his team’s game against the New York Rangers, he was in a walking boot – so it was quite the shocker when the team announced Giroux would be playing the Blueshirts that night. But unfortunately for Flyers fans, neither Giroux’s presence nor a stellar showing from goalie Steve Mason would be enough to propel them to victory. Instead, they got a nasty tongue-lashing from GM Ron Hextall after their 2-0 loss.

    You can see where Hextall’s frustration comes from: this was his team’s third straight loss and fifth defeat in their past 10 games. His Flyers now sit 13th in the Eastern Conference and sixth in the Metropolitan Division, just a single point ahead of the Hurricanes and three points ahead of the last-place Blue Jackets. And he also saw defenseman Michael Del Zotto – one of the few bright spots for a franchise that’s faced a number of physical ailments ready this season – sidelined with a lower-body
    injury
    following a collision with Rangers blueliner Dan Girardi.

    So although it was heartening in some ways to see Giroux tough it out after injuring himself in practice Monday, it also could speak to the desperation running through the Flyers at the moment. Read more

  • Prince Albert Raiders’ new mascot is an offensive nod to the past

    Adam Proteau
    Prince Albert Raiders mascot (CTV Saskatoon)

    Teams revisit their past all the time when promoting themselves via a redesign of their jersey, logo or mascot, but the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders have made a sizeable mistake in doing so this season.

    To wit: the Raiders unveiled their new mascot this week – an Arabian “raider” character named “Boston Raider” after a tie-in to an area pizza sponsor – which is based on their original logo from the early 1980s:

    The new mascot’s appearance does not sit well with a number of people who believe it stereotypes those of Middle Eastern heritage. Rhonda Rosenberg, the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan’s executive director, told the Canadian Press she found it plays into discriminatory views of people from the region.

    “The idea of a somewhat violent Muslim man is a stereotype that is really difficult for a lot of people to live with,” Rosenberg said. “Mascots are not where we should be depicting cultural groups of people. We just need to look at what values and ideas are being put forward, and whether they are really embodying what we want to be sharing.”

    A team spokesman said the franchise never intended to offend anyone, nor does it believe the mascot to be “a negative representation of Middle Eastern people and their culture”. They might not, but in this day and age where society is rightfully trying to be respectful toward all ethnicities, the Raiders’ new mascot is a mistake. What may have been seen as appropriate decades ago isn’t always appropriate today; this is why a song like Ray Stevens’ “Ahab The Arab” – a top five radio hit when it was released in 1962 – is seen as patently offensive now.

    Eras and tastes change, and sometimes the past is better left where it is. And if the Raiders are smart, they’ll send their new mascot to join former AHL mascot “Scorch” in the scrapyard.

  • Rumor Roundup: Harding’s waiver troubles and Winnipeg’s scoring worries

    Lyle Richardson
    Minnesota's Josh Harding (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

    Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding cleared waivers on November 18 and was demoted to the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa. The Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff explains the Wild prefer placing Harding on waivers, rather than simply sending him to Iowa on a two-week conditioning stint. This way, the Wild can keep Harding in the minors for as long as they wish.

    Harding has one season remaining on his contract at a cap hit of $1.9 million, paying him $2.1 million in actual salary. He’s returning from a broken foot suffered in training camp. The 30-year-old netminder is also battling multiple sclerosis, earning the Masterton Trophy for perseverance in 2013. Read more

  • Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon tackles pros and cons of a team in Las Vegas

    Jared Clinton
    Fallon on Vegas

    Unlike some in late night television, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon hasn’t been shy about using hockey as the butt of his jokes. While it may be the least followed of the four major sports in the US, hockey is still ripe for a jab here and there.

    So, with late last week of a potential team in Las Vegas, Fallon took it upon himself to make up a handy list of pros and cons for what fans could expect if the league were to expand to Nevada: Read more

  • The top 10 schools that should join Arizona State in going D1

    Penn State has been an early D1 success (Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images)

    Ever since Arizona State announced that its successful ACHA club team would be making the leap to Division 1 hockey, coach Greg Powers has been fighting a war against his inbox. See, every time the Sun Devils bench boss finishes reading an email, five or six more pop up. Powers has received about 600 emails in the past day from potential recruits, family advisors (ie agents) and other ACHA coaches who want to know how his school did it.

    “We expected it was going to be big news,” Powers said. “I’ve been pushing Arizona State as the most unique college hockey experience in the country for four years.”

    Arizona State has national name recognition thanks to it affiliation in other sports with the Pac-12 conference, it’s a huge school (80,000 students) and it has that great Southwestern climate to boast. The Sun Devils also had a nice model in Penn State, a similar school (minus the weather) that went from the ACHA to Division 1 just a few years ago and is already thriving in the newly-formed Big Ten conference.

    “Penn State is awesome,” Powers said. “Their blueprint for success has worked. It’s real, you can do it. We did it.”

    In fact, when the Nittany Lions were in their transition season, they hosted Powers’ Arizona State team and the Sun Devils came away with a win. The victory put the school on the map and that’s when the rumblings began in the greater Phoenix area.

    So if other club-level schools are calling Powers, we may not be done yet with college expansion in the near future. But which schools would bring the most buzz with them? Here’s a top 10 based on national prominence, geographical uniqueness (so if your state already has a team, too bad) and conference links, if any. As a bonus, I’ve included young local players from each area.

    Read more

  • Ranking the NHL’s fan bases, from 1 to 30

    Matt Larkin
    Leafs fans top our rankings because they keep paying absurd amounts of money to support their team despite its struggles. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

    What constitutes true fanhood? The easy explanation is the eye and ear test. The loudest, most decked-out supporters come across as diehard fans – like those of the big, bad Boston Bruins.

    To THN, however, fanhood is about faith above all else. It’s not just supporting your team when the going is easy. What about standing behind your team when the losses pile up and paying to watch it lose when it costs you an arm and a leg? The Bruins fill the TD Garden, but the last time they missed the playoffs – twice in the season-and-a-half following the Joe Thornton trade – they ranked near the bottom in attendance. On the other end, look at a team like Edmonton. Year after year, the Oilers struggle to progress in their “rebuild,” yet the fans keep coming, selling out Rexall Place and paying top dollar to watch a flailing operation.

    It’s easy to make fun of fan bases that blindly support their struggling franchises, but isn’t that what true fanhood is, unconditional love? We set out to create a fan ranking system that rewards such a quality. The formula applies the past five completed NHL seasons. The final rankings were an aggregate score over each category. Perfect science my algorithm ain’t, but we believe we’ve concocted an objective system. We published the results in our Nov. 24 Fan Issue of THN.

    The following legend breaks down the fan ranking criteria:

    Read more

  • Pascal Dupuis out six months, career in jeopardy after blood clot in lung

    Jared Clinton
    Pascal Dupuis

    In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced winger Pascal Dupuis will miss at least six months with a blood clot in his lung.

    The 35-year-old native of Laval, Que., was diagnosed with the clot on Monday after Dupuis said he was feeling discomfort in his chest. Team doctors said they were lucky that Dupuis came to them and that they could catch the clot before any serious damage was done. Read more