Lou Lamoriello's special connection to George Steinbrenner

loulamoriello2.jpgThe death of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is one that reaches across all parts of the sports world, even into the realm of hockey. About the one thing that NHL owners ever took away from Steinbrenner when is their ability to fire head coaches at will. While you could argue that Steinbrenner’s presence and ability to use league economics to his advantage aren’t things that completely crossed over into the NHL, his partnership with one large figure in the NHL, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, had a profound effect on him as the NHL’s Mike Morreale finds out.

“(The relationship) was an exceptional one,” Lamoriello said. “I really knew of him and only met him on isolated occasions prior to being involved with the YankeeNets when we were all one group — the Devils, the Nets and the Yankees.

“For whatever reason, we became fairly close and spent considerable time (together) at different times. He was the sole individual responsible for me taking over the Nets when that transpired. His support throughout all of those years was just exceptional. He had me become part of the Yankee family. I still am to this day on their board.”

While your minds are all blown at the fact that Lou Lamoriello works with the New York Yankees in his own way, there’s something about Steinbrenner that Lamoriello took particular pride in. Given some of the quotes that he’s thrown out there lately, it comes as no surprise.

“He was never afraid to say what he thought, which is what I admired about him,” Lamoriello said. “He was committed to the organization, he was committed to the logo and he had strong beliefs. He followed through the best he could.”

Lamoriello fondly recalls Steinbrenner sitting comfortably in his office during the Devils’ Cup-clinching Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

“He watched the final Stanley Cup game in my office because he didn’t want to go in the crowd,” Lamoriello recalled. “He went to a few games, and he was there that seventh game. He did things like that because he wanted to.”

George Steinbrenner the hockey fan. Just imagine Big Stein sitting in on an NHL Board of Governors meeting if he ever got into it so much he bought a team. It’s about the only thing that would be even more entertaining than a Brian Burke press conference.

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    Varlamov steps up with ‘phenomenal’ performance versus Red Wings

    at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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    DETROIT (AP) Semyon Varlamov lifted his team to a win on a night when the rest of the Colorado Avalanche were outplayed thoroughly.

    Varlamov made 43 saves and Blake Comeau scored in both the third period and the shootout to help the Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night. It was the highest save total of the season for Varlamov.

    “He was phenomenal for us,” Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. “We had back-to-back games and got in late last night. Not trying to find an excuse, but they’re a good puck-possession team. Our goalie needed to be our best player for us to win and he was.”

    Matt Duchene also scored for the Avalanche, who won despite being outshot 45-21. Colorado has won nine of its last 12 road games.

    Jonathan Ericsson and Pavel Datsyuk scored for Detroit, which had its three-game winning streak snapped.

    “I thought we played really good,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “I thought our energy level was great, I thought we won tons of puck races and puck battles in the `O’ zone, I thought we shot the puck well, we had net presence. … What you can really control is your process and I thought our process was great.”

    The Avalanche, who won at Ottawa on Thursday, improved to 6-2 on the season in the second game of back-to-backs. The shootout went four rounds, and Comeau ended it by beating Petr Mrazek with a wrist shot to the glove side.

    Datsyuk scored Detroit’s only goal of the shootout. Varlamov denied Dylan Larkin, Brad Richards and Gustav Nyquist.

    Nathan MacKinnon had Colorado’s first goal of the shootout on the third attempt by the Avalanche – Detroit would have won if Mrazek had stopped him.

    “We play a team game. A goalie can’t win a game by himself,” Varlamov said. “We scored two nice goals, and then in the shootout a nice goal by Nate saved us and then Blake scored on a nice shot.”

    Duchene opened the scoring in the first period after the Red Wings were sloppy with the puck in their own zone. Colorado’s Mikhail Grigorenko backhanded a pass to Duchene, who scored from around the edge of the crease.

    Detroit evened it up in the second when Ericsson’s wrist shot from the point deflected off Duchene and then skipped off the ice surface and past Varlamov.

