Eastern Conference Round-Up
The Eastern Conference is just as busy as the Western Conference this week with news coming out of Montreal, Ottawa, Long Island/Brooklyn, Carolina, and Boston. We begin in Montreal, where the Canadiens have chosen its 29th captain in team history. In a vote by his teammates, Max Pacioretty has been chosen to lead the don the “C” this season. The 26-year old American born Pacioretty was an alternate captain last year, as Montreal had a rotation of four alternates in Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, and P.K. Subban.
Speaking of P.K. Subban, he made a bit of news himself this week by donating $10 million over 7 years to the Montreal Children’s Hospital. This is the largest donation given in by a professional athlete in Canadian history. Subban felt this donation was necessary, because “Montreal has become my second home, so I want to give back to the children and their families.” Subban goes on to say, “The Canadiens are committed to me and my family for eight years. Without this commitment, I would not be able to do this.”
Ottawa showed their commitment in adding Daniel Alfredsson to their front office. The Senators announced that Alfredsson will be joining the team as senior advisor of hockey operations. In this new role, he will be scouting and spearheading player development for the Senators. In addition to these duties, he will be working alongside GM Bryan Murray as well. Alfredsson stated how he was very humbled by the opportunity to work for Ottawa in a front office position, by stating “I want to thank (Senators Owner) Eugene (Melnyk) and Bryan (Murray) for giving me this tremendous opportunity. Retiring from the game but having this chance to remain part of the hockey world, especially in Ottawa, is very special.”
Just south of the border in Brooklyn, The Islanders made a trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Islanders dealt Michael Grabner to Toronto for 5 minor leaguers. This may have come as a surprise to many, but Grabner’s production was hampered by injuries, which caused him to sink lower on the Islanders depth chart. Add to this, the fact that the Islanders re-signed forward Brock Nelson to a new 3-year deal, Grabner was the odd man out.
Speaking of odd men out, Eddie Lack became just that in Vancouver. Hence, the Canucks traded him earlier this off-season. Lack is making the best of his new home in Carolina. So much so that he has decided to share with Carolina fans (and the rest of the NHL) his new mask for the season. Lack takes a shot at himself and his Swedish heritage by placing the Muppets’ Swedish Chef not only on one side of his mask but on both sides. If that wasn’t comical enough, on the back is a drawing of his BFF, Florida netminder Roberto Luongo alongside his Twitter handle. That’s some brotherly love right there.
Finally, Simon Gagne announces his retirement from the game. Gagne, who began his career in Philadelphia, played 15 seasons in the league, with not only Philadelphia, but Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, and Boston. Gagne, who was known for scoring clutch goals in Philadelphia’s run to the Stanley Cup final in 2010, walks away from the game wanting to focus more on his family. After losing his father last year, Gagne felt that this was the time to walk away from the game. “That’s (his family) going to be my main focus for the next couple months.” All the best to Simon as he transitions into this next phase of his life.
Western Conference Round Up
Let’s begin in the Windy City. On Thursday, Patrick Kane addressed the media for the first time since he was accused of rape. Here is a little snippet of what Kane had to say:
“This has been an incredibly difficult time for many people. I cannot apologize enough for the distraction this has caused my family, my teammates, this incredible organization, and of course, our fans. While I have too much respect for the legal process to comment on an ongoing matter, I am confident, that once all the facts are brought to light, I will be absolved of having done anything wrong.”
Kane told the media that he wanted to answer hockey related questions only at the beginning of the press conference. Kane is still under investigation for an incident that occurred in his home last month. He was very apologetic to his coaches, teammates, and family members. One can only hope that Kane truly did nothing wrong and he will be able to continue his hockey career.
Another bit of news came out of the Blackhawks media press conference on Thursday. Defenseman Brent Seabrook is now an Alternate Captain for the Blackhawks. He joins Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith as the team’s Captains. This is a well-deserved promotion for the three-time Stanley Cup Champion defenseman.
And now let’s head to Los Angeles with some news surrounding the Kings. On Wednesday, the Kings issued a statement surrounding defenseman Slava Voynov. The Kings have said that Voynov will be deported back to Russia. Voynov has been in custody with Seal Beach Detention Center and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Kings have stated that they will not tolerate any means of domestic violence.
The Colorado Avalanche are making some headlines involving some players on professional tryouts. The Avalanche have brought veteran NHL defenseman Andrej Meszaros and forward Jack Skille on professional tryout deals. Meszaros has played in over 645 NHL games during his 10-year career, while Skille has played in over 239 games in his NHL career. Meszaros spent the 2014-15 season in Buffalo and Skille spent his last two seasons in Columbus. Both players are NHL journeymen, but they could provide some much-needed depth to the up-and-coming Avalanche.
Two-time Stanley Cup winner Daniel Carcillo officially announced his retirement on Thursday. Carcillo, 30, won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks last season. Carcillo was a 2003 third-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Penguins. During his NHL career, he played in Arizona, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York (Rangers). Appropriately nicknamed “Car Bomb,” he racked up over 1,200 penalty minutes in his career.
The NHL is set to give 3-on-3 overtime format a good look during the preseason games. There will be many Western Conference matchups that will preview the new overtime format. For a full list of those games, click here.
The idea behind the new overtime format is to cut down on the NHL’s skills competition (shootouts). It will be interesting to see how the NHL teams deploy their 3-on-3 shootout lineup. Will teams put two defensemen and one forward on the ice at all times? Will teams put two forwards and one defenseman on the ice? Will teams even attempt to put three forwards and zero defenseman on the ice during this overtime? While I am not a fan of the 3-on-3 overtime format, I am in favor of the NHL trying to eliminate the dreaded skills competition. I would rather see a traditional 4-on-4 or 5-on-5 overtime format, with games that can end in ties.
The new overtime format will probably benefit the teams that have a lot of skill and speed. Will a team like the Oilers benefit with this new format? Who is excited to watch the Sedins in Vancouver in a 3-on-3 overtime game? Which NHL Western Conference clubs do you think will find the most success in the 3-on-3 shootouts?
By Andrea Sobolik and George Foussekis