Sports

Hassle with the All-Star Game (and Spezza’s thought to assist)

A fast mixture of the issues we gleaned from the week of hockey, critical and fewer so, and rolling 4 traces deep. Nothing to see right here. Just a lil dancing.

1. I vividly bear in mind Leo Komarov lonely sitting at his pod on the 2016 All-Star Media Day in Nashville, ready for a crowd to type and questions that hardly arrived. A pair native reporters and the Maple Leafs’ personal movie crew dutifully spoke with him. But the swarms went elsewhere, and he left the room early.

I write this to not disgrace Uncle Leo. He’s a helluva character, a magnificence quote, and was a terrific position participant in his prime. What he was not, nevertheless, is an NHL all-star. But it didn’t matter that the Leafs had been in blatant tank mode that season.

In Gary Bettman’s circus of parity, each staff should ship an all-star rep.

In 2022, we have now Arizona’s Clayton Keller (tied for seventy fifth in scoring) awarded his second look and Montreal’s Nick Suzuki (tied for 159th) awarded his first.

Again, nothing in opposition to these proficient athletes. But Keller’s all-star debut was made throughout (checks notes) a 14-goal season. Nazem Kadri has 48 factors in 31 video games, nevertheless it’s his fault he performs for a very good staff.

In different phrases, we get the place Nathan MacKinnon is coming from.

“It’s silly,” MacKinnon stated, twice. “It’s silly. I don’t think every team should send a guy. I think it’s a silly rule that we have. It’s an all-star game; it’s not a participation game. Naz is [fifth] in scoring in the NHL, and he’s got to get voted in still. So, I don’t think that’s right.”

MacKinnon speaks with firsthand information of each views, deserving and undeserving. He debuted on the 2017 all-star sport in L.A. throughout a career-worst 16-goal marketing campaign as a result of, hey, the crappy Avs needed to be included.

“You know, I look back when we came last, I went, and I had a poor season. So, I knew I shouldn’t have been there. A lot of guys should have been over me,” the Central Division captain went on.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t mean a ton. It’s an all-star game. It’s for fun. It obviously gets hyped up and things like that. But yeah, I mean, we should have five, six guys going from our team.”

Anaheim Calder candidate and writer of the season’s most inventive purpose Trevor Zegras received’t be going, which is a whiff.

Why not?

Well, Nick Kypreos revealed on Real Kyper and Bourne Friday that Calgary didn’t want to ship Jacob Markstrom, and the Pacific Division wanted a worthy goalie, so John Gibson obtained the nod. Troy Terry is a worthy Last Men In candidate for the Ducks, however the puzzle pieced Zegras out.

Unless…

With Dylan Larkin representing rebuilding Detroit over Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider, zero rookies had been invited.

In addition to Kadri, three different top-10 scorers — Steven Stamkos, Brad Marchand, Mikko Rantanen — had been left off the preliminary rosters.

Metropolitan captain Alex Ovechkin, who has a historical past of skipping the occasion, has already certified that his attendance shall be health-dependent: “Obviously most important thing I have to get healthy, and we’ll see from there.”

In Toronto, instances may very well be made for William Nylander and Morgan Rielly, along with Last Men In nominee John Tavares.

“It’s a crazy thing that Mo hasn’t gone [to an all-star game] with how many years he’s had just producing and doing great things and helping our team win,” Mitch Marner says. “That’s a man that actually deserves to be in that chance, in that sport.

“It’s tough. I mean, there’s not a lot of spots [and] obviously you gotta fill all the teams in there,” Marner goes on. “We’re a staff that when folks do get introduced to it, we’re tremendous joyful for each other and we do not actually dwell on it too lengthy.

“No one cares that much.”

It’s foolish! It doesn’t imply a ton! No one cares that a lot! … So many all-star slogans for the NHL to select from.

2. Jason Spezza nonetheless remembers the pins-and-needles pleasure of his first all-star weekend, when he skated on a line with Ovechkin and Martin St. Louis.

“Too much gets talked about the quality of the game.” Spezza speaks from a spot of knowledge. “It’s all about what your expectations are.

“If you’re expecting Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, you’re looking in the wrong place. But if you’re looking to see your favourite players yucking it up and getting to know each other, then it’s a great thing for kids.”

A self-confessed hockey nerd, Spezza has an thought which may enhance the Skills Competition.

Though it could require some The Batchelor-level secrecy to ensure nobody knew the winners upfront, Spezza suggests pre-taping a made-for-TV ability particular. Cut out the competition’s floods and low factors and blend the highlights — Hardest Shot, Fastest Skater, et al — with some pre-shot backstories of the rivals.

