“What I can say about him? He is a good player, but he talks too much.”
- Washington's Alex Ovechkin on Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby after the Caps beat the Pens 5-2 Sunday.
“What I can say about him? He is a good player, but he talks too much.”
- Washington's Alex Ovechkin on Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby after the Caps beat the Pens 5-2 Sunday.
Kalle Kossila of the Anaheim Ducks skates with the puck during the preseason NHL game against Arizona Coyotes.
The Finnish forward extended his point streak to eight games with a goal of the year candidate.
Kalle Kossila may have been a little known prospect playing in the American Hockey League, but that changed on Friday night after the Finnish forward scored a highlight-reel goal in San Diego’s 5-1 win over the San Jose Barracuda.
Kossila’s first of two third period goals gave the Gulls a 4-0 lead.
“I’ve done it in practice, but obviously a game situation is way different,” Kossila told the team’s website postgame. “The puck happened to stay on the top of my stick, and their defenseman wasn’t pressuring me, so I tried it.”
The goal extended Kossila’s career high point streak to eight games and is the longest point streak in franchise history.
“Kossila’s goal was unbelievable,” said Gulls coach Dallas Eakins. “I’ve been in pro hockey for 30 years and I’ve never seen a player pull that off in a game.”
A native of Kauniainen, Finland, Kossila is in his first full season with the Anaheim Ducks organization after signing as a free agent out of St. Cloud State in March 2016.
The 23-year-old has nine goals and 18 assists in 32 games with San Diego this season.
The Ladies in Black theatrical charity team performs comical skits while playing hockey to raise awareness for a variety of causes.
It’s very likely Gerry Boley is the world’s only male hockey-playing nun with a hip replacement, mitral valve patch in his heart and pin in his shoulder. And if that sounds like a joke, don’t worry, Boley’s not offended – he’s just happy that he made you laugh.
“I just want to bring joy and whatever assistance I can to Canadians who need it, and there’s no better way of doing that then combining satire with our country’s favorite pastime,” the St. Catharines, Ont., native said.
In 2005, Boley founded the Ladies in Black theatrical charity team – a group of men in nun costumes that performs comical skits while playing hockey to raise awareness for a variety of causes, such as women’s shelters and food banks.
The first event was a charity game for Parkinson’s disease, an illness that Boley knows all too well.
“My dad had Parkinson’s, and just seeing what he and my mom, who was caring for him, went through, I decided I couldn’t sit by and just watch,” he said.
But he soon found out that building the LIB wasn’t going to be an easy task. It took him a year to find sponsors, create characters and costumes, put together skits and find a venue. On top of all of that, he still had to put together an actual team.
After scouting the ranks, Boley recruited former junior and professional athletes to adopt a nun persona. Former Hamilton Tiger-Cat and CFL Hall of Famer Rocky DiPietro, who was teaching football at Lakeshore High School in Port Colborne, Ont., at the time, was one of the first players to jump on board.
“He approached me with the idea, and at first I was a little taken back,” said DiPietro, who is known on the ice as Sister BigFoot, the big, hairy team enforcer. “I mean, what do you say when someone asks you to play hockey as a nun? But I figured, why not have some fun and give back to the community at the same time.”
DiPietro brought with him Chris Zanutto, a former junior defenseman for the London Knights and the 1994-95 Canadian National Team, and Josh Oort, who played in Europe and had a short stint with the ECHL’s Greenville Grrrowl in 2004-05. Zanutto became known as Friar Truck, the team’s wacky trainer, and Oort took on the persona of Sister Celine Poutine, a play on Celine Dion and a delicious Quebec specialty.
Despite the amusement of seeing grown men throwing hip checks in nun costumes, the characters aren’t the funniest part. The LIB perform a number of spoofs, starting from the moment they enter the ice – full speed to their theme song Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress by The Hollies. From there the crowd can expect to witness anything from Sister Suzuki dishing out nasty karate chops to a performance of West Side Story’s I Feel Pretty, used to distract the opposing team while the nuns set up a stretch pass to Sister Offside.
“I remember the first time we performed, people had no idea what to expect,” DiPietro said. “Seeing them light up and react the way they did, it only confirmed that we had to keep doing this.”
