Ah, summer camp. A time for fun, adventure, romance, sneaking off into the woods when the councilors are asleep and, of course, stoning Sidney Crosby on a point-blank shot while also shutting him down on a 2-on-0 breakaway.
This was from a summer hockey camp at the Toyota Sports Center last week. C’mon Scott Parse: That’s a perfect one-timer Crosby handed you there. OK, granted, you’re bouncing back from surgery on your labrum and missed all but nine gamed for the Los Angeles Kings. ‘Spose that gets you a pass on the pass …
(Meanwhile, we loved Sid popping one past the goalie after the whistle. He will not be denied!)
According to Mike Silverman, who hipped us to this video, the goalie is 17-year-old Tomas Sholl, who played for the Fresno Monsters of the NAHL last season and will suit up for Bowling Green (CCHA) for 2012-13. From Hermosa Beach, Calif., he previously played for the L.A. Jr. Kings 16 AAA midget team.
And, as you can see from Twitter, he thinks players from Crosby and Matt Duchene, who also attended the camp, are “scary good.”
Here’s a bit of Crosby, Duchene, George Parros and Ryan Miller doing some drills from the camp.
Yes, that’s George Parros of the Florida Panthers. No, we can’t quite wrap our brains around that yet either.
Goaltender Mike Smith is coming off a remarkable season in which he led the Phoenix Coyotes all the way to the Western Conference final. That’s something his predecessor, Ilya Bryzgalov, never came close to doing.
Smith was drafted in the fifth round, 161st overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars. After spending significant time in the AHL, Smith got a chance to play for Dallas in 2007 and 2008, before suiting up for the Tampa Bay Lightning for four seasons.
There was little Smith could do to help the Lightning, who were among the worst teams in the NHL during the majority of his time there. However, after joining the Coyotes for the 2011-12 season, Smith was able to play to his potential.
Assuming there is hockey next season, there is no reason Smith can’t build on his strong performance from last year and put himself in contention for the Vezina Trophy, as the league’s best goaltender.
Smith has the benefit of size at 6’4″, 218 pounds, he is one of the biggest goaltenders in the NHL today.
Last season, Smith started in 67 games and finished with a 38-18-10 record. He had a goals-against average of 2.21 and finished third in the league in both save percentage (.930) and shutouts with eight.
If regular season numbers aren’t enough for you, consider how Smith stepped up in the postseason.
He finished with a 9-7 record, his save percentage went up to .944, his goal-against average dropped to 1.99 and he was tied for the playoff lead in shutouts with three.
When the pressure was on, Smith rose to the occasion. He won three games in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks, before shutting them out in Game 6 to send the Coyotes to the second round. He led the Coyotes to an important Game 1 win over Nashville and went on to hold the Predators to two goals or less in games 3 through 5.
After getting close to the Stanley Cup finals last year, Smith should be playing with the determination to return to the NHL’s biggest stage. As if that’s not motivation enough, Smith is also set to play out the last year of a two-year contract worth only $4 million.
According to Sarah McLellan of azcentral.com, Coyotes GM Don Maloney was hoping to sign Smith to an extension by the end of the summer. However, that has been put on hold because of the Coyotes lingering ownership issues. If Smith enters the season without an extension, strong play may justify an even bigger pay raise.
Finally, there is also the team in front of Smith, specifically the defense. Most of the Coyotes blueliners are returning, including Keith Yandle, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Rostislav Klesla and Derek Morris.
Under coach Dave Tippett, Smith and the defense helped the Coyotes finish fifth overall in the NHL with a 2.37 goals-against average last season.
Smith has the potential to be one of the league’s best goaltenders, but he’s got some stiff competition to beat out if he's to win the Vezina Trophy. Reigning Vezina winner and Hart Trophy nominee Henrik Lundqvist is certainly the favourite heading into 2012-13.
With Lundqvist in goal and the newly acquired Rick Nash up front, the Rangers could easily top the Eastern Conference standings.
Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick and Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne were the other two nominees for the Vezina last season.
However, many fans considered Smith to have played just as good, if not better than his Western Conference counterparts. Expect both goaltenders to once again be among the best in the NHL.
Smith may not be the favourite, but with his skill and size there is a good chance he could be nominated for the Vezina Trophy in 2012-13 that is, if there is a season.
Read more NHL news on BleacherReport.com
The NHL has a great history, and that history brings some great collectibles to fans across the hockey world. There are many places to find these collectibles, and there are many items that people collect.