Heck, invite specialists who aren’t essentially all-stars however have a booming slapper or are fast on their toes. In basketball, not each three-point shooter or slam-dunk artist performs within the sport.

“The NBA does a good job of that,” Spezza says.

3. Cale Makar, 23, has been an NHL standout since earlier than his rookie 12 months even began, so it’s slightly shocking that this shall be his first all-star look.

Project his 16 objectives by way of 29 video games performed over a full 82, and he’s scoring at a 45-goal tempo. Simply outstanding.

“He’s just electric. He’s a dynamic skater and up there with anyone in the league,” former Avalanche Alexander Kerfoot says. “Just the plays that he makes game in, game out, he can beat guys on his own and make something happen out of nothing.”

Only 3 times has a defenceman hit the 40-goal mark, and two of them are Paul Coffey. The different is Bobby Orr.

The final time Coffey completed the feat, NHL groups scored a mean of three.97 objectives per sport. Makar is taking a run at it with scoring down to three.03.

“He can really shoot the puck,” Morgan Rielly says. “What he’s able to do at his age and just how he plays a game is very impressive. He’s got a lot of confidence. I mean, he’s one of the best players in the league.”

4. The best penalty kill proportion in a single season is 89.6 per cent, by the notoriously stingy 2011-12 New Jersey Devils.

Well, the 2021-22 Carolina Hurricanes (90.1 per cent after 34 video games performed) and Pittsburgh Penguins (89.9 per cent after 36 video games) are each searching down the document. It’s early, however that is some superb 4-on-5 work.

All-star goaltending by Frederik Andersen and Tristan Jarry absolutely helps, however let’s give some like to the assistant coaches right here.

Todd Reirden is in his second season (of his second tour) overseeing Pittsburgh’s D and is proof that an ousted head coach can nonetheless make significant impression in a extra specified position.

Long-serving stay-at-home Hurricanes blueliner Tim Gleason took the PK reins from Dean Chynoweth (now with Toronto), getting promoted to the bench after heading up the membership’s defencemen growth since 2018.

A few under-discussed coaches doing superb work in an under-discussed space of the sport.

5. The youngest of Annika and Nicklas Lidstrom’s 4 hockey-playing sons, Lucas, turns 19 this 12 months.

“Pretty soon he’ll be out of the house too,” Lidstrom stated upon being named the Detroit Red Wings’ VP of hockey operations this week. (For Lucas’s sake, we hope he didn’t study of his imminent eviction throughout Dad’s Zoom name with reporters.)

“I always wanted one day to get back into it again.”

A soon-to-be empty-nester, Lidstrom says he’s desirous to get his toes moist as a hockey government, learn the way the group works “and see where that leads me.”

This is a coup for Lidstrom’s buddy/boss Steve Yzerman. He believes Hall of Fame gamers that dive into administration achieve this as a result of they’ve a love for the grind of all of it.

“I try to hire really good people. I try to hire the best hockey minds, guys who have a great work ethic and a passion for the job,” stated Yzerman, content material to permit Lidstrom to do the make money working from home in Sweden.

Lidstrom received’t hesitate to supply tricks to Detroit’s D-men and attempt to make them higher gamers. (Hello, Moritz Seider.) He needs to study their personalities. And when Detroit is able to flip the nook on its rebuild, think about the impression of a UFA defenceman getting a recruiting name from Lidstrom.

“I’m really excited to join the team again — the organization, I should say,” Lidstrom clarified.

“We can do the team thing, too, if you want to talk about that,” Yzerman responded.

6. Not so quick, Maple Leafs followers tempted to show away from Team USA’s Olympic expertise now that Matthews received’t function No. 1 centre.

Two extremely touted Leafs prospects, Nick Abruzzese and Matthews Knies, will rep an intriguing American squad that leans closely towards youth.

Harvard alum and present Leaf Kerfoot spent an honest period of time skating with and speaking to Crimson captain Abruzzese in the summertime.

“He’s a really, really good hockey player. He’s got dynamic skills. Super good with the puck. He’s got an elite brain,” Kerfoot says, “and he’s a extremely good offensive participant.

“The other thing you notice is just his hunger. He wants to get better. He wants to be the best player on the ice every night. He’s competitive, and he’s a really hard worker.”

Abruzzese, 22, has racked up 65 factors by way of his first 45 video games for the Ivy League faculty.

7. Tuukka Rask taking a pro-rated $1 million contract for the cap-strapped Bruins after making $6.5 million final season is a heckuva low cost.

“In some ways, Tuukka’s too honest,” Boston GM Don Sweeney admitted. “He’s only a man that wishes to return and play hockey. He dedicated to the rehab a part of it and the method, which isn’t a straightforward factor. He might have simply light off.

