NHL Players' Association representative says Donald Fehr not yet exec. director
By: The Canadian Press
Aug 26, 2010
TORONTO - Donald Fehr has not accepted any offer to become executive director of the National Hockey League Players' Association, according to one of the union's senior officials.
Mike Ouellet, the NHLPA's chief of business affairs, praised Fehr's work as an unpaid adviser to the players on Thursday, but denied reports the long-time union leader had taken the head job. The office has been vacant since Paul Kelly was fired last August, less than two years after assuming the role.
"For the reports to come out and say that an offer has been accepted is, to say the least, a little premature just given the process," Ouellet said. "No recommendation has been made to the executive board, yet."
Fehr, 62, has been serving as an unpaid consultant since November.
"He's got a tremendous wealth of experience in this area," Ouellet said. "I don't think there's anybody on the planet that has the type of experience he has working for a professional sports union. And that's been very valuable for the players."
Fehr is a veteran negotiator who developed a reputation as a hard-nosed adversary during a career that spanned a quarter-century with the Major League Baseball Players' Association. Baseball endured several work stoppages and one cancelled World Series—in 1994—under his watch.
Ouellet said any appointment would have to be ratified by the NHLPA's 30-man executive committee. Each NHL team has a representative on the committee.
"I think it's always important to have leadership in your organization that can reassure people of what they're doing, to help chart a path," Ouellet said, noting the Olympics and the idea of a world cup as two issues left idle in the leadership vacuum.
He refused to comment when asked if Fehr was among the leading candidates.
At least two high-ranking NHL executives have offered respect and measured congratulations to the NHLPA amid the reports it had hired Fehr.
"In my mind, a strong union is better for us as a sport than a fractured union," Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke said. "If that's the choice they've made, I respect Donald Fehr. And I think it's good news if they've put a leader in place."
Many of the game's biggest names assembled in Toronto for the four-day world hockey summit, which wrapped up at a downtown hotel Thursday with a news conference featuring the main stakeholders, including the NHL and the NHLPA.
"Obviously I think it's important for the players' association to have a head, and the sooner they do that the better, from our perspective," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. "But as far as I know, there's been nothing official at that point, so I'll reserve comment on that."
The NHL's collective bargaining agreement with its players is set to expire in September 2012. There has been speculation that Fehr's addition to the NHLPA could lead to another labour disruption.
"I always assume that the guy on the other side of the table's going to give us a hard battle," Burke said. "That's what they get paid to do. But I think we have a pretty good leader on our side, too."
Panthers GM Rowe ‘not overly concerned’ about Ekblad’s World Cup injury
By: Jared Clinton
Sep 23, 2016
Being forced out of the World Cup may have been cause for concern about Aaron Ekblad’s health, but the Florida Panthers sound confident he’ll be ready to start the season.
Aaron Ekblad’s time at the World Cup was cut short due to an injury sustained during North America’s round robin tilt against Finland, and even after the 20-year-old blueliner failed to participate in the first skate at Panthers training camp, the team doesn’t seem too worried.
After the first practice, Panthers president of hockey operation Dale Tallon was asked for an update on Ekblad and said that he was sure the young defenseman would be fine, while GM Tom Rowe said it was nothing more than a bit of “bad luck.”
"Not overly concerned about it," Rowe said Tuesday, according to NHL.com’s Alain Poupart. "A little bad luck. I think he's still probably getting used to (NHL) a little bit. He probably needs to be a little more aware in certain situations, but I don't think we're overly concerned about it.”
Ekblad suffered the injury when he was hit behind the net by Finland’s Leo Komarov during the tournament-opening game for the North American squad, but he remained in the contest and it wasn’t until before North America’s second contest that any injury was suspected. Ekblad didn’t suit up for North America’s game against Russia, and he was flown back to Florida to meet with team doctors as a precaution, Rowe said.
"There's doctors [in Toronto],” Rowe said. “But we'd rather him come back here and see our docs.”
There were conflicting reports about Ekblad’s injury when he was ruled out of action, with some saying he had suffered a concussion and other reports speculating that it was merely a neck injury. However, on Tuesday, Sportsnet’s Mark Spector reported that it was a “neck injury” and “nothing major.”
It would have been frightening to think of Ekblad’s status had he suffered another concussion, though. This past season, Ekblad was forced to miss four games with a concussion and he had previously been knocked out of Team Canada’s World Junior Championship training camp in August 2014 with a concussion, so another blow to the head could have marked the third time he was on the shelf with a concussion in the past two years.
With Ekblad arguably becoming the No. 1 defenseman in Florida just two seasons into his career, though, Florida wanted to protect their player by bringing him home. He signed an eight-year, $60-million extension with the Panthers during the off-season, and he’ll be a major part of any successes the franchise has this coming season.
