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from Tracey Myers of the NHL website,
Dylan Larkin played in the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Game as if it were a regular-season game.
The Detroit Red Wings forward was all over the ice, not taking any shift lightly. The end result? Quite a bit of scoring.
Larkin had two goals and an assist for the Atlantic Division in a 10-6 win against the Metropolitan Division in the second semifinal at FLA Live Arena on Saturday. He then scored a hat trick in a 7-5 win against the Central Division in the final.
"It was a great experience, just playing with these guys and hanging out with them in the locker room," Larkin said. "The Tkachuks (Florida Panthers forward Matthew and Ottawa Senators forward Brady) led the way with the locker room talk how we were going to play pretty hard, and we did. It was way more fun winning it and having fun, guys scoring goals and doing what it takes. It was a great time."
More so than on Friday, when Larkin said he caught some flak after finishing his heat in the Upper Deck NHL Fastest Skater in 14.558 seconds, fourth among the five contestants. He did not qualify for the final.
"I got nervous about it, and I came back and someone said to me, 'Oh, you weren't trying,'" Larkin said. "I was, so I kind of got a little bit upset about that, and I wanted to get out there and skate and be competitive and have fun doing it. So, it was just fun to skate."
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- Toronto is a fabulous hockey market. The all-star game has little to do with hockey and much to do with weak attempts at levity and marketing. If this excites you, maybe you should wonder what about it excites you.
The skills competition on Friday night was very close to dreadful. Either players didn’t care or didn’t try or both, but there’s nothing compelling about paying real money to watch superb professional athletes go through the motions.
In fairness to the NHL, they have worked and re-worked this format and have attempted over the years to improve it. They need to keep up their attempts. The format of this weekend didn’t work.
The temperature, though, was more than fine. People will leave here happy from the parties, the bars, the time spent walking the boardwalks. The hockey part was entirely forgettable.
- Bettman claims the NHL wants to return to the Olympics in 2026. That’s what he says. But he’s clear that the NHL, the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation, and the local committee in Milan and Cortina have to get together to make it happen. Among the numerous issues facing the NHL right now, is what to do with Russia while the war in Ukraine carries on. Ukraine has called for an overall Olympic boycott if Russian athletes are allowed to participate. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and now Poland are apparently onside with Ukraine. The politics put the NHL and a possible future World Cup in doubt for now and international hockey, which is really the all-star kind of hockey we should care about, remains on hold.
- More than one hockey person I’ve run into this weekend believes Jim Rutherford wants out as president of the Vancouver Canucks. That’s the kind of mess this situation is in. There was a lot of sympathy for Bruce Boudreau when he was unceremoniously dumped as coach. But a prominent league scout told me this: “The Canucks have some players. What they don’t have is a team.” That was on the coach
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Pending unrestricted free agents are top targets for contenders as they shore up for a playoff run. The Wings have multiple such players: Forwards Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi, Pius Suter, Oskar Sundqvist and Adam Erne; defensemen Olli Määttä, Jake Walman, Jordan Oesterle, and Robert Hägg; and goaltenders Alex Nedeljkovic and Magnus Hellberg.
Regarding Larkin, the most logical outcome is that the Wings get him re-signed. Walman, likewise, is a keeper. Määttä has really grown his game and has been a good fit on either the second or third pairing. If they move him, they’ll just need someone else like him, so it may make more sense to keep him and extend him, depending on what interest he begets as a trade asset.
Nedeljkovic has been playing well in the minors, and the Wings already showed they were willing to lose him by putting him on waivers. Either he or Hellberg are needed as a backup. Of the rest, Bertuzzi is the top guy who could draw an offer that would help the rebuild. Injuries have limited him to 17 games this season, and he has just one goal in that span, but he scored 30 goals last season and his history in the minors and juniors shows he is a playoff performer....
Nedeljkovic could draw interest from a team in need of goaltending help — while he has struggled this season, his overall body of NHL work is above average.
Then there's forward Filip Zadina, who was assigned to the minors on a conditioning stint this past week after being sidelined three months by a leg injury. Zadina, 23, hasn’t made an impact going on four seasons with the Wings, but maybe another team sees the potential for a fresh start with the former first-round pick. His $1.825 million cap hit through the next two seasons is certainly reasonable. While it's good to have a place to put players whose roles with the Wings have changed, it would be better if at least Vrana could be flipped for an asset.
* Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk put on a show in front of his home fans by posting seven points to help the Atlantic Division claim its first 3-on-3 title and earn All-Star MVP honors.
* Mitchell Marner and JustinBieber each shared their excitement for the announcement that Toronto will host the 2024 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend.
* The NHL Morning Skate won’t miss a beat, returning Monday to preview the six-game slate that will include 12 teams returning from both the All-Star break and their bye week. Notes for those games are already available in the Feb. 6 edition of #NHLStats: Live Updates.
Dylan Larkin had five goals (three in the final game) plus an assist and I believe I read a +7,
Watch all his goals below.
In Canada, you can watch on CBC, Sportsnet and TVA Sports.
