Free of superstar pressure, Gaborik excels with Los Angeles Kings
By: Josh Elliott
May 4, 2014
Marian Gaborik dazzled on Saturday with a three-point night to lift his otherwise punchless Los Angeles Kings over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1.
Marian Gaborik has had to be ‘the guy’ for most of his career, but now that he’s been freed of those expectations in Los Angeles, his star has really begun to shine. And it shone bright Saturday in Game 1 of the Kings’ second round series against the Anaheim Ducks.
All three goals in the Kings’ 3-2 OT win were because of Gaborik. First, he set up Alec Martinez with a deft feed from below the Ducks goalline. Then, with 7 seconds left in the game and his team down 2-1, Gaborik batted a rebound out of the air and beat Jonas Hiller to send the game to overtime. Gaborik then capped off his amazing night with a tip-in goal off an Anze Kopitar shot to give the Kings the Game 1 victory.
The 32-year-old Gaborik isn’t the most important player on the Kings, but he certainly looked like it on Saturday. He brought offence to a team that has always struggled in that area, providing exactly what the Kings hoped they were getting when they acquired him at the 2014 trade deadline.
He’s not the most consistent or durable player, but Marian Gaborik has the skill to be one of the best – under the right circumstances.
Gaborik looks like he’s found those right circumstances in Los Angeles. Maybe that’s because, for the first time, he doesn’t have to be the team’s best player, and the franchise’s fortunes don’t ride on his fragile health. This team belongs to Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick. And, to a less extent, it belongs to Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. Gaborik isn’t expected to win every game for the Kings, so when he steps up and works his magic, it’s an added bonus. If he disappears or gets injured, L.A. still has its core players to rely on.
And that seems to suit Gaborik just fine, because he’s never really worked as a core player on other teams. The oft-injured, highly-skilled winger was always an awkward fit in his early days with the defensive-minded, Jacques Lemaire-coached Minnesota Wild.
When he signed a big-ticket contract with the Rangers in 2009, he was again expected to bring some superstar flash to a blue-collar roster. And he did that some of the time (two 40-goal seasons is nothing to sniff at), but he also battled injuries and had an awful season last year.
That awful season got him traded to Columbus, where the Blue Jackets hoped he’d sell jerseys and be the new face of the franchise. But he again disappointed, scoring a total of 9 goals in 34 games during his time in Columbus, and battling injuries throughout. Columbus actually fared better with him out of the lineup, so they traded the Slovak and his expiring $7.5-million contract so they wouldn’t lose him for nothing in the summer.
Now, Los Angeles is Gaborik’s fourth city in the last two years, but it’s the first place he’s looked comfortable in that time.
In Los Angeles, he doesn’t have to be ‘the guy’ every night. But when he’s wants to – as he showed on Saturday – he can be ‘the guy’ when it matters.
Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky celebrate the Game 2 overtime winner at the 1987 Canada Cup.
Author: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Down Goes Brown: What was the best Game 2 in World Cup history?
By: Sean McIndoe
Sep 28, 2016
Five out of seven World/Canada Cups have been best-of-three finals, so let's take a look back at those five games, and rank them from worst to best.
Tuesday night's Game 1 of the World Cup final, which saw Team Canada earn a 3-1 win over Team Europe, sets up a do-or-die Game 2 Thursday night. A Canada win would end the tournament, and the trophy will be in the building, unless the league has come to its senses and thrown that ugly thing into a raging bonfire instead.
There have been seven World and Canada Cups in international hockey history, but we didn't get to see a Game 2 in all of those. Twice, in 1981 and 2004, the format called for a one-game final. But it's been best-of-three in the other tournaments, which gives us five Game 2 to work with. So today, let's take a look back at those five games, and rank them from worst to best.
As always, this is opinion only, and if you disagree, then you're wrong.
No. 5 – 1984: Canada 6, Sweden 5
The road there: Canada stumbled through the 1984 tournament, going 2-2-1 through the round robin and barely making the playoff round as the fourth seed. But Team Canada earned a trip to the final thanks to an overtime win over the Soviets in the semi-final, and they were facing an upstart Swedish team that had beaten them in their round robin meeting and had just embarrassed the Americans with a 9-2 blowout. The Canadians took the opener by a 5-2 final, but the second game proved closer.
Game 2: The game looked like a laugher early on, with Canada scoring four times in the first seven minutes and adding a fifth before the first period was over. A Paul Coffey goal early in the second made it 6-1, setting the stage for a furious Team Sweden comeback. They scored three unanswered goals to close out the second period, and draw to within 6-5 early in the third. But that was as close as they came, as Canada held on for the win and the series sweep.
The aftermath: This turned out to be the first of three straight Canada Cup wins for Team Canada, and remains the only finals appearance by Team Sweden.
