Â• Should Rangers blueliner Karel Rachunek's disallowed goal in New York's 2-1 marathon overtime win over Buffalo been counted as a goal? Absolutely.
However, does this qualify as the latest in a never-ending line of officiating Â“controversiesÂ”? Absolutely not.
It's like arguing with a cop over a speeding ticket, or deciding which person in a failed relationship was to blame for the relationship failing: none of the parties involved ever will see it the same way. Best to simply move on and forget it happened.
Â• Speaking of that non-goal, here's what the New York Post's Rangers blog had to say about it:
Â“Seriously, if the (l)eague and the refs don't have it out for the Rangers, I can't explain why so little seems to go their way.Â”
This is getting mighty confusing. After the first round, I thought the league and the refs had it out for the Islanders! Would someone please set this league and their refs straight on who they're supposed to have it out for?
Â• The Rangers, Devils, Red Wings and Canucks all showed they've got some fight in them over the weekend, preventing the Sabres, Senators, Sharks and Ducks from taking commanding leads in their respective second-round series. But I saw enough from the latter four teams to continue believing the former four teams remain in a sizeable amount of trouble.
Â• I don't agree with everything Hockey Night In Canada analyst Kelly Hrudey has to say, but I couldn't agree more with the former goalie when he told the Toronto Star:
Â“I know Colin Campbell does a wonderful job ... but I would suspend people in a really harsh manner.Â”
So would I, Kelly, so would I. I'd make David Stern look like Bud Selig.
Bryan Bickell has been sidelined for much of the season as he gets treatment for multiple sclerosis, but the 30-year-old took part in practice for the second time in less than a week.
The hockey world was shocked in mid-November when news came that Carolina Hurricanes winger Bryan Bickell had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
At the time of the diagnosis, Bickell, 30, said he had been struggling to understand what had been going on with his body for more than a full season, dealing with health issues that were at the time diagnosed as the symptoms of vertigo. The issues dated back to the 2015 Stanley Cup final, during which Bickell captured his third Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Upon learning of the MS diagnosis, though, Bickell said he was hopeful that he would eventually find his way back into action and continue his NHL career, and in December, Bickell told reporters that it could be a month or more before he was able to return.
“It’s not a sprint, it’s going to be a marathon, and it’s going to take some time to get things right, ideally, to get me back on the ice,” Bickell said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus. “That’s what I’m hoping for…It could be a month, it could be a couple months to get back on the ice.”
Well, two months after the diagnosis, Bickell appears to be on his way back, even if that just means getting onto the ice with teammates. Bickell returned to the ice in a non-contact jersey late last week and was again out for practice with teammates on Monday. It could signal the start of what would be an inspiring return to the lineup.
Bickell was last able to suit up on Oct. 30, but it was almost clear then that something was ailing him. He skated only 5:45 in the outing, was out the next four games, listed as out with an illness five games later and the announcement of his diagnosis came on Nov. 11. In seven games with the Hurricanes before he hit the injured list, Bickell scored one goal and was averaging less than 10 minutes per game.
There may be some hope that knowing what is ailing him could even help Bickell get his career back on track. According to Lazerus, Bickell said he had grown frustrated with his play and not knowing what was wrong didn’t help matters. Now, with Bickell knowing what he’s dealing with and getting proper care, there’s the potential for him to find his game. But, if nothing else, everyone around the league will be thrilled just to see him get back on the ice.
If you want to win a Stanley Cup, you need speed. And for players on their way up through the ranks, skating acumen is going to be the price of admission for an NHL job
I was having a conversation with an NHL team scout yesterday, which is one of the best parts of my job. I learn so much from these chats and not just about the draft prospects we are discussing, but of the bigger picture as well. While discussing the pros and cons of some prospects, we began to talk about skating and its place in the game today. Simply put, it's becoming a must-have.
"The No. 1 priority is skating," said the scout. "Even if your hockey sense or skills aren't the greatest, at least we can point you in the right direction."
We all know it's a fast game today and you just have to look at all the recent champions to validate the skating argument. Team Canada's World Cup squad suffocated opponents with their skating, taking away time and space at both ends of the ice – though their excellence in the puck possession department dramatically narrowed the amount of time they had to use their speed on the defensive end.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup this past summer thanks to a team that had speed up and down its lineup. Think about it – how many Penguins from that team would you characterize as slow, by NHL standards? Maybe a couple, at most? Meanwhile, teams had to contest with Sidney Crosby, Carl Hagelin and Kris Letang, among many others.