The NHL is an amazing league, and its fans have a bond with the players they watch every time the team they love straps on their pads. NHL fans are borderline obsessive in a great way, and the things that can be found are simply amazing.
These are some of the craziest collectibles that I could find. Some are very interesting, and some tell a great moment from hockey history.
The NHL Winter Classic will be coming to Detroit this season. Of course that is hoping that the owners and players come to a new CBA in time.
The Classic has become a huge event that goes beyond the NHL game. The Detroit version will be the first time a Canadian team has been allowed to join in the fun as the Toronto Maple Leafs will be playing in this year’s game.
The alumni game will be one of the feature events. Between these two clubs there are so many players interested in playing that there will be two alumni games held on December 31 at Comerica Park.
The roster seems to grow almost every day. As of now the Red Wings' roster includes: Mickey Redmond, John Ogrodnick, Luc Robitaille, Luc Robitaille, Dino Ciccarelli, Chris Chelios, Larry Murphy, Mark Howe, Chris Osgood, Mike Vernon, Kris Draper, Darren McCarty, Joey Kocur, Slava Festisov, Igor Larionov, Sergei Fedorov, Mike Vernon, Paul Coffey, Martin Lapointe, Mathieu Dandenault, Aaron Ward, Red Berenson, Jimmy Carson and Dennis Polonich.
Ted Lindsay, Alex Delvecchio, Gordie Howe and Vladimir Konstantinov will also be in attendance.
The players that are still missing from the roster are pretty big. Beyond the obvious two there are several other players who will hopefully add their name to the list.
Yzerman will go down as one of the greatest players ever to call Detroit home in any sport. It seems wrong to have an alumni game of this magnitude and not have him involved. He has already said that he will not be playing.
Of course it is still early and hopefully former teammates will wear him down. One possible issue might be his knee. By the end of his career he had a difficult time getting up from the ice. While an alumni game is not nearly as physical as a regular NHL game, perhaps the risk of further damaging his knee is too great.
If that were true he could at least say so and ideally still attend and take part in some manner.
While my gut reaction is that of course Lidstrom will play, on second thought I wonder.
He will be freshly retired from the league. Perhaps playing in such a game will be too soon. Maybe it will entice him to make a comeback, which based on how the defense looks right now would be a great thing. He might decide to hold off just to make sure the temptation is not there anymore.
While I expect him to play it would not surprise me if he declined the offer.
Shanny played for the Red Wings from 1996-97 to 2005-06. He helped the team win three Stanley Cups with his great play. He ranks seventh in goals and ninth in points in franchise history
He has yet to commit to the game and one can only assume that it has something to do with his role in the league office. Ideally the league either grants him permission or strongly persuades him to take part in the game.
Doug Brown has yet to join the roster but it seems pretty safe to think he will be there. He already plays with the charity alumni teams. Brown was a part of the 1997 and 1998 championship teams.
The rest of the Russian Five have already committed to taking part in the game. At age 40, Kozlov is still playing in Russia. His availability may depend on if he plays pro hockey again next season.
Oates started his career with the Red Wings, playing his first four pro seasons in Detroit. He was recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as one of the best playmakers in league history.
It is hard to imagine the local guy will miss the game. He has been retired for one season and played his final four seasons with Detroit.
Burr has been very active with the alumni association so it is hard to believe that he will not be involved. He recently battled myeloid leukemia and his recovery from that could affect his decision.
Drake started and ended his 16-year career with the Red Wings. One of the best moments of the 2008 Stanley Cup championship was Drake being able to finally lift the cup.
Ysebaert is another member of the alumni association who figures to grab a roster spot. Rocket man was a part of the early 1990s teams. He played just over two seasons with the team but topped 34 goals in each of his two full seasons.
The Hall of Famer played 10 seasons with Detroit. He was high-scoring defenseman and topped 20 goals five times as a Wing.
The Red Wings were the team to help Klima defect from Czechoslovakia. Although he became a bit of a problem off the ice you would think 20-plus years would heal old wounds.
Sheppard is one of only six players to top 50 goals in a season while wearing he winged wheel. He played just over four seasons with the team and scored 152 goals and 265 points in 274 games.
Fischer’s last game was the scariest moment in team history as he collapsed on the ice with heart issues. He later retired because of it. He is still a part of the organization as he works in player development. It is unknown if his health would allow him to participate, but for the fans to give him one last standing ovation would be great.
