Friday, December 26, 2014

The Holiday Edition of Favorite Hockey Memes


Happy Holidays everybody! I am working on a post of best hockey moments of 2014. If you have a suggestion, please feel free to leave free to leave a comment or send it to stickhappensblog@gmail.com. 

 Here's the Holiday edition of favorite hockey memes....



THIS will be my Christmas tree next year! 


Not exactly a meme...but a favorite Simpsons' couch gag!

Found this on Pinterest...enough said...
Yes, I have to include at least one meme about NHL Refs....



So, is that how NHL Ref Brad Meier got his job????

I HAD to include this one in regards to the Wild's goaltending mess...
Of course, I HAD to include this one from Minnesota Hockey Magazine (courtesy of @mnhockeymag on twitter).





Monday, December 15, 2014

Does Josh Harding have a future with the Minnesota Wild?

Before the season started, I wrote in one of my first blog posts on whether or not Niklas Backstrom has any kind of a future with the Minnesota Wild. (See the post here.)

Well, now that same question can be asked about Josh Harding.

During his career with the Minnesota Wild, he has missed significant time. He missed the entire 2010-11 season due to a torn ACL and MCL in one of his knees suffered during a pre-season game against the St. Louis Blues.  In September 2012, he announced that he had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. (Harding is the first and only known professional athlete to be playing with the autoimmune disorder that attacks the central nervous system). Harding has missed significant time the past two seasons due to issues related to his treatment. Harding hasn’t played a game in a Wild sweater since December 31, 2013. 

In 151 career games with the Wild, he has a 60-59-11 record with a career 2.45 GAA and .918 SV%.

Right before the start of training camp back in September, it was announced that Harding broke his foot in a “non-hockey related incident.” As a result of that injury, Harding ended up being suspended. (Harding is not the first Wild player to be suspended over a non-hockey related injury. James Sheppard was suspended for the 2010-11 season after breaking his knee cap in an ATV accident in Colorado.)

On November 17, Harding was activated off of injured reserve and placed on waivers. He ended up clearing waivers and being sent down to the Iowa Wild. Fans had hoped there would be a possibility that Harding would eventually be called up to the Minnesota Wild—depending on the health/play of goaltenders Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper.

Fast-forward to November 29, Harding made his second start for the Iowa Wild in their game at Charlotte and played the first two periods. He didn’t come out for the third period, leading to speculation to what happened. Last week, Michael Russo of the Star Tribune wrote that Harding ended up in the hospital due to dehydration related to his MS. According to Russo, “Harding is expected to be sidelined indefinitely and won’t play again until this is figured out.” (startribune.com Dec. 9, 2014). How long that might be? Nobody knows at this point. I think the fans would like to see him play with the Wild this season. However, that is looking like a long shot. 

At this point, what is Harding’s future with the Minnesota Wild? He is in the final year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. The big thing going against Harding right now is his Multiple Sclerosis and he has missed a lot of time due to issues with his illness. Time will only tell what will happen with Harding. Is there a team that is willing to take a chance on him? Maybe. Right now, I think Chuck Fletcher may have to make the tough decision and let Harding go via free agency at the end of this season. 

What are your thoughts?? 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

News from around the NHL…

Daniel Alfredsson participating in pre-game skate after
 signing 1-day contract to retire as an Ottawa Senatory
Earlier this week, Daniel Alfredsson signed a one-day contract with the Ottawa Senators and announced that he was retiring after an 18 year career. Alfredsson spent 17 years as a member with the Senators before spending his last season playing with the Detroit Red Wings. On Thursday night, he skated in pre-game warm-ups—donning his Senators’ #11 jersey one last time—before taking part in a ceremonial face-off. During the course of Alfredsson’s 18 year career, he scored 444 goals and 713 assists in 1,246 games played. He was also a member of the Swedish Olympic hockey team that won gold back in 2006 in the Olympics in Turin, Italy. 

George Parros (and that mustache)
Also announcing his retirement from the NHL was George Parros. Parros, (who possessed one of the best mustaches in the league) announced his retirement on Friday. Parros played for the Los Angeles Kings (who originally drafted him back in 1999), Colorado Avalanche, Anaheim Ducks, Florida Panthers, and the Montreal Canadiens during the course of his 9-year career in the league. According to Hockeyfights.com, Parros had participated in more than 100 fights and had 15 career goals. 