At the world juniors, Team USA won gold with a similarly dangerous lineup, trotting out the likes of Colin White, Clayton Keller and Jack Roslovic to terrify teams.
What's really interesting for me is how speed is going to change bottom-six roles in the NHL. We're already seeing it, with teams employing fewer enforcers, but how far can the concept be pushed? Roslovic might be the perfect case study to keep an eye on, because as a prospect of the Winnipeg Jets, he's got a lot of talent ahead of him in the form of Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor. But if Roslovic, who is leading AHL Manitoba in scoring as a rookie, despite missing games due to the world juniors, is ready for the NHL leap next season, why hold him back if he can contribute from the third line? If defense is coming from speed these days anyway, it seems like a pretty nice way to get more skill in the lineup.
Tampa Bay will have a similar query to address in a year or two when prospects such as Mitchell Stephens, Anthony Cirelli and Mathieu Joseph come knocking on the door. All three have skill, but they can also skate and play with grit. It's a great problem to have if you're the Lightning.
What happens to prospects that aren't blessed with foot speed? Well, it's going to take them a little longer. We're seeing it with Dylan Strome, whom most of assumed would be full-time in Arizona this season. But thanks to his abundance of other talents and attributes, Strome can zero in on improving on his speed and strength, knowing that an NHL career is close. It can certainly be done, but he'll have to watch out for all the young burners out there on the fast-track while he does it.
We'll find out next Tuesday whether teams in the Ontario and Western Leagues will have to make their financials public.
Canadian Hockey League president David Branch has often publicly stated that people don’t get into the junior hockey business to make money. He has also said that about one-third of the teams make money, one-third break even and one-third lose money and those teams are interchangeable based on where they are in their franchise-building cycle.
We have a pretty good idea that the owners of teams such as the London Knights and Quebec Remparts (which are owned by Quebecor, the company that owns The Hockey News) make gobs of money, but nobody really knows how much. We’re also pretty sure that small markets such as Swift Current, Owen Sound and Baie Comeau face some pretty stiff and unique financial challenges, but we have no idea to what extent. We also know that, judging by the ticket prices and beer lines, the World Junior Championship is a major cash cow for the CHL, even when it’s bungled as badly as it recently was in Toronto and Montreal, since the junior leagues get one-third of the profits. We also know that franchises in the CHL are bought and sold for millions of dollars. We know that the Sudbury Wolves were purchased by Ken Burgess in 1986 for $250,000 and the team and its marketing arm were sold for about $11 million last summer, meaning it appreciated in value by about 4,400 percent in 30 years.
We know the players are paid a relative pittance for their work in addition to having their room and board covered by the teams. The CHL often crows about its scholarship program, claiming that it pays out millions of dollars per year to assist former players with their post-secondary education.
That’s pretty much all we know. And if the CHL has its way, that’s all we’ll ever know. Because when it comes to actually opening its books and proving to people that junior hockey is by and large a Mom and Pop operation, well, that’s where the flow of information is reduced to a trickle.
The question is why? If junior hockey leagues are so quick to claim that having to pay its players minimum wage would cause financial calamity, why do they not want their financial information to be part of the public discourse?
But the hundreds of players who hope to launch a class action lawsuit against the CHL want to change that. Next Tuesday, the two sides will argue before R.J. Hall, a Justice of the Alberta Court of the Queen’s Bench in Calgary, the CHL’s motion to have a sealing order placed over all financial records, scholarship data and revenue sharing agreements for the 42 teams in the OHL and Western League. The CHL was ordered to turn over that information last October as part of the class action lawsuit brought against the WHL for minimum wage.
The documents were filed as part of a certification hearing that’s scheduled to be held in Calgary in February. Once those documents are filed in court, they become a matter of public record unless they are sealed by court order and the CHL wants them to be sealed. “That way no one will have access to them except the judge and parties to the litigation,” said Toronto lawyer Ted Charney, who represents the plaintiffs. “I don’t want to comment on the merits of the motion because it’s coming up in court next week. All I can tell you is we intend to oppose it.”
The CHL originally argued back in October that only the WHL teams for which the plaintiffs played should have to submit their financials. But Justice Hall ordered all 22 WHL teams to provide the information, as well as the 20 teams in the OHL, since the defendants chose to file affidavits from the OHL, arguing that paying minimum wage would have the same adverse effects to OHL teams and, by extension, the entire CHL.