    Comeau put Colorado ahead in the third with a shot from the slot, but the Red Wings answered on a power play when Datsyuk backhanded the puck past Varlamov from in close with 10:09 remaining in regulation.

    The Avalanche had 25 blocked shots to Detroit’s four, underscoring just how much of the game was played in Colorado’s zone, but the Red Wings came away with just the one point for the shootout loss. Nyquist had a great chance in overtime when he swooped in alone on Varlamov, but his backhander was stopped.

    Detroit’s Darren Helm had a career-high nine shots on goal.

    “He’s shooting from everywhere,” Detroit’s Luke Glendening said. “I was hoping one would go in for him, but I think it’s a good sign that he’s getting a lot of chances.”

    NOTE: Detroit D Mike Green returned after missing two games with a sore groin, and D Danny DeKeyser played after leaving Detroit’s win over Ottawa on Wednesday during the third period because of a bruised right leg. … The Red Wings were short-handed for the final 92 seconds of overtime, but managed to kill the penalty.

     

    Doan makes Jets/Coyotes franchise history

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    The Arizona Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets franchise has a new leader in career points.

    Shane Doan set the new mark at 931 points, taking over the franchise lead from Dale Hawerchuk thanks to a three-point night in a 4-1 Coyotes win over the Calgary Flames on Friday.

    He scored twice — his first goal of the night tied Hawerchuk’s record — and added an assist. At 39 years of age, Doan has 21 goals this season and is on pace for his best season in that department since he scored 31 in 2008-09.

    In fact, at his age and this stage in his NHL career, he could set a new personal best for goals in a single season.

    Despite all the off-ice turmoil the Coyotes have gone through, and the speculation of that franchise possibly uprooting from the desert, Doan has hung in there.

    That’s not to say he hasn’t spoken out at times about the constant controversies that have come up between the organization, the city of Glendale and the NHL.

    In September of 2012, prior to the lockout, he had the choice to sign elsewhere. He narrowed his options down to Vancouver and Phoenix, eventually deciding to stick with the Coyotes.

    No regrets.

    Kopitar dominates with a hat trick to help Kings defeat Rangers in OT

    St Louis Blues v Los Angeles Kings
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    Anze Kopitar received high praise from L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter following Friday’s win over the New York Rangers.

    All Kopitar did was score three goals on four shots on goal. He was also credited with five hits while winning 65 per cent of his faceoffs. His third goal of the evening with 30 seconds remaining in regulation pushed this game into overtime, where Tanner Pearson scored the winner for L.A. in a 5-4 victory.

    “It was Kopi’s best game of the season, that’s for sure,” said Sutter, as per LA Kings Insider.

    “Not just because he scored three goals, but it was his best game all around in terms of using his whole package. I mean, he was a pretty dominant player.”

    L.A. maintains an eight-point lead on the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division lead.

    The Kings’ victory came at a cost. Marian Gaborik left the game in the first period after being involved in an awkward collision. He did not return, and Sutter didn’t have an update on the veteran forward when the game ended.

    Video: P.K. Subban tossed after on-ice outburst toward officials

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    P.K. Subban was given a game misconduct on Friday after an outburst directed at officials in the final minute against the Buffalo Sabres.

    Subban was furious after the puck got caught up in the skates of the linesman in the neutral zone before Evander Kane then picked it up and scored into the open net. That put the Sabres up by two goals with 55 seconds remaining in regulation and ended any hopes of a Montreal comeback.

    Subban had some choice words for officials but his argument ultimately landed him with an early exit from this game. The Habs lost by a final score of 6-4.

    “I looked around to see if he was going to blow [the whistle,]” said Subban, as per Sportsnet. “The puck is coming out of the zone. It hits the linesman. He’s standing there and sees the puck coming. It goes back to the player and he puts it in the open net. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.

    “Are we supposed to smile and be happy after that and say, ‘Thank you’ to the linesman? I don’t think so. I’m a little bit disappointed about that, because I felt there was a minute left in the game [and] we still had a chance to score.”

    The Sabres scored four straight goals between the first and second periods, chasing Ben Scrivens from the net 1:28 into the second period.