The bottom line: What looked like a laugher wound up being a reasonably entertaining contest. But the game everyone remembers from the 1984 Canada Cup will always be that semi-final thriller with the Soviets.
No. 4 – 1991: Canada 4, USA 2
The road there: Coming on the heels of the 1987 tournament, fans were probably hoping for yet another final between Canada and the Soviets. But with the team in turmoil, partly due to the political situation back home, the Soviets failed to even make the playoff round. That left Canada looking for a new challenger, and the Americans were happy to step in for their first ever Canada Cup final appearance. The two teams met in the round robin, with Canada winning 6-3 to hand the Americans their only loss of the stage, and Canada followed that up with a 4-1 win in the opening game of the final.
Game 2: This game may best be remembered for who wasn't playing. Team Canada captain Wayne Gretzky was knocked out of action in Game 1 on an ugly hit from behind by Gary Suter. The check left Gretzky unable to suit up for Game 2, and contributed to the back problems that slowed him down for much of the early 1990s.
Looking for the sweep, Canada jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the Americans clawed back with a pair of second-period goals. But Steve Larmer earned some revenge on Suter by stripping him of the puck during an American powerplay and then scoring on a breakaway for the winning goal.
The bottom line: This game, much like the 1991 tournament itself, was an entertaining one that for some reason isn't all that well remembered by many fans.
No. 3 – 1996: USA 5, Canada 2
The road there: The Americans swept through the round robin with a perfect 3-0-0 record, including an impressive 5-3 win over Canada that featured a wild early brawl. That win earned them a quarter-final bye, and after knocking off the Russians 5-3 in the semis, Team USA came into the final looking like they had a real shot to wrestle the international crown away from Canada. But Steve Yzerman's overtime winner in Game 1 in Philadelphia handed the Americans their first loss of the tournament, and left them needing a pair of wins in Montreal to take the tournament.
Game 2: Team USA jumped out to an early lead, but Canada came back to tie the game before the first intermission. Goals by John Leclair and Brett Hull gave the Americans a 3-1 lead, and Mike Richter stood on his head to keep it that way until a late powerplay goal by Joe Sakic made it 3-2 with five minutes to play. That was as close as they came, and a pair of Team USA empty net goals padded the final score to 5-2.
The aftermath: Team USA completed the comeback in Game 3, winning by another 5-2 score to capture their first (and so far only) best-on-best championship.
The bottom line: Despite the two empty netters making the score more lopsided than the game was, this was a fun matchup that featured lots of star power, some bad blood, and a raucous Montreal crowd. You can watch the highlights here.
No. 2 – 1976: Canada 5, Czechoslovakia 4 (OT)
The road there: Four years after the legendary Summit Series, the Canada Cup was born in an effort to create the first true international best-on-best tournament. There was no semi-final back then, with the top two teams heading directly to the finals. Canada grabbed one of those spots, finishing first in the round robin with a 4-1-0 record. But while many had expected a Summit Series rematch in the final, the Soviets were edged out of a spot by Czechoslovakia.
The opening game of the final was a blowout, with Canada earning a relatively easy 6-0 win. Game 2 ended up proving to be a bigger challenge.
Game 2: Canada grabbed a 2-0 lead just two minutes in, but Czechoslovakia fought back to tie the game early in the third. A Bobby Clarke goal restored the Canadian lead, but two quick Czechoslovakian goals gave them a 4-3 lead with four minutes to play. Bill Barber tied it with two minutes left, and that set the stage for Darryl Sittler to deliver the first ever Canada Cup with what still stands as one of the most famous goals in the tournament's history.
The aftermath: To this day, Sittler and Team Canada assistant coach Don Cherry are still arguing over who's idea that move was.
The bottom line: You could make a great case for this game being No. 1 on the list. I think it’s a coin flip, but I'll take the game that directly led to one of the greatest moments in hockey history.
1987: Canada 6, Soviet Union 5 (2OT)
The road there: Canada and the Soviets finished in the top two spots in the round robin, then knocked off Czechoslovakia and Sweden, respectively, in the semi-finals to set up the first best-on-best multi-game series between the two rivals since the 1972 Summit Series.
Game 2: With the Soviets looking to clinch their second Canada Cup in three tournaments, the series shifted to Hamilton for the second game. The two teams resumed the all-out offensive pace, with Canada leading 2-1 before the game was even four minutes old. Then it got better.
Canada took a 3-1 lead to the first intermission, but the Soviets tied it in the second before Mario Lemieux quickly restored the lead. The Soviets tied it again early in the third, but Lemieux scored again midway through. That set the stage for a frantic end to regulation that saw Valeri Kamensky score with a minute left to send the game to overtime.
With the trophy on the line, the two teams went back and forth through one scoreless extra period. But midway through the second overtime, Canada finally ended it. Guess who.