True he has not retired yet, but it appears obvious that the team has no room for him. Assuming he retires, he would be a given a chance to play in the alumni game.
PJ Sapienza is a featured columnist covering the Detroit Red Wings as well as many other sports.
You can follow him on Twitter.
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Read more NHL news on BleacherReport.com
Remember Michal Neuvirth? He was the Washington Capitals’ goalie of the future after Semyon Varlamov was their goalie of the future, and before Braden Holtby was their goalie of the future.
With Tomas Vokoun — signed last summer by the Capitals after Varlamov was traded — playing with the Pittsburgh Penguins, it appears Neuvirth and Holtby will compete for Washington’s goaltending honors for new coach Adam Oates.
And hey, don’t worry: Neuvirth’s got this. After all, as he tells iSportz.Cz (via Russian Machine Never Breaks’ translation), Holtby is the “weakest competition” he’s had:
“It’s true that until now, I have never been an official number one. But I have played just over a hundred games in NHL, that’s nothing. I’m starting the season sure that I want to play forty/fifty games and I am really sure that I have the weakest competition (Braden Holtby) I’ve ever had. I will try to be number one goalie this season. Finally!”
There’s some important context to consider here, however.
Q. You mentioned that Holtby is the weakest competition, but he was awesome in playoffs, don’t you think?
He sure is a great goalie. But I can’t compare him to Voky or Varlamov, that’s what I meant. In comparison to those two, he played nothing in NHL and that’s why I take him as the weakest of them three. I’m definitely not saying that he is bad, not at all. I actually like the way he plays. But he is the worst of them three, that’s all.
I’m not afraid because of how he did in playoffs. I think that year ago I played in playoffs the same as he did now. They always say that the second season is the turning point, I’m curious how he will do…
There’s much more at Russian Machine, including insight into the goalies’ relationship (“We don’t do ‘dates.’) and how Neuvirth influenced Vokoun’s decision to join the Penguins.
There’s no question that Holtby matured significantly last season under Dale Hunter. There’s also no question that Dale Hunter Hockey helped him to a remarkable .935 save percentage in the playoffs; and that his early career numbers historically seem destined for a decline.
That said: Is anyone picking against the kid to get the majority of starts for the Caps next season?
s/t again to Russian Machine and their translator, Karolina Martinková of hockey-on.blogspot.cz.
Although the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t possess a superstar such as Steven Stamkos or Evgeni Malkin, their top-six forwards have proven themselves capable of lighting the lamp with regularity.
Beyond sniper Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul experienced a resurgence last season much to the delight of Leafs’ brass.
Mikhail Grabovski anchors the second line and provides adequate secondary scoring.
The off-season addition of James van Riemsdyk provides the Leafs with another scoring option up front, as well as the big-bodied forward they’ve been lacking in recent years.
While the aforementioned players will be entrenched within the top six, the final two spots are up for grabs.
Tyler Bozak has found some success playing alongside Phil Kessel, but he isn’t the answer to Toronto’s No. 1 center question. Nikolai Kulemin had a disastrous 2011-12 campaign and will be expected to rebound.
Clarke MacArthur and Matt Frattin have both seen time on the top two lines, while prospect Nazem Kadri has the skill to contribute if given an expanded role.
For the purposes of this article, the top-six forward group will be comprised of Kessel, Lupul, Grabovski, van Riemsdyk, Bozak and Kulemin.
Of course, injuries, poor play and other unforeseen circumstances generally arise throughout the NHL season. This often means a team’s top-six forwards are generally in flux and players move in and out of the lineup, or up and down on the depth chart.
However, the statistical projections assume they play a majority of the season within the top-six and don’t experience a shortened season due to injury or a lockout.
The San Jose Sharks sold out every game last season, but owner Kevin Compton told the San Jose Mercury News’ David Pollak that the team lost $15 million in 2011-12.
Last season happened to be a marathon full of twists and turns for the team. It consisted of disappointing stretches and injuries, and ended with a disappointing first-round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues.
As a result of another competitive season, Compton claims the team lost a good sum of money.
However, he said the team is not affected by the financial deficit.
“We’re OK with that because that’s a decision we’ve made to stay competitive,” said Compton, referring to the fact his team’s player payroll bumped up against the NHL salary cap.
Something does not add up here.
