Mike Richards isn't superstitious at all

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1-richards-wales.jpgBy now, we’re used to the routine when it comes time to award the winner of the Eastern or Western Conference their trophy. Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks opted to treat the Clarence Campbell trophy like it had a mix of the plague, ebola and something from the jungle that hasn’t been discovered yet and didn’t even bother touching it. Philadelphia’s Mike Richards, on the other hand, didn’t seem to care what was going on and embraced the Prince of Wales trophy.

“There was actually a little bit of a debate on the ice,” Richards said. “I thought about it a bit [Sunday] night. My first instinct was to grab it.  Obviously, it took us a lot to get here and obviously [that’s] not the trophy that we want. But we haven’t done anything conventional all year, especially in these playoffs, so I might as well go against the grain one more time.”

For those of you who believe that walking under ladders or having black cats cross your path are bad luck, you’re probably cringing at Richards’ ability to effectively thumb his nose at superstition. For what it’s worth, Sidney Crosby last year picked up the Prince of Wales trophy but cited his reasoning being that he didn’t pick it up the year before and they lost, so why not change things up just to be sure. Makes sense to me… If I believed in voodoo or the moon landing being faked. If you honestly believe the fate of your team hinges upon whether or not the captain of the team touches the trophy, I’d like to tell you that if you give me the deed to your house, you’ll be safe from alien abduction and that I’ll even throw in the Brooklyn Bridge to prove it.

Then again, hockey fans aren’t the sanest of fans around. We’re the type to grow out a playoff beard with our teams, or dye our hair to match the team (although I may be speaking a bit too personally there) and try to conform to all sorts of strange phenomenon in a way to appease the fantastically mythical “hockey gods” who smite all those who don’t believe.

Just keep this in mind, if hockey gods existed, would they have allowed the Chicago Blackhawks to go since 1961 without winning the Stanley Cup or kept the Toronto Maple Leafs Cup-free since 1967 while teams from Anaheim, California and Raleigh, North Carolina found ways to win? I think not.

Vigneault will be behind the Rangers’ bench in 2016-17

New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault runs a practice at NHL hockey training camp Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, in Greenburgh N.Y. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
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The New York Rangers may have been bounced in the opening round of the 2016 playoffs, but they aren’t looking to make a coaching change. In a phone interview with Montreal’s LaPresse newspaper, Alain Vigneault confirmed that he’ll be back behind the Rangers’ bench next season.

“I’ve had discussions with the club’s front office and they told me that they wanted me to come back next season,” Vigneault told LaPresse (quotes have been translated by PHT).

Vigneault and Rangers management will meet in Palm Springs next week to discuss what went wrong in 2015-16.

Even though the season didn’t go the way the Rangers had hoped, Vigneault insists he was never worried about losing his job.

“I don’t really worry about that stuff,” Vigneault said of the rumors surrounding his job security. “There’s 82 games in a season plus the playoffs and you can’t start thinking about your fate after each game. After a loss, you forget it and start thinking about the adjustments you need to make. In regards to our situation, we still managed to pick up 101 points this season. That’s a good season, but we still expected more from our team in the playoffs.”

Like every off-season, there will be changes, but Vigneault isn’t expecting any major ones.

“There’s definitely going to be changes. I don’t know if there’ll be big changes because today, it’s hard to make big changes. With the salary cap, it’s not realistic to think that way.”

When pressed about potential changes, Vigneault wasn’t willing to elaborate.

Vigneault also touched on the way Dan Boyle went after two reporters at the team’s year-end media availability. It’s safe to say he wasn’t thrilled about the way the whole thing went down.

“It’s a lesson for me and our whole team,” added Vigneault. “It’s disappointing because Dan had a really nice career. He won the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay, but all people will remember him for is this incident. What happened with him really surprised us. It’s too bad. I hope people will remember him for the career he had.”

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with one game on Friday night. You can catch tonight’s action via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Tampa Bay at NY Islanders (7:00 p.m. ET)

The TV broadcast of Game 4 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Lightning lead the series 2-1.

Here’s some relevant reading material you might enjoy:

No hearings scheduled for Boyle on Hickey hit, or Hickey on Drouin hit

Lightning take dramatic OT win vs. Islanders, go up 2-1 in series

WATCH LIVE: Canada-USA (IIHF World Hockey Championship)

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A huge tilt on day one of the World Hockey Championships, as Canada and the USA clash in Russia. You can watch the game online using the NBC Sports Live Extra app.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Canada came away with a gold medal in last year’s tournament while the United States took home the bronze. Of course, each team’s roster changes significantly every year.

The USA’s next game is tomorrow against Belarus. Canada will play Sunday against Hungary.

PHT Morning Skate: Canucks prospect Brock Boeser is taking a girl with Down syndrome to prom

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

–Here’s a feel-good story. Canucks prospect Brock Boeser is taking a girl with Down syndrome to prom. (Sportsnet)

–NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire does a lot of traveling during the playoffs. (Sports Illustrated)

–It sounds like ESPN’s Mike Wilbon isn’t a fan of the Coyotes’ latest front office hire. (ESPN)

–Watch the highlights from last night’s game between the Stars and Blues. (Top)

–Former referee Kerry Fraser wants the old charging rule to make a return. (TSN)

–Hockey is becoming more common in the North Carolina Sports Hall-of-Fame. (Charlotte Observer)

–Leafs prospect Mitch Marner’s family home caught fire prior to Game 1 of the OHL final. (Sportsnet)