Fans cheer before Game 3. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
A selection of the best images from May 28..
Fans cheer before Game 3. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
A selection of the best images from May 28..
Craig Cunningham’s recovery is progressing but “there's a lot more progression and healing to be done,” according to friend and former teammate Milan Lucic, who visited Cunningham recently.
Tucson captain Craig Cunningham has remained in the thoughts of the hockey community since the moment he collapsed on the ice ahead of an AHL contest between the Roadrunners and Manitoba Moose on Nov. 19, but information regarding the health of the 26-year-old has been sparse.
The Arizona Coyotes, the parent club of the Roadrunners, have updated Cunningham’s status from time to time, often saying only that there has been little or no change, which is to say that Cunningham remains in critical but stable condition.
However, a promising update has come along regarding Cunningham from his friend and former teammate, Milan Lucic. The Oilers winger, who played with Cunningham with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants and again as a member of the Boston Bruins, said he couldn’t get into too much detail, but offered some positive news.
"The good news is he's progressed a lot from the state he was in last weekend," Lucic said, according to NHL.com’s Jerry Brown. "He's heading in the right direction, but obviously there's a lot more progression and healing to be done.”
Even with the good news, though, Brown reported that Cunningham “has not regained consciousness since collapsing.”
No cause for the collapse has been given by either the Coyotes or Roadrunners, but Tucson GM Doug Soetaert told the Arizona Daily Star on Nov. 21 that Cunningham was “critically ill.”
Cunningham was a fourth-round pick, 97th overall, of the Bruins in 2010, and has played 63 NHL games over the past several seasons. He was acquired by the Coyotes via waivers in 2014-15, finishing the season by playing 19 games with the Coyotes and recording one goal and four points. He skated in 10 games with the Coyotes in 2015-16, picking up an assist.
Cunningham was named the captain of the Springfield Falcons, then the Coyotes affiliate, in 2015-16 and had arguably the best AHL season of his career, posting 22 goals and 46 points in 61 games. He held on to the captaincy with the newly minted Roadrunners this season and had four goals and 13 points in 11 games.
The Roadrunners postponed two additional games following Cunningham’s hospitalization, but returned to action this past Saturday.
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Giving props to the Flyers surprise leading scorer, the Maple Leafs' all-star snubs, and other stray thoughts from the first quarter of the season.
If Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Austin Matthews is to play in the NHL All-Star Game this season, he will have to make it as a write-in candidate, even though he was the top pick in the 2016 draft. That’s right, Matthews didn’t make the cut amongst players chosen by the league to be on the ballot. Interestingly enough, Patrick Laine, who was chosen second overall by the Winnipeg Jets, is on the ballot. Fans can choose between 32 players to represent the Atlantic Division including Maple Leafs teammates Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk and Morgan Rielly. There are 120 names on the ballot.
Speaking of Maple Leafs rookies, Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander are among the team’s most productive players, but all are minus-3. Toronto has a very impressive rookie corps which includes Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown, Zach Hyman and Nikita Soshnikov. But only Brown is a plus player at plus-3.
Phil Kessel of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who has never produced a 40-goal season, dipped to just 26 goals last season. He salvaged his year with 10 goals in 24 playoff games while helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup. This season Kessel had six goal in Pittsburgh’s first 24 games and was on pace for a 21-goal season. To his credit, Kessel was leading the Penguins with 16 assists. Even when he was lighting the lamp, Kessel was always an underrated passer.
Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers has taken his game to the next level. He has always been a solid contributor, but now he is tied for the lead in Flyers scoring with 11 goals and 22 points in 25 games. Simmonds, who is 28 and in his ninth NHL season, scored a career-best 31 goals in 2013-14. He is on pace for 36 goals this season. At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, the lanky right winger is one of those players that could have played in any era of the NHL.