Senators’ Lazar sidelined by mono, no timeline for his return to team
By: Jared Clinton
Sep 24, 2016
Curtis Lazar’s season isn’t starting the way he would have wanted, as he finds himself on the shelf indefinitely with a case of mononucleosis.
The Ottawa Senators want Curtis Lazar to participate in training camp and prepare for what could be the most important season of his career, but the 21-year-old is being kept away for the time being due to a bout of mononucleosis.
During the first skate of training camp Friday, Lazar was missing from practice, and when asked why the young pivot was missing from the skate, Senators coach Guy Boucher announced that Lazar has come down with mono. Because of the illness, Lazar isn’t taking part in skates with the team, and Boucher said there’s no current timeline for Lazar’s return to action.
“We were hoping that it wasn’t serious at first and we were hoping with the few days that we had it would be good enough,” Boucher said, according to Garrioch. “But it’s become a daily thing that we’re going to follow up and it’s going to be carefully monitored...As you know, mono could be done in four days from now and it could be done later. We want to be very cautious with that.”
And while there’s no telling exactly how long Lazar could be out, there are some recent cases of players battling through the illness that could give an estimation on how long he could be out of the lineup.
During the 2008 season, then-Pittsburgh Penguins winger Tyler Kennedy came down with mono and was put on the shelf indefinitely, but he was back into game action roughly four weeks later. All told, he missed eight games with the illness, but was sent back to the AHL while getting back into shape before returning to the Penguins.
Former Detroit Red Wings winger Todd Bertuzzi also dealt with mono ahead of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, but he was back with the team in less than two weeks’ time.
The most recent case, though, was Los Angeles Kings winger Tyler Toffoli. The 24-year-old came down with mono in January 2015 and was forced to sit out six games with the illness before returning to action. All told, he was on the shelf for 18 days.
If the timeline for Lazar’s return is anywhere close to Toffoli’s, that could mean the Senators are forced to go into the season without Lazar having suited up in any pre-season action. There are less than three weeks remaining until the start of the regular season, and Ottawa will be in action opening night against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
Lazar had a somewhat disappointing sophomore season, and he’s looking to take a step forward in his third season with the Senators. He posted just six goals and 20 points in 76 games this season while skating bottom-six minutes, but he could be set to move up the lineup this coming season.
Down Goes Brown: Five times a team avenged a round robin loss at the World Cup
By: Sean McIndoe
Sep 21, 2016
The history of the World and Canada Cup tournament is filled with surprising round robin results that ended up getting flipped, so don't worry just yet. Unless you're Team USA.
We're two games into the round robin portion of the World Cup, and we've already seen a handful of upsets, with favorites like Russia and the United States already tasting defeat, and in the case of the Americans, already being eliminated. With one game to go and some of the four playoff spots still up for grabs, fans around the world are no doubt panicking over the games their teams let get away.
But while the round robin is obviously important – you have to make the playoffs to win the whole thing – it's worth remembering that the results of individual games don't necessarily tell us much as much as we might think about what will happen in the playoff rounds.
In fact, the history of the World and Canada Cup tournament is filled with surprising round robin results that ended up getting flipped down the line. So in an effort to calm some nerves, here are five times that overreacting to a round robin result would have steered you wrong once the eliminations games began.
1976: Czechoslovakia 1 – Canada 0
In the first ever round robin game in Canada Cup history, Canada made a statement by crushing Finland 11-2. They went on the beat Sweden and the U.S., and they closed out the round with a win over their arch-rivals from the Soviet Union, winning those three games by a combined score of 11-3.
But in between, they dropped a surprising decision to Czechoslovakia. Vladimir Dzurilla outduelled Rogie Vachon at the Montreal Forum, turning aside all 29 shots he faced in a 1-0 win. The game was an instant classic, described at the time as one of the best ever played.
The two teams finished at the top of round robin standings, setting up a best-of-three final. But there was no repeat of Dzurilla's heroics – Team Canada blitzed him for four goals in the first period of the opening game, sending him to the bench and paving the way for a lopsided 6-0 win. Game 2 was more entertaining, with Canada jumping out to a 2-0 lead just three minutes in before a Czechoslovakian comeback set the stage for Darryl Sittler's tournament winner in overtime.
1981: Canada 7 – Soviet Union 3
By 1981, the Soviet Union was coming off a relatively rough stretch of international play. They'd won their usual Olympic gold in 1972 and 1976, but been upset by Team USA's Miracle on Ice squad in 1980, lost the 1972 Summit Series, and failed to even make the final of the 1976 Canada Cup.