But tragedy struck Boley and his family, causing him to hang up the skates for a little while.
On July 27, 2014, his nephews Jonathan, 33, and Daniel, 49, were killed while waiting at a red light in Kanata, Ont. Their vehicle was struck by a speeding motorist who hit a median, flipped in the air and came crashing down on their hood.
This wasn’t the first time their family had experienced loss. Boley’s sister Carol had also lost two of her daughters – Christine, to asthma, and Angela-Joy, to cancer – a few years prior.
Shortly after, Boley had his hip replaced and underwent open-heart surgery.
“When it rains, sometimes it pours,” he said. “I needed to put everything on hold.”
Now feeling much healthier, he and the LIB are ready to strap back on their skates and robes to hit the ice again.
“It’s nice to just go to a rink, let loose, forget about all your worries and have fun,” he said.
And to Boley, that’s what the game is all about.
“Hockey, just like life, is about having fun,” he said, “and if I can do something to help others fulfill that whether it’s through laughter or raising awareness, I’m certainly not going to sit on the bench and do nothing.”
For more information on the Ladies in Black, email Gerry Boley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connor McDavid netted his 100th point in his 92nd career game, but how does that compare to the rest of the league’s talented youngsters?
Connor McDavid found himself in some distinguished company Wednesday night.
With the lone assist on Zack Kassian’s game-opening goal against the Florida Panthers, McDavid celebrated his 100th point in his 92nd career NHL game. In doing so, McDavid became the fourth-fastest active player to reach the mark and you might recognize McDavid’s company. By reaching the mark in what amounts to little more than a full season, McDavid joins Alex Ovechkin (77 games), Sidney Crosby (80 games) and Evgeni Malkin (89 games) as one of the four fastest current players to reach the 100-point plateau, according to the NHL.
Reaching 100 points in so few games is another feather in McDavid’s cap and seeing McDavid alongside three of the game’s very best is yet another reminder that he’s already among the games elite players. Crosby, Malkin and Ovechkin have each captured an Art Ross and Hart Trophy to go along with a Ted Lindsay Award, and with McDavid leading the scoring race with 54 points — four points clear of Crosby and Malkin and more than a dozen ahead of Ovechkin — it seems like McDavid could be well on his way to joining them in owning the trio of NHL honors.
McDavid’s rapid climb to 100 points also serves as a reminder that when it comes to young stars, the Oilers captain is, without a doubt, the cream of the crop. That said, though, how does his ascent to 100 points stack up against each team’s top youngster?
Anaheim Ducks: The Anaheim Ducks haven’t brought in many big-name stars through the draft since Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf came onto the scene, but Rickard Rakell has earned his place as the Ducks’ top young offensive star. Rakell notched his 100th career points earlier this season in his 192nd game.
Arizona Coyotes: Max Domi’s rookie season went much better than his sophomore campaign has gone, but he’s still on pace to become a 100-point player before he’s too deep into his career. He’s about 50 games shy of reaching the mark, so expect him to notch his 100th point around his 160th career game.
Boston Bruins: He’s not there yet, but David Pastrnak is inching ever-closer to the 100-point plateau. He has 86 points in 138 games, and is scoring close to a point per game. If he keeps it up this season, he should reach the 100 career points by his 156th career game. That’ll come in early March.
Buffalo Sabres: The choice at the 2014 draft was between McDavid and Jack Eichel, and though he went second-overall to the Sabres, Eichel is proving to be quite the offensive gem. At his current rate of scoring, expect Eichel to reach the mark by his 140th career game right before the season comes to a close.
Calgary Flames: Johnny Gaudreau wasn’t a top draft pick but he’s become an almost instant star in Calgary. His scoring as a rookie was phenomenal and left him only 35 points shy of reaching the 100-point mark in his sophomore year. He was there by the 115th game of his career.
Carolina Hurricanes: At almost exactly half a point per game, Victor Rask was a model of consistency through his first two campaigns. He’s picked it up this season, though, and is starting to look like a two-way star in Carolina. He scored his 100th point this season in his 187th career game.