Things were looking up in Arizona last season when rookies Max Domi and Anthony Duclair burst on the scene with impressive seasons. Domi had 18 goals and 52 points in 81 games while Duclair had 20 goals and 44 points in 80 games. For the Coyotes to continue to make progress they need both Domi and Duclair to take their games to the next level. It hasn’t happened thus far and Arizona is tied with the Colorado Avalance for last place. Domi has four goals and 15 points while Duclair has just one goal and four points. Speaking about his own sophomore, Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings GM said once young players gain a measure of success in the NHL, they attract the attention of the opposition who studies their game and comes up with a plan to stop them. It is up to the player, Holland said, to make adjustments in his game to get back to being productive.
Joe Colborne of the Avalanche opened the season scoring a hat trick in the first game of the season, a 6-5 win over the Dallas Stars, and hasn’t scored a goal since. Colborne is not the only underachiever on the struggling Avalanche. Leading scored Nathan MacKinnon has just five goals and 15 points while veteran Jarome Iginla has three goals and five points, each in 21 games. This helps to explain why the Avalanche sits at the bottom of the league. Three years ago Colorado finished third overall and appeared to be legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. Then they slipped to 21st the past two seasons and look like a solid bet to finish 30th this season. Something’s gotta give soon.
Scotty Bowman is one of the most important figures in hockey history. Bowman, 83, has been a part of 14 Stanley Cup champions, has the most coaching victories in NHL history and was appropriately inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991. Now Bowman’s son Stan is carving out a Hall of Fame career of his own. Having constructed three Stanley Cup champions in the past seven seasons as GM of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bowman keeps his team in contention mainly because he has masterfully stick-handled around the challenges of dealing with a salary cap. Time and time again Bowman has been forced to move players from a championship roster and replace them in cost-cutting measures. And yet his Blackhawks remain a Cup contender, challenging the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers for top spot through the first quarter of the season.
Corey Crawford has proven once again this season that he’s worthy of high praise, and that will make his absence hurt the Blackhawks that much more. He'll be out 2-3 weeks following an appendectomy.
Patrick Kane is leading the Blackhawks in scoring, Marian Hossa is leading the team in goals and Duncan Keith has been every bit the minute-munching blueliner he has throughout his career, but Corey Crawford has almost undoubtedly been Chicago’s MVP through the first 25 games of the season.
And that will make his absence from the lineup hurt that much more.
Just hours ahead of the Blackhawks’ meeting with the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday afternoon, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville announced that Crawford, 31, had fallen ill and wouldn’t be able to make the start, passing the reins over to Scott Darling and forcing the Blackhawks to ink local goaltender Eric Semborski to an amateur tryout in order to suit up as an emergency netminder. Then shortly before the game started, the Blackhawks announced that this won’t simply be a one-game leave for Crawford.
Instead, Crawford could be out a handful of games — if not longer — due to acute appendicitis, and he will be undergoing surgery in Philadelphia Saturday.
“(Crawford) is undergoing an appendectomy today at a Philadelphia hospital,” Blackhawks doctor Michael Terry said in a release. “We are anticipating a full recovery and return to play. We will provide details regarding the timeline of his return after we have more information about the surgery.”
While it’s excellent news that he’s expected to be able to make a full recovery, being without Crawford for any substantial amount of time could be incredibly costly for the Blackhawks. He has been spectacular once again this year.
Of the 32 goaltenders to play at least 500 minutes at 5-on-5 this year, Crawford ranks third in save percentage with a stellar .956 mark. The only netminders who have been better are Montreal Canadiens all-world netminder Carey Price and Minnesota Wild keeper Devan Dubynk, but both are only ahead of Crawford by a narrow margin.
It’s not as if the Blackhawks are exactly the dominant possession team they once were, either, so Crawford has been tested often. With Chicago ranking 11th in the league in 5-on-5 Corsi For percentage at 50.7 percent, Crawford has seen 30.4 shots per 60 minutes of action at five a side. That ranks 10th among the 32 500-minute netminders.
