In honor of the Fourth of July, the All-Time All-American team

cheliosusa.jpgIn an earlier post, I took a look at how Patrick Kane’s first three seasons stack up to the early years enjoyed by the three best American born forwards in NHL history. Being that it’s the Fourth of July, I thought I’d extend the patriotic puck-based postings by picking my All-Time All-American team.

Surely there will be some dissent on my choices, so feel free to share your grievances in the comments. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryan Miller ends up being the greatest American born goalie once his career his over, but I think it’s too early to put him or Kane on this list.

I’ll keep it nice and simple: three forwards, two defensemen, a goalie and a coach.

Forwards

Pat LaFontaine – Mike Modano – Jeremy Roenick

Those three forwards have a stunning 3,588 career regular season points between them. Modano (1,359) and Roenick (1,216) watered down their careers a bit by playing past their prime while LaFontaine left hockey far too early. While John Leclair, Joe Mullen, Neal Broten and Keith Tkachuk put together nice careers, I think Modano, Roenick and LaFontaine are the clear best choices.

Defense

Brian Leetch – Chris Chelios

You can make a very strong argument that Brian Leetch is the greatest American-born hockey player ever. It’s impressive enough that he has a Conn Smythe, two Norris Trophies and 1,028 regular season points in his career. The thing that blows me away, though, is his 97 points in 95 career playoff games. Most forwards would kill for a point-per-game average in the playoffs, but a blueliner? That’s just incredible.

While Leetch distinguished himself in the offensive end, Chelios was incredible as a rugged, shutdown defenseman. Many will remember Chelios for playing deep into his 40’s, but hopefully the hockey world won’t forget that he’s one of the best American hockey players of all time.

Goalie

Tom Barrasso

It came down to Barrasso or Richter, and honestly, it wasn’t an easy choice. Barrasso’s two-to-one Cup advantage didn’t mean as much to me because those Pittsburgh Penguins teams scored plenty of goals to support whomever was in net. Still, the thing that stands out is his unusual rookie year in which he won the Calder Trophy and the Vezina Trophy.

Both goalies had highs and lows, but Barrasso’s ceiling seemed a little higher.

Coach

Herb Brooks

I mean, come on, it’s Herb Brooks.

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    Devils score early and often, opening up seven-goal lead vs. Senators

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    Tough night for the Ottawa Senators and, specifically, goaltender Mike Condon on Monday.

    Playing the New Jersey Devils in the Kraft Hockeyville showcase in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, Condon allowed seven goals on 17 shots before the midway point of the second period.

    Andrew Hammond then entered into the game for Ottawa, with the Senators down 7-0.

    Marcus Johansson started the scoring onslaught for New Jersey. Nico Hischier gave the Devils a three-goal lead before the eight-minute mark of the opening period, and John Quenneville scored twice in less than 30 seconds to put New Jersey up by seven in the second period.

    Golden Knights embed season ticket members’ names in T-Mobile Arena ice

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    The Vegas Golden Knights have chosen an interesting way to honor their season ticket members, as the organization inches closer to starting its inaugural NHL regular season.

    The Golden Knights will, for the first time, play on their home ice at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday against the L.A. Kings in preseason action. To commemorate this historic season, the organization will embed the names of its season ticket members into the ice surface at their home arena.

    (You can check out the video here. Very cool.)

    “That it was feasible, if we wanted to do something special on the ice, that we had the ability to put texture to something on the ice, before the laid the last round of it,” said Todd Pollock, Golden Knights vice-president of ticketing and suites.

    “It’s in the thousands, the number of names out there. Many thousands.”

    The Golden Knights have played four preseason games so far — all on the road. They open the regular season with two games in two nights on the road, on Oct. 6 versus the Dallas Stars and the following night versus the Arizona Coyotes. They return to Vegas for their home opener against the Coyotes on Oct. 10.

    NHL players weigh in on national anthem protests, divisive President Trump comments

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    A number of National Hockey League players and coaches on Monday expressed their opinions about the national anthem protests and the divisive comments of President Donald Trump during a rally on Friday and on Twitter this weekend.

    At a rally on Friday, Trump urged NFL team owners to fire players that take a knee during the National Anthem. He reiterated those remarks on Twitter the following day.

