Suzi Kaiser, Huntingburg, Ind.
Suzi Kaiser, Huntingburg, Ind.
Auston Matthews and Jonathan Toews
The best way to describe Auston Matthews and Jonathan Toews squaring off in a pure shooting competition is pure destruction. The rookie Maple Leaf and veteran Blackhawk destroyed anything they could find.
Ahead of the draft, the comparisons for Auston Matthews were plentiful, but Jonathan Toews was one of the oft-mentioned modern era players that Matthews was projected to be similar to.
But what better way to compare the Blackhawks captain and the Maple Leafs rookie than seeing them go head-to-head in a shot-for-shot competition?
The video, released by Bauer to promote the Nexus 1N stick, is fantastic. Even the acting to kick it all off isn’t half bad, all things considered. Matthews and Toews take aim at just about everything possible on the rink, but it’s hard to be impressed by anything more than Toews picking out the crossbar on his first attempt. It’s made that much better by Toews’ fist pump and Matthews’ silence followed by a subtly muttered, “I hate you.” Take a look:
The destruction of the objects surrounding the rink makes everything about this more fun, too. Toews’ chortle when Matthews hits the “director’s chair” is Santa-like, and the way the coffee cup explodes with the short saucer pass from Matthews is great.
From there, Toews takes on a light and Matthews absolutely destroys a camera, and Matthews and Toews battle over the destruction of the craft services table, which offers some of the best jabs throughout the video.
Matthews first calls out Toews for his love of vegetables — seriously, Toews grows his own herbs, lettuce, spinach and greens in his home in Chicago — and then makes fun of the veteran Blackhawks star for not being able to destroy the ice sculpture with a slap shot that doesn’t even manage to touch the table.
As for Matthews eschewing Toews’ ‘Captain Serious’ moniker in favor of calling him ‘Veggie Man,’ hard to imagine that one’s going to stick. But if you see Matthews and Toews battling on the ice, maybe Matthews will bust it out to try to get under Toews’ skin.
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Brendan Gallagher talks about his favourite players growing up, and the bizarre Montreal "squirrel hat."
Favorite team and player growing up?
I was an Edmonton Oilers fan. My favorite player was Mike Comrie for a bit, then it became Raffi Torres. Those were my favorite players. I was young and I didn’t know.
Who was your mentor?
My Dad, Ian, always coached me when I was young. When I was 12 or 13 he stopped coaching, but he is always someone I could talk to. He understood my game. He’s my strength coach and trains me in the summer. He’s someone who really understands me and my body. He also helps me when I don’t play well and tells me things to help me improve when I’m going through a slump.
Who did you model your game after?
I always liked watching Martin St-Louis. He’s a smaller guy that I could look up to and just see little tricks that he did. I was able to play against him a little bit as well. The thing you always noticed is how hard he competed. Never took a shift off, loved to win. When I watched him play, it stuck with me.
Memories from your NHL first game?
My first game was against Florida at home. ‘Chucky’ (Alex Galchenyuk) scored his first goal in that game. I got an assist. I don’t know how they gave me an assist on it, but that was my first point. I don’t think I deserved it, but they gave it to me. It was special to share that with Chucky. Two rookies playing together. It was pretty cool.
Best thing about being an NHLer?
The food we get on the road. The Canadiens staff treats us pretty good. Whether we’re on the plane or in a hotel, they always have food ready for us.
Worst thing about being an NHLer?
The lack of sleep some nights. After we play and fly to a new city, sometimes we get in at three or four in the morning and we have to get up the next day for practice. It’s probably the worst thing.
First major purchase after signing an NHL contract?
A golf cart. That was pretty sweet. I live on a course, so it’s easy to get around.
Most important skill to work on?
A lot of my game is being in tight to the net. So I like to work on tipping pucks. Being in tight to the crease flipping pucks in the top corner, since that usually is where I find myself. I find when I practise this it helps me in the games.
What’s your craziest fan interaction?
We’ve got a fan in Montreal that makes everyone put on this squirrel hat. Apparently when you put it on, he takes a picture. He always says when you put it on you’re going to score a goal or something the next game. I don’t really believe it. It’s a pretty gross hat. He got me on it too. I bit. I don’t remember if I scored or not, but I put on the hat.
Best advice for a young player?
Don’t get caught up in all the talk around you. Enjoy it. Everyone remembers their minor hockey days. Everyone is always looking too many years in the future. Think about your team and how you can become a good player to help your team win. Also have fun doing it.
– With Murray Pam
Despite firm denials about Dougie Hamilton trade rumors from Brian Burke, there has been a notable increase in those reports lately.
Calgary Flames president Brian Burke voiced his displeasure over “an army of leakers” creating mischief by claiming his club could trade defenseman Dougie Hamilton. He pinned the blame upon an unnamed team, threatened to unveil said team if the rumors persisted, and added those engaging in such speculation didn't know what they were talking about.
