Craziest Hockey Fans

Hockey fans are not nearly as nuts as European soccer hooligans but there are still some puckheads out there that are still pretty nuts.
Here is my quick look at some hockey fans that will seriously start to make you wonder about their own well-being.

When your hockey team is as good as Detroit’s, having made 19 consecutive playoff appearances, this team really does redefine the argument whether or not teams ‘deserve’ to make it this far. Watch out for flying octopi.

MELLON ARENA, Pittsburgh
Much the same as Detroit. When you have a team that can win like Pittsburgh does most of the time, the fans are going to come out in droves.

MTS CENTRE, Winnipeg
Since they were awarded their team back a year or so ago, the Jets franchise has resurfaced and has proven to be one of the noisiest arenas in the entire National Hockey League. This apparently is due to the roof being lower to the ice surface than in most rinks. One fan was pictured holding one of those guillotine ropes with a referee doll attached to the neck. It drew a bunch of complaints of course, still ranks high on the crazy list though. It’s too bad they couldn’t do a little more damage this year (as in win a game), had the Jets pulled off a couple victories, who knows what may have gone on in downtown Winnipeg?
After a stellar showing in every way, at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver fans really put on a show the following season during the Stanley Cup, a show in the worst kind of way. People in Vancouver are probably still paying for the mistakes of the soccer-style hooligans that trashed the downtown and other areas when their Canucks lost both Game 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup final that season to the Boston Bruins. And here we probably all thought those people were saints….

The Leafs have missed the playoffs every year since the lockout, except for the shortened season in 2013. This does not explain why they/we continue to flock to the games like people who have nothing better to do. This even though the average ticket price last year was $123, which is the highest in the league by 50%. It is also more than 151% of what it was 10 years ago. Somebody get this team a good head coach and that 151 will double by 2016.

UNITED CENTRE, Chicago (the Madhouse on Madison):
There is a reason why the United Centre is nicknamed the ‘Madhouse on Madison’. When the Blackhawks win, and that has been usually what they do, it gets loud in there. Blame it on the long rich history of NHL hockey on Chicago, or you could put the blame on guys like Toews and Kane, but for whatever you credit for it being loud in there, the Blackhawks have been a winning team ever since they figured out how to draft properly. If Chicago was not known as a high gun-violence city, I would definitely make more trips to the Windy City.

What continues to bring out hockey fans in Uniondale to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is beyond me. Their owner is whack, their team for the most part has been dysfunctional (except for this year of course), and the arena itself reminds me of something I recall visiting out in eastern Saskatchewan a couple years ago, an arena’s roof was made of tinfoil. The owner of the Islanders (Charles Wang) is the same guy who gave huge contracts to 2 players who couldn’t come close to living up to them (Rick DiPietro and Alexei Yashin). Based on what I have heard, Wang is moving his team to Brooklyn for next season and the team will play in the Barclays Centre.
The Sens Army has become better known since Alfredsson, Spezza and Heatley all played for them, in a market such as Ottawa, hockey has to be their #1 sport.

A team like Edmonton that prospered through the 1980s and parts of the 1970s too, the passion from way back then still exists. Now the team is in much different shape but the fanbase is still clearly there. I don’t think there is another team in the National Hockey League with more 1stoverall draft picks that are still playing (Nugent-Hopkins, Yakupov, Hall, and you can add this year’s #1 pick to that list). Despite dismal performances year after year after year, how can these legions of fans continue to support the team?

Whatever Calgary is doing to their team, the Edmonton Oiler seriously need to try, the Flames can win (they did it again last night when they eliminated Vancouver).

There is a good reason why they have been nicknamed the ‘Red Mile’. I have no idea how it got it’s name but they are out in full force right now, and the more the team wins, the bigger they get.