The Mumps (sorry, I had to include this….)
Well, the Mumps have been going around the league. For the most part, the virus had been going around the Western Conference (mostly Anaheim, Minnesota, and St. Louis). Recently, Tanner Glass (from the New York Rangers) and the Wild’s Ryan Suter are the two most recent players to have been diagnosed with the Mumps. 

Scandella signs a new deal—then gets a fine from the league.

On Nov. 29 shortly before the start of the Wild-Blues game at the Xcel Energy Center (which I attended), it was announced that the Wild came to terms with defenseman Marco Scandella on a new 5-year deal worth $20 million.

Wild on the ice for warm-ups before their game with the Blues

Scandella was fined by the league $2755.38 for an illegal hit to the head on the Blues TJ Oshie, in which Scandella received minor penalty. From what I saw at the game and on replays later, it looked like Oshie was skating with his head down (I also think he embellished a bit). Oshie has had problems with concussions, but he also returned to the game. This is NOT the first time Oshie’s been hit with his head down. I think he should try looking up a bit while carrying the puck (that’s just my opinion).

However, during that SAME game, the Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk made a dangerous hit from behind on the Wild’s Ryan Carter. Shattenkirk received a 5-minute major, a 10 minute misconduct penalty, and was tossed from the game. In looking at the NHL website on Monday, I saw NOTHING in regards to Shattenkirk getting any kind of a disciplinary hearing from the league. I think the NHL Department of Player Safety is a joke since Scandella was fined for a minor penalty, but did absolutely NOTHING in regards to a dangerous hit from behind by Shattenkirk. 




Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Another round of favorite NHL Memes....


First of all, I would like to say THANK YOU to everybody who has read this blog! It has been an interesting process for me and I'm learning as I go here. I also apologize for not posting anything within the last week and a half, real life has gotten a tad busy for me. 

I will be attending the Minnesota Wild game on Saturday night (11/29) when they take on the St. Louis Blues, so I will have pictures from that game!

On that note, Happy Thanksgiving everybody (and safe travels to those who are traveling)!







Here we go with the memes that have been sent to me, posted on Facebook, or I have found online (from Twitter, Pinterest, or from google/bing searches).

This isn't exactly a meme, but this is cool what @AK47_Studios did with Maggie Simpson and the Wild logo...

To see what more of the Simpsons meeting the NHL logos, go here.

This was posted on Facebook on Zach Parise's first game back after suffering a concussion.

I love this one!


This isn't a meme, but this was posted on Twitter by the Stars' Jamie Benn.

Hockey games USUALLY don't get weather delays. 

After all these years, yes, Norm Green still SUCKS!!

Courtesy of Erik Rousu. He posted this on Facebook. There have been games where
the officiating has just sucked!!
Appropriate for tonight's game since the Wild's opponent is the Kings.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everybody! If you have a meme that you would like to see on a future favorite memes post, feel free to send it to me at stickhappensblog@gmail.com.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chris Pronger hasn’t officially retired, but is now being considered for the Hockey Hall of Fame???

A month ago, it was announced that Chris Pronger was hired by the National Hockey League to work in the league’s Department of Player Safety. I wrote about his hiring and there potentially being a “conflict of interest” because Chris Pronger has not officially retired as a player, even though he played his last game as a player three years ago. (Pronger is still currently under contract with the Flyers, but they have him on long-term injured reserve to avoid a cap hit). My post about this is here.

This saga now has just taken another weird turn. Chris Pronger is eligible to be considered for the Hockey Hall of Fame. Say what?  This former (dirty) player has NOT officially retired, yet he can be considered for the hall of fame? How is that even possible for someone who hasn’t even retired? I know it’s been three years since Pronger has been able to play, but seriously? It makes absolutely no sense to me.

