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via the NHL PR department,
Click below to watch/download today’s video conference call featuring Zdeno Chara (BOS), Dylan Larkin (DET), John Tavares (TOR) and Brady Tkachuk (OTT):
Shared screen with speaker view
Shared screen with gallery view
added 3:07pm, or you can watch mosti of it below...
Rimouski Oceanic left wing Alexis Lafreniere has strengthened his hold on the title of hockey’s best prospect, with his 112-point regular season further evidence that he belongs atop the latest edition of Craig’s List ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft.
With leagues around the globe cancelling the remainder of their seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button’s latest ranking serves as an end-of-the-season evaluation.
There will be one more Craig’s List before the 2020 Draft, whenever that may be. The NHL has postponed the draft from its original June 26-27 dates in Montreal.
The latest list is heavy on northern talent, with Canadians taking five of the top six spots and 18 of the 31 first-round slots. Lafreniere going first overall would end a drought for Canadian prospects that stretches back to 2015, when the Edmonton Oilers selected Connor McDavid with the first pick.
The shortened season was a stellar one for Lafreniere, who averaged more than two points per game with 35 goals and 77 assists in 52 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) contests and overcame a knee injury to help Canada win gold at the World Juniors.
continued with a top 103 list...
from J.J. Regan of NBCSports Washington,
NHL players can often seem larger than life. They are celebrities in peak physical condition who get paid millions of dollars to play in arenas full of tens of thousands of screaming fans in games that are broadcast on television often nationally. And yet, none of that matters in a time like this. With the coronavirus spreading throughout the world, all sports just don't seem to matter. At this moment, the real superstars are the doctors and nurses on the frontlines battling against the virus while the hockey players we view as superstars remain at home, suddenly rendered remarkably ordinary in the face of a global pandemic.
"It was just kind of weird to see the world kind of stop," New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban said....
"Lots of stuff to do at house," Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin said. "Play with the little one, we're expecting another one in a couple of months, I'm trying to do some more workout as well, but it's getting boring, obviously. First week was kind of good thing. We're relaxing, we chilling and right now it's kind of getting boring right now."
"That first week, you're just excited to be around the family," Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno said. "We don't really get this time. Let's be honest, we don't really get at the end of March when you're gearing up for a playoff race, you're not really gearing up to be with the family. Your mind starts to stay with the team a little bit more. So I've enjoyed the past little while with my family and my kids. They definitely don't really understand why I'm home so much, but it's been nice. But it's getting to a point now where you just start to now feel like things aren't right."
Deflectins and tip-in goals slowed down from this season in the NHL. 4 1/2 minutes to watch.
NEW YORK / TORONTO (March 30, 2020) – The National Hockey League (NHL®) is launching two new fan engagement initiatives today as part of the League’s continued commitment to help hockey fans stay connected to players and the game. Greatest Moments of the 2019-20 NHL Season…So Far fan vote program and Live NHL Player Q&As will offer hockey fans daily interactive experiences via the NHL’s Twitter and Instagram social media channels. Watch the trailer here.
from Jack Harris of the LA Times,
Play-by-play announcer Alex Faust set the table at the top of Sunday afternoon’s show, dropping nuggets of research into his opening lines. Analyst Jim Fox took over from there, serving up a scouting report for a game that wasn’t supposed to be.
The two men weren’t previewing a real contest, the NHL season still suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak. Instead, talking into cameras from the safety of their homes, they were trying their best to make a virtual substitute feel like the real thing.
In this absence of live action, the Kings have turned to video game simulations to keep some semblance of routine. Every time a real Kings game is scheduled to take place, such as Sunday’s delayed meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks, the team instead stages a virtual rendition viewed by thousands on an online stream.
Laugh if you want. Three weeks ago, the idea of livestreaming video games to a sports-deprived fan base would have sounded comical. But with almost all real sports postponed for the foreseeable future, the industry has turned to virtual simulations to help fill the void.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
It could be a heckuva job for somebody. Or a few people.
An absolutely enormous task, to be sure. But a necessary one, quite probably.
As we imagine how North American sports are possibly going to get themselves back on track with their respective seasons, it seems abundantly clear that if they attempt to do so solely by following their own individual plans it’s going to create one spectacular logistical and scheduling nightmare.
That means that instead of recouping lost dollars from the current suspension of play due to the coronavirus crisis, these teams could end up hurting each other even more by furiously competing for the same sports entertainment dollar in a severely compacted schedule.
Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense for these sports to work together to ensure maximum profitability for one and all? And couldn’t they get together and nominate an individual or individuals to work as a central office to help North American sports get rolling again in a logical manner?