It is supposedly the most wonderful time of year if you are a hockey fan, particularly of the NHL, but not every city in the league or their fans, are feeling the ‘festive season’.
My team/city is one of them, and has been for some time now.
Nobody in Toronto (or anywhere near the area) should be happy with the way things have gone this season but by no means are we the only ones who are left so badly out in the cold that we actually have to pick another team for whom to follow during the next 2 months or so.
Here is a brief list of some of those teams that need more work than a high-schooler’s resume.
SAN JOSE SHARKS: I thought my Leafs were a mess until I wrote a blog about how messed up San Jose is internally. The players on the ice seem to be fine (sort of), but when you start with the man behind the bench (for now), Todd McLellan, and then everybody behind him, or on top of him however you choose to look at it, the Sharks aren’t biting anyone these days. They did have Stanley Cup hopes last season when they had the eventual champs, LA, down 3-0; then the astonishing thing happened and they collapsed harder than a cheap tent. Some say GM Doug Wilson is the problem and he probably is, especially when McLellan apparently wants to get fired just so he can get out of the mess, which stems around Wilson and former captain Joe Thornton. Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski are just some of the other big shots on the team that has forgotten how to win.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: is this really what Brendan Shanahan knowingly signed up for? This is going to test him in every way imaginable, and it just got a little worse this past weekend, when the Leafs came 4th in the NHL draft lottery. This means they will not only get nowhere near Connor McDavid (Erie Otters OHL) in the summer, but they probably won’t get anywhere near next-in-line Jack Eichel (Boston University Terriers)….or even Dylan Strome (Erie Otters OHL), either.
All this mess is something Shanahan needs to fix up, then he probably needs to do something with 2 stellar netminders in the dressing room (James Reimer, who has actually won playoff games with the Leafs, and Jonathan Bernier), then he needs to trade a couple big-time contracts simply for the sake of doing so (Phaneuf and possibly Phil Kessel), AND THEN Shanahan needs to find someone who actually wants to coach this mess into something respectable again.
On top of all of that, Shanahan also has to replace the other guy he just fired, GM Dave Nonis, as well as most of Peter Hornachek’s assistant coaches, if not all of them.
The Leafs join the Sharks are being 2 teams that are probably going to both need a new head coach and GM.
BOSTON BRUINS: the Bs are probably the only team that I did not think they would ever make a list like this one. They aren’t that bad, are they? Four years following a Stanley Cup victory in 7 games, followed by being one goal away from another Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final (vs Chicago), Boston does not make the playoffs this year, it should be noted that making the playoffs at this level of the game, is never something that should be taken for granted, after all Boston missed on this year’s dance by 2 points, which means that going back to October or November, take one of those losses and turn it into a win and the Bruins are in…
Anyway Peter Chiarelli just got fired, there is a 50/50 chance that head coach Claude Julien will be next, half of the current roster is either broken down, or just tired (Zdeno Chara, Todd Marchand, David Krecji), they do not have the mental batteries to do this hockey-in-the-spring every year. There was plenty of speculation at the trade deadline that Chara may actually be on his way out. He is 37 or something, he’s already got a Cup so it’s been good for him, but he could probably fetch quite a bit in a deal to just about anywhere.
EDMONTON OILERS: where of where on earth does anybody, sane or insane go with this one? The Edmonton Oilers are as bad as the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, and I can’t think of a basketball team or baseball team that’s as comparably as bad at their sport as the Edmonton Oilers have been.
They have had 3-4 #1 draft picks at the Entry Draft and they are about to get another one! Taylor Hall was a #1 pick (2010), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was too (2011), and Nail Yakupov was in 2012….and now they are about to choose #1 yet again….when is this going to end? Ales Hemsky was their #1 draft pick in 2001. Jordan Eberle was a first-round pick too, but was selected 22nd overall.
BUFFALO SABRES: They will get what they want with a shot at the No. 1 pick but GM Tim Murray won’t sit still this summer.
They’ll most certainly have a new look behind the bench after coach Ted Nolan was fired less than 24 hours after the season ended. That had been on the table for a long, long time.
The Sabres have been listed as a team that will make a push for Coach Mike Babcock, if he goes to the free agent market.
They likely will because owner Terry Pegula isn’t afraid to spend money. Once a coach is in place, though, he needs some players. Binghamton’s Luke Richardson is another candidate.
Murray’s plan has always been simple: Get a top selection in the draft and then build around him. There are going to be teams — Boston and Chicago to name a couple — who are going to have cap issues and may want to move some top end players. If that’s the case, expect the Sabres to be a player.

The plan isn’t to finish last forever. Pegula and Murray want a winner in fairly short which means they’ll do what it takes to compete for a playoff spot. 

The 5 Canadian Teams in the Playoffs

The Los Angeles Kings are out, the Flames are in.
Now I am thinking about the Blues or Flames final. Wouldn’t that be grand?
The team I have loved to hate for the past 4-5 years is officially no better than my Toronto Maple Leafs. Proof that in this wonderful league, anything is possible.
Reason to rejoice for every single team that does make it in, they won’t have to put up with those once-no-name kids from California who weren’t even that good prior to 2011.
I have always thought that pressure was never a problem for that Kings team, now apparently I am wrong. They don’t get a crack at their 3rd Stanley Cup in 5 years.
Now it is officially time to take a look at the Canadian Stanley Cup playoff teams, along with a reason or 2 why each may do what those Kings were able to do, almost at will.
The Winnipeg Jets: where did the Winnipeg Jets even come from? At the start of the season, like Calgary, nobody ever gave them any respect. Now all of the sudden, they are looking like one of those teams that all of the experienced teams do not want to play against. Like the Kings the year they won the Cup in 2012 and 2014, they are going to be one of the teams with zero pressure on them. I think that all they have to do is go out and try and have fun, and they could be having fun all the way to the Final. Winnipeg is so pumped right now they have a playoff anthem recorded to the tune of Eminem’s ‘Without Me.’ Look it up on youtube. Count Winnipeg as one of the few teams with nothing to lose.
First round opponent: Anaheim Ducks
Prediction: Jets, if they don’t play afraid

The Ottawa Senators: the Sens are going to the playoffs. The best news for them? They won’t have to face my Leafs in the playoffs. Technically that means they could win it all. I don’t know much about Mark Stone or Mika Zibanejad, or even the burger guy, but they sure seem to have been playing well lately, plus they have a GM whose health lately hasn’t been great, and it actually seems to be serving as some kind of motivation. Ottawa’s recent tear has been absolutely ridiculous. Twenty wins and three losses and three OTLs is one of the most impressive late-season stretches ever.
First round opponent: the Montreal Canadiens.
Prediction: I don’t think the Habs could lose if they tried to lose. Hopefully the Sens will make an interesting series but I can’t see them beating Carey Price enough to win 4 games.