The aftermath: This game was so good that the hockey gods decided to re-use the same script for Game 3: A back-and-forth thriller that ends with a 6-5 Canada victory on a Mario Lemieux winner.
The bottom line: The series finale was quite possibly the greatest international game ever played. And it was made possible by this one, which was almost as good. That's enough to earn it the top spot on our list, narrowly ahead of Sittler's fakeout.
Sean McIndoe has been writing about the NHL since 2008, most recently for ESPN and Grantland. He spends most of his time making jokes on twitter, where you may know him as @downgoesbrown. He appears weekly on TheHockeyNews.com.
If you're looking for the DNA from some of the best hockey players in the world, you might want to consider dropping a few bucks on a crystal puck.
Nothing really says growing the game like charging 65 bucks ($74.45 with applicable taxes) for a few drops of Zamboni water, does it? Just when you thought the folks who are bringing us the World Cash Grab of Hockey™ had run out of ways to make revenues, they go and turn thawed ice shavings into gold.
Now to be fair, nobody’s holding a gun to anybody’s head here. And for your $65, you’re getting a lot more than just the residue from the Team USA-Czech Republic game here. You’re actually getting a crystal replica World Cup of Hockey puck and lovely box (both made in China) from the people at Fanatics Mounted Memories, Inc. The crystal puck has the water sealed inside of it, water picked up from the ice in an actual World Cup game, a process that is evidenced by an authentic numbered seal along with a picture of a bucket of ice and another of the process of the pucks being filled. A Certificate of Authenticity is signed by Don Moffatt, facilities operations supervisor for the NHL.
“This unique collectible contains authentic playing surface from the World Cup of Hockey 2016,” the certificate beams. “The playing surface was acquired by Fanatics directly from the NHL. This crystal puck is officially licensed by the NHL.”
When your trusty correspondent ventured into the main gift shop at the Air Canada Centre for the World Cash Grab of Hockey™, he was informed that the water-filled crystal pucks were actually moving at a pretty good rate. And why wouldn’t they? As one Twitter follower pointed out, the water in those pucks might have the DNA of some of the greatest hockey players on the planet in it. So you spend your $65, break the crystal puck open and pour it onto your son’s Wheaties in the morning and Presto!, instant millionaire NHL hockey player. Sounds like a pretty wise investment.
And if you need a receptacle to pour your water into, well the World Cash Grab of Hockey™ has you covered there, too. For just $15, you can purchase a 3.5-ounce Mason shot jar, a 16-ounce sublimated pint glass for $25 or a coffee mug for $35. (If you need a big rubber finger to stir it, you can get one of those for $35 as well.) You’re going to want to get a stick in that little guy’s hand as soon as possible, so you might as well pick up a World Cash Grab of Hockey™ mini stick for just $12.
There’s really something for everyone, from a spinning key ring for 10 bucks to a replica puck in a glass case for $30. You’ll be able to brave the elements with a $30 scarf and $35 toque. And if you need somewhere to carry those tickets you paid $513 for before they went on the secondary ticket market for a tiny fraction of the cost, you can pick up a ticket lanyard for just $15 more. (By the way, a count late Wednesday afternoon revealed there are still about 20 tickets available for Game 2 and about 125 for Game 3. So all the tickets have basically been sold. The luxury boxes, which have sat empty even for Canada's game, that's another story. Meanwhile, on the secondary ticket market, those $513 tickets for Game 2 are selling for just over $100 now. Which means the ticket speculators are taking a bath here, not the NHL or NHL Players' Association.)
Now that we’re down to the short strokes of the World Cash Grab of Hockey™, it’s probably time to take stock of where all that money is going. The tournament is projected to earn about $100 million in revenues and $60 million in profits, which is split equally between the league and the NHLPA.
If that’s the case, then each team will earn about $1 million each, if the profits don't end up going into the league's general operating budget. So if you spread that out over the four years until the next World Cash Grab of Hockey™, that means each team will average about $250,000 per year, or enough to pay the coach of their minor league team. Doesn’t sound like it’s worth the effort when you put it that way, does it?
The players, well, that’s a different story. This is not your father’s World Cup and the proceeds are going directly to the players, not the pension fund like the up-and-up days when Alan Eagleson was running things. As reported by Bob McKenzie and Rick Westhead of TSN, the players are still unsure how they’re going to divide the pot. You’d have thought they would have figured it out by now. Some players are of the opinion that the players’ share should be distributed equally among the 184 players who participated in the tournament, 170 of whom are NHLers. If that were the case, each player would receive a check for about $163,000. If it were divided equally among the 720 or so players in the NHL, each player would get about $42,000.
So just to recap here: The World Cash Grab of Hockey™ is selling vials of water for $65. The money made from that and all the other revenues will either go back into the league’s operating budget or help a team pay its minor league coach for the next four years. The rest will be going to pad the bank accounts of players, many of whom are already millionaires (or will be) several times over.