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
Enough. No more. Shut it down. It’s brutal enough to sit around like this, cooped up in fear, anxiety, frustration, utter boredom, and anger, without the added unknowingness of whether our favorite winter sports teams will find a way to remove themselves from suspended animation.
Time to end it. Better days, people, for all of us, including the 2019-20 Bruins and Celtics, and especially those of us who until recently thought we lived and died by their wins and losses, or in some cases, their silly and useless off-day injury reports.
Life sure smacked a lot us with one hell of a wake-up call, didn’t it?
Come on. Let’s get back to all of this in September, which we only can hope will bring better times for everyone, when maybe we’re able to smile again, to care, to invest, to give a fiddler’s fat five bucks about any of it.
from William Douglas of NHL.com,
Marlowe Stoudamire never scored a goal, blocked a shot or logged a minute of ice time in an NHL game. But that didn't stop him from becoming a change agent in the sport.
Stoudamire, a Detroit native, was a driving force in the Detroit Red Wings, NHL and NHL Players' Association launch in February of "Learn, Play, Score," an ambitious $1 million pilot program to bring hockey to more than 30,000 children in the city.
"He never played hockey, but he was always passionate about hockey as a way of bringing communities together," said Kim Davis, NHL Vice President, Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs. "He wanted to be the voice of those communities to say that indeed, Detroit is Hockeytown, and there's a rich history of black and brown people playing hockey in the city of Detroit."
Stoudamire's friendly, booming voice was silenced Tuesday, when he died at the age of 43 after contracting the coronavirus. He is survived by his wife, Valencia, and two young children.
from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,
Given the draft lottery current rules, the Wings would have an 18.5-percent chance — the best odds — of landing the No. 1 overall pick. Ottawa, though, has its own pick and San Jose's pick, the second and third overall.
The worst the Wings can do is fourth overall....
1. Alexis Lafreniere, Rimouski (QMJHL) left wing, 6-foot-1, 192-pounds — Lafreniere has been projected as the top pick in this draft for almost two to three years. He’s a generational type of player, with few warts in his game. Lafreniere had 112 points (77 assists) in 52 games this season.
2. Quinton Byfield, Sudbury (OHL), C, 6-4, 214 — Teams salivate whenever they see a player with this type of size and skill. Byfield is a tremendous playmaker who can dominate shifts either physically, or by stickhandling through defenders.
3. Tim Stutzle, Mannheim (Germany), LW, 6-0, 165 — The Wings would not be disappointed at all to combine Stutzle with Moritz Seider in the organization for the future. Stutzle isn’t physically big, but he plays big, is extremely competitive, and has the skills to play center in the future.
22 more players...
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
Seider’s 22 points and .45 points-per-game average ranks second among Griffins defensemen. Overall, he gets high marks from Shawn Horcoff, the team’s director of player development.
“When you draft a guy as high as we drafted Moritz, there are high expectations,” Horcoff said. “We are really happy with where he is at, with where he was at when the league shut down. He was playing 23-plus minutes a night, sometimes 25. His offensive game is really starting to come — you’re starting to see more puck-moving ability, more pucks through to the net. His shot has improved. He is playing much more on the power play and it looks like he’s getting more and more comfortable there.”
Seider, who played in Germany’s top men’s league in 2018-19, has good physicality. He’s big, he can skate, and he has some bite to him. He can move the puck and defend.
“He looks like a player that can play in every situation," Horcoff said, "who is an all-package guy."
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
- Slap Shots has learned that New Jersey ownership has in fact looked elsewhere. League sources report former Vancouver GM Mike Gillis has been interviewed twice, both times believed to have been before the March 12 shutdown....
It is unknown whether Gillis, who has always been a progressive thinker, is the leading or lone candidate for the job in New Jersey. But unless there are others currently under contract with other clubs who would therefore be unavailable for interview until this season is officially over, there is no reason not to get ahead of the game and hire Gillis immediately.
Unless, that is, “Misters Harris and Blitzer” just wouldn’t want to start paying his salary now.
- This idea of a tournament among bottom-feeders to determine the order at the top of the draft seems a lot more romantic than it actually would be. Because, right, folks will flock to a series of games in August featuring a string of matchups involving the Red Wings, Senators, Kings and Ducks.
Up to a third of these players won’t be on these teams next season, so what motivation would they have?
more on the first topic and other topics too...
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- Stick tap to the NHL for being the first of four major leagues to make their star players available for online interviews during this shutdown. That was the good part. The bad part, the NHL deciding who could or couldn’t be on the calls. That’s a dangerous game for any professional league to be playing, determining who you want to cover you.
- You can’t make up stuff like this: Dominik Hasek is considering running for president of the Czech Republic. If he talks as fast in his native tongue as he does in English, no one will understand a word he says.