The Montreal Canadiens: not much more needs to be said other than Carey Price. He plays well, Habs win. Pretty simple. I would love to get a copy of the Senators’ game plan for Game 1.

The Calgary Flames: can we all recognize the season that former Red Wing Jiri Hudler is having? He’s 31 years old and he has the same number of goals. Hudler ranks eighth in the league with almost a point-per-game production (76 points in 78 games) and has been vital in helping the team clinch a playoff berth. Sean Monahan and Johnny Hockey have the ability to light it up. They are playing against a team that doesn’t have a whole lot of playoff success in recent years.
First round opponent: the Vancouver Canucks.
Prediction: a Canadian team is going to win this series, that is about the only guarantee right now, but I think the Flames have a slightly better-built team. It’s Eddie Lack, likely for the Canucks vs Jonas Hiller for the Flames.

The Vancouver Canucks: Whether or not Vancouver can survive this series will depend largely on whether or not goaltender Ryan Miller will be able to hold the fort; if he cannot, Calgary will win, maybe even easily. When Miller played for the Blues last year, he lost four in a row.
Vancouver has the Sedin twins but I think I like Calgary’s younger talent (Gaudreau, Monahan, Josh Jooris, Markus Granlund) can probably do more damage. I don’t think either of these 2 teams will have much pressure on them, especially considering how surprised I am that I am writing this at playoff time. I predicted early in the season that Canadian teams will definitely make the playoffs, just not these 2 teams.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin are going to have an impact on this series, if they do not, Calgary win cruise easily. Henrik has 69 points, Daniel leads the team with 72 points.
The last three times the Flames and Canucks have met in the post-season, the winner went to the Stanley Cup final.

Prediction: Flames.

Five gruesome reminders that there is nobody tougher than a hockey player

One of my favourite one-liners of all time goes something like this:
“Soccer players try to pretend that they are hurt. Hockey players try and pretend they aren’t.”
Hockey players don’t sit on the sidelines with blisters or hangnails. They are tough. Don’t believe it? 
Drew Miller’s recent skate-to-the-face injury is all the proof we need, and he is far from the only one to take a blade or puck to the face.
There has been one fatality as the result of a play on-ice in an NHL game. Read on to find out who that was.
Hang on tight…
Drew Miller, NHL, Detroit Red Wings
During a faceoff in the offensive zone in a home game vs the Ottawa Senators, Miller was struck by the skate blade right off the face off. Ottawa’s Mark Stone got tripped up and his skate blade made contact with Miller’s face. Miller went down then got right back up miraculously and skated to the Wings’ bench frantically motioning with his right hand for his team’s training staff to help him. He skated off so fast that most of the players on the ice at the time likely had no idea what was happening. During the stitch-up in the dressing room, word broke that Miller wanted to return to the game. This guy has heart. I think the Leafs should trade for him, or at least his coach Mike Babcock, then acquire a player with Miller’s heart and courage.
Ryan Olsen, AHL
In a game on March 27, Winnipeg Jets prospect Ryan Olsen took on Phil Lane of the Portland Pirates. The fight happened in the first period. Olsen took a puck to the face in the second period. You should have seen his face at that point. Olsen’s third period was a piece of cake.
Martin Havlat, NHL, New Jersey Devils
In a game on Oct. 16, 2004, Havlat was pushed into referee Darcy Burchell and was somehow cut for 40 stitches. He suited up for the next game. That’s pretty tough.
Taylor Hall, NHL, Edmonton Oilers
During a pre-game warmup, Mr. Hall decided to do what a lot of pro hockey players do these days and that is skate in the pre-game warmup sans the helmet. They do this because it’s like fresh air for your hair when you are not wearing a helmet. Anyways Hall was skating around and collided with a teammate and wound up cut on his head and his forehead. Not pretty. This is not the kind of headshot you want on your driver’s license. Hall looked a lot like Jason from the Friday the 13th movie series, minus the hockey mask, no pun intended.
Anyways Hall needed 30 stitches to close the gap, and it was not a pretty picture the next day when he faced the media.
Borje Salming, NHL, Toronto Maple Leafs
Cut on the face after being accidentally stepped on. During a game against the Red Wings, on Nov. 26, 1986, Salming collided with Gerald Gallant and wound up needing 200 stitches to close up the gap. He was back on the ice only 3 days later.
Clint Malarchuk, NHL, Buffalo Sabres
This is the granddaddy of them all right here.
The infamous moment that Malarchuk is perhaps most known for occurred during a game on March 22, 1989, between the visiting St. Louis Blues and Malarchuk’s Buffalo Sabres. Steve Tuttle of the Blues and Uwe Krupp of the Sabres collided at the mouth of the goal, and Tuttle’s skate caught Malarchuk on the neck, severing his jugular vein/carotid artery.

With pools of blood all over the ice, Malarchuk somehow left the ice under his own power with the assistance of his team’s athletic trainer, Jim Pizzutelli, ATC.

Many spectators were physically sickened by the sight, with nine fainting and two suffering heart attacks while three teammates vomited on the ice. Local television cameras covering the game cut away from the sight of Malarchuk after realizing what had happened.