Chicago Blackhawks: McDavid finished third in Calder Trophy voting despite playing half a season, but not even rookie standout Artemi Panarin reached 100 points as quick as McDavid despite his 77-point freshman campaign. Panarin scored his 100th point this season, and it came in game No. 107.
Colorado Avalanche: Nathan MacKinnon is like a miniature Sidney Crosby, right down to training with the Penguins captain in the off-season. It took MacKinnon quite a bit longer to notch his 100th point, however. MacKinnon’s 100th point was scored at the tail end of his sophomore year, in the 143rd game of his career.
Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets have found a future top-six pivot in Alexander Wennberg, and in his third season in the league, the 2013 first-round pick is only a couple points from reaching the century mark. He sits at 96 career points in 180 games, and his 100th point could be coming any day now.
Dallas Stars: John Klingberg is the first defenseman on this list, but with good reason. He was a late-round find by the Stars who turned into an offensive juggernaut. He entered the season with 98 points in 141 games, and an assist four games into the season gave Klingberg 100 points in 145 career games. That’s better than a number of forwards.
Detroit Red Wings: The down year in Detroit hasn’t helped Dylan Larkin’s cause, but he still has all the making of a future offensive star for the Red Wings. His rookie season saw him net 45 points in 80 games and he’s 37 points back of reaching the 100-point plateau with 125 games under his belt. That might have to wait until the 2017-18 campaign, however, as Larkin’s battling through a sophomore slump.
Florida Panthers: MacKinnon was supposed to be the runaway star of the 2013 draft, but Aleksander Barkov has turned into quite the player himself. Selected second-overall, Barkov’s two-way game is great, and the fact he reached the 100-point mark in 173 games puts him only 30 games back of MacKinnon.
Los Angeles Kings: A big start to the 2015-16 campaign put Tyler Toffoli up to 100 points in a hurry. He had entered the season 17 points back of the mark thanks to a breakout sophomore season, and his 17 points in 18 games gave him 100 career points by the time he had played career outing No. 166.
Minnesota Wild: It’s taken a while for Jason Zucker to really piece together his entire game, but he’s starting to find it now, which is to say the rest of his skill set seems to have caught up to his speed. He’s already set a career-high this season with 29 points, and he’s only 10 points back of 100 for his career. Expect that around the 230th game of his career.
Montreal Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk has gradually built his way up to being one of the top offensive threats in Montreal. As for his 100th point, he netted that by the time he was wrapping up his third campaign in the league, registering an assist for point No. 100 in his 184th big league contest.
Nashville Predators: The trade that brought Filip Forsberg to the Predators will go down as one of the greatest steals in league history, even if it took Forsberg a while to find his way into the lineup full-time. After breaking out with 63 points in 2014-15, Forsberg kept up his pace and netted his 100th point in his 153rd game.
New Jersey Devils: The Devils’ tough time in the draft hasn’t brought them many young stars of late, but the trade that brought Kyle Palmieri to New Jersey gave them a 30-goal scorer right away, and he managed his 100th career point 14 games into his stay with the Devils. Altogether, it was his 212th NHL outing.
New York Islanders: Forget young stars for a second, and let’s look at the comparison between McDavid and John Tavares. Tavares burst onto the scene with a 54-point year and was a 100-point player by his sophomore year. However, the 100th point didn’t come until Tavares had played his 135th game.
New York Rangers: Mika Zibanejad didn’t start out as a Blueshirt, but he’s got the potential to become an impactful part of the roster for years to come. His 100th career point didn’t come in New York, either. In his 198th game with the Ottawa Senators, Zibanejad picked up an assist to reach the milestone.
Ottawa Senators: This is where Zibanejad would have fit in were it not for the off-season trade, but instead the nod goes to Mark Stone, who has been on a tear ever since cracking the lineup as a full-timer. A 64-point year put him 28 points shy of 100 for his career entering the 2015-16, and he proceed to get the required points in 29 games, making for 100 points in 132 career games.
Philadelphia Flyers: Shayne Gostisbehere became one of the most beloved Flyers rookies in years for his scoring ways in his rookie season. He’s slowed this season, but the rearguard is 35 points back of the 100-point plateau. Give him another 60 or so games, and he should reach the century mark.