This is all very important to the future of the case because this is evidence that will be used in the certification hearing, at which time Justice Hall will decide whether or not the lawsuit merits being considered a class-action lawsuit. If he decides it does, hundreds of former players who have registered to join the lawsuit would be included. If not, the lawsuit will be restricted to the handful of former players who have come forward.
And if Justice Hall decides next week that two-thirds of the junior hockey operators in Canada must live with their books being open for the public to see, then perhaps we’ll have a better idea whether the former players have a case or Canada’s junior leagues would actually be crippled by having to pay their players minimum wage.
Martin St-Louis had a penchant for big playoff goals during his time with the Lightning, and those highlight his five best moments in Tampa Bay as the team gets set to retire his jersey.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will pay tribute to Martin St-Louis Friday night with a jersey retirement ceremony, making him the first player to receive the honor in franchise history.
It’s a fitting honor, too, because St-Louis will almost certainly go down as one of the greatest players to play at the tail-end of the clutch-and-grab era and one of the more impressive talents the league had as the game opened up and speed and skill were the dominant forces.
While a member of the Lightning, St-Louis captured two Art Ross Trophies as the league’s leading scorer, three Lady Byng’s as the most gentlemanly player in the game and was crowned the league MVP by both the press and the players for his fantastic 2003-04 campaign. St-Louis’ remains the greatest scorer in franchise history, and his impact on the Lightning will likely never be forgotten.
Here are the five greatest moments from St-Louis’ time in Tampa Bay:
5. Passes Lecavalier for good on all-time scoring list
St-Louis was part of Tampa Bay Lightning lore well before he became the franchise’s most decorated scorer, but the moment that he took the scoring lead for good and never let it go came during the 2012-13 campaign.
When the season began, St-Louis was 10 points back of Vincent Lecavalier on the Lightning’s all-time scoring lead, but the diminutive winger picked away at Lecavalier’s point lead before finally squeaking past him for good on March 7, 2013 against the Winnipeg Jets.
4. Four-goal night highlighted by natural hat trick
For the tremendous goal scoring ability that St-Louis possessed, one might think he had a number of big goal scoring nights to his name. While he did score eight hat tricks throughout his career, the last time he completed the feat was the most impressive of his career.
Almost everything was going in for St-Louis during the Jan. 18, 2014 meeting with the San Jose Sharks. He scored the Lightning’s first goal of the game, then their second, third and fourth goals over a period of less than seven minutes across the end of the first period and into the second.
Unfortunately, Joe Pavelski fired back with a natural hat trick of his own to give the Sharks the win.
3. Sparking Lightning Stanley Cup run with series winner in OT
Almost every Stanley Cup run has the one moment that you can pinpoint that started the miraculous chase for a championship, and while the Lightning were absolutely favored to down the eighth-ranked New York Islanders, the excitement necessary for a big run came when St-Louis put Tampa Bay through to the second round with his first of two huge overtime goals in the post-season.
It’s probably a shot Islanders netminder Rick DiPietro could have stopped, but the booming slap shot sent New York packing and Tampa Bay marching towards the Stanley Cup.
2. Overtime winner gives Lightning first playoff series victory
Maybe the Lightning should have known they’d have their franchise’s overtime hero on their hands when he was the architect of the team’s first ever series win with a spinning overtime goal in Game 6 of the Lightning’s 2003 first-round matchup with the Washington Capitals.
There are few moments bigger for a franchise than winning their first playoff series, because it’s an indication that things are really starting to move in the right direction. For the Lightning, that was exactly the case. The 2003 playoff run was stopped short in five games by the New Jersey Devils in the second round, but Tampa Bay would use their post-season experience to their advantage the next season.
1. Double OT-winner forces Game 7 in Stanley Cup final
This goal has to go down as the biggest of St-Louis’ career. While he had netted two playoff overtime winners in his career before Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup final, it was his marker 30 seconds into the second overtime of a potentially series-deciding game against the Calgary Flames that opened the door for the Lightning to capture the Cup.
Two nights later, the Lightning downed the Flames in front of a hometown crowd at the St. Pete Times Forum on two goals by Ruslan Fedotenko. It remains the only Stanley Cup in franchise history for the Lightning.