Malarchuk, meanwhile, had only two thoughts: He was going to die, and he had to do it the right way. “All I wanted to do was get off the ice”, said Malarchuk. “My mother was watching the game on TV, and I didn’t want her to see me die.” Aware that his mother had been watching the game on TV, he had an equipment manager call and tell her he loved her. Then he asked for a priest.

Malarchuk’s life was saved by Pizzutelli, the team’s athletic trainer and a former army medic who had served in Vietnam. He reached into Malarchuk’s neck and pinched off the bleeding, not letting go until doctors arrived to begin suturing the wound. Still, Malarchuk came within minutes of becoming only the second fatality to result from an on-ice injury in NHL history (the first was Bill Masterton). It was estimated that if the skate hit 1/8 inch higher on Malarchuk’s jugular, he would have been dead within 2 minutes. In the dressing room and on his way to the hospital, doctors spent 90 minutes and used over 300 stitches to close the wound. It was also said that had the incident occurred at the other end of the ice (Malarchuk was on the locker room end of the ice, as the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium had the locker room exits at the end of the ice instead of the normal locations behind the benches), Malarchuk never would have made it and would have died.

There has been one fatality on the ice in NHL play and that was Bill Masterton

Potential Playoff Matchups

Part of the fun in any pro sports league is picking the potential matchups come playoff time. There is always going to be at least a couple matchups that everybody has reason to look forward to. With the NHL very much near its post season play, here are some of the potential first or second-round matchups that I would love to see, followed by a few that I hope do not happen.
Now if the post season were to being today, it would feature two clubs that I can’t stand to see winning (regular season or post season), so maybe I will begin with this one.

Montreal Canadiens vs Boston Bruins
The number-one match I don’t want to see, ever, would be Montreal, who would finish in top spot in the East, vs Boston, the one team that I have never, and will never side with them. I don’t like Boston. I never will like Boston. I wouldn’t even go to Boston if somebody paid me to go. But right now they would have a wild-card spot clinched so they would make the cut. Last year’s second-round set went the distance and saw Montreal almost easily win the deciding game. I will re-iterate though, I hope that this does not happen.

Montreal Canadiens vs Ottawa Senators
The other series that I hope does not happen is Montreal vs Ottawa. When more than half of the Canadian content (team wise) in the National Hockey League qualifies for the playoffs, you never want to see two of them face off against each other. It’s almost like watching two fat chicks get into a fistfight over a guy or something. Nobody wins when that happens. And thus the same may be said in a playoff matchup like this (actually, should the show start tonight, the Canucks and Flames would be meeting each other in the Western conference playoffs. Again nobody wins.
And now…

The playoff matchups that I would love to see:

Number one, Montreal Canadiens vs Tampa Bay Lightning would be nice
Last season’s first-round matchup was supposed to be good. It wasn’t good (unless you are a Montreal fan), the series went by in four games, Tampa and Steven Stamkos were virtually non-existent. You have to think that should the two clubs meet up again next month, Tampa should make it a bit more entertaining. As of Monday afternoon, the Lightning trail Les Canadiens by a mere three points. If they do meet again this year, the Bolts should spray paint the work ‘Payback’ in gigantic letters somewhere in the dressing room…in both arenas.

The next top matchup….Montreal Canadiens vs New York Rangers
What the Canadiens did last year to the Lightning, the Rangers did to the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup semi-final. This cannot happen again. Hopefully the Rangers’ Chris Kreider will not jam his skate into Carey Price again if they do meet; but if they do meet, I would expect the Habs to exact some revenge on the Rangers.
Western Conference

St. Louis Blues vs Chicago Blackhawks
Now, possible awesome first-round or second-round matches over in the West, I am going with the St. Louis Blues again this year, and the way things have been going for them as of late, they will probably end up playing someone more heavily-favoured than they are. There is only one team that really comes to mind right here, and that is the Chicago Blackhawks.
What the Chicago Blackhawks have been doing to the Blues lately in the post season, is like what the LA Kings have been doing to everybody in the playoffs the two years that they won the Stanley Cup, and that is make everybody else look stupid.
LA beat up on San Jose so bad that they forced the entire team to check themselves over and they are still not finished doing it; Chicago does the same thing to the Blues the two years that they have met in the playoffs. I would like to think that this year, that may change.
Surprise, surprise, should the playoffs be starting tonight, it’s St. Louis vs Chicago, only three points separates these two, and St. Louis would appear to have home-ice advantage.
And the final series that I would love to witness again this year is…

Minnesota Wild vs Colorado Avalanche
I had such a good time watching them beat each other up last year, what better way to celebrate the greatest season of all than watch these two teams battle in the playoffs?

I think overall, Colorado would be favoured, however, first they would have to get there, as they remain in the hunt and are eight points behind the Winnipeg Jets, and they have seven games remaining in which to get back into it.

