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Sign of the Times
Some fodder for those of you who believe in karma: Meet 11-year-old Keila Penner. She’s a Senators fan, living in Montreal in a family of Senators fans. Her dad, Cary, used to live in Vanier. Last Thursday, to celebrate the opening of the Montreal-Ottawa playoff series, students at Maple Grove…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 05/08/13 | Comments 9

Now or Never
Tom Rock offers some much-needed consolation to Marc-Andre Fleury: Fleury can take solace that this first-round performance is not as abysmal as last year's when he melted down against the Flyers and allowed 26 goals in six games. But it's close. Take away his shutout in Game 1 and he's…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 05/07/13 | Comments 1

Disaster Prevention
The QMJHL semi-final series between Baie-Comeau and Blainville-Boisbriand has taken yet another bizarre turn, and it's one that could impact professional hockey in some capacity going forward.  In essence, Russian import Valentin Zykov scored the winning goal in overtime for Baie-Comeau in last night's pivotal Game 5.  The only problem…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 04/27/13 | Comments 0

As the Dust Settles
All credit to Paul for posting video of last night's bench-clearing brawl between QMJHL rivals Baie Comeau and Blainville-Boisbriand.  I happened to be at the game, and as you can imagine, it was a wild scene.  The melee featured all four goaltenders duking it out, and resulted in suspensions to…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 04/25/13 | Comments 1

Spano Remembered
The darkest era in Islander history is re-lived today, as a documentary about the team's notorious former owner John Spano premiers at the Tribeca Firm Festival in New York.  It was directed by actor and long-time Islander fan Kevin Connolly.  The film is scheduled to make its television debut in…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 04/19/13 | Comments 1

Spitting Image
As the Plymouth Whalers prepare to square off with the top-seeded London Knights in the OHL's Western Conference final, Plymouth head coach Mike Vellucci is playing the underdog card to a tee: "They're the New York Yankees of the OHL," Vellucci said of the Knights during Tuesday's conference call ahead…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 04/16/13 | Comments 0

All the Marbles
As a Quinnipiac graduate, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the most important hockey game on tonight's schedule: Yale and Quinnipiac typically meet on the ice with little more than local bragging rights and the upper hand in the ECAC at stake. Not so much the next time around.…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 04/13/13 | Comments 0

Paradigm Shift
In response to the concussion epidemic, NHL officials have placed an increasing focus on improving player safety in recent years.  The league has taken specific steps to address the problem, including the introduction of soft cap shoulder pads and a complete ban on head shots.  The problem is, it's debatable…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 04/07/13 | Comments 2

Bad Hosts
The disturbing trend continues: For the fifth straight year, the MasterCard Memorial Cup hosts will enter the tournament through the back door. Not since the 2008 Kitchener Rangers has the host team of the national championship won their league prior to the tournament’s commencement. What felt like a long, 31-day…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 04/02/13 | Comments 0

No Pain, No Gain
While Guy Boucher was the sacrificial lamb, Ken Campbell thinks the woes of the Tampa Bay Lightning should be placed squarely on the shoulders of general manager Steve Yzerman: Aside from getting lucky on a gamble with 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson two years ago, Yzerman was never able to solve the…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 03/29/13 | Comments 2

Mindless Rantings
It's always amusing to hear a hot-headed coach fly off the handle following a tough loss.  Tonight's example comes from the QMJHL, where Victoriaville Tigres head coach Yanick Jean went bonkers following Game 2 of the team's first-round playoff series against the heavily-favored Moncton Wildcats.  Phillip Danault scored on a…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 03/23/13 | Comments 0

Missing the Point
Steve Simmons continues to beat a dead horse: People can grouse all they want about the Phil Kessel deal and how it has worked out with the Bruins — and too often we hear this debated — but not enough is said about the Rask mistake. Yet (former Leafs GM…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 03/20/13 | Comments 0

