North Dakota Fighting Sioux no more

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The North Dakota Fighting Sioux will be no more. While most collegUND.jpge hockey fans were immersed in the Frozen Four, the North Dakota Higher Education Board decided to retire the nickname and logo of the University of North Dakota. To say this has been a hot-button topic in North Dakota is a vast understatement.  Going back to 2005, former president of the NCAA, the late Myles Brand, made it a point to go after any NCAA member teams who had Native American nicknames or symbols by banning the use of said mascots from the postseason tournaments, the table has been set for the eventual elimination of any kind of ethnically named teams.

Some schools beat the NCAA to the punch by changing team names within the last 20 years. A sampling of some of the name changes more recently are (old name/new name): Eastern Michigan (Hurons/Eagles), Siena College (Indians/Saints), St. John’s (Redmen/Red Storm), Miami University (Redskins/Redhawks), Louisiana-Monroe (Indians/Warhawks), Syracuse University (Orangemen/Orange), Hofstra (Flying Dutchmen/Pride), Quinnipiac (Braves/Bobcats), and William & Mary (Indians/Tribe). William & Mary has even gone as far to change their mascot to a griffin because apparently the letters with a feather symbol they once used was deemed offensive.

Not all of these schools were named after people. St. John’s and
Syracuse are two examples of that, but they were often wrongly portrayed
as such and that’s a no-no. Exhausting, isn’t it? And here you thought the movie “PCU” was a work of fiction and not a documentary filmed in real time.

Once the nickname and logo are gone, there’s going to be issues with the university’s home hockey rink, the Ralph Englestad Arena as the building is ensconced in the Sioux logo. The Ralph’s general manager Jody Hodgson says that big changes shouldn’t be expected, especially if he’s got anything to say about it.

“But, if I have anything to do with it, nothing in the building will ever change. Nobody will ever be allowed to change anything. It would be the utmost sign of disrespect if anybody ever tries to deface that building. If I have anything to say on the matter, that will never happen. Never.”

Now wouldn’t that be the ultimate slap in the face on this entire insane dealing. The NCAA goes out of their way to ensure that North Dakota loses their nickname and logo and then makes the university destroy their own arena to erase any and all of the marks of once being known as the Fighting Sioux. The irony there is almost sickening, especially since the teams at UND weren’t named the Fighting Sioux for laughs and mockery. What does the guy who designed the iconic Sioux logo think of it?

Also disappointed was Bennett Brien, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa artist who designed the logo displayed on UND uniforms and throughout the Engelstad arena.

“Well, political correctness has reared its ugly head,” he said about the board decision. “I knew it was going to happen. Now they will put some stupid-ass animal on the logo.”

For what it’s worth, North Dakota has another nickname they used in the past. They were at one time called the Flickertails… A small ground squirrel.

 

Lupul apologizes, takes ‘full responsibility’ after calling out Maple Leafs on Instagram

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Joffrey Lupul made headlines earlier this week after appearing to make accusations against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Instagram.

The comments — which have since been deleted but caught on a screen grab — came after the Maple Leafs announced Lupul failed his physical prior to training camp for the second year in a row.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per the screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

On Wednesday, the 33-year-old forward, who hasn’t played since the 2015-16 season, posted a statement on his verified Twitter account, saying his Instagram comments were an “inappropriate response.”

Here is his entire statement:

What’s also significant is that he stated he will not seek a second medical opinion regarding this failed physical. As previously noted, that option was available to him, although, per reports, the deadline for this was 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Lupul is in the final year of his five-year, $26.25 million contract.

Erik Cole retires as a member of the Hurricanes

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Erik Cole has officially retired.

The Carolina Hurricanes made the announcement on Wednesday, stating that Cole signed a ceremonial contract with the NHL team and retired as a member of the Hurricanes.

Now 38 years old, Cole played 892 regular season games in the NHL, scoring 265 goals and 532 points. A number of his best seasons occurred while he was with the Hurricanes, reaching 30 goals with the 2005-06 Stanley Cup winning team.