Chris Pronger

NHL Hall of Fame President and CEO Jack Denomme stated in Pierre LeBrun’s article on ESPN:

The new by-law imposes a more objective test for the three-year eligibility rule applicable to player candidates, in particular, resolving possible ambiguity as to the nomination of a player who has not played for more than three years due to injury, but who is still under contract and continues to receive compensation that counts for salary cap purposes or otherwise…”

Denomme went on to state that this isn’t just about Pronger. He (Denomme) included “here could be other players moving forward who are in a similar circumstance and the HHOF board doesn’t feel it should be concerned with medical or contractual issues when it comes to determining induction eligibility…”

Currently, the by-law regarding consideration to the hall of fame is stated as "a candidate for election in the player category must have concluded his or her career as an active player for a minimum of three playing seasons before his or her election." As of right now, a player would have had to announce they’re done playing before this consideration. The new by-law would state "a candidate is not eligible for election in the player category if he or she has played in a professional or international hockey game (which terms shall not be considered to include games played only or primarily for charitable or recreational purposes) during any of the three playing seasons immediately prior to his or her election." (The new by-law is subject to ratification, which is expected in March)."

So, what this means is that even though Pronger hasn’t announced his retirement (and hasn’t played a game since November 2011), he’s going to be eligible for consideration under the new by-law, even though he is still under contract with the Flyers (and is until 2017). 

Whatever happened to a player retiring before being considered for any Hall of Fame ballot or being hired by the league office? I guess that according to the league and the Hall of Fame, that isn't going to have any effect--which is unfair to those who are retired and should be considered for voting into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Personally, I don't think he warrants consideration. Yes, he did win the Hart Trophy back in 2000. However, he has a history of dirty play (such as stomping on Ryan Kesler's leg with his skate, in which he received an eight game suspension) and I don't think he should received first ballot consideration.



Link to Pierre LeBrun's article is here.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Update regarding the death of 14-year-old Eastview Bantam player

Update (November 18, 2014):

According to kare11.com, the cause of Patrick Schoonover's death was "pointed to two genetic heart defects that lead to an aortic aneurysm." 


Original Article


Yesterday, I posted about the tragic news out of an Eastview Bantam AA player who collapsed and later died while playing in the Battle of the Blue Ox tournament in Brainerd, MN.  

Here's an update...

The Eastview Youth Hockey Association identified the player as 14-year-old Patrick Schoonover of Eagan, MN. Patrick's family released this statement Saturday afternoon:


""We lost our son Patrick last night. He passed away unexpectedly playing the game he loved so much. We appreciate the outpouring of support from the Eastview and MN hockey communities to our family. We want to thank his coach, first responders and the staff at St. Joseph's for doing everything they could to help Patrick and for providing comfort to our family. We appreciate all of you. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Patrick's coaches and team mates. He loved all of you." (youthhockeyhub.com)

Patrick collapsed while on the ice with his Eastview team while they were playing against Wayzata. As stated previously, he was taken to Essentia Health St. Joseph's Hospital by being air-lifted there, where efforts to revive him failed. 

The Eastview Youth Hockey Association made this statement on twitter last night:



The Minnesota Wild issued a statement upon hearing of Patrick's death:

"The Minnesota Wild joins the state of hockey in mourning the tragic passing of a Bantam hockey player today in Brainerd. Our hearts and prayers go out to the player’s family, friends and teammates."

Other people had posted on twitter a show of support for Patrick, his teammates, and his family: 


This afternoon, a moment of silence was held in honor of Patrick before the start of the Alexandria and Rosemount pee wee game I attended at the Rosemount Community Center. The Eastview AA Bantam team has asked to share the "Play for Patrick" theme in honor of their fallen teammate. 


Along with everybody else from the State of Hockey, I extend my thoughts and prayers to Patrick's family, teammates, and friends. 

(Picture of the patch, twitter posts, and statement from the Minnesota Wild courtesy of kstp.com)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tragic News out of Brainerd, MN 2014 Battle of Blue Ox tournament

Tragic news out of Brainerd, MN and the Battle of the Blue Ox tournament:

It was announced tonight that a 14-year-old boy playing for the Eastview Bantam AA team collapsed Friday (11/14) afternoon while playing in a game during the Battle of the Blue Ox tournament. He was transported to a hospital in Brainerd, where he died. As a result of the tragic events, the remainder of the tournament was cancelled.

This statement was issued on the Youth Hockey Hub Website:

“Hockey is a wonderful game. As a player, volunteer, parent, coach, and founder of Youth Hockey Hub, I look forward to each weekend where I get to be a part of such a special game.