A Lesson in Humility
It's not often that a professional hockey player requests a demotion to a lower-tier league.  But that's exactly what Chad Costello did this week. Fresh off an MVP season with the ECHL's Colorado Eagles, Costello was once again leading his club in scoring early on this year.  The Bridgeport Sound…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 03/14/13 | Comments 1

Hold Your Horses
Despite earning a spot on the NHL's all-rookie team last season, Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner has spent virtually the entire season with the team's minor-league affiliate.  That's not sitting well with his agent Ben Hankinson: Hankinson tweeted his displeasure with Gardiner's absence from the Leafs lineup following Toronto's 5-2 defeat…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 03/13/13 | Comments 0

Linesman Blues
After a week-long vacation, it's always fun to come home to a goalie fight.  It's even more fun when a linesman plays the role of punching bag in said fight.  It all went down in last night's WHL game between Everett and Seattle:     Interestingly enough, the linesman is…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 03/10/13 | Comments 0

No Meaning
Rick DiPietro's first AHL game after clearing waivers was a disaster, to say the least.  The former Boston University standout suited up for Bridgeport tonight, giving up five goals on 12 shots in the first period against Connecticut.  The fifth and final goal was by far the worst of them…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 03/01/13 | Comments 1

Stirring the Pot
Here's a prime example of a non-story: Asked if the Montreal Canadiens will be looking to carry out revenge against him at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday, Mikhail Grabovski coyly shrugged his shoulders. “Why would they? What happened last time? I forget,” Grabovski said, obviously playing dumb after the…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 02/26/13 | Comments 0

Bleeding Heart
This week, Brian O'Reilly, father of Colorado Avalanche holdout Ryan O'Reilly, wrote a lengthy e-mail to the Denver Post explaining why his son has chosen not to re-sign with the club.  Some entertaining excerpts: If my son was getting 95 in math we wouldn’t ask him to get 65 so…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 02/20/13 | Comments 4

Reality Check
Shades of Jiri Fischer: A game between the Adirondack Phantoms and Springfield Falcons was abruptly postponed Sunday after a Springfield forward collapsed to the ice and suffered a seizure. Officials from both teams and the referees made the decision after Springfield’s Wade MacLeod was removed from the MassMutual Center ice…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 02/17/13 | Comments 1

Living Without You
Don Brennan thinks nobody outside of Ottawa is going to want to watch the Senators now that Erik Karlsson is injured: Yes, not only did Cooke hurt the Senators, he hurt the Islanders, Tampa, Florida. He kicked a dent in the entire NHL. How much revenue did his actions cost…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 02/14/13 | Comments 6

Bird-Brained Idea
Ridiculous promotions are a staple of minor league hockey, but this one may take the cake. On Friday night, the marketing staff for the Bakersfield Condors decided it would be a good idea to bring a live condor to center ice for a pre-game ceremony following the national anthem.  Not…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 02/12/13 | Comments 1

A Game of Risk
It's been a rough couple of months for Canadiens prospect Blake Geoffrion. While playing for the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs back in November, Geoffrion suffered a devastating head injury after being hit by Syracuse Crunch defenseman Jean-Philippe Cote.  The check was clean, but Geoffrion's head struck Cote's skate as he fell…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 02/08/13 | Comments 1

Heads Up
We've always known that hockey players are the toughest in all of sport.  Now the game's broadcasters are proving their mettle.  MSG Network's John Gionnone is the victim:
Posted by Joe Tasca on 02/07/13 | Comments 0

Gallant Hits Paydirt
One of the toughest hockey players to lace up the skates in recent years has been rewarded: How much do the New York Islanders value the traditional "enforcer" role? That's a question whose answer got another new wrinkle after the club announced today that they've signed Bridgeport Sound Tiger winger…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 02/05/13 | Comments 2