His best season came with the Montreal Canadiens in 2011-12, as he scored 35 goals and 61 points.

His last season was in 2014-15. He began the year in Dallas and was moved to Detroit at the trade deadline, but a spinal cord contusion essentially meant an end to his playing career.

From the Detroit Free Press in April, 2015:

Cole revealed Wednesday that he has a spinal cord contusion severe enough doctors have cautioned him not to play again this spring.

“It stems back from my neck injury in 2006,” Cole said. “When I ran into the player in the Arizona game, I bruised my spinal cord. A spinal contusion is something that you have to let heal and obviously, it’s a pretty serious occurrence. Doctors feel I need to look out for my well-being as a person, not just as a hockey player.”

Cole is now a team ambassador for the Hurricanes.

Eriksson looks to bounce back after ‘tough start’ with Canucks

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The Canucks signed Loui Eriksson last summer, with the hopes he’d help give them a boost in scoring.

It didn’t quite turn out that way — at least not during Eriksson’s first year of a lucrative six-year, $36 million contract with the Canucks.

He scored only 11 times with 24 points in 65 games. The previous season in Boston, he scored 30 goals and 63 points in 82 games, so, yeah, it was a drastic drop in production in one year for the veteran winger, who started the year with a 13-game scoring drought.

“It was a tough start,” said Eriksson, per The Canadian Press. “I had to work uphill through the whole season.”

Read more: Under pressure: Loui Eriksson

That’s a difficult start for any player, but especially for one at the beginning of an expensive new deal in a new market.

“I’m anxious to see Loui. I’m confident that he’ll have a good season. We’ve talked about that … about the transition from Boston to Vancouver,” coach Travis Green said at the start of training camp. “He knows he has to have a better year than he had last year. I think he’s more than capable of it.”

The Canucks were active this summer, too, signing a number of free agents. Again, the hope is the additions they made heading into the new season — Sam GagnerThomas Vanek and Michael Del Zotto among them — could help give them a spark offensively, particularly on the power play.

Eriksson’s season ended in early March because of a lower-body injury. Now he’ll look to rebound from a disappointing season at the age of 32.

Panarin trying to ‘find chemistry’ with new teammates in Columbus

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Artemi Panarin faced his old team, the Chicago Blackhawks, on Tuesday.

It was only preseason and Panarin didn’t register a point in just over 22 minutes of ice time, and 8:17 on the power play.

But there was an interesting nugget to come from his media availability following the game — Panarin’s first against his old team following this summer’s blockbuster trade between the Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Panarin was loose and comfortable, occasionally chatting in English and frequently devolving into giggle fits with teammates Vitaly Abramov and Matiss Kivlenieks, who tried in vain to interpret for him. In fact, Panarin said he was ‘‘glad’’ to be with the Blue Jackets, where he’ll have more creative control on the ice. As dynamic as he and Patrick Kane were as linemates, Kane is basically a center playing wing, dominating the puck.

With the Blue Jackets, Panarin can be that guy.

‘‘I can play a little bit more with the puck,’’ Panarin said through the interpreters. ‘‘Just kind of express myself on the ice a little bit more.’’

In two NHL seasons, both with Chicago, Panarin has been a scoring threat, reaching the 30-goal mark twice. Now with Columbus, Panarin is on a two-year contract worth a total of $12 million and will be eligible for unrestricted free agency when this deal concludes, per CapFriendly.

With the Blackhawks, Panarin spent plenty of time alongside Kane and it appears there has been suggestions that his offensive production was inflated as the result of playing on a line with Kane.

That suggestion has annoyed Panarin. Still, he joins a Blue Jackets team already equipped with a strong nucleus of young players that made considerable progress with a franchise-setting regular season in 2016-17.

“We’ll see how the season will go,” Panarin told the Chicago Tribune. “Beginning of the season maybe I’ll need to make some adjustments, but I just try to find chemistry with my new partners. It’s still in progress.”