While we may be competitors, ultimately, we are one community. One family. Tonight, our hearts are heavy. 
We’re still working on learning exactly what happened today ourselves. Soon, we’ll learn together what happened, but we’ll wait for the appropriate people to share that news. 

The Battle of the Blue Ox will be back next year. After consultation with the Brainerd Amateur Hockey Association, we believe the best course of action is to cancel the rest of the 2014 Battle of the Blue Ox so we can reflect on what happened today.

Tonight, we need to rally around each other. We need to take a moment to say a prayer, we need to give those closest to us an extra hug.

-Tony and the Youth Hockey Hub Family” (http://www.youthhockeyhub.com)”


I would like to extend my condolences to the Eastview Bantam AA hockey team, family, and friends of the 14-year-old who passed away. 

At the time this blog post was posted, that is what is known at this time. No further details have been released. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Penguins. The Wild. The top two teams in the NHL set to take the ice…

The top two teams in the NHL met for the first of two meetings this season at the Xcel Energy Center last night (these two teams will meet again in Pittsburgh on January 13). Coming into this game, the Wild were the only remaining undefeated team at home (Montreal lost Sunday night to Calgary at home 6-2). These two teams split their two game series last season. 

The Penguins will be without defenseman Olli Maatta for the next four weeks. It was reported yesterday that he underwent successful surgery to remove a tumor from his thyroid. It had been revealed recently Maatta’s tumor was found during his pre-season physical, but he had been cleared to play until he was scheduled to have surgery.


The Family of Slain Mendota Heights Police Officer Scott Patrick
(courtesy of @mnwild on Twitter).

Before the start of the game, the Minnesota Wild honored slain Mendota Heights (MN) Officer Scott Patrick. (Officer Patrick was killed on July 30 while conducting a routine traffic stop). Officer Patrick’s widow, Michelle, was joined by the couple’s two daughters (Erin and Amy). The Wild presented them a team-autographed jersey with his badge number. Michelle, Amy, and Erin were also joined by Officer Patrick’s two closest friends and co-workers Bobby Lambert and John Larrive. Scott Patrick was a 19-year-veteran of the Mendota Heights Police Department. Michelle, Amy, and Erin led the crowd with the “Let’s Play Hockey” call before the opening face-off. Michelle Patrick stated to a local media outlet "... the opportunity was a good chance to show the community the family is doing OK. She says it means a lot for the team and fans to recognize what her family is going through, which she says continues to be a long journey." (KSTP.com)


The Penguins' Thomas Greiss and the Wild's Zach Parise
When I was starting to write this blog post, I had made the assumption that Marc-Andre Fluery was going to be starting last night's game (against the Wild, he's 0-5 with a 3.76 GAA and .853 sv %). Shortly before the game, I found out that Thomas Greiss was getting the start. He was 1-2 against the Wild heading into last night's game with a 2.36 GAA and .917 sv %. Darcy Kuemper made his first career start against the Penguins. 

The Penguins were going into this game with a league leading average of 4.1 goals per game, while the Wild were averaging 1.8 goals against (which was the league's lowest). 

Then the puck was dropped....

The Wild got themselves into trouble early, especially in the neutral zone. The Penguins forced the Wild to ice the puck three times early in the first period, and committed several turnovers. The Wild were not playing the up-tempo and fast-paced hockey we had seen in the first ten games of this season. Despite the sluggish play of the Wild, they still managed to out shoot the Pens 6-5 in the first period. The only scoring came very late in the first period when the Pens' Nick Spaling tallied his second goal of the season with 53.9 seconds left.

The Wild's sluggish play continued into the second period. Brandon Sutter notched the second Pens' goal of the game 2:08 into the second period. Chris Kunitz scored to make the score 3-0 with 4:32 left in the second. That goal was scored five seconds into the Pens' first power play of the evening. Kunitz's goal marked the first time this season the Wild have had a 3-goal deficit in a game. All three of the Pens' goals came as a result of turnovers by the Wild. The Wild still managed to out shoot Pittsburgh 13-12 in the second period. 

The Star Tribune's Michael Russo stated in his blog that the "Wild executed poorly for 40 minutes and for the first time this season couldn’t play 'fast hockey' because of difficulty getting through the neutral zone." (Flat Wild bumbles, tumbles vs. Penguins, 11/5/2014, startribune.com).  

