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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.
When can we expect the NHLPA to make their leadership decision? What kind of offer would the Habs need in order to trade Josh Anderson? Will Dylan Larkin be dealt before the NHL trade deadline, or will he resign in Detroit? How will Vegas adjust to the loss of Mark Stone for the foreseeable future? TSN Hockey Insiders Darren Dreger, Chris Johnston and Pierre LeBrun discuss this and more.
Wheatley is a former Michigan football player and he also played in the NFL.
from Samantha Pell of The Washington Post,
Eight months removed from hip resurfacing surgery, Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom has no aches or pains, no more trouble sleeping or walking and has no problem bending forward to tie his own skates. The 35-year-old says he is completely pain-free and is enjoying a taste of normalcy as he remains a crucial piece in Washington’s late-season push toward the playoffs.
Backstrom — who suffered chronic hip pain for years — has started to look like his old self since making his return to the Capitals lineup in early January. Just being on the ice is a feat for the veteran center, who faced significant doubt — even from inside the Capitals’ organization — that he would be back in the NHL so soon.
“It’s amazing,” Backstrom said. “It’s been a long journey for me getting back, but at the same time I am here and I am the kind of guy that loves to live in the present and the type of guy that loves to play hockey. Body feels better and better every day. Getting more comfortable out there. It is just [about] starting to trust yourself.”
NEW YORK (Feb. 2, 2023) – The National Hockey League (NHL) today announced the entertainment lineup for the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend, Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The two-day showcase of top NHL talent begins with the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills™ presented by DraftKings Sportsbook on Friday, Feb. 3 (ESPN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports) and concludes with the 2023 Honda NHL® All-Star Game on Saturday, Feb. 4 (ABC, ESPN+, Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports) at FLA Live Arena, home to the Florida Panthers.
NEW YORK (Feb. 2, 2023) – The National Hockey League (NHL®) today announced the player assignments for the 2023 NHL All-Star Skills™ presented by DraftKings Sportsbook, featuring seven events that will showcase hockey’s top talent on Friday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN+, Sportsnet, TVA Sports) at the home of the Florida Panthers, FLA Live Arena, in Sunrise, Fla.
Most of you know The Athletic is counting down the 99 top NHL players of the modern era.
On January 20th, they selected Steve Yzerman at #15. Since then...
They have already announced Gretzky is #1 and so only 2, 3 and 4 remain and names like Howe, Orr and Lemieux have yet to be ranked. I am not sure about Howe after reading this...
Our thorniest and most complicated choices involved players who straddled the two ends of the spectrum. Some slipped through the cracks because their greatest impacts came prior to 1967. Some, who will eventually qualify, didn’t make the list because they are still in the early stages of their careers.
My question is the ranking of Yzerman. I would have put him ahead of Lafleur and Sakic but I know that is a judgement call.
How do you feel about it. Clicking the link will take you to the player page and remember The Athletic is subscription only.
7 1/2 minutes to watch.
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today activated right wing Filip Zadina from injured reserve and assigned him to the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins for conditioning.
from Nick Kypreos at the Toronto Star,
With 30 games left after the all-star break, it remains to be seen if last Friday’s 6-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators will go down as the Maple Leafs’ worst defeat of the season. But the fallout from that game is still very much a topic of conversation.
It begs the question: How will Matt Murray’s unexpected missed start shape the way Leafs management views this team’s goaltending situation heading into the final stretch of the season?
Wednesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins didn’t exactly help the case for Ilya Samsonov, who allowed three goals on seven shots in the third period. How comfortable will they feel with whoever is staring down Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Ironically, the current situation is eerily similar to the one that played out with former Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen in the Amazon Prime docuseries “All or Nothing” that followed the team during the 2020-21 season.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Larkin has been a key part of the rebuild since the former management group chose the metro Detroit-area native with the No. 15 pick in 2014. He was named captain by general manager Steve Yzerman in January 2021, and now it’s on Yzerman to find a way to fit Larkin into the budget beyond this season. ...
The Wings have offered the 26-year-old an eight-year, $64-million contract. The $8 million annual average value would give Larkin a nearly $2 million raise and would give Yzerman flexibility as he faces extending the contracts of young stars Moritz Seider and Lucas Raymond, both soon-to-be restricted free agents, next season.
Larkin’s side — he switched representation last May from KO Sports to CAA — can counter with a comparable courtesy of New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello: Last October, the Islanders signed Mathew Barzal for $73.2 million over eight years, which averages out to $9.15 million per season (with the extension kicking in for the 2023-24 season). Barzal is a year younger than Larkin, was drafted at No. 16 in 2015, and has 103 goals among 354 points in 413 career games.
Teams can offer their own pending UFAs an eight-year contract, while no other team can offer more than seven. A seven-year offer at $9 million per year works out to $63 million, $1 million less than the Wings’ total offer. The Wings’ offer comes with something Larkin can’t do anywhere else: Captain his hometown’s Original Six franchise.
from Bob Duff of Detroit Hockey Now,
The uncertain future status of captain Dylan Larkin and frequent linemate Tyler Bertuzzi is drawing most of the attention among the plethora of impending unrestricted free agents currently populating the roster of the Detroit Red Wings.
While that’s certainly understandable, there’s another UFA in Red Wings colors who is an absolute must sign for the club.
That would be defenseman Jake Walman.
Enjoying a breakthrough season as an NHLer, Walman is performing with poise and confidence. He’s competing and battling between the boards, an aspect of his game that’s been crticized in the past. His strong and consistent play is earning Walman top-pairing work alongside reigning Calder Trophy winner Moritz Seider.
“He’s a really strong skater,” Seider said of Walman. “Very talented. Can outskate everyone in the league. That gives him confidence and I think he’s been playing with that a lot lately.
“You see that he’s hard to defend in the O zone. We’ve been doing a really good job of shutting the top line down.”
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