While it’s far from official, there are some well-founded rumors that Jonathan Toews will be the cover star for EA Sports’ upcoming NHL ’11 video game. Puck Daddy and various other outlets caught wind of the software giant briefly putting up a page with a mockup of the game cover on its Web site, although it was quickly taken down.
On some level it’s a brilliant choice. After all, Toews won a gold medal, Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe all in the same calendar year (let alone season). Really, if there’s a “player of 2010” so far, there’s little doubt that Captain Serious is the No. 1 choice. Naturally, EA will also benefit from the wild popularity of the Chicago Blackhawks as well.
It’s also a curious decision, though. For one thing, it’s odd that the company chose two different players from the same team in consecutive years (Patrick Kane was on the cover of NHL ’10). That’s kind of like Kobe Bryant being on the cover of NBA Live one year and Shaq following him up, although I’m fairly certain that Toews and Kane don’t despise each other (and neither one will ask for clarification on the flavor of their … nevermind).
Some also point out that Ryan Miller would have been a good choice. He wouldn’t be the first goalie cover star either, as Marty Turco and John Vanbiesbrouck are among the netminders who appeared on the front of hockey video game cases in the past. Miller became close to a household name with his impressive Olympic run for Team USA.
I’m curious as to why Sidney Crosby hasn’t been on a video game cover yet, especially since Alex Ovechkin was the cover star for both major hockey video game titles. Is he too expensive? Do game companies think that he’d be polarizing? Does he hate video games? We need answers to these questions.
One interesting idea for the future: maybe EA should consider going with “localized” cover stars. Maybe at some point EA will try to take advantage of collector culture and come out with “special editions.” Perhaps one star per division or a Canadian/American/European version?
Anyway, allow me to hand out a hasty congratulations to (unofficial) cover star Jonathan Toews. It’s just another in a long line of honors for the young center.
It was reported Saturday and made official today — Randy Sexton is joining the Buffalo Sabres as an assistant general manager. He will also serve as GM of the AHL’s Rochester Americans.
Also joining the Sabres as assistant GM is Steve Greeley, who spent the past two seasons as assistant director of player personnel with the New York Rangers.
“Randy and I developed a positive working relationship during our time in Pittsburgh and I think his experience and insight will be advantageous for our front office,” said Sabres GM Jason Botterill in a release. “In Steve, we have hired a talented hockey executive who will offer unique insight to our organization. They both have experience at all levels of the game and we think they will be valuable assets for the Buffalo Sabres moving forward.”
Sexton’s job with Rochester will be especially important for what Botterill is trying to do with the Sabres.
“I think one of the successes of the organization that I’m coming from is the relationship between Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh,” Botterill said when he was hired in May. “We want to re-strengthen the relationship with Rochester and Buffalo.”
The last two years, Sexton has been the Penguins’ director of amateur scouting.
The talk of Brian Elliott joining the Jets isn’t going away.
This morning, Rick Ralph of TSN 1290 tweeted that Elliott has “been making tentative accommodation plans for Winnipeg.”
The 32-year-old goalie is an unrestricted free agent, and the Jets’ goaltending was once again a sore spot last season.
“We’re going to a take a look at whatever is available to us and if there’s a good opportunity there that can help us, we’ll jump at it,” GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said Saturday at the draft, per the Winnipeg Free Press. “We’ve got a list of names lined up to reach out to their representatives and see if we’re a fit for them and as far as they want to consider us.”
Read more: Is Brian Elliott a fit for Winnipeg
The Jets have Michael Hutchinson under contract for one more year before he can become unrestricted.
Connor Hellebuyck, meanwhile, is a restricted free agent. The Jets are still high on him, but perhaps rushed him into the No. 1 job last year.
“We want forward progress for the team,” said head coach Paul Maurice. “Either Connor or Michael has to step up on that or we’ve got to get some help for those guys.”
Elliott, of course, had a tough first year in Calgary. The Flames then went a different way by acquiring Mike Smith from Arizona.
Brian Boyle spent almost three full years with the Tampa Bay Lightning before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs at last March’s trade deadline.
The veteran center liked his stint in Tampa so much that he’s willing to go back there when he becomes a free agent in less than week.
“We love Tampa,” said Boyle, per the Tampa Bay Times. “If Tampa wanted to work out a deal, that’s definitely a huge option for us. That’s something that I’ve kind of always thought about. I haven’t closed the door on anything.”
Boyle enjoyed quite a bit of success with the Bolts. During his time there, he scored at least 13 goals in each of his three seasons, which isn’t bad considering he was more of a bottom-six player when he was there.
It’s unclear if the Bolts would be willing to take him back at this point, but a big factor will likely be his contract demands.
“(Tampa) is a great place to be, great place to start a family. And, honestly, we’ll see what they say. You want to be wanted. That’s the other part.”
The Lightning have just over $23 million in cap space right now. That seems like a good amount, but they still have to sign Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Andrej Sustr. It’s also pretty clear that they’re in the market for a top four defenseman, and that won’t come cheap. As of right now, they only have three blue liners on one-way contracts.
The 32-year-old is coming off a contract that paid him $2 million per season. He should be able to fetch a higher number if he hits the open market.
The Carolina Hurricanes have reportedly taken care of some business on Monday morning, as they’ve re-signed forward Derek Ryan to a one-year deal worth $1.425 million, per TSN’s Frank Seravalli.
Update: The Hurricanes have confirmed the news.
The 30-year-old had 11 goals and 29 points in 67 games during his first full NHL season.
Ryan’s journey to the NHL is a great story.
He played three full seasons of junior hockey with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs (2004-2007) before joining the University of Alberta hockey program for four years (2007-2011). Once he completed his Canadian University hockey eligibility, Ryan went on to play three seasons of pro hockey in the Austrian League and one year over in Sweden. He came back to North America for the 2015-16 season, where he played 70 games with AHL Charlotte and six games with the ‘Canes.
Ryan was a finalist for the Masterton Trophy, which is awarded to “the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
“I feel a little out of place,” Ryan told NHL.com during the 2017 NHL Awards. “A couple of years ago, I was battling my way through the European leagues and all of a sudden here I am at the NHL Awards and just kind of taking it all in.”