Of course, Burke did this in his own colourful way, driving home the point that his team had no intention of trading Hamilton. For his part, the 23-year-old blueliner acknowledged hearing the rumors but didn't put any stock in them.
The trade chatter surrounding Hamilton kicked around for over a month, with most of it coming from TSN and Sportsnet. In each case, the reports stated the Flames were listening to offers for Hamilton, but weren't trying to trade him.
Of late, however, there was a notable increase in those reports. Factor in some thinking-out-loud musings from some pundits believing Hamilton could be a good fit with the Toronto Maple Leafs, along with the Leafs visit to Calgary on Thursday to play the Flames, and it's no wonder Burke and his GM Brad Treliving publicly denied the rumors.
Still, not everyone is buying it. The Toronto Star's Bruce Arthur reports that, despite the Flames' denials, there are some around the league insisting Hamilton could be had for the right price.
This also isn't the first time Burke took to the press to deny trade speculation over one of his defensemen. In January 2012, when Burke was the Leafs GM, he said there was no truth to reports he was planning to trade blueliner Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers for James van Riemsdyk. Six months later, following the 2012 NHL draft, Schenn was swapped for van Riemsdyk.
That doesn't mean the Flames intend to move Hamilton. As Burke noted, they gave up a lot of assets and money last year to acquire and sign him. Hamilton has considerable size, skills and potential. It would be hasty to ship him out simply because he's taken longer than expected to reach his full potential.
Burke's comments could put all the Hamilton trade chatter to rest for the remainder of this season. Depending upon how this season ends, and with next June's NHL expansion draft likely to have a ripple effect upon the trade market, don't be surprised if Hamilton's name resurfaces in the rumor mill.
LATEST ON BISHOP AND FLEURY
The Tampa Bay Lightning could be in need of depth on their defense corps. Since Anton Stralman suffered an upper-body injury on Nov. 12, they have won five of their last 10 games and dropped four of their last five.
Even when Stralman returns, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times believes the Bolts still need to bolster their blueline. He cites TSN's Craig Button observing they lack really good No. 2 and No. 4 defensemen.
Smith notes finding such blueliners won't be easy or affordable. While they could use pending free agent goaltender Ben Bishop as bait near the trade deadline, that creates the problem of finding a suitable backup for Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Earlier this season, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman indicated his preference to keep Bishop and Vasilevskiy for one more run at a Stanley Cup. Considering which teams are out of playoff contention by the deadline and which blueliners are available, perhaps Yzerman can address that issue without resorting to putting Bishop on the trade block. Rental players can usually be had for one or two draft picks.
Bishop might not be the only notable goalie available by the trade deadline. Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury's been a fixture in the rumor mill since last June.
Penguins GM Jim Rutherford hoped to go through this season with Fleury and promising Matt Murray sharing the goaltending duties. However, Rutherford told Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that carrying two No.1 goalies hasn't worked as well as expected. Fleury and Murray are used to starter's minutes but are now forced to split the workload, leading to some recent inconsistent performances from both of them.
Rutherford can only protect one goaltender in next June's NHL expansion draft. He told Molinari he's not feeling any urgency to address the issue, but admitted it's the one most on his mind of late.
Fleury has a no-movement clause, meaning the Penguins must protect him unless he agrees to waive it for the draft or to accept a trade. It's assumed the Pens will shop him at some point this season in order to protect Murray. That move could come by the trade deadline.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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A tumbling Canadian dollar hits north of the 49th parallel, while a reworked lease in South Florida gives the Panthers a new lease on life.
A depressed Canadian dollar is obviously not good business for anyone in the NHL. With Canadian teams driving a good portion of the league’s revenues and the $5.2 billion television deal begin paid to the league in Canadian funds, every drop in the dollar represents revenue lost for the league.
And that is no more evident than it is in Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of NHL franchise values for 2016. Of the 30 NHL teams, only eight of them saw their franchise value decrease over the past year – the New Jersey Devils and all seven Canadian franchises. The Vancouver Canucks saw the most precipitous drop league-wide, with its value going down 6.1 percent to $700 million. Among Canadian teams, the Edmonton Oilers experienced the lowest drop, by 2.3 percent to $445 million, a loss that was mitigated largely due to the fact they moved into Rogers Place this season.
To the surprise of no one, the New York Rangers are the most valuable franchise in the league, with an overall value of $1.25 billion, up 4.2 percent from last year. They’re followed by two Canadian teams – the Montreal Canadiens at $1.12 billion (down 4.7 percent) and the Toronto Maple Leafs at $1.1 billion (down 4.4 percent).
“The (Canadian) dollar has had a huge impact on that for sure,” said Forbes executive editor Mike Ozanian, who compiles the list. “Over the past four years we’ve done this, it has gone from parity to 90 cents on the dollar to 83 to 75.”