Life on the Bus
Chris Gigley writes a great piece today about life on the bus in the minor leagues.  He spoke with Syracuse Crunch equipment manager J.W. Aiken, who recalls a dicey bus ride two years ago during his time with the Norfolk Admirals: The Admirals were on their way home from Manchester,…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 01/29/13 | Comments 0

Old Time Hockey
It didn't involve the Oilers, but there was a beauty of a line brawl tonight in Edmonton:
Posted by Joe Tasca on 01/27/13 | Comments 0

Tough Choices
An editorialist in the Globe and Mail claims Colton Orr shouldn't be fighting anymore: Some say it should be Mr. Orr’s choice; after all, he is earning roughly $1-million a season. But each time he fights, he makes the fans complicit in the risks to his health. They can’t help…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 01/27/13 | Comments 1

Patience Required
Despite leading the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in scoring for the first half of the AHL season, Islander prospect Nino Niederreiter wasn't invited to the team's training camp two weeks ago.   Kevin Schultz suspects Isles general manager Garth Snow may not have spoken with Niederreiter about why he was snubbed, prompting…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 01/24/13 | Comments 1

The Icing Conundrum
Jonathan Willis talks about why he thinks the NHL should adopt a hybrid icing rule: The difference between hybrid icing and regular icing is a small one. The only change is that under the hybrid rule, in situations where it is apparent by the defensive zone faceoff dots that a…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 01/21/13 | Comments 3

Crossing the Line
It looks like Penguins prospect Keven Veilleux has some explaining to do: Winger Keven Veilleux has been suspended indefinitely by the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers for allegedly using a racial slur during a game against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon. Veilleux is accused of using the slur during an altercation with…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 01/16/13 | Comments 6

Brashear Strikes Again
Believe it or not, Donald Brashear is still playing hockey.  He's currently competing in a semi-pro league in Quebec.  At age 41, Brashear is clearly over the hill.   But this clip from last night shows he's still pretty good at sucker-punching opposing players:   Once an idiot, always an…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 01/12/13 | Comments 7

Asking Too Much
Steve Buffery offers his take on what's wrong with the NHL: The truth is, the NHL continues to be a weak cousin on the North American professional sports scene. Some suggest it’s fourth in the pecking order, but an argument could be made that NHL hockey, in terms of real…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 01/11/13 | Comments 4

Touche
The Dallas Stars score a TKO over America's Team: What started as seemingly innocuous Tweet by the Dallas Cowboys’ official Twitter account about the NHL got a little heated — and quite funny — Tuesday morning on the popular social networking site. The original Tweet (which was made from @DallasCowboys…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 01/08/13 | Comments 0

Ignoring History
Scott Burnside always produces thoughtful pieces, but this column does nothing more than reiterate what other writers and pundits have been saying time and time again over the past four months: In the wake of a freshly minted labor agreement, one that in the end didn't cost an entire season…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 01/06/13 | Comments 4

Sweet 16
Nicholas Goss explains why he thinks allowing 20 teams to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs is a bad idea: Having two thirds of the NHL qualify for the playoffs is way too high of a percentage. If additional teams are added, mediocre clubs would have an opportunity to win…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 01/03/13 | Comments 5

Hot Legs
Kids will be kids: Many hockey fans have held their own personal protests during the NHL lockout. Maybe it’s refusing to wear your team’s jersey during the work stoppage, or swearing off purchasing anything NHL-related. Maggie Wagner has been holding her own lockout protest. And it’s a hair-raising scheme. Wagner,…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 12/28/12 | Comments 0

The Chosen Ones
Al Daniel can't figure out why Bruins prospect Jordan Caron has struggled so badly in the AHL this season: Everybody knows he has it in him based on his better moments in Boston, such as his four-game production streak that saw him tally three goals and four assists between March…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 12/23/12 | Comments 0

Taking Pause
This week, Adam Kaufman wrote a fabulous piece on Worcester Sharks defenseman Nick Petrecki, who was named the AHL's Man of the Year in 2012 for his outstanding community involvement and charitable contributions. Petrecki's resume is impressive.  He mentors children at several Boys and Girls Clubs in central Massachusetts.  He…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 12/19/12 | Comments 0