Somebody Pray for San Jose

I think you can count Joe Thornton among the big-name NHL superstar players that will probably never ever win Lord Stanley’s Holy Grail.
Try to find a bunch of other hockey players/athletes that never won anything.
After making headlines across the league last week, talking about how former captain Joe Thornton lets the emotions get to him in the media, Sharks GM Doug Wilson insists that the 2 have patched things up.
I personally think that this team is on a one-way trip to Nowheresville.
With the NHL playoffs just around the corner, and this team not having any playoff luck in recent years, I am not convinced that this club can get it all together in time for this time next month when the post season would be underway.
Even Thornton’s teammate and one of the top players on the club, Joe Pavelski seemed a little taken back at reporters’ questions regarding the team’s future.
The team’s on-ice future has its doubts, and so does the happenings off of the ice. That definitely includes possible trades, and that includes Joe Thornton.
Wilson has said all along that the veteran centreman will not be leaving.
With the nonsense between Thornton and Wilson briefly taking over, Thornton’s teammates seem to have sided with him for now, says Pierre LeBrun of
Now with San Jose’s pitiful playoff performances in recent years, and now this, something has to happen in the offseason; something should have already happened after they blew 4 straight games to the Los Angeles Kings last season, but we can’t dwell on that anymore (can we?).
What everything comes down to now is that the team is going have to cut one of them loose following this season.
Thornton has a no-trade clause in his contract, and Wilson said he won’t ask Thornton to waive it.
The remark about Thornton that started all of this nonsense in the first place happened at a Sharks season-ticket holder event where Wilson made the mistake of telling fans that Thornton was stripped of the ‘C’ because he had a tough time dealing with all the pressure.
Thornton responded by telling a San Jose newspaper that Wilson “was lying and should shut his mouth.”

Asked about whether the incident between him and Thornton was concerning, considering the timing of it all, Wilson brushed off the idea. This team still has some work to do, as of March 23, they stand to be the next team in the Western conference that could be eliminated from contention. San Jose is in 4thplace in the Pacific division trailing the LA Kings by 4 points. The only teams below San Jose today are Edmonton and Arizona, both of whom are eliminated.

This Year is a Good Year to be Bad

The NHL draft is probably something to get excited about if your team continues to suffer year after year, or you are actually involved with one of those teams that are in contention to draft among the highest-rated prospects.
The group of 2015 NHL draft prospects is so deep that success and failure will both have their rewards upon the conclusion of the season; one team will win the Stanley Cup, and a few teams will be choosing what appears to be some beyond-gifted talent at the draft this summer.
“It’s a good year to be bad,” St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said.
While 16 teams compete in the NHL playoffs, the other 14 will be sizing up what is expected to be a draft that will yield a high number of difference-makers.
“The top 10 kids are going to be pretty good at the NHL level,” said Dan Marr, the NHL’s director of scouting.
My team is one of those teams and it excites me little, but for those of you who are sided with teams such as Buffalo, Edmonton, Carolina or the Coyotes, this draft piece is probably aimed towards you.
With the exception of myself, Leaf fans at this time of year get excited for Draft day. I don’t because I couldn’t care less, but for the fans of teams that aren’t going anywhere (playoffs) at this time of year, get all riled up over the possibility of the highest-rated draft pick, landing with their team, whoever that may be.
As it stands today, fans of the following clubs: Buffalo, Edmonton, Arizona, Carolina, Toronto, Columbus, New Jersey, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Jose and the Colorado Avalanche, all play the guessing game from now until Draft day, deciding which of the top-ranked prospects will suit up for their team.
According to most sources out there, the #1 prospect playing today is Connor McDavid. McDavid plays for the Erie Otters of the OHL, and has been on TSN SportsCentre more than Natasha Staniszewski and Kate Beirness together.
Here is my rundown of the top 5 players going into this summer’s Entry Draft:
1) Connor McDavid (Erie Otters):
He is considered by most to be that ‘next generation’ hockey player. He sees the game in a different universe. He is lightning quick, both mentally and physically. And what the mind directs, the hands and feet can both do. With an exceptional ability to recognize both opportunity, and danger, and at the exact same time, then exploit the opportunity to avoid the danger.
Possible destination: right now, Buffalo Sabres, however with the NHL lottery draft set up the way it is, either of the bottom-5 finishers could be awarded the #1 pick.
2) Jack Eichel (Boston University Terriers) :
If Connor McDavid is the undisputed leader of the pack, then Boston University’s Jack Eichel is the clear-cut number 2. Any player could be drafted number one, but Eichel is going to sit one spot below McDavid, at least up until draft day. Some scouts still believe that Eichel could seriously challenge McDavid. Eichel was very impressive after the first period of the US Top Prospects game. There doesn’t seem to be much separating the two kids heading into the draft, and some teams (Buffalo, Edmonton, Carolina etc) could opt for the big body that Eichel brings. Eichel weighs in at 6’2” 194 lbs, while McDavid is at 6’ 0” and 185lbs.
Possible destination: Edmonton Oilers
3) Noah Hanifan (Boston College Eagles):
Hanifan also had a strong game in the US Top Prospects game although he did not stand out as much as Eichel and Jeremy Bracco, Hanifan is that NHL-sized defenceman with an elite skating ability and he brings all of the physical and mental tools that NHL teams are looking for. He plays with poise that is exceptional for a young player and he puts himself in advantageous positions to make plays both defensively and offensively. Skating is superb and he has confidence and ability with the puck.
Possible destination: Arizona Coyotes
4) Mitch Marner (London Knights):
Last year, he had 59 points in 63 games. His even-strength points per 60 minutes (ES 60) of 3.1 were the best of the first-year draft eligible players for 2015 in the CHL not named Connor McDavid who had 3.9. Another reason for Marner’s high ranking heading into the draft? He is the OHL’s leading scorer with 124 points through 62 games. That includes 44 goals. What NHL team wouldn’t want that?
Possible destination: Carolina Hurricanes
5) Dylan Strome (Erie Otters)
It may only be necessary to note that Strome has more points than his famous teammate Connor McDavid, albeit by only 3 points as of Sunday night. Strome currently leads the Otters in point with 117, McDavid has more goals than Strome does but only by 4. Strome’s game is predicated on his ability to slow the game down and use his elite vision to make plays that other players in this draft are incapable of making. His passing ability and vision are at the top of the crop and allow him to find the score sheet nearly every game. Strome’s major appeal is his offense. He currently leads the entire OHL in points, which is somewhat misleading since Connor McDavid has been injured and was away at the World Juniors. Still, it’s quite an accomplishment for a draft eligible to be at the top of the scoring race in the world’s best junior league.
Possible destination: Toronto Maple Leafs