“I applauded Tuukka and Markus [Lehto, his agent]. They’re not blind to the wage cap challenges all of us face. I recognize them working with us in that regard.

“[The Rask signing] hopefully places us in a extremely robust place organizationally with out essentially altering the cap dynamic. You understand we had been in all probability $60,000 throughout the cap the opposite night time simply to area our lineup.”

So far, so good. Rask delivered a nail-biting 3-2 victory over Philadelphia Thursday, his first motion in 218 days.

All three objectives had been scored by David Pastrnak, who promised Rask a hat trick pre-game.

“It felt like I was home,” Rask stated when all of the hugs had been over.

Games in hand matter. The Bruins rank twelfth total in factors proportion (.647). We might nonetheless see them taking a run up the Atlantic standings.

8. Auston Matthews agreed, for the second time this season, to be mic’d up for TNT’s nationwide broadcast Wednesday in Arizona.

“I used to not be super comfortable doing it, and then I just got used to it. Doesn’t really bother me,” Matthews explains.

The in-game sounds add a much-welcome layer of leisure for a sport performed throughout the confines of glass.

“Honestly, for the most part, I forget I’m mic’d up,” Matthews says. “I just focus on playing hockey and helping my team and trying to do what I can do out there to help us win and let the PR team take care of that stuff.”

9. Quote of the Week.

“I used to hate him. Now I love him.” — Zach Bogosian on Corey Perry.

10. Less than 24 hours after the Hockey Diversity Alliance launched its #TapeOutHate marketing campaign final Saturday, Budweiser Canada introduced that the rolls of anti-racism hockey tape offered out.

“We want to keep this topic relevant. This is not an issue that is just in the past. It still happens today,” says HDA co-founder Wayne Simmonds. “We want to continue these tough conversations, to where we can get to a point to where we don’t even have to talk about this anymore.”

The well-produced video options a number of the precise racist messages NHLers of color have obtained on their telephones. Is the language offensive? Of course. But the Alliance felt it needed to incorporate — so followers know the reality.

“It hits hard sometimes. Not sometimes. All the time,” Simmonds says. “If you return to your Twitter, Instagram and even textual content messages — anyone would possibly randomly discover your quantity, and these items occur. It occurs method too typically. And we simply need folks to know that it is simply not us crying, ‘Poor us.’ This is one thing that’s extraordinarily essential to us. It’s nonetheless occurring as we speak. And we need to be certain that the following technology of BIPOC hockey gamers know they’ve folks which might be standing with them.

“And if we can make it to this level, they can definitely make it to this level as well.”

Fans seen that Simmonds, Kadri, Anthony Duclair and Matt Dumba didn’t put on their respective staff sweaters within the spot.

“We don’t really have an ongoing relationship with the NHL, and I think that’s why we weren’t allowed to use our NHL equipment, logos, and things of that manner,” Simmonds says.

“The most important thing is just getting this campaign out in front of the hockey world’s eyes, for everyone to realize what actually is going on behind the scenes. So, it’s unfortunate we don’t have a working relationship with the NHL, but it is what it is. And we’re going to continue to forge forward and try to make a difference in our game.”

11. Jack Eichel says he felt “like a kid at Christmas” becoming a member of his Vegas Golden Knights mates on-ice this week.

He’ll take his time getting his timing again and conditioning as much as par, however Eichel has been torching defenders in his pink, no-contact observe sweater so typically that Alex Pietrangelo jokingly complained that it wasn’t truthful that they’ll’t hit him.

“I’m not in a rush right now,” says Eichel, who needs to really feel comfy earlier than getting into the lineup.

Thing is, he was once in a rush for Beijing.

The NHL’s pullout from the Olympics has changed some urgency with warning right here.

“Like a lot of players, I was very frustrated. I’m not saying that I would have been back and healthy and ready to compete at the Olympics — but I’m also not saying that I wouldn’t have been,” Eichel said. “Definitely frustrated with the decision.”

So clean was the substitute disk alternative surgical procedure that the centremen went out to dinner together with his mother and father later that night time after going below the knife.

Yes, Eichel had a protracted dialog concerning the process with Chicago’s Tyler Johnson, who underwent the identical ADR surgical procedure shortly afterward.

12. Time flies. Penguins don’t.

I used to be blown away by this Pittsburgh document, which speaks a lot to this trio’s success but in addition administration’s dedication to preserving a championship engine intact.

One would guess the ’70s Canadiens, ’80s Islanders or Oilers, ’90s Red Wings or ’00s Devils may need three guys that caught collectively longer.

Although there’s no assure this threesome makes it to Season 17 — with Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang each pending UFAs — it is a mind-blowing accomplishment within the wage cap period.

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