Pittsburgh Penguins: There aren’t any undrafted players on this list yet, but Conor Sheary seems like the surest bet to reach the 100-point mark in a hurry. He’s set career highs in his sophomore year with 13 goals and 29 points and the year’s only half over. He could be a near-60-point player by year’s end. If he stays on this pace, 100 points in 160 games seems possible.
St. Louis Blues: Vladimir Tarasenko is one of the most dynamic scorers in the league and a superstar in waiting with the way he can fill the net. His first two seasons were only all right, but he broke out in 2014-15 with a 37-goal, 73-point season that saw him score his 100th career point in his 137th game with the Blues.
San Jose Sharks: It’s going to be hard to forget Tomas Hertl’s four-goal debut, but injuries have slowed him down since his rookie year. His best season to date came in 2015-16 and it was also the same season he scored point No. 100. It took him until his 187th career game.
Tampa Bay Lighting: Steven Stamkos’ absences have shown just how important Nikita Kucherov is to the Lightning. By his second season, he was already flirting with a 30-goal year and only a handful of points shy of 100 for his career. He hit the 100-point mark 29 games into the 2015-16 season, and 163 games into his big league career.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Let’s take a look at this with Auston Matthews. Right now, Matthews has 38 points in 42 games, putting him on pace to earn his 100th point around the 111th game of his career. The thing is that he’s only getting better as time goes on, so hitting 100 points in 100 games doesn’t seem too far-fetched.
Vancouver Canucks: Bo Horvat is heading to the All-Star Game to represent the Canucks, and he could be celebrating his 100th point before he heads off to Los Angeles. He’s sitting at 95 career points in 196 games, and he has a shot at nice round numbers if he can net five points in the four games before the break.
Washington Capitals: Things haven’t gone Evgeny Kuznetsov’s way this year, but he still has all the skill in the world and is capable of putting up big numbers like he did in 2015-16. That 20-goal, 77-point year saw Kuznetsov net his 100th career point in his 149th career game.
Winnipeg Jets: If we looked at Matthews’ chase for 100 points, it’s worth taking a look at Patrik Laine’s numbers, too. Before falling injured, Laine had 37 points in 42 games, which puts him in the same range as Matthews. Laine has had some slumps, but he’s got the potential for a few big games. He, like Matthews, could be eying up point No. 100 by the time his career is a mere 100 games old.
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Ryan Kesler. Image by: Michael Martin/Getty Images
The usual suspects -- Bergeron, Kopitar, and Toews -- appear to be out of the discussion for the Selke Trophy. Here are five names that seem to have the best chance at stepping in.
When it comes to handing out hardware at the NHL Awards, the Selke hasn't been all that tough to figure out in recent seasons. For the last five years, the same three players have dominated the voting. Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Toews have accounted for all five wins, as well as eleven of the fifteen finalist spots.
But this year is shaping up like it could be different, with all three players slumping offensively. Maybe that shouldn't matter, since the Selke is supposed to be a defensive award. But over the years, it's morphed into a trophy that recognizes two-way play, which means you need to be scoring to get much consideration. If you pro-rate the lockout year, nobody has won the Selke with fewer than 55 points in the salary cap era. None of the Big Three are on pace to get there this year.
With half a season left to play, that could still change. And it's always possible that in the absence of a slam dunk candidate emerging somewhere else, voters could opt to play it safe and go back to one of the old familiars. But for the first time in years, the Selke really does seem up for grabs.
So who has a shot? Assuming that Bergeron, Toews or Kopitar don't take the trophy home this time, here are the five names that seem to have the best chance at stepping in.
Ryan Kesler, Ducks
The case for: The veteran is having his best season since 2011, and is on pace for about 65 points while playing tough minutes for a first-place Ducks team. His advanced stats won't blow anyone away, but they're good enough that the analytics guys shouldn't push back too hard, and everyone loves a good comeback narrative.
The case against: While it wouldn't be held against him by voters, Kesler doesn't really fit our "new blood" theme; he was the last player to win the award before the Bergeron/Toews/Kopitar trinity took over, and he finished third in the voting last year.