Darling is no doubt a passable option as a spot starter in place of Crawford, but his 4-0-1 record, 2.76 goals-against average and .909 SP are a far cry from the Blackhawks starter’s numbers. Chicago will also be set to rely on either Mac Carruth or Lars Johansson as their backup in Crawford’s absence.
UPDATE: The Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus reported Saturday that Crawford is expected to miss 2-3 weeks.
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Rumors of the Flames looking to trade defenseman Dougie Hamilton for some scoring help just won't go away.
Nearly two months into the NHL season, Calgary Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton is now a hot topic of trade speculation among the hockey punditry.
Hamilton, 23, got off to a slow start with the Flames this season. The puck-moving blueliner went pointless during a 10-game stretch from Oct. 30 to Nov. 18, and netted only six points in his first 19 games.
The Hamilton rumors initially surfaced in late October, when TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported of talk he could be available. LeBrun said one team made inquiries but didn't get far.
As Hamilton and the Flames struggled through November, the trade chatter only grew. On Nov. 12, Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos expressed doubt that the Flames were shopping the rearguard, but claimed the Arizona Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins were “kicking tires.” Two days later, Kypreos' colleague Elliotte Friedman said he'd heard Hamilton's name come up in trade discussions back in June.
Hamilton subsequently told the Calgary's Sun's Wes Gilbertson he'd heard the trade rumors but wasn't paying attention to them. He insisted he was happy playing in Calgary and wanted to help the Flames improve.
Entering Wednesday's match-up with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Flames have posted a 5-3-1 record in their last nine games. With 22 points, they're only three behind Los Angeles for a wild-card berth. Hamilton's production also improved, with six points in as many games. However, the trade talk persists.
But Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke is not happy about those trade talks.
During an appearance on Leafs Lunch Wednesday Burke shot down the rumors, lashed out at the team that leaked the idea, and made it clear the Flames intend to keep Hamilton.
“We expended a tremendous amount of assets to get this player. We’re really happy with him. He’s a quality guy. ... He’s a right shot. He skates like a deer. He’s a good hockey player. Yeah, let’s move him. Let’s get rid of him. It’s not hard to get guys like that."
USA Today's Kevin Allen last week made the case for the New York Rangers to pursue Hamilton. He believes the youngster can fill the Blueshirts need for a mobile defender with a right-handed shot.
On Monday, NHL analyst Bob McKenzie was asked by Toronto's TSN 1050 if the Toronto Maple Leafs could be interested in Hamilton. McKenzie speculates they probably are, though he doesn't know if Hamilton's available. He said the Flames are “definitely listening” on Hamilton, but that doesn't mean they intend to trade him.
McKenzie subsequently noted recent speculation linking the Maple Leafs to Hamilton, reporting no substantive talks between the two clubs. Some observers believe the Leafs should offer up promising winger William Nylander for Hamilton, but McKenzie claims they're not keen to do that. If the Leafs decide at some point to shop a winger for a defenseman, he believes James van Riemsdyk could be the likely trade candidate.
With scoring star Johnny Gaudreau sidelined indefinitely by finger surgery, the Flames are mired in the league's bottom third in goals-for per game (2.20). Even when Gaudreau returns later this season, the Flames could probably use more scoring punch.
Hamilton is the perfect trade chip to add another scoring forward. He's big (6-foot-6, 210 pounds), moves the puck well, has consecutive 40-plus point performances on his resume and his best seasons are ahead of him. It's assumed he could improve his overall game with better coaching.
All of those factors, however, are also good reasons why the Flames shouldn't part with Hamilton. He's still young with considerable upside. By trading him, there's a real risk he could reach his full potential elsewhere.
It'll take a substantial offer to pry him away from the Flames, probably a very good young forward. That could mean someone like Nylander or Coyotes left winger Max Domi, or perhaps an experienced physical scorer such as Chris Kreider of the Rangers.
Hamilton's contract is also a sticking point. At $5.75 million per season through 2020-21, there simply aren't many teams able to take on that salary right now. If the Flames do move Hamilton, it'll likely happen in the off-season, when teams have more cap space and a willingness to trade.
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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