SUNRISE, Fla. (Feb. 4, 2023) – The Toronto Maple Leafs will host the 2024 Honda NHL® All-Star Weekend at Scotiabank Arena, the National Hockey League® announced today. The League’s midseason showcase will include the NHL All-Star Skills™ presented by DraftKings Sportsbook on Friday, Feb. 2, 2024 and the Honda NHL® All-Star Game on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024.
from Allan Smith of NBC News,
Former NHL forward Brandon Bochenski, now the Republican mayor of Grand Forks, North Dakota, thought it was inevitable that the same forces for social change that have pushed for progress in other sports would soon shape hockey.
“The NHL was the next target, I suppose,” he said. “It’s tough, because diversity is more than skin color and sexuality. I think a lot of people believe that.”
One reason the NHL has traditionally attracted a majority white audience and talent pool is that the game is most popular in countries with lengthy and sustained winters — such as Canada, Russia and Scandinavian countries — that are less racially diverse.
And in the United States, the sport’s high costs for skates, pads, sticks and other equipment and fees have also often made it a more exclusive sport, limited to affluent communities — an issue Bochenski said the league should be at the forefront of solving.
But Bochenski said the backgrounds of people in the sport are more varied than they first appear.
“I don’t think that hockey on the cover maybe looks as diverse as it really is,” he said. “If you get in there and you talk to guys, whether they come from different faiths, different families, different upbringings, how they treat people, there’s a lot more to it. So I think it frustrates people when it’s really just focused on only skin color and sexuality because you do have a pretty diverse group of people that are making up the NHL.”
from Greg Wyshynski of ESPN,
Hockey fans have seen Sidney Crosby raise the Stanley Cup, win Olympic gold and receive MVP honors. They had never, until this week, seen him emerge saturated and giggling after tumbling into a water-filled tank on a Florida beach.
For the past two seasons, the NHL has incorporated pre-taped outdoor events into its annual All-Star skills competition, held the night before the All-Star Game. In 2022, players shot pucks on the Las Vegas Strip and in the iconic fountains at The Bellagio casino.
With the Florida Panthers hosting the 2023 All-Star Game, the NHL tailored its events to the Sunshine State: One event that combined hockey with golf, and another that had the Pittsburgh Penguins captain and five other stars falling into five feet of water when their opponents shot a puck off an NHL logo target.
"I'm still soaked from it," Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar said, hours after he dropped into the Enterprise NHL Splash Shot tank Thursday. "But it was a lot of fun. I think the NHL's doing a great job of trying to come up with new games to bring fans in."
In just over three minutes.
* EliasPettersson, BrockNelson and Andrei Svechnikov left 2023 NHL All-Star Skills presented by DraftKings Sportsbook as winners of the three signature events.
* ConnorHellebuyck, JuuseSaros, NickSuzuki, CaleMakar and MikkoRantanen also won events staged on the ice, at the golf course and in the dunk tank.
* After teaming up for a memorable moment with Sergei “Ovi Jr.” Ovechkin to win the Great Clips NHL Breakaway Challenge, longtime rivals AlexOvechkin and SidneyCrosby will join forces again when they play in the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Game at 3 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, CBC, Sportsnet, TVAS).
Watch on ESPN or Sportsnet beginning at 7pm ET tonight.
from Mike Johnston of Sportsnet,
The 2023 NHL All-Star Game takes place Saturday afternoon at Live Arena in Sunrise, Fla., and the festivities begin Friday evening with the All-Star Skills Competition.
This year’s event will feature many of the usual popular events seen annually, plus the league is also introducing several new and unique events that take advantage of South Florida’s warm climate and oceanside setting.
In addition to dozens of the NHL stars, a handful of top talents from women’s hockey – Team Canada’s Sarah Nurse, Emily Clark, Rebecca Johnston, plus Team USA’s Hilary Knight and Alex Carpenter – are scheduled to participate in various events during All-Star weekend.
Here’s a look at what to expect from each event and which athletes will be participating.
via Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic ($),
If there’s a trade target out there where a bidding war could develop, it might be for the Red Wings’ Tyler Bertuzzi. The sense is that before the Red Wings start seriously entertaining offers for Bertuzzi, they’ll see about trying to get the pending UFA to sign an extension. He’s a priority, but not to the same extent as extending Dylan Larkin is a priority. If they can’t get Bertuzzi under contract, he’ll likely be on the move. He’s the type of nose-for-the-net winger Calgary could use to play with Nazem Kadri and Jonathan Huberdeau.
But he might also be a fit with Vegas, alongside Jack Eichel once Stone’s salary goes on LTIR. Then it’d come down to what a team is prepared to bid for a player, on an expiring contract.
15 of them.
from the CP at TSN,
The shootout was intended to jazz up regular-season games but by 2015 the NHL had what it considered a problem: 13% of its regular-season games, 160 in all, went to a shootout after five minutes of 4-on-4 play did not produce a deciding goal.
After some experimentation in the American Hockey League, the league approved 3-on-3 OT and that number plummeted to 8% last season.
It's down to 6.5% so far this season — 51 of 803 games at the break, with the 3-on-3 All-Star tournament Saturday night another chance to show how effective it is — but that's still too many for a lot of folks around the sport.