Worst Team-and-Player Breakups in the NHL

It doesn’t happen very often, but it makes for some great news headlines when it does.
Team drafts/trades for player, team is excited, player is excited. Fans go nuts.
And then all hell breaks loose.
The most recent example was Evander Kane leaving the Winnipeg Jets (for Buffalo of all places), then we the sports fans, get to sit back and poke fun at whoever got the worst of it.
That’s the best part of the breakup, somebody has to lose. Sometimes nobody gets the better of it, but in every single case, somebody loses either money, respect, pride, or a fun mix of both.
Here are some of the worst (best) that I could find online:

-Evander Kane and the Jets, 2014 
The long and short of it saw Kane show up to a team meeting. Apparently everybody else was dressed in a suit (hockey players at almost every level are required to look good, even at Pee Wee, so what Kane may have been thinking, I do not know). Some players did not take this too well. One of them was the big guy on the team, Dustin Byfuglien.
Byfuglien then proceeded to throw some of Kane’s clothes in a shower stall. When Kane realized this, apparently he went home and the team could not reach him until about an hour prior to game time. Not cool, Kane. This may have not been quite so bad had Kane not been photographed from a hotel room in Las Vegas pretending to talk to Floyd Mayweather on a phone made of 100 dollar bills.

Who won? Right now, the Jets won because they no longer have to deal with this clown, I have trouble believing that Kane wins because now he is stuck in Buffalo, one of the worst franchises in the league. And to further the problem, they just traded their starting goaltender (Michal Neuvirth) for the NYI backup goaltender (Chad Johnson). Don’t see this as a win for Kane; at least the Jets will probably make the post season; plus they got Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford in the deal.

-Dany Heatley and the Senators, 2009
This is the spoiled brat story for the ages. This is the dude that killed a past teammate (unintentionally we hope) while speeding in a Lamborghini) then got traded to Ottawa where he became a flat-superstar, scoring 50-goals in two seasons and establishing himself as one of the most unstoppable forces in the game. He also scored 4 times in the all-star game one year.
Then all hell broke loose.
The team struggled, and then Heatley decided that he did not like the team’s new head coach, Corey Clouston.
Then, because of the no-trade clause in his contract, Heatley got to choose the team he would be dealt to.
Ottawa then had a deal worked out with the Oilers (of all teams) as a destination, however that was not good enough for Heater either. Plus, the dilemma dragged out for so long that the Sens were forced to pay out a $4 million roster bonus even though the sniper wasn’t playing.
Ottawa wound up granting Heatley’s request, sending him to San Jose in a deal that fetched Milan Michalek as the main component in return; Jonathan Cheechoo and a draft pick were also in the package. At the time, it was seen as a lopsided win for the Sharks. The Senators eventually took Heatley to court in attempt to win their bonus money back.
According to the Ottawa Sun in a story dated Oct. 22, 2013, the Senators were able to get some of the money back.

Who won? The Senators, easily. Heater had one strong season in San Jose. He was there for a total of 2 seasons. He played injured a lot, despite a trip to the Conference Finals in 2010 where the Sharks were swept by the Blackhawks. The following season was his worst. He was dealt to the Minnesota Wild and has been bouncing around ever since.
Heater is now signed with the Florida Panthers; Milan Michalek, on the other hand, remains a relatively strong part of the Senators.

-Ilya Kovalchuk and the Devils,  2013
Three years into this 15-year deal, Kovalchuk decided that he would rather go back home and play in the KHL. I think that tells you who won the conflict right there. Now we should all be wondering at what point Kovy decides to try and make a return to the NHL.

-Paul Kariya and the Mighty Ducks,  2003
Kariya was the first draft pick of the then-Anaheim Mighty Ducks. He did everything for them except win the Stanley Cup in 2003 (they came up one game short to be exact). The team owed him a qualifying offer at that point, for the value of his contract ($10M). They decline to make it. Kariya did not like that. Not one bit. Kariya had been the face of the franchise for 10 years in Anaheim.
This made him an unrestricted free agent and could go anywhere he chose.
He signed a contract, and shocked everybody in the process. It was worth only $1.2M with the Colorado Avalanche.

Who won? Kariya did not win. He didn’t win anything. He had his first disappointing year in the NHL. The Avalanche were already heavily loaded with offensive stars, expected to win the Stanley Cup; and the following season was wiped out by the lock out.
Kariya wound up spending the next 5 seasons between Nashville and St. Louis and did not regain that superstar status. As for the Ducks, they missed the playoffs without Kariya in 2004, rebuilt themselves, and actually won the Cup 3 years later.