- Players still in the NHL who were playing in the league the last time there was no Stanley Cup presented: Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Ilya Kovalchuk, Jason Spezza, Justin Williams, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Eric Staal, Ron Hainsey.
a few more hockey related notes...
Canada is among the most liberal states in the world and in many regards, it is even ahead of the United States. When it comes to online sports betting, people would expect Canadians to be allowed to legally bet on their favorite teams and athletes. The fact that the legal framework is not clear is surely surprising, but steps are being taken in the right direction. For now, many online forms of games remain in the gray area, but at least players are not in danger of suffering the repercussions of breaking the law.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
- All but a certainty now that the NHL will not complete its regular season, which will leave David Pastrnak two drops short of 50 goals and 5 points short of 100. As things stand, “Pasta” would finish tied with Alex Ovechkin for the league lead in goals (48), although Ovie collected his in 68 games and Pastrnak in 70. The only player to reach the 100-point plateau: Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl (43-67—110), who also topped the league in assists.
- If the season goes by the boards without the Cup being awarded — potentially the third time in history — Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron will be the two Bruins whose NHL careers will have stretched over both the non-Cup seasons of 2004-05 and 2019-20. Big Z already had played 459 NHL games when the league went dark in the ’04-05 lockout. Bergeron had posted the 71 games of his rookie season.
- In the three years since the expansion draft, Matt Murray has gone 76-41-14 (.633) with the Penguins in the regular season and Marc-Andre Fleury 91-50-14 (.632) with the Knights. Playoffs: Murray, 6-10; Fleury, 16-11.
more plus other hockey topics...
from Peter J. Wallner of Mlive,
Patrick Curry, who just completed his collegiate career at Boston University, signed a two-year contract with the Grand Rapids Griffins on Thursday.
The 24-year-old forward totaled 79 points (39-40-79), a plus-10 rating and 116 penalty minutes in 141 career games over four seasons with the Terriers.
He was named Hockey East’s Best Defensive Forward as a senior in 2019-20, he established career highs with 32 points and a team-best 19 goals and equaled his career mark with 13 assists in 34 appearances.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
The decision to postpone the NHL draft scheduled for June 26-27 at the Bell Centre in Montreal didn’t come as a surprise because the league either expects to be playing hockey at that point or be unable to have large crowds in a rink — because the American Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Health Canada haven’t given the green light to hold large gatherings.
There has been idle chatter that if the league does decide to cancel the rest of the regular season and go to the playoffs that the format of the draft lottery may change. A check with a handful of league executives in the last couple of days indicates they don’t expect that to be the case and that the teams with the best odds in the lottery will retain those numbers whenever the league loads the balls into the machine....
“I don’t see any reason to change the format and I’m not sure it would even be given any consideration,” a league executive told this newspaper this week. “If they go straight to the playoffs, a good portion of the season has already been played and those teams at the bottom weren’t really going to gain much ground if the league hadn’t gone on pause.”
The sentiment from league executives I’ve spoken with is, just because the season might end up being shortened, it doesn’t mean you can arbitrarily just change the rules.
The St. Louis Blues have issued the following statement regarding FOX Sports Midwest play-by-play announcer John Kelly, who tested positive for COVID-19:
The St. Louis Blues are confirming that play-by-play announcer John Kelly has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
John has been in self-quarantine since March 13. We are thrilled to report that John is feeling strong and symptom free.
The health and safety of the entire Blues family remains our core focus during these unprecedented times. We wish John well as he continues his recovery at home.
added 6:59pm, Chris Kerber talked with John Kelly, watch below, via Blue Note Productions.
from the CP at CTV,
Connor McDavid is at odds with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
McDavid's Oilers sat comfortably in a playoff spot when the NHL suspended its season earlier this month due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but unlike his contemporaries, Edmonton's captain thinks going right into the playoffs if the league gets the all-clear to resume would be a mistake.
Speaking on a video conference call Friday, McDavid said “a full season's a fair season” when asked how he'd like to see things play out.
And if the NHL has to shorten proceedings, the 23-year-old superstar says teams would need at least a few games to find a rhythm.
Crosby and Ovechkin said in separate video conferences Thursday they wouldn't mind if the league went right into the playoffs.
Do you agree?
from David Schoen of the Las Vegas Review-Journal,
Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner is pessimistic the NHL season will resume.
In an interview with Swedish-based publication SportExpressen that was published online Thursday and translated to English, Lehner said he saw “a zero percent chance” the regular season and playoffs can be completed after the league’s pause because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“No, I don’t think it is possible to shut down and then run again when you have 100,000 cases of the coronavirus,” said Lehner, according to the translation. “Safety goes first. You can’t turn 180 degrees and start playing again. I see a zero percent chance that you can save this season. Now I hope that next season can start as usual in October.”
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