“Any time you have an opportunity to decide the outcome of the game in a team atmosphere, I think it’s more indicative of the fabric of the game,” Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “The shootout, I know it’s exciting and there’s an entertainment value there, but for me it’s deciding the outcome of a baseball game with a home run derby.”
The NHL is far from alone in tinkering with how to end games in the regular season. Major League Baseball began starting each half of extra innings with a runner on second in 2020, while the NFL has cut overtime from 15 minutes to 10 and altered how games end by giving each team a chance to score a touchdown.
“I think you’ll see goals scored in the last 5 minutes if you play that extra 5,” Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones said. “(The shootout is) exciting for the fans. I understand why we do it. You work for 65 minutes and play a good game and you don’t get rewarded sometimes based on the shootout.”
from Stan Fischler of The Hockey News,
Knowing Bruce since the late 1970s when he was a Maple Leafs rookie, I gave him a call the other night to get a line on how an old pal is doing. We chatted about several topics, and Boudreau's answers follow the subject headings just ahead.
HIS SUDDEN CHANGES OF PACE:
"It's been like going from 90 miles an hour to zero. From excitement to boredom. I was lucky to have my wife Crystal, who has been a big part of my support, helping out. And I know I left Vancouver with the support of my players. The young guys were behind me and so were the vets. The reaction of the players made me feel good. They all knew what was going on."
HIS REACTION TO THE DISMISSAL:
"I was angry when I was fired because I hate losing a job. I always want to finish what I start."
INTENSE ADMIRATION FROM VANCOUVER FANS:
"I can't explain it because I've never seen anything like it. Never. Not anywhere. I think that part of it stems from the fact that I gave them hope. They had gotten to know me long enough and they appreciated the fact that I was honest with them. I believe that they took a liking to me because they saw me as a regular, normal guy – like them – who just happened to be doing the job that I loved."
read on plus more hockey topics...
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has a lot of work to do over the next month in preparing for the March 3 trade deadline, deciding who to re-sign and who to move while trying to reach common ground on a contract extension for captain Dylan Larkin.
Derek Lalonde and the coaching staff have their priorities. No. 1 is gaining traction. The Red Wings haven’t won more than two games in a row since November. They have been inconsistent. They’ve looked good in beating top teams like Toronto and Vegas only to lose to bottom-feeders like Columbus and Arizona.
They have improved slightly in most areas but aren’t flourishing in any aspect – ranking 22nd in goals per game, 21st in goals against, 21st on the power play and 20th on the penalty kill.
With 50 points, the Red Wings (21-19-8) are only two points ahead of their pace following 48 games a season ago.
But unlike 2021-22, when they collapsed down the stretch, going 11-19-4 the rest of the way and getting blown out a few times, the Red Wings expect to be more competitive and at least remain in the postseason conversation much longer.
They are seven points out of the final wild-card spot but would need to pass five teams to get there, making the task more difficult despite having up to four games in hand on a couple of those clubs.
“How inspiring he is,” said the Stanley Cup champion MacKinnon. “It’s inspiring to see someone be that great. It makes you want to get better. That’s how I feel when I see him. It makes you want to strive for something.
“Greatness in any sport is special, for me, it’s awesome to see. It’s really cool. I know I won’t be as good as him no matter how hard I work but I appreciate what he’s doing and how he does it.”
-Nathan MacKinnon on Connor McDavid. Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun has more from other players on McDavid.
To this point in time, 14+ minutes to watch.
* The NHL’s biggest stars will be shining Friday during the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills presented by DraftKings Sportsbook beginning at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, ESPN+, Sportsnet and TVA Sports.
* The League announced participants for each Skills event, with the GEICO NHL Hardest Shot and Upper Deck NHL Fastest Skater assignments each including a previous winner. The Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting will feature 10 players and be guaranteed a first-time champion.
* The Great Clips NHL Breakaway Challenge will return for a second straight year and include Florida favorite Matthew Tkachuk along with a tandem attempt featuring Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. Three other events will debut in the Enterprise NHL Splash Shot, Chipotle NHL Pitch ‘n Puck and Discover NHL Tendy Tandem.
from Greg Wyshynski of ESPN,
"I've said it all along, and I stand by it: I really see myself as a Red Wing. [But] there's contract negotiating to be done," said the Detroit center, who was named to the Atlantic Division team for this weekend's NHL All-Star Game. "This is my first time in this position as an unrestricted free agent. But I doubt contracts really ever go smoothly until they're done."
The Detroit Free Press reported Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman had offered Larkin an eight-year contract worth $64 million. Speculation about an impasse between the sides has grown, especially with the NHL trade deadline approaching on March 3. Larkin has a full no-trade clause this season.
"I wouldn't say that, like, the [contract news] that's been made public is really the most truthful," Larkin said. "It just seems people are fishing and speculating. I don't really want my business out there. I understand we're in the spotlight and fans want to know. They deserve to know. But I think it's not really the most truthful, you know? It's just speculation, and I don't really read into that too much."
Larkin said being able to focus on hockey has "been a blessing" as the talks have continued. He said he doesn't take his role as team captain lightly.
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