-Eric Lindros and the Flyers,  2001
Eric Lindros won the Hart Trophy and took his team on a hell of a ride to the Stanley Cup final in 1997…all this came after all the craziness of the draft which saw the Flyers outbid the entire league to acquire Lindros since he had refused to play for the team that drafted him originally, the Quebec Nordiques.
In my mind, he was doomed from that very day. Great player (for awhile). Bad attitude.
Come 2000, he started falling victim to the deadly concussion, and other health problems. Then he attempted to make a heroic return to the conference finals but was sent right back to the hospital after Scott Stevens nailed him near the blueline, and he was done like dinner, completely.
The ‘fun’ part began when he refused a two-way qualifying offer from the Flyers. He told GM Bobby Clarke that he wanted to be traded to one team, and one team only, that was the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Furthermore, if Clarke could not make a deal with the Leafs, Lindros would sit out the entire season; he ended up doing that.
The Leafs nearly had him on 2 separate occasions, both times missed so Lindros gave Clarke more destination teams to which he would accept a trade.
Finally they found a deal with the Rangers, but all that arguing probably cost Lindros his entire career, he never dominated. He was granted his original wish, to play for the Leafs, but that didn’t go well, either.
He is probably sitting at home somewhere right now as I write this.

-Chris Pronger and the Oilers,  1999
Pronger had arrived in Edmonton and in his first year with the Oilers, the team went on a wild playoff run that saw them lose in the Stanley Cup final to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Once that playoff run ended, he said he wanted out.
Nobody has a clue why he made that decision. My guess is his wife decided that she was sick of Oil town (remember another NHL superstar that put Edmonton back on the map then asked for a trade because his wife wasn’t from town???).
Edmonton sent Pronger to Anaheim (big surprise-it isn’t cold down there), in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid and draft picks.
Sadly for Canadian hockey fans (and Oiler fans), the superstar won a Stanley Cup down in Anaheim in 2007. The Oilers had to do what they could with what they got (Jordan Eberle) but their franchise has looked like a cyclone hit it, ever since. Not good.

Who won? Ducks of course.

-Pavel Bure and the Canucks,   1999
One of the least-known breakups in pro hockey was between Pavel Bure (the Russian Rocket) and the Vancouver Canucks. Bure was one of the most electrifying hockey players during the 1990s. He could dipsy-doodle around everybody the same way Patrick Kane does today. Bure had a pair of 60-goal seasons and he led the Canucks to the 1994 Stanley Cup final which they came up short in 7 to the Rangers.
Bure made 5 all-star teams too. It wasn’t all fun and games, though. There were contract disputes and a rumoured threat of a holdout during the playoffs.
After the 1997-98 season, Bure informed the team that he would not report the following seasons, saying he was unhappy with the organization. Bure remained in Moscow during training camp.
Vancouver finally traded the unhappy superstar to the Florida Panthers.

Who won? Hard to argue against Bure. He had 98 points in the first season (1999-2000) and was league scoring champ, the following year he scored 59 goals. Vancouver got Ed Jovanovski in the Bure deal so they did not get completely ripped off.

-Patrick Roy and the Canadiens , 1995
Nobody on the Montreal Canadiens roster in the early 1990s had a stronger impact on the team than goaltender Patrick Roy.
That all changed one night in December of 1995 when the Detroit Red Wings rolled into town.
They absolutely destroyed Patrick Roy. Absolutely destroyed him. He had nothing that night and it wound up being his last with the Habs.
The Wings beat Roy 9 times on 26 shots and the Canadiens’ ‘faithful’ gave it to him too.
That was end of Roy in Montreal. He got suspended after he told team president Ronald Corey that he played in his last game for Montreal. He was traded to the Avalanche. Roy hadn’t gotten along with the new coach hired in Montreal Mario Tremblay, but the 11-1 loss was clearly what moved him.

Who won? The Avs won, big time. Roy led them to their first Stanley Cup that year (if you are a Habs fan, that had to hurt), and Colorado won another Cup in 2001.
The Habs were roasted like Charlie Sheen on Comedy Central, for not getting anything back for Roy. Montreal hasn’t returned to the Cup since Roy played for them.