Not the First Time
Stu Cowan ponders the idea of awarding the Stanley Cup to the winner of another league should the NHL season be wiped out: Maybe the Stanley Cup could replace the Memorial Cup for one year, presented to the Canadian Hockey League junior champions, or maybe to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 12/14/12 | Comments 1

Terms of Endearment
On the same day he left the Saint John Sea Dogs to join Team Canada's National Junior Team selection camp in Calgary, former Memorial Cup MVP Jonathan Huberdeau was suspended four games by the QMJHL for injuring a linesman over the weekend. While the league-imposed ban won't affect his ability to compete…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 12/10/12 | Comments 0

Just a Game
As hockey fans and pundits lament the latest collapse in NHL labor talks, the struggle of Chris Kushneriuk provides us all with a much-needed reality check: Kushneriuk, a 25-year-old pro from Gloucester — he turns 26 on Christmas Eve — is in the fight of his life. In June, after…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 12/09/12 | Comments 0

Frosty Reception
Once a model franchise in the Ontario Hockey League, the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have fallen on hard times recently.  The club has missed the playoffs in three of the past four seasons, and will once again struggle to qualify for the post-season this year.  On top of that, the…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 12/06/12 | Comments 2

Hammer Time
Reaction continues to pour in following the WHL's decision to levy a series of penalties on the Portland Winterhawks for repeated player benefit violations.  First, Gregg Drinnan: If this really was about a cell phone and a few flights, then perhaps the Winterhawks are also being punished for perceived smugness…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 11/30/12 | Comments 3

Any Takers?
Normally, when a hockey team fires its head coach, a replacement is named immediately.  That didn't happen when the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL relieved Eric Dubois of his duties on Sunday: As it turns out, according to TVA Sports' Mikaël Lalancette, six assistant coaches from around the league have…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 11/27/12 | Comments 0

Pushin’ Too Hard
Springfield Falcons president and general manager Bruce Landon has some thoughts on the injury epidemic: The question is always asked: Why are there so many injuries? Everyone has their own opinion, right or wrong, and I have mine. Injuries from big hits or blocking shots are common. However, I honestly…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 11/26/12 | Comments 2

A Reminder
Another lesson for hockey fans who like to leave the rink before the final buzzer.  Courtesy of Neate Sager: It's a coach job to always foresee disaster lurking. When Sudbury Wolves coach Trent Cull vociferously argued a too-many-call against his team with 5:31 left, people might have wondered why he…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 11/25/12 | Comments 0

What’s the Difference?
Don Brennan thinks it's time to hire replacement players: Open the doors to people who will truly appreciate the job, guys who won’t mind fixing the problems your mismanagement will inevitably create. They’ll work for less, so you can charge a lot less for tickets. The truth about fans is…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 11/24/12 | Comments 5

The Real Problem
As fans of major junior hockey already know, CHL teams are allowed to dress up to two European players and three 20-year-olds (over-agers) in any given game.  Reporter Sam Cosentino ponders a new concept: In speaking with Regina Pats head coach Pat Conacher, he brought up an interesting idea: how…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 11/20/12 | Comments 0

Nobody’s Listening
Reporter Jim Bender recently spoke with some youth hockey players about the lockout: "It's ridiculous because it's about a bunch of people with lots of money wanting more," said Brayden Solberg, 14, of the Bantam 2 Selkirk Steelers. "I blame the NHL and the players. They should stop being babies.…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 11/18/12 | Comments 0

He Said, He Said
I've never been a big fan of players using the media to fire potshots at each other, but this is a pretty good exchange between London Knights forward Matt Rupert and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds standout Nick Cousins.  The two traded barbs after a heated weekend match between the two…
Posted by Joe Tasca on 11/14/12 | Comments 0

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