As mentioned, HP Pavilion consistently sells out with players like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture on the ice, and the team has yet to gain a profit?
“We’re a completely liquid organization and so far have continued to fund operations by choice,” Compton said. “This isn’t Phoenix.”
A quick shot on former Sharks owner Greg Jamison, who is currently trying to buy the Phoenix Coyotes.
However, co-owner Stratton Sclavos did clear some things up with his statement about the situation—sort of.
“It all comes back to mission No. 1 — win the Stanley Cup,” Sclavos said. “We have to give the hockey side the resources to put the best team on ice every season that we can.”
A fair point, but with a sold-out arena and a team consistently winning, this team cannot be struggling for cash by any means.
NBC Sports Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon might have hit the nail on the head with his analysis of the Sharks’ situation.
“Now you have to ask the question: Are the Sharks’ owners being open about losses because of the ongoing CBA negotiations where the NHL is trying to knock their costs down again with the players? It certainly makes for convenient timing for the owners to have a what’s believed to be a successful franchise claim they’re losing money.”
Whether or not Compton and the ownership are telling the truth here is up in the air at this point. San Jose is a winning franchise with nothing but success since their expansion in 1991, and claiming they are losing money simply does not make sense.
Follow me on Twitter @ScottSemmler22
Read more NHL news on BleacherReport.com
It’s never easy to create a list of all-time greats, and this one is no exception; we’re here to discuss and rank the 50 most skilled players of all time.
First, a few ground rules.
They had to perform in the NHL or WHA. There have been some great hockey players who spent the majority of their career in Europe, but since most of us didn’t get a chance to see them perform there on a regular basis, we aren’t going to consider that here.
Second, no goalies are on this list. Skilled includes shooting, skating, passing, stickhandling and the like. Goalies have some of these skills, but it’s all judged on a different level, so goalies are not eligible for this list.
Obviously, it’s tough comparing players from different eras, but I did try.
People are bound to have different opinions, so feel free to chime in and comment on who you feel I may have missed or ranked too high, too low, etc. Comments are always part of the fun.
The Los Angeles Kings are the reigning Stanley Cup Champions, but that does not mean they are going to get respect from the leagues 11-time Stanely Cup winning franchise, the Detroit Red Wings.
Over the weekend, the franchises' dropped the gloves—on Twitter.
“Ding, dong, the @detroitredwings are dead” in this weeks 4 on 4 – ow.ly/d37NZ @mayornhl @hockeywildernes @fearthefin @canucksarmy
— LA Kings (@LAKings) August 17, 2012
@lakings awwww so cute. Like a little puppy yapping for attention. Let us know if you need someone to show you how to hang that banner.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) August 17, 2012
@detroitredwings No thanks. They’ve made serious strides in the banner hanging industry since you last won.
— LA Kings (@LAKings) August 18, 2012
As you can see from the blue check mark, these tweets are coming from the teams official, verified accounts.
The tweets are great chirps and sound like some smack you would hear on the ice.
You have to think the Kings, who delivered the final tweet, came out on top in the Twitter spat.
The Red Wings haven’t won a cup since 2007-08, which isn’t that long ago, but many are writing them off after the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom and failure to land any big free agents.
The Kings became the only No. 8 seed to win a Stanley Cup last season, and they are clearly on their way up.
The teams face off four times next season, November 29 being the closest matchup.
Of course, the league will have to avoid a lockout next season if fans want to see the two franchises battle on the ice. If not, our NHL action next year could be limited to Twitter wars.
Who came out on top? Do the Red Wings have room to talk? Should teams battle via Twitter? Let us know in the comments below.
Read more NHL news on BleacherReport.com
(This month, Puck Daddy asked bloggers for every NHL team to tell us The Essentials for their franchises — everything from the defining player and trade, to the indispensable fan traditions. Here is the crew from Dark Blue Jacket, giving us The Essentials for the Columbus Blue Jackets.)
By Dark Blue Jacket
The Dark Blue Jacket blog writing team of DBJ, Gallos and Alex respectfully submit the following “Essential” Columbus Blue Jackets items for the hockey world’s review and consideration. Having a team that has only made the playoffs once in its 11 seasons (and we’re still waiting for the first playoff win…), there’s a fascinating combination of simplicity, complexity and humor in compiling a list of that which is truly essential about Columbus Blue Jackets hockey.
Enjoy the ride, everyone.