When they met Canada in 1981 in the final game of the round robin, both teams were undefeated and battling for first place. The game was tied at 2-2 heading into the third, but Canada erupted for five straight goals in what ended up being a 7-3 laugher. Even with star goaltender Vladislav Tretiak sitting out due to illness, the result was an embarrassing one for the Soviets.
Both teams won their semifinal game to advance to a one-game winner-take-all final in Montreal. With Tretiak back in goal, most fans expected a closer game. Instead, they got an even bigger blowout. But this time, it was the Soviets who ran up the score, earning an 8-1 win and handing Canada what still stands to this day as its most embarrassing international loss.
1984: Soviet Union 6 – Canada 3
Three years after their impressive win, the Soviets looked even more dominant through the round robin portion of the 1984 tournament. Heading into a final game showdown against a struggling Team Canada, they were sporting a 4-0-0 record and looking to wrap up the tournament's top seed. They went on to smother their rivals in an impressive 6-3 win, finishing the round robin with a perfect record and dropping Canada down to fourth place.
That set up another meeting between the two nations in the tournament semi-final, held just three days later in Calgary. After being held to just 17 shots in the round robin, Canada exploded for 41 in the rematch. But Soviet goaltender Vladimir Myshkin stood on his head, and had his team in position to win with a 2-1 lead late in regulation. It took a late goal by Doug Wilson to set up overtime, where Paul Coffey's lunging breakup of a Soviet 2-on-1 set the stage of Mike Bossy's sudden death winner.
Canada went on to sweep Sweden in the final to claim the tournament. It marked the third straight time that the eventual Canada Cup champion had avenged a round robin loss on the way to their title.
1987: Czechoslovakia 4 – Canada 4; Sweden 5 – Soviet Union 3
The 1987 Canada Cup marked the first time that the eventual champion went undefeated through the round robin. That would be Canada, who beat the Soviets in a three-game classic punctuated by Mario Lemieux's historic winner.
But while Canada didn't have any losses to avenge on their way to the title, they weren't perfect in the round robin. And the first blemish came in their opening game, when a rusty Canadian squad blew a third period lead on their way to a 4-4 tie with Czechoslovakia. That was a disappointing result against a team that had gone 0-4-1 in the previous tournament, and raised questions as to whether Canada could defend their crown. Meanwhile, the tournament's other favorite had a disappointing opening of their own, as the Soviets gave up three goals in the first eight minutes while dropping a 5-3 decisions to Sweden.
Both powerhouses recovered well, with each winning three straight before facing each other in the round robin finale and skating to a 3-3 draw. That set up a pair of semifinal rematches, with Canada facing Czechoslovakia and the Soviets drawing Sweden.
This time, the favorites took care of business. Canada started slowly but pumped home four straight goals to take a 5-3 final, while the Soviets jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before eliminating Sweden by a 4-2 score. That set the stage for a final that still stands as perhaps the best international hockey series ever played.
As a side note, the Czechoslovakian goaltender for both of those games against Canada was a 22-year-old kid that most North Americans had never heard of. He eventually made it to the NHL three years later, and turned out to be pretty good. He even got some revenge against Canada at an international tournament over a decade later.
2004: Russia 3 – USA 1; Sweden 4 – Czech Republic 3
Canada didn't have to avenge any round robin losses on their way to the 1991 title, and the United States likewise was a perfect 3-0-0 under the new World Cup format before winning it all in 1996. Canada repeated that feat in 2004, making it four straight Canada/World Cups that have been won by a team that didn't suffer a loss during the round robin. Yes, that's right – it's now been 32 years and counting since a team lost a round robin game and still managed to win this tournament. Wait, this is supposed to be about giving teams that lost in the round robin hope. Forget everything I just mentioned.
But we can still find a couple of revenge games in the 2004 round robin, thanks to that year's, um, interesting format. The tournament featured eight teams, and the playoff round featured… eight teams. Yes, everyone made the playoffs in 2004, with the round robin settling the seeding and nothing else.
That format actually gave us a few interesting moments, like top-seeded Finland needing a goal in the dying minutes to edge winless Germany 2-1. And it also set up a pair of interesting rematches. In the round robin, the defending champion Team USA had dropped its first two games, to Canada and Russia. In the latter game, they fell 3-1 while being outshot 45-21. The 0-2 start didn't hurt their playoff hopes, because of the whole "everyone makes it" thing, but it certainly put a dent in their confidence.
Meanwhile, the Czechs dropped their opener 4-0 to Finland, then fell behind by the same score to Sweden. They came back to at least make that game a respectable 4-3 final, but other than running up the score on Germany in the finale, they didn't come out of the round robin with much room for optimism.