The Canadian dollar is currently trading in the 75-cent range and most forecasters don’t expect that to change drastically over the next year or so, which means Canadian franchises, while still very valuable in the grand scheme of things, might not see any rise in their value in the next little while. The Canucks are the seventh most valuable franchise, with the Oilers checking in at No. 14, the Calgary Flames at 16, the Ottawa Senators at 20 and Winnipeg Jets at 21.
There were some interesting teams on the list, notably the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders. The Panthers are No. 29 on the list, ahead of only the Carolina Hurricanes, but saw their value rise a league-high 26 percent to $235 million this year. That’s in large part due to a deal that the team cut with Broward County last year which will see it receive $86 million in tourist taxes over the next 13 years as well as getting almost all the revenue created by the BB&T Center in exchange for the development rights to 140 acres around the arena that Panthers owner Vinnie Viola transferred back to the county. It also helped that the Panthers made the playoffs for just the second time in 15 years and their local television numbers were better. (The latter doesn’t help much now because the Panthers’ local TV deal still has five years go and much of that money was paid up front to previous owners.)
Even though the deal with Broward County runs through 2028, the Panthers have an out-clause that would allow them to relocate after the 2022-23 season if they lose more than $100 million between last season and 2021-22 and give one year's notice. “They basically monetized the land and they’re more portable now,” Ozanian said. “I’m not saying they are going to leave, but it is a plus.”
Panthers executive chairman Peter Luukko said he disagrees with Forbes numbers, but did acknowledge that the Panthers have increased in their value due to more stable ownership, a better product on the ice and the deal with Broward County. What the deal with the county does, Luukko said, was give the Panthers, “a lease that’s more commensurate with the times.” As far as the effect it has had on the bottom line, Luukko said the Panthers are still losing money, “we’re definitely cutting into those.” The Panthers said they lost $36 million in 2014-15.
The Islanders were another team that saw its franchise value spike upward, despite the fact that it ranks second-last in NHL attendance and its valuation by Forbes is $385 million, which is $100 million lower than the announced selling price when Charles Wang sold the team two years ago. Ozanian said the Islanders revenues from the Barclays Center are only in the $50 million range and the owners are carrying a considerable amount of debt, playing at Barclays has mitigated some of the team’s losses. “It’s a weird situation,” Ozanian said.
Overall, Ozanian said the league’s franchise values have been helped by the Rogers television deal, the league’s seven percent ownership in BamTech (which could increase to 12 percent) as part of its deal with MLB Advanced Media and an owner-friendly collective bargaining agreement. The Forbes numbers, it should be noted, are based on the revenues and expenses of all teams, including the arena’s economics as they pertain to the owner of the team. (Which explains why the Rangers come out on top.) Based on that formula, each team averages about $15 million in operating income, but almost half that total income of about $450 million ($219 million) is accounted for by the Rangers, Canadiens and Leafs.
The magazine, meanwhile, valued the Pittsburgh Penguins at $570 million, which is almost $200 million less than owners Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux were seeking last season. And that’s with $26 million in operating income and a team that has strong revenue potential for the next couple of years. But generally, the future looks pretty favorable, the Canadian dollar notwithstanding.
“I think that even the lower revenue teams have benefitted,” Ozanian said. “Arguably, it has benefitted them the most because it’s more plausible for them to turn a profit.”
NHL FRANCHISE VALUES*
1. New York Rangers: $1.25 billion (+4.2%)
2. Montreal Canadiens: $1.12 billion (-4.7%)
3. Toronto Maple Leafs: $1.1 billion (-4.4%)
4. Chicago Blackhawks: $985 million ( - )
5. Boston Bruins: $800 million (+6.6%)
6. Philadelphia Flyers: $720 million (+9.1%)
7. Vancouver Canucks: $700 million (-6.1%)
8. Detroit Red Wings: $625 million (+4.2%)
9. Los Angeles Kings: $600 million (+3.4%)
10. Pittsburgh Penguins: $570 million (+1.8%)
- Washington Capitals: $570 million (+0.8%)
12. Dallas Stars: $500 million (+11%)
13. San Jose Sharks: $470 million (+5.5%)
14. Edmonton Oilers: $445 million (-2.3%)
15. Anaheim Ducks: $415 million (+3.6%)
16. Calgary Flames: $410 million (-5.8%)
17. Minnesota Wild: $400 million (+5.3%)
18. New York Islanders: $385 million (+18%)
19. Colorado Avalanche: $360 million ( - )
20. Ottawa Senators: $355 million (-4%)
21. Winnipeg Jets: $340 million (-3%)
22. New Jersey Devils: $320 million (-3%)
23. St. Louis Blues: $310 million (+15%)
24. Tampa Bay Lightning: $305 million (+17%)
25. Buffalo Sabres: $300 million ( - )
26. Nashville Predators: $270 million (+5.9%)
27. Columbus Blue Jackets: $245 million (+8.4%)
28. Arizona Coyotes: $240 million (+9.1%)
29. Florida Panthers: $235 million (+26%)
30. Carolina Hurricanes: $230 million (+2.2%)
* Source: Forbes magazine