More importantly, there's at least an argument to be made that linemate Andrew Cogliano deserves the award, too. If that line of thinking catches on, the two could end up splitting votes and knocking each other out of the running.
Mikko Koivu, Wild
The case for: While it's meant as a single-season award, voters tend to like to treat the Selke as more of a career achievement; it's rare for somebody to win the award without having built up a resume over the years. That works in Koivu's favor, as he's been considered a strong defensive forward for a decade now, finishing as high as fourth in the Selke voting back in 2009. He hasn't come especially close since, but he's had votes every year.
New coach Bruce Boudreau has leaned heavily on Koivu in the defensive zone, and his ability to handle the duties has been a big part of Minnesota's unexpected success. With the Wild emerging as one of the one of the year's best surprises, voters will be paying attention.
The case against: Koivu's all-around numbers are good but not great, and he's benefitting from a sky-high on-ice save percentage and PDO that's unlikely to continue. With Devan Dubnyk looking like the Vezina favorite and Boudreau having a shot at the Jack Adams, voters might figure that their ballots are already getting crowded with Wild names.
Mikael Backlund, Flames
The case for: Backlund seems to have emerged as a trendy dark horse pick in recent weeks. It's well-deserved: his numbers are excellent, and he's posting them in tough minutes for a young Flames team that asks a lot of him. His offensive numbers aren't jaw-dropping, but he's leading the team in scoring, and that should be enough to satisfy those "two-way" demands if he can keep it up.
The case against: While Backlund's been an underrated defensive player for a while now, he's never received a Selke vote. Again, you can argue that that shouldn't matter, but history has shown that it does. That could make it tough for him to get enough votes to win outright.
Aleksander Barkov, Panthers
The case for: At 21, Barkov would fit the new blood narrative perfectly. And he's already on voters' radars after finishing sixth in last year's balloting. He checks most of the boxes that voters tend to look for, posting solid offensive stats and strong possession numbers. And in a season where the biggest story has been the emergence of the next generation of star players, you could see the voters turning to one of the best young two-way forwards in the game.
The case against: Barkov is hurt right now and has already missed two weeks, so if he's not back soon he probably falls out of the running. He's also been playing a more offensive role this year under new coach Tom Rowe, which may be good for the Panthers, but probably not for his Selke chances. And given how things are turning out in Florida this year, voters may not be interested in having many Panther names on their ballot.
Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals
The case for: If building up enough support to win the award is a long-term process, this could be your guy. Backstrom generated plenty of Selke buzz last year, but finished just outside the top ten for the second straight year. It helps that he's putting up the sort of big offensive number that voters like to see. And after years of largely playing in Alex Ovechkin's shadow, he seems to be settling in as one of those guys that everyone in the hockey world decides has been underrated for too long. What better way to make it up to him than with some awards ballot love?
The case against: In terms of pure numbers, you could make a good case that Backstrom's defensive game was better last year than it is now. That won't necessarily hurt him with voters who feel like he's finally due, but it could keep him from getting the kind of widespread groundswell of support that would help push him past a strong candidate like Kesler.
Honorable mentions (and why they won't win):
- Brad Marchand (Bruins): He's getting some buzz, and has earned votes in the past. But has he really become a better option than Bergeron right now? And if not, how can you win the Selke when you're not the best defensive forward on your own team?
- Nazem Kadri (Maple Leafs): He's a relatively new candidate who'll face the same uphill climb as Backlund, with the added disadvantage that plenty of people don't seem to like him.
- Sidney Crosby (Penguins): He's been underrated in his own end for years, and you could see him getting some consolation ballots if voters decided to break for Connor McDavid for the Hart. But right now, the Crosby focus is still on the MVP race.
- Joe Thornton (Sharks): He gets votes every year and finally had his first top five finish last season, so the timing seems right. But his offensive numbers are down this year.
- Ryan O'Reilly (Sabres): He's been in the mix before. But the Sabres' disappointing season may doom him; there's never been a first-time Selke winner from a team that didn't make the playoffs.
- Jordan Staal (Hurricanes): He'd face the same hurdle as O'Reilly if the Hurricanes miss the playoffs, although these days that seem less and less likely. He may have the best case of anyone in this section.
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.