The Wild tried to get back into the game in the third period and had come out of the gate out-shooting the Pens 9-1 for the first 12:16 of the period. Nino Niederreiter put the Wild on the board with his first career short-handed goal at 10:42 of the third period--snapping the Pens' scoreless streak at 205 minutes and 28 seconds. (Marc-Andre Fluery had two shutouts in the Pens' previous two games).

With 3:05 left in the game, a very controversial and blown call was made when Mikko Koivu's goal was called off. The refs claimed the reason why the goal was waived off was because of interference by Mikael Granlund on Pens' goalie Thomas Greiss. In watching the replay of the incident several times, Granlund was pushed into Greiss by defenseman Kris Letang, therefore making it incidental contact. Where the refs made the mistake is that the whistle should have been blown when the "interference" was spotted and not allowing play to continue for several seconds--allowing Koivu to get the puck past Greiss.  The refs stated that the call was "not reviewable" and could "not be overturned," even though the Wild's broadcast did show a shot of the situation room in Toronto and it looked like they were reviewing that play--and spent a couple of minutes doing so. 

Nino Niederreiter stated this after the game, "it’s obviously very frustrating, definitely very big, because I thought it should have been a goal,” 

Patric Hornqvist scored an empty goal to make the score 4-1 in favor of the Pens at the 18:26 mark in the third period. The Wild ended up taking their first home loss of the season, even though they managed 34 SOG, compared to 22 for the Pens. 

This was a very frustrating game for the Minnesota Wild. Jason Pominville was quoted in the Pioneer press, stating, " ...We were in our zone and didn't give up much, but it felt like they controlled most of the play and we weren't able to generate as much as we usually do." (Chad Graff, twincities.com 11/5/2014). Ryan Suter added,  "I think we took for granted just being at home," defenseman Ryan Suter said. "We've had a lot of success here. We came out flat and we thought we just had to show up to get the win, and that's obviously not what happened."

The Wild were without Zach Parise for the third period, for what has been disclosed as an "upper-body injury" and he will not be on the road trip for the next two games at Ottawa and Montreal. It also looks like the Wild will also be without Matt Cooke and Jared Spurgeon for this road trip as well. The Wild's depth in their line up is going to be tested on this up-coming two game road trip. 

I usually would not include some kind of meme in a blog post like this. However, I did find this particular one very appropriate...













Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Updates from some previous blog posts and other news from around the NHL


From my article on September 3 , I mentioned that Charlie Coyle was going to be a restricted free agent at the end of this season. He’s not going anywhere. Coyle and the Wild agreed to a 5 year, $16 million deal. Coyle was not the only Wild player to come to terms on a contract extension, Jonas Brodin signed a new deal with the Wild worth $25 million over six years. Both deals were announced last week. (The article's here at Training Camp Starts on Sept. 18). Erik Haula and Mikael Granlund are due to become restricted free agents at the end of this season. I wouldn't be surprised if they sign extensions before the season's over. 

In other Minnesota Wild news, the line of Matt Cooke, Ryan Carter, and Jason Zucker have combined for 7 goals and 7 assists. Jason Zucker is the leading the Wild in goals scored with 5. 

Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar
This is an interesting situation …The Los Angeles Kings and Philadelphia Flyers are playing tonight. However, the Kings will not have a full roster for this game tonight. Kings defenseman Slava Voynov is currently suspended as a result of his arrest on domestic violence charges. As a result of a cap situation (Voynov is still being paid while he’s suspended), the Kings will not be able to call up a player to take the place of forward Anze Kopitar, who is out because of an upper-body injury, and will play 11 forwards. The Kings have to have cap space available for if (and when) Voynov is reinstated.  As of right now, the Kings have had conversations with the league about some possible cap relief due to this situation, but nothing has come from it. 

Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils players honoring 2 slain
Canadian Forces Members
This past Saturday night, the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, and Toronto MapleLeafs jointly honored two Canadian Armed Forces members who were killed last week in two separate attacks. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, was killed on October 20 outside of Montreal when he and a Canadian Forces colleague were both struck by a car (the suspect was later killed by police). Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, was killed last Wednesday when he was shot while standing guard at the National War Memorial before the shooting attack on Parliament Hill in Ottawa (the league rescheduled the Ottawa-Toronto game to Nov. 9 in wake of the shooting attack). The Pittsburgh Penguins had the Canadian National Anthem sung before their game last Wednesday night before their game with the Philadelphia Flyers in showing of support following the shootings. 