    On Sunday, almost every NFL team took part in a form of protest against racial inequality and injustice during the anthem. Some players took a knee. Other players linked arms with fellow players, coaches and even team owners in a show of solidarity. Some teams, like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans did not take the field during the anthem.

    On Monday, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews, who is 20 years old and from Scottsdale, AZ., said he would not take part in protest during the anthem.

    “My great uncle served, I have friends and family who’ve served, there’s men and women who have risked their lives for the United States, people who have died for the United States,” Matthews said, per Sportsnet.

    “I don’t know if kneeling, sitting, stretching is something I’d really look into doing because to me it’s like a dishonour to the men and women that fight for that flag, fight for the U.S. I don’t think I’d be one of the people to take part in that.”

    Boston Bruins forward David Backes, who is from Minneapolis, MN., said he will continue to stand during the Star Spangled Banner.

    “My opinion is that I’m American and I love my country and I love my flag,” said Backes, per CSNNE.com.

    “I’ve got great buddies that have been in the military and they’ve sacrificed for my freedom, so I’d never want to do anything to disrespect that. My standpoint is that I’m standing for every national anthem with my hand over my heart and I’m staring at that flag recognizing those sacrifices. If I’ve got beef with a social justice issue or something else-wise, I’m going to find different avenues that are not disrespectful, especially to those that are military men and women that give me the freedom to do what I do.”

    Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk told the Edmonton Journal that players have the right to protest, while his head coach Bill Peters does not believe that kneeling during the National Anthem is a sign of disrespect.

    “I understand both sides. I don’t think anyone is truly trying to disrespect the flag, to be honest with you,” Peters told the Raleigh News & Observer. “I think people have too much pride in what’s going on in their countries, and they just want to make it better and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

    Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler is believed to be the first NHL player to publicly speak out against the comments of President Trump, doing so from his verified Twitter account on Saturday. His comments followed scathing criticism of the President from a number of athletes, including NBA stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry, in the wake of what Trump said at the rally. Following Sunday’s schedule of games, a number of NFL players spoke about the protests.

    “I’m absolutely for the first amendment,” said Wheeler, when asked if he would support a teammate if they decide to take a knee during the National Anthem.

    “I’m a big believer that what makes America a special place is you’re allowed to stand up for what you believe in. With just cause, if someone were electing to do that they would 100 percent have my support. Even if I don’t necessarily agree with why they do it it is their right to feel that way, it is their right to behave that way. If I didn’t agree with it, I would absolutely sit down, have a coffee, talk about it, try to understand why they feel that way and maybe you become a little more sympathetic.”

    McLellan expects Strome to ‘respond and be better’ after sending preseason message

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    Ryan Strome played a portion of Saturday’s preseason game on a line with Connor McDavid.

    That, according to reports, eventually changed throughout the course of the game, as coach Todd McLellan put prospect Jesse Puljujarvi on the top line in place of Strome.

    In part, the move was made to help get Puljujarvi, the fourth overall pick in 2016, going offensively. In part, the move was made to send an early message to Strome, who was acquired in the Jordan Eberle trade in June. That was essentially the explanation McLellan delivered following the game, according to Sportsnet.

    He reiterated that on Monday.

    “In Ryan’s case, it was a message that went to him fairly early in the process, just so that he gets it out of his system early,” McLellan told reporters.

    “I’d rather do that now than do it two or three games into the year and have him confused or wondering what or why. We sat with him today and went through some video clips and we expect him to respond and be better. We’re still trying to figure him out as he’s trying to figure us out. But we’re going to push him . . . to be the player that we believe he is and hopefully it pays off for him and for us.”

    The Oilers continue their preseason schedule tonight at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. Strome, 24, has the ability to play both center and on the wing, which should give McLellan more options as he sets his forward combinations ahead of the regular season.

    In terms of the message from the coaching staff, Strome called it a “learning process.”

    “I saw a couple of the clips that I thought could have been improved on,” said Strome, per the Oilers. “Clean that up and I really just think that at the end of the day you have to get yourself ready for the start of the year. It’s building, and trying to get to where you want to be.”