DBJ: Rick Nash. Came in when the team was still in its expansion phase, took them to the playoffs and bailed out rather than hang around for the rebuild once the team hit the cellar. (Like too many fans, sadly.)
Alex: 2008-09, they made the playoffs, duh.
Gallos: Game 4 in the playoffs against Detroit. I have been in the horseshoe, when Ohio State was playing Lou Holtz’s Notre Dame and Eddie George put the team on his back and started the run to the Heisman trophy. The atmosphere in the ‘Shoe was electric, but absolutely did not hold a candle to the atmosphere in Nationwide Arena that day. The loudest, most explosive, craziest sporting event I have ever been to, bar none. It was absolutely electric, and I long for more.
Alex: Nash’s playoff-clinching goal is probably the way to go, even though his insane highlight-reel goal against Phoenix is still my favorite. To me it’s essential CBJ because it was a great goal, but ultimately meant nothing.
DBJ: Jeff Carter to LA/Jakub Voracek and 1st rounder (Sean Couturier) to Philadelphia/Jack Johnson and LA’s 2013 1st rounder to Columbus. This actually was two trades, but Columbus fans look at them as one extended personnel move. (We’re used to drawn-out personnel actions. Rick Nash was trade bait forever, you know. Can you believe nobody wanted to give up a Stanley Cup-winning roster?)
Point being, Columbus fans are highly bullish on Jack Johnson. Don’t be surprised if he’s sporting the “C” in C-bus real soon.
Gallos: Ken Hitchcock. The dude wrested a team of nobodies and Nash onto a course that ultimately led to their first playoff appearance. He did this with sheer strength of will, hard work, and hockey acumen. Until the franchise villain did his thing (see next) Hitch had this group of nobodies chasing the playoffs. He deserved a Jack Adams for that year, though there was no way he was going to get it. It was an amazing coaching job. His ending in Columbus was ignominious, as he hung around under contract after the idiot GM fired him. He finally got his due in St. Louis this year, winning the long deserved coach of the year.
DBJ: Adam Foote. With all due respect to Jeff Carter (who didn’t sign here, never wanted to play here, etc.), Carter wasn’t the team captain that had a plane waiting at the airport after rolling his franchise over a barrel. Foote can keep his Stanley Cup rings – he’s persona non grata in Columbus.
Alex: Derick Brassard vs. James Neal on 12/18/2008. Ill-advised fight that ended his excellent rookie season prematurely with a separated shoulder. He has never been the same since.
DBJ: Ken Hitchcock. He figured out a way to get this franchise to the playoffs. Nobody else has come close. ‘Nuff said.
DBJ: George Matthews. You have absolutely no idea what the CBJ radio play-by-play voice is saying, but you sure as heck have a good time listening to him. He gets downright apoplectic when the Blue Jackets score.
Gallos: The Cannon, baby. The freakin’ Cannon. Other teams hate it. ‘Nuff said.
Gallos: $9 Beer. Say no more.
DBJ: The new 3rd sweater. Put Boomer aside (as he unfortunately debuted at the same time) … the new jerseys (color scheme, cannon logo, etc.) have pretty much taken the fanbase by storm.
Previously On Puck Daddy
The Essentials: New York Islanders edition
The Essentials: Boston Bruins edition
The Essentials: Colorado Avalanche Edition
The Essentials: Dallas Stars Edition
The Essentials: Washington Capitals Edition
The Essentials: Anaheim Ducks Edition
The Essentials: Montreal Canadiens Edition
The Essentials: Detroit Red Wings Edition
The Essentials: Ottawa Senators Edition
The Essentials: New Jersey Devils Edition
The Essentials: Phoenix Coyotes Edition
The Essentials: Florida Panthers Edition
The Essentials: Los Angeles Kings Edition
The Essentials: Carolina Hurricanes
The Essentials: Pittsburgh Penguins
The Essentials: San Jose Sharks
The Essentials: New York Rangers
The Essentials: Edmonton Oilers Edition
The Essentials: Tampa Bay Lightning Edition
Most sports fans can agree that the NHL has the best and most interesting uniforms out of all the “Big Four” major professional sports leagues.
This week, ESPN’s UniWatch has been having fans rank uniforms in each of the “Big Four” leagues, and also having their experts rank them.
Because of this, I will write lists of the best NHL jerseys throughout this week, starting with the colored sweaters that teams wear on home ice.