With the NHL having recently done events for their annual “Hockey Fights Cancer,” the Pittsburgh Penguins have announced that 20-year-old defenseman Olli Maatta will undergo surgery next week to remove a potentially cancerous tumor from his neck. According to ESPN.com, the tumor was found during a pre-season physical and he underwent further tests, but was cleared to play.  He will be out for at least four weeks while recovering from surgery. I would like to wish him good luck, along with a speedy and full recovery. (This is the second health scare in as many seasons for the Penguins. Defenseman Kris Letang suffered a minor stroke last season. Letang has since made a full recovery and has returned to the ice.)

New York Rangers' defenseman John Moore is looking at a suspension on his illegal hit to the head on Erik Haula during last night's game (Moore received a match penalty for that hit, which means the hit is automatically reviewed). John Moore is a repeat offender, as he was suspended last year for the same hit to the head against Montreal's Dale Weise (in which he received a two game suspension). Moore has an in-person hearing with the league's Department of Player Safety and is looking at a suspension of at least 5 games--possibly more. The Rangers' Chris Kreider was also ejected from last night's game as a result of the boarding penalty and game misconduct for his hit on Jonas Brodin. Kreider will not be facing additional punishment from the league for that hit. 

While I was typing this article, I did see an article come across twitter that "Mr. Hockey" Gordie Howe suffered a stroke. From taking a quick glance at the article from prohockeytalk.nbcsports.com, it's being reported that Howe suffered the stroke on Sunday and that he's unable to stand without assistance and he's had difficulty speaking.  My thoughts go out to Mr. Hockey and his family during this time. 

It's been a busy and crazy week in the National Hockey League. 




Saturday, October 18, 2014

Is there a conflict of interest with Chris Pronger working for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety while still under contract with the Philadelphia Flyers?


On October 10, 2014, it was announced that the Flyers’ Chris Pronger was hired by the NHL to work in its Player Safety Department. However, Chris Pronger hasn’t officially retired as an NHL player and he is still under contract with the Flyers until June 30, 2017.

Seriously, how can that be possible? Doesn’t that put Chris Pronger in a situation to where he could possibly consult on possible punishment against one of his Flyers’ teammates? Last, why isn’t he playing?

Chris Pronger during his playing days with the Flyers.
I’ll answer the last question first. Chris Pronger (who has also played for the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, and St. Louis Blues) hasn’t played an NHL game since November of 2011. On October 24, 2011, Pronger was hit in his right eye in a game against Toronto and has had problems ever since and was diagnosed with an ocular concussion. Last year, it was acknowledged by Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren that Pronger will never play hockey again.

Pronger said this about the injury and the lingering problems in an article on USAToday.com
"My brains were pounding out of my head," (Dave Isaac, USAToday Sports, October 15, 2014)


The Flyers have Chris Pronger on their long-term injury reserve list, which means that the Flyers won’t take a salary cap hit on Pronger’s contract AND Pronger is still being paid. Like I stated earlier, he has not officially retired as an NHL player, even though it has been acknowledged that that he will never play in another NHL game again. 

  
Chris Pronger shortly after his "career-ending" eye injury
According to Helene Elliott stated this in an article recently for the Los Angeles Times:

“Pronger won't judge cases involving the Flyers, but he's likely to weigh in on incidents involving their opponents, so he can influence whether a player is suspended before facing Philadelphia. Ron Hextall, the Flyers general manager, told reporters last weekend that he tried to clear the muddied waters and get Pronger off the team's cap but was told by NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly the collective bargaining agreement prohibited such a move. (LA Times, 10/14/2014).

There was a statement in Elliott’s article from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stating that he “foresaw no problem” and that “He's done playing, and he gets paid no matter what, from the Flyers…He doesn't owe them anything."

