• With Tim Leiweke on his way out as CEO of MLSE, who will take over?

    Rory Boylen
    MLSE's CEO Tim Leiweke will remain with the organization until June of 2015, or until his successor is found. (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

    On Tuesday, Elliotte Friedman reported that Toronto Maple Leafs CEO Tim Leiweke would “soon” leave the organization to find a new challenge. The team and its CEO quickly denied the report, saying he was “committed” to all the franchises under MLSE’s umbrella and was “looking forward to the end of the season with TFC, and the upcoming season with the Raptors and defending our (Atlantic Division) title, and getting the Leafs back in the playoffs.”

    On Thursday, Leiweke and the team announced he was in fact leaving the company.

    Leiweke’s intention is to remain in the CEO’s role until June 30, 2015 or until a successor is found.

    “Under Tim’s leadership, MLSE has made a number of key moves to strengthen our organization on the path to championship success,” said MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum. “We look forward to working closely with Tim to build on this foundation and further accelerate our momentum as we seek a new leader for MLSE.”

    It was a good time, not a long time, Leiweke spent in MLSE’s head office. The former CEO of AEG, which owns and operates the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and MLS’ Los Angeles Galaxy, made a good amount of “culture” change inside Toronto’s organizations. In the NBA, he brought in Drake as an ambassador, oversaw the team’s return to the playoffs and made inroads towards getting the Raptors a new practice facility. For the soccer team, he oversaw an aggressive off-season that landed them a few big acquisitions, such as Jermain Defoe and now Toronto FC is third in its conference with a real shot at the playoffs. The Maple Leafs didn’t make the playoffs under Leiweke’s reign, but serious, positive change came about. Brendan Shanahan was brought in to institute a new, fresh, open-minded management core, which led to such hirings as 28-year-old assistant GM Kyle Dubas and the introduction of an analytics department. Read more

  • The OHL’s new rules against “staged” fights and what they mean to the NHL

    Rory Boylen
    The OHL brought in rules to crack down on fighting two years ago and are taking them to another level next season. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

    Does fighting have a place in the game of hockey? It’s a question we’ve debated again and again and again. Each injury, each staged fight, each donnybrook that breaks out after a clean hit leads to the inevitable conversation or shouting match.

    Whatever you think of the subject, it’s clear the fighting role and its place in a lineup is slowly changing.

    In the NHL, we’re seeing fewer one-dimensional fighters taking up five-minute roles on a fourth line. They’re still there (Shawn Thornton found work in Florida and John Scott somehow got a contract from the San Jose Sharks), but for the most part, the teams who acquire and use these types of players are either scrambling in disarray (San Jose) or have a history of bad, behind the curve management (Florida).

    Analytics will dictate you need skill players, even on your fourth line. Recent Stanley Cup champion rosters will show how important it is to have a depth of quality talent without wasting a spot on a player whose best or only feature are his knuckles. Perhaps the one-dimensional fighter will never be eradicated from the highest level of the sport, but they do appear to be in decline.

    Two years ago, the Ontario League instituted a rule that a player would be automatically suspended after his 10th fight of the season. Only one player reached that threshold the following season and nobody in the league did last year. This year, the OHL is expanding its discipline not just for fighting, but for dangerous infractions, which could potentially lead to a fight too.

    Here are the new rules being adopted by the league, from its website: Read more

  • Don Cherry dumps ice water on his head in most stylish ALS Ice Bucket Challenge yet

    Rory Boylen
    Don Cherry

    As the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge rolls on, raising awareness of and money to combat the terrible disease, we’ve shared with you some of our favorite highlights. Ex-Maple Leafs Mikhail Grabovski and Nik Kulemin made a funny one, Paul Bissonnette made one of the more creative ones, while NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and resident curmudgeon Jeremy Jacobs did a couple must-sees, but we can’t share every single hockey-related video with you.

    What we can do is continue to share our favourites. Today, we present another one of those.

    Don Cherry, who is either your favorite or least favorite first intermission entertainment, was challenged by partner Ron MacLean and he accepted it. In true Grapes form, his is the most fashionable video. The flowery suit he’s wearing in the video is like a camouflage with the garden behind him. But he really did it folks. He dumped a bucket of ice water on his head while wearing one of his patently excessive suits. Read more

  • NHL logo rankings No. 2: Arizona Coyotes

    Rory Boylen

    We’re nearing the end of our NHL logo rankings, which are the result of a seven-person THN panel who discussed and debated each logo. Rather than judge by longevity and rank the Original 6 teams 1-6, we tried to look at the designs again for the first time.

    Coming in at No. 2: The Arizona Coyotes.

    For sure, some people are going to hate this selection. We’ve already seen the comments about the “roadkill” logo, but we couldn’t disagree more.

    The Coyotes logo, which is a massive improvement on their original, is a nice-looking canine with a sun-dried color combination you don’t see every day. For me, I like the Coyotes logo for the same reasons I like the UConn Huskies logo: it’s just a good looking animal. The Coyotes design isn’t a cartoon, or one that looks soft and too happy for its own good. The howling Coyote is a sophisticated design that also sits nice on the jersey with smooth colors. Some will wonder how we ranked it No. 2 in the NHL – I’ll wonder how others don’t see the beauty in it. So goes the logo ranking process.

    But if you think you can design a better logo for the Coyotes, now is your chance. Send in your design to editorial@thehockeynews.com and we’ll run a collection of our favorite readar redesigns next week. And why not try designing new logos for the other NHL teams we’ve ranked?

    Tomorrow we release the NHL logo we ranked No. 1. But you can probably figure out which one it’s going to be.

    All logos from Chris Creamer’s website.

    The Coyotes didn’t start in the desert, as the Coyotes, or even in the NHL. This team has its roots in Winnipeg and the WHA.

    The Winnipeg Jets were one of the founding franchises in the WHA, a rival upstart to the NHL, and would become a powerhouse in that league. The first big splash the team ever made was signing Bobby Hull away from the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, making him the first player to earn a $1 million contract.

    In 1972-73, the first year of the WHA, the Jets lost in the Avco Cup final to the New England Whalers.

    The first primary logo ever used by the team isn’t the one we equate to the original Jets, but this design of a red circle with a hockey player and a jet taking off in the distance. The team would continue to use these colors, but this logo stood as the team’s main image for only its first two years of existence.


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

    Matt Larkin

    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.

    Read more

  • 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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