Canadiens, Rangers, Blues winning #NHLTradeDeadline

The NHL trade deadline passed yesterday and the action was a little disappointing but the Rangers, Canadiens and Blues still managed to improve their teams.
As a Leafs fan, nothing has happened in terms of what I thought or was hoping to have happen. By 9am yesterday morning, the Score sports app said the team was actively shopping both Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel. These are the 2 largest contracts on the team, one of them is almost certain to move, since the Leafs seem to be going nowhere but down, so he is going to be out the door soon enough.
By 1pm yesterday, word came out that if they could find some taker for Dion Phaneuf, they would have kept a part of his insane salary but the deal did not happen.
Montreal Canadiens
Got stronger over the weekend with the trade for Devante Smith-Pelly. Hard nose player from the Anaheim Ducks who can play physical, and can also provide a scoring touch. This morning, they acquired Jeff Petry from the Edmonton Oilers, giving up a couple draft picks in return and added some depth with Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn. The way Montreal has been playing lately, they have their eyes set on another trip to the Conference finals, which just might be against the same Rangers team that knocked them off in 6 games last spring.
New York Rangers
Speaking of the NY Rangers, it always seems like the New York pro sports teams really do go all out at the trade deadline, whether it is the Rangers, Knicks, Yankees or even Mets. All of these teams seem to make their moves. They resigned Mats Zuccarello and they acquired Keith Yandle from the Arizona Coyotesé
The New York Rangers acquired a big piece in their push for another deep playoff run, picking up All-Star defenceman Keith Yandle in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.
The Rangers lost to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals last season didn’t wait until Monday’s trade deadline to make a big move for this year’s run.
The 28-year-old Yandle has been one of the NHL’s best offensive-minded defencemen, a four-time All-Star who has led the Coyotes in scoring the past three seasons. He has 41 points in 63 games this season and has been the anchor of Arizona’s power play unit.
New York also received defenceman Chris Summers and a 2016 fourth-round pick for defenceman John Moore, top prospect Anthony Duclair, a conditional first-round draft pick in 2016 and a second-rounder this year.
The Rangers made another deal ahead of the trade deadline, acquiring forward Carl Klingberg from the Winnipeg Jets for forward Lee Stempniak. Stempniak, 32, joins his fourth team in two years. Klingberg is a 24-year-old draft pick of the Atlanta Thrashers from 2009, he has spent most of this season with the St. John’s IceCapps of the AHL. This move should benefit both the Rangers and the Winnipeg Jets; both are also nearly locked in for a playoff spot.
The Rangers are third in the Eastern Conference, five points behind Montreal, and two behind the neighbouring Islanders in the Metropolitan Division.
The 28-year-old Yandle has been a core member of the Coyotes since they drafted him in the fourth round of the 2005 draft. An assistant captain in Arizona, he has been the subject of trade rumours for the last several seasons and was finally moved with a year remaining on a five-year, $26 million contract signed in 2011.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues also picked apart the Coyotes, taking defenceman Zybynek Michalek, a move that is a definite upgrade to that seemingly horrid Blues blue line. In each of their last two playoff runs, they were stopped dead in their tracks by the same Chicago Blackhawks team, ironically in Game 3 of each series. I’m not saying Michalek will be the guarantee that it won’t happen again, but judging by reactions to this trade, it probably won’t hurt.

Considering that St. Louis has been a favourite to at least make it to the Stanley Cup the last couple years, one would think there need not be much more tinkering with that lineup.

NHL Heading to Seattle???

 If the Mayor of the City Seattle gets his wish, the Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders and Supersonics may have some more competition for the citizens’ sports dollar.

You could throw the Thunderbirds in there, too. And the Everett Silvertips.
Seattle is currently in the process of putting together a bid for an NHL team.
The folks at the hockey league, they’re excited about Seattle,” Seattle mayor Ed Murray told “They’re excited about getting a team here. They are very curious about how things are going to develop with the arena plans.”
Lately, the plans for an arena are getting more crowded. During a recent Vancouver radio interview, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman mentioned that groups in nearby Bellevue and Tukwila are interested in bringing the NHL to Seattle. Whether he meant to cause a stir or not, he did.
It has provided a flicker of hope that there is a new way to bring the NHL to the area.
“All we’re doing is listening,” Bettman told “As things stand right now, there’s no building (arena). I don’t know what speed the groups are moving at. We’re just listening to expressions of interest. People from three different places in greater Seattle are saying ‘we’re interested and we think we can get a building,’ but nobody has a building.”
The arena issue appears to be the number-one issue, says Murray.
The secondary issue could be the fan support the team would receive.
It would be a very interesting location for pro hockey with the NFL club having won a championship recently, and the baseball club challenging for a wild-card spot this past season. Makes you wonder how the NHL may do.
As it sits right now, none of the current arenas in the area could legally open up to be home to an NHL team.
If the NHL ultimately agrees, it may have to wait to make it happen. It’s not realistic to expect anything to happen within the next couple of years, and that’s an optimistic opinion.
Factor in lawsuit delays and construction, and an optimistic timetable for the opening of an arena might be 2019 at the earliest.
The city would love to house an NHL expansion team in KeyArena before then, but according to multiple sources, the NHL hasn’t shown an appetite to go that route.
There is a potential of a New York businessman who had planned to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes and liked the idea of moving them to Washington State.
In the next few weeks, he hopes to have a timeline laid out, with each step the city is taking articulated, so those following have a better understanding of where things stand.
Should the actual City of Seattle prove to be a bad destination for the NHL (and it could take a possible 3-4 years to realize that), there are 3 more areas within a 10-mile radius of Seattle that supposedly provide benefits that Seattle doesn’t.
They are:
-Tukwila, Washington –located about 10 miles south of the downtown
                                                -population of only 19,7000, however that number goes up to about 170,000 during the day as visitors come to town to work or shop.
                                                -land prices are cheap, which will come in handy if the arena gets built.
-Bellevue, Washington –               there is a proposal to build a light rail that would transport people through Bellevue.
                                                -the downtown core is growing and is apparently full of young technology professionals
                                                -the Seattle Times reports that a potential arena site is targeted near the future Sound Transit Station.

Fun fact: the City of Seattle is reportedly the first American team to capture the Stanley Cup, in 1917.