The NHL seems to be making up the rules as they go. In my opinion, Chris Pronger should officially retire as a player before taking the job with the Department of Player Safety. He shouldn’t be getting paid by both the Flyers (being on long-term injured reserve) and the league. It is a conflict of interest and the only person who seems to be benefiting from it is Chris Pronger himself. It looks bad for the league. There have been statements stating that Pronger will be recused from any incidents involving the Flyers (Brian Leetch recused himself from any incidents involving the New York Rangers because that is where he spent most of his career).

Pronger, himself, stated in the USAToday.com article that he sees himself as an “advisor” and goes on to state:

"If you think I can persuade (Quintal, who dolls out the discipline) that much, then you're a better man than me," Pronger said. "And by the way, for the record, Shanny had a conflict with each and every team he played on. Any person who is in the player safety department on the former-player side is going to have a conflict somewhere. I understand there's money involved, but you're gonna have a conflict somewhere, somehow, a relationship with a player, GM, guys they've played with, teams, owners. There's gonna be conflicts all up and down the line."

I don’t agree with that statement because when Brendan Shanahan (who is now working for the Toronto Maple Leafs as president) was working for the league, Shanahan had already retired as a player, where Pronger still officially hasn’t. Stephane Quintal has also retired as a player before he started working for the league.

I do not think it's fair to the players who are currently playing in the NHL to have someone like Chris Pronger, who is considered to be an "active" player, in a significant role with the league. 

This statement in Elliott’s article best sums it up:

“It looks bad that Pronger is being paid by a team while working for the NHL (and apparently contradicts Article 26 of its collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players Assn.). It's also shaky for the Flyers to be allowed to skirt the cap with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge agreement that Pronger won't retire. What could redeem this is Pronger's intelligence and resume, assets that merit allowing time to see if he can avoid favoring the hand that's feeding him.

This is proving that Chris Pronger was allowed to “play dirty” on the ice (he was suspended eight times during his playing days), and he’s being allowed to “play dirty” with this new position he now has. It also shows that the league (Gary Bettman, Stephane Quintal, etc.) thinks they don’t have to abide by certain sections of the Collective Bargaining Agreement if it works in THEIR favor.

The best thing for this situation is for Chris Pronger to announce his official retirement as a player. I also believe that it would be best if players were retired for a certain period of time before being approached about/hired for positions by the league office.  

Here are the links to the articles I used to read more into this:



Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hello Hockey Season!!!

I don’t know about you, but I was counting down the hours on Thursday until the puck dropped on the 2014-15 Minnesota Wild season.

For the Minnesota Wild, they were coming off a play-off run that included beating the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the play-offs. Ironically, the Minnesota Wild was the team that Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy last faced as a goalie before he retired after the 2002-03 season. It seemed very fitting that the Minnesota Wild handed him his first play-off series loss as an NHL head coach. As we all know, the Wild ended up facing the Chicago Blackhawks and lost that series in six games…

Fast-forward to October 9, 2014. The date of the home and season opener for the Minnesota Wild and their opponent that night—none other than the Colorado Avalanche, 
who the Wild knocked out in the first round courtesy of an overtime goal scored by Nino Niederreiter.

The State of Hockey flag going around in the stands during
 the introductions (courtesy of the Minnesota Wild on Twitter)
The Wild came out with all cylinders firing from the start. They must have gotten the memo that it was okay to shoot at the net because they were making shots on goal. The Wild did take two minor penalties within the first seven minutes in the first period and held the Avalanche to ZERO shots on both times they had the man advantage.

The first goal of the season was scored by Jason Pominville at 14:54 in the first period with assists by Mikael Granlund and Ryan Suter. The Wild had the shot on goal advantage at the end of the first period 17-5. The Avs were unable to get any kind of offense going and the Wild’s defense looked solid through one period of play.



Then came the second period….

Jared Spurgeon opened the scoring in the second period to make it 2-0, followed with goals scored by Zach Parise, Nino Niederreiter, and Ryan Suter. Again, the Wild outshot the Avs in the second period 21-8. The Avs had their third power play opportunity and were held without a shot again. 
The Wild's Erik Haula taking a shot against
Avs Goalie Reto Berra
(Courtesy of Chad Graff, Pioneer Press)

Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov was pulled from the game and replaced by Reto Berra at the beginning of the third period. The Wild managed 10 more shots during the third period and basically made Nathan MacKinnon (2014 Calder Trophy winner) and Gabriel Landeskog non-factors in their first game of the season. Landeskog didn’t take a shot during the game.

