Remembering Chicago's 'relentless' pursuit of Marian Hossa

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Thumbnail image for kopeckyandhossa.jpgJust a few moments ago, I discussed a Montreal Gazette story that included an interesting bit regarding hockey agent Rich Winter’s formula for building elite NHL teams. As it turns out, I couldn’t help but find another portion of that story quite interesting.

It’s not surprising for teams to go all-out to court star players. Sometimes, in college sports, that process is dripping with illegal possibilities and shady dealings. Then again, often it’s as harmless as treating someone to a steak dinner. The Montreal Gazette piece described the Chicago Blackhawks’ courtship of Marian Hossa, which was nothing short of aggressive (or, as Winter says in the story, “relentless”).

Once the Blackhawks realized they were in the running, they were relentless. Winter credits Tallon and then-assistant general manager Stan Bowman for their aggressive pursuit. After meeting in Montreal, he said the phone calls were often, sometimes multiple conversations each day.

“They were just tremendous,” Winter said. “They forechecked him into submission and by the time free agency’s clock had started, they had Marian right where they wanted him.”

And now, once again, he’s right where he wants to be.

On the heels of the NBA fining Mark Cuban a ridiculous amount of money for “tampering” with Lebron James, it’s pretty stunning to read that the Blackhawks met with Hossa during the June ’09 NHL Draft. That’s a healthy amount of time before Hossa’s contract with the Detroit Red Wings officially expired on July 1, but apparently the team had a “gentleman’s agreement” with the Slovakian star, allowing him to negotiate with other teams if a long-term deal wasn’t in the cards.

Hossa wanted one thing: for his agent, Winter, to find him a “winner.” Being that Chicago is three wins away from getting him his hard-fought Cup, it seems like his agent is doing is job well. One can debate how truly elite the Blackhawks are, but they certainly know how to make a potential free agent feel special. Just ask Marian Hossa (and, really, Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet).

The Leafs will be without Reimer on Saturday

James Reimer
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James Reimer (lower body) won’t be available to play in Saturday’s game against Washington.

Reimer was injured during a team practice earlier this week and although the injury didn’t appear to be serious, it will prevent him from suiting up in at least one game.

The Leafs originally thought that the 27-year-old would be good to go for this tilt, but head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer didn’t feel good enough to play.

Reimer’s emerged as the go-to-guy for the Maple Leafs this season and for good reason.

He has 7-3-4 record with a 2.07 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in 15 games.

Another reason the Leafs have been counting on him so much is because Jonathan Bernier‘s been awful.

Bernier will get another opportunity to prove himself on Saturday night, but he faces a stiff test against Alex Ovechkin and company.

The 27-year-old has an 0-7-1 record with a 3.17 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage in ’15-16.

In a corresponding move, the Leafs sent defenseman Scott Harrington to the minors and recalled goalie Garret Sparks.

Sparks was Toronto’s seventh round pick in 2011.

The 22-year-old has an 8-2-1 record with the Toronto Marlies this season.

War of words continues between Rangers and Bruins on Saturday


The Rangers are getting ready for their second straight matinee game on Saturday, but head coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t done addressing yesterday’s loss to the Bruins.

After Friday’s game, Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with Henrik Lundqvist‘s “acting” that led to a goalie interference penalty being called on forward Brad Marchand (above) and he let everyone know it in his postgame press conference.

On Saturday, it was Alain Vigneault’s turn to lash out.

“Well, (the Rangers public relations staff) filled me in a little bit on what was said after the game,” Vigneault said via the New York Daily News. “I mean it’s a little disappointing. Obviously everybody saw the knee to the head. The comments on Hank were very inappropriate. The way Hank conducts himself, on the ice, away from the rink, off the ice, the example that he sets. Who would you rather have as a son, Henrik Lundqvist or Brad Marchand? For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong, and probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”

The Rangers will take on the Flyers at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Dubinsky to have hearing for cross-check on Crosby


Brandon Dubinsky and the NHL’s Department of Player Safety will have a chat about his cross-check on Sidney Crosby.

The hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, per beat reporter Aaron Portzline.

As you can see in the above video, Dubinsky delivers a two-handed cross-check to Crosby’s neck, so the fact that he’s getting a hearing is no surprise.

“There’s no secret. I try to play him as hard as I can,” said Dubinsky. “That being said, I don’t try and do anything dirty. I felt like my stick ride up his back a little bit. He’s kind of bent over there in front. But again, that’s not the type of player I am. I’m going to play hard, but try and play fair and play in between the whistle.”

Crosby isn’t willing to give Dubinsky the benefit of the doubt.

Anyone who follows the NHL knows that Dubinsky and Crosby aren’t fans of each other.

The two have engaged in some serious battles, including this fight last February:

Report: Habs will be Price-less for the next month

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It looks like the Canadiens will be without star goaltender Carey Price for the next month, per RDS.

“We still don’t know what the nature of the injury is, but we’re convinced it’s his right knee,” hockey analyst François Gagnon said on a french television show on Friday. “The Canadiens are preparing for him to be out for more than a week. They’re preparing for him to be out for a month.”

Price missed nine games with a lower-body injury between Oct. 30 and Nov. 19.

The 28-year-old won all three of his starts since returning, but he was forced from Wednesday’s game against the Rangers leading some to believe he came back too soon.

After Friday’s win over the Devils, Michel Therrien denied the validity of the report.

The Canadiens will have to provide an update on Price’s injury at some point, but their camp doesn’t typically give many details when it comes to this sort of thing.