Hope it was worth the effort. And remember, we might be missing NHLers in the Olympics for all of this.
World Cup showing helps Seidenberg land one-year deal with Islanders
By: Jared Clinton
Sep 28, 2016
Team Europe may be trailing the best-of-three World Cup final, but Dennis Seidenberg will be in good spirits after the Game 1 loss as he has signed a one-year, $1-million deal with the New York Islanders
Dennis Seidenberg had two goals for the World Cup of Hockey. The first was to help Team Europe to a title, and the other was to play well enough to land himself a contract.
“I just have to focus on playing my game,” Seidenberg told the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa of chasing a deal in the tournament. “There’s no magic to it. It’s playing a simple style of hockey. That’s basically it. I don’t have to try and do something I can’t do. That’s going to go the other way if you do that.”
And while falling behind 1-0 in the best-of-three final series to Team Canada isn’t going to help Seidenberg accomplish his first goal, he has done his part — playing his game, and doing so to the best of his ability — to take care of his contract status. The New York Islanders announced Wednesday that they have come to terms on a one-year, $1-million contract with Seidenberg.
The contract comes three months after Seidenberg was bought out by the Boston Bruins and amidst speculation that several teams were interested in bringing him aboard. It’s a good signing, too, especially for an Islanders team that was in need of some fresh faces to help on the back end after watching Brian Strait head to the Winnipeg Jets as a free agent. The best part about Seidenberg’s signing, though, is that it’s low risk and high reward for both parties.
For Seidenberg, the new role will likely be a bottom-pairing position with a team that already has enough top-end blueliners to fill out the roster. Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic, Calvin De Haan and Thomas Hickey are all more than capable, and the same goes for young blueliners Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech. However, it can never hurt to have some added insurance, and the 35-year-old Seidenberg has the experience and ability to still chip in on the back end.
Though he’s coming off of a tough season, one in which he had a sub-20 minute average ice time for the first time since 2007-08, Seidenberg can still be a decent blueliner in his own end. The issue is mobility, but if he’s paired with someone who allows him to be a stay at home defender, Seidenberg could benefit. And as for his ice time, it’s not likely he’ll be asked to take on a much larger role than he did this past season.
The biggest concern about Seidenberg may be his health, though. He played in 61 games this past season and dealt with back and knee ailments, and he has been forced to miss significant amounts of time in two of the past three seasons. That said, on a one-year deal, there’s no risk for the Islanders. If Seidenberg goes down, they can bring up a fresh face to fill his place.
So, win or lose at the World Cup, Seidenberg’s tournament was a success.
Andrew Shaw and Nathan Walker fight following Shaw's hit on Connor Hobbs
Author: via NHL/Streamable
Andrew Shaw ejected for hit from behind in Canadiens debut
By: Jared Clinton
Sep 28, 2016
Andrew Shaw’s stay with the Canadiens could be starting off with a pre-season suspension after he was ejected from Tuesday’s game against the Capitals for boarding defenseman Connor Hobbs.
The Montreal Canadiens knew they were getting a scrappy player with a bit of a mean streak when they shipped two second-round picks to the Chicago Blackhawks for Andrew Shaw, and they know that with Shaw’s style of play comes the risk he’ll be missing some action due to suspension.
What the Canadiens maybe weren’t planning for, though, was that Shaw’s first suspension of the season could come in his very first outing with his new club.
During Tuesday’s pre-season game between the hometown Canadiens and visiting Washington Capitals, Shaw was sent to the showers early for his actions late in the second frame. Montreal had chipped the puck deep into the Capitals zone, and Shaw gave pursuit as Washington blueliner Connor Hobbs went back to start a breakout. As Hobbs collected the puck, his back was turned to the play and Shaw drove through the blueliner, crunching him into the boards and leaving him downed on the ice:
Almost immediately Capitals winger Nathan Walker had his gloves off and was mixing it up with Shaw, who used his free hand to pump up the Bell Centre crowd.
After the fight, Shaw was escorted to the Canadiens’ bench and sent to the dressing room. All told, he was handed 30 minutes in penalties, including a boarding major — served by Jeremy Gregoire — as well as a misconduct, fighting major and game misconduct.
The Canadiens killed off Shaw’s entire major penalty, but there’s a chance they’ll have to continue to play without Shaw in the lineup for at least one more outing in the pre-season. The NHL Department of Player Safety will no doubt be taking a look at Shaw’s hit, and there’s a fair chance that they could deem Shaw’s hit, which was unnecessary, dangerous and required Hobbs to leave the game for medical attention, could draw a suspension.
Thankfully, Hobbs was not seriously injured on the play, and he was able to return to action and record an assist late in the third period.