The Wild broke a franchise record for shots on goal in a single game with 48. Darcy Kuemper recorded his first shutout of the season, having only faced 16 shots from the Avs. In addition to the offense, the Wild’s penalty kill held the Avs to zero shots on all four power play chances they had. The Wild totally dominated the first game of the season, but they knew Saturday night was going to be a whole different story in Colorado. 

The Wild simply outplayed the Avalanche on Thursday night. Avs' Captain Gabriel Landeskog made this statement to the Star Tribune's Michael Russo:



"...that's what happens. A team that wins battles looks that good against a team that doesn't" 

Patrick Roy did make an idiotic and controversial statement to the Denver media on Friday. I am not going to repeat that statement or discuss it because (in my opinion) it doesn’t need to be rehashed. I will say is that it shows the idiotic and “goon” mentality on the part of Roy and his statement is uncalled for. 

Round two Saturday Night in Denver----

Heading into Saturday night’s rematch in Denver, the Wild knew the Avs were not going to make it easy on them. It was the Avs home opener and they knew they got embarrassed on Thursday night in Saint Paul.

The Wild once again came out at the start shooting at Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov. Charlie Coyle started the scoring for the Wild with his first goal of the season coming in at 1:51in the game, with assists from Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin.  The Wild had their first power play of the game and managed to rack up eight shots on goal during the man-advantage. They also outshot the Avs in the first period 15-9.

The Avs' Jan Heidja pushing Nino Niederreiter into Semyon Varlamov
 that resulted in a goal for the Wild being waived off. (Andy Cross, Denver Post)

The Avs definitely brought the physical game, even though there were cheap shots made. Minnesota native and former Gopher Erik Johnson was assessed a major penalty and tossed from the game for his hit on Erik Haula late in the first period.  The Wild ended up with three minutes of power play time (two minutes of the five minute major were negated due to an “interference” call on Thomas Vanek). 

Thomas Vanek and the AVs Jan Heidja battling for a puck
during Saturday night's rematch in Denver
(courtesy of twincities.com/David Zalubowksi, AP)

Jason Zucker added his first goal of the season at the 11:50 mark of the second period from Thomas Vanek and Matt Dumba to make it 2-0 Wild. The Wild still managed to pull off 10 shots on goal, while the Avs managed to post 11shots on goal during the second period. 

Roy pulled Varlamov with 2:58 left in the game for an extra attacker and they had a 6-on-4 power play when Matt Cooke got called for interference with 2:33 left to play. The Wild managed to kill off that penalty with some spectacular goaltending by Kuemper. Parise scored on an empty net to seal the deal for the Wild with three seconds left for a 3-0 win. The Avs managed to out shoot the Wild 10-9 in the third period, but the Wild still held the shot advantage 34-30 for the game. 

Darcy Kuemper’s play in the net Saturday night was amazing to watch. Charlie Coyle stated in the Pioneer Press that “He came up huge on a number of occasions and bailed us out a few times when we had a defensive lapse…We didn’t play bad, but he definitely helped us out big time.” (Chad Graff, Pioneer Press 10/12/2014). Right now, I would have to say Kuemper is definitely making his case known to be the Wild's #1 goalie. 

After watching these first two games of the new season, I think it's safe to say the Wild are a much different team than they were this time last year (after starting the season 0-1-2 in their first three games). All eight Wild goals were even-strength goals. However, the Wild need to work on their power play. They are 0-8 so far this season with the man-advantage, even though they have taken more shots on the power play. Overall, the Wild have definitely added excitement to this new season and it's going to be a fun season to watch!

The Wild are one of two clubs to start of the season with back-to-back shut outs (the San Jose Sharks are the other, both Antti Niemi and Alex Stalock have each recorded a shut out this season for the Sharks). Darcy Kuemper is the youngest goaltender to open the season with back-to-back shut outs at 24 years old. 

It was also announced this morning that the Wild have come to terms on a six-year contract extension with Jonas Brodin. I haven't read anything on that new deal, yet. But knowing he's now locked in for a while, that is a good thing. 

The Wild are off until Friday.