But in the opening round, both teams got a chance at payback, and both took it. The Czechs looked like a different team, shelling Mikael Tellqvist and Team Sweden in a 6-1 win. The Russia/Team USA rematch was a closer affair, with both teams going back and forth, but the Americans held on for a 5-3 win.
Both teams went on to lose in the semifinal, although the U.S. blew a late lead against Finland and the Czechs took Canada to overtime. Canada beat Finland in the one-game final, the year-long NHL lockout began the next day, and the World Cup hasn't been seen since. Twelve years later, we're finally getting another look at the tournament, and another chance to see a tough round robin loss avenged in the playoffs.
At least, that's what teams like Russia, Finland and North America are hoping.
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.
The Avalanche have a new coach and some skilled young forwards, but they don't have the depth to compete in the extra tough Central Division.
THN is rolling out its 2016-17 Team Previews daily, in reverse order of 2015-16 overall finish, until the start of the season. Today, the Avalanche.
THN's Prediction: 7th in Central
Stanley Cup odds: 75-1
Key additions: Joe Colborne, F; Fedor Tyutin, D; Rocco Grimaldi, C; Patrick Wiercioch, D
Key departures: Mikkel Boedker, LW; Shawn Matthias, LW; Nick Holden, D; Reto Berra, G; Brad Stuart, D
-Is Mikko Rantanen ready to rock? The Avs drafted Rantanen 10th overall in 2015, and he was a consensus pick to go directly to the NHL. Even at 18, he was 6-foot-4, 211 pounds and had several years of pro experience in the Finnish League. But Rantanen’s nine-game trial flopped, and Colorado assigned him to AHL San Antonio to avoid burning a year of his entry-level deal.
Rantanen racked up 24 goals and 60 points in 52 games and was the circuit’s co-rookie of the year. He has more than earned a full-season look in the NHL and will challenge for the Calder Trophy playing on a scoring line in Colorado.
-Has Colorado improved its 'D' enough? Per corsica.hockey, the Avs finished last in the NHL in score- and venue-adjusted Corsi against per 60 at a pitiful 63.42 percent. They’ve ranked between 24th and 30th four straight years. They allow far too many scoring chances.
The Avs acquired Patrick Wiercioch and Fedor Tyutin for veteran blueline help. They added Nolan Pratt from AHL champion Lake Erie to coach the D-corps. Will these changes be enough? Don’t bet on it. Wiercioch and Tyutin are bottom-pair types. Youngsters Chris Bigras and Nikita Zadorov haven’t shown they’re ready to contribute as impact NHLers yet. The blueline still looks thin after Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Francois Beauchemin.
-When does Joe Sakic blow it up? With Patrick Roy stepping down in August, this team has a new look on the coaching side. But what about player personnel? Should Colorado fall flat again, Nathan MacKinnon and his seven-year contract extension would be the only safe body in Denver. Matt Duchene has been the subject of trade rumors, as has captain Gabriel Landeskog.
Player projections are based off a three-year version of Game Score (which you can read about here) weighted by recency and repeatability and then translated to its approximate win value (Game Score Value Added or GSVA). Team strength was derived from the combined value of every player’s GSVA on a team. The season was then simulated 10,000 times factoring in team strength, opponent strength and rest.
The Colorado Avalanche are going to be one of the most interesting teams to watch this season, mostly because of the change behind the bench. After a surprising first season under Patrick Roy, the team hasn’t been able to find the same magic under a mostly similar roster. Many observers have felt Roy was holding the team, and its young stars, back and new blood could unleash their shackles.
At forward the Avalanche have the big three – Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene – who still have some room to grow. MacKinnon is still just 21 and this season has breakout campaign written all over it. The other two are solid first liners, but need to find another gear in order for this team to take the next step. That means spending more time in the other team’s zone which is hopefully something that improves under new coaching.
The issue with the Avalanche isn’t those three, it’s the guys below them. Carl Soderberg is solid, but after him the team is incredibly weak. Mikko Rantanen and Mikhail Grigorenko should be better than projected here though as they're still in the developing stages of their career.
Defence should be another place of interest as the team bolstered their bottom pairs with a slew of additions. At the top, the time-on-ice dynamic should change this season with a bigger focus on moving the puck up ice. That means more minutes going to Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson as opposed to the older and less capable Francois Beauchemin.
Goaltending is the team’s strongest position as both Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard rate extremely well. Varlamov had an off year last season and if he can’t bounce back, Pickard is ready to take over.
As has been the case over the last few seasons, the Avs are just not a very good team leaving them at the bottom of the pecking order in a very tough Central. Maybe they surprise with a new coach, but don’t bet on it as the roster still looks thin.