Tampa Bay Lightning name Al Murray their new director of amateur scouting

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for tb-yzerman.jpgEven with smaller moves that seem a bit difficult to contextualize (maybe you’re an expert on the NHL/hockey’s best scouts, but I’m not), it’s still interesting to follow every bread crumb left on Steve Yzerman’s trail to make the Tampa Bay Lightning a credible franchise.

The latest front office move involved the Lightning adding a new director of amateur scouting, as Yzerman & Co. snatched away Al Murray. Murray spent the last three years as the head scout of Canada’s national teams. Here is more from the team’s Web site.

“Al’s vast scouting experience will prove to be a great asset for the Lightning as we move forward,” said Yzerman upon making the announcement. “We are pleased to have him join the organization and I very much look forward to working with him as he leads our amateur scouting staff.”

During his time with Hockey Canada, Murray was responsible for all player evaluations and selections for National Junior Team evaluation and selection camps as well as the National Men’s Under-18 Team. He also worked with regional under-17 programs. Murray won the Gold Medal at both the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Championships, and won gold at the 2008 World Under-18 Championship. He won championships with the National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team at the 2008 and 2009 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournaments, also winning the 2010 tournament earlier this month, defeating the United States, 1-0, in the Gold Medal Game.

Prior to joining Hockey Canada, Murray spent 12 years with the Los Angeles Kings, serving as director of amateur scouting. In that position he was responsible for the team’s amateur scouting operation, including scheduling, assignments, evaluation of talent and development of the final list of players leading up to the NHL Entry Draft. Before Murray was named to that position he spent six years as the Kings’ western scouting coordinator.

It’s been a summer of stark change for the Lightning, as they’ve changed their GM, coach, director of amateur scouting and various roster spots as well. Though calling them a Stanley Cup contender or odds-on favorite to win the Southeast might be a little bit hasty, a playoff run is more than reasonable considering the nice amount of talent on their roster.

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    Hellebuyck debuts with victory as Jets best Wild

    Connor Hellebuyck
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    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Dustin Byfuglien had a goal and assist, Connor Hellebuyck made 14 saves to win his NHL debut and the Winnipeg Jets spoiled left winger Zach Parise‘s return from a knee injury by beating the Minnesota Wild 3-1 on Friday.

    Mathieu Perreault added his second goal in two games and Nikolaj Ehlers‘ goal late in the third put the game away.

    The Jets won on the road for the first time in their last seven tries and for just the third time in their last 11 games.

    Ryan Carter scored for Minnesota, finally getting a shot past Hellebuyck that made it 2-1 midway through the third period.

    Hellebuyck was college hockey’s top goalie in 2013-14 and the goaltender on the U.S. team that won a bronze medal in the 2015 world championships.

    Minnesota finished with a season-low 15 shots, which was also a season low in shots allowed for the Jets.

    Wild fans at the Xcel Energy Center let out a roar when it was announced before the game that Parise would start, but not even his return could spark Minnesota.

    After Jason Zucker was whistled for an elbowing penalty behind the net, Perreault took a pass from Byfuglien and zipped it past Devan Dubnyk to give Winnipeg a 1-0 lead with 3:34 left in the second period.

    Byfuglien made it 2-0 early in the third when his odd-angle shot hit Dubnyk in the back of the skate and went in for his seventh goal.

    Carter’s goal bounced off of Winnipeg defenseman Mark Stuart and past Hellebuyck to give Minnesota some momentum.

    The rookie didn’t get rattled, however, stopping a big shot from Jason Pominville with 3:11 to play.

    Just 11 seconds later, Ehlers got loose on a breakaway and put the game away.

    Winnipeg’s defense came into the game ranked 29th in goals allowed, but had little problem preventing Minnesota from generating quality scoring chances.

    The Wild have just one win in their last six games. Parise was Minnesota’s leading scorer when he sprained a knee ligament on Nov. 5.

    NOTES: Wild F Justin Fontaine missed his 11th game with a sprained MCL, but has a chance to return for Saturday’s game against Dallas according to coach Mike Yeo. … The Wild went 4-3-1 without Parise. … Jets RW Blake Wheeler had an assist and now has points in 18 of 24 games.

    Blackhawks baffle Ducks with late magic; Kane’s streak at 18 games


    The Chicago Blackhawks may not be at peak-level right now, but they’re still a tough team to finish off.

    For most of Friday’s game, it seemed like the story would be about John Gibson possibly elbowing into the Anaheim Ducks’ No. 1 role, continuing that franchise carousel.

    Instead, it was about yet another tremendous comeback for Chicago, as the Blackhawks scored two goals in the final two minutes of the third period to erase a 2-0 deficit. Artem Anisimov than scored the OT GWG.

    Stunning stuff … though definitely not unprecedented.

    With less than 30 seconds remaining, Patrick Kane grabbed an assist on Duncan Keith‘s 2-2 goal. Kane extended his point streak to 18 games, tying a record for America-born players.

    For the Ducks, it’s yet another gut punch, one that makes you wonder how they’d fare in another playoff series against Chicago (if they can even get there … a big if).

    Bruce Boudreau is bummed:

    Tyler Johnson’s injury: One of several ominous signs for Tampa Bay

    Carl Gunnarsson, Tyler Johnson
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    The gloom only seems to lift from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s cloudy season in small drizzles.

    Sure, they’re on a three-game winning streak, but the Washington Capitals seem to be on the verge of ending that with a thud (they’re currently up 3-0 going into the third period).

    Update: Washington managed a 4-2 win, giving the Capitals a four-game winning streak.

    That’s the least of the Bolts’ concerns right now, really, as Tyler Johnson left Friday’s game seemingly injured.

    The word seemingly comes into play because details are scarce, as reporters note.

    /ominous music plays

    If you look at Tampa Bay’s upcoming schedule, things could get downright stormy.

    They face the Islanders at home, but they do so tomorrow so they won’t be well-rested. It gets worse from there.

    Dec. 2 – 6: Three-game road trip against the California teams

    Dec. 10 – 12: Two home games (one vs. Ottawa, one vs. Washington)

    Dec. 14-18: Another three-game road trip

    Long story short, they close up a back-to-back set at home tomorrow and then play six of eight on the road.

    /even more ominous music

    The end of 2015 looks friendlier, but for a team that seems to be cratering here and there … things look a bit morbid.

    We’ll see if they can keep fighting, perhaps with a comeback tonight?

    The ghost is here: Another OT-winner from Flyers’ Gostisbehere

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    Here’s an easy way to remember how to spell Shayne Gostisbehere’s maddening last name (and even his first name can trip you up).

    Ghost-is-be-here, without the h.

    Not too bad, right?

    If you’re more of the slogan type, it’s getting to be the point where “Tough to spell, tougher to stop” may be a pretty good one-liner.

    The Philadelphia Flyers phenom has made a habit of scoring overtime game-winning goals on the power play lately. Friday’s version was the decisive tally in a 3-2 OT win against the Nashville Predators, which you can watch up top.

    As you can see in comparing that goal with the one below (which made the difference against the Carolina Hurricanes), opposing coaches may want to make it a point to emphasize stopping this setup, even if it means writing “Don’t let that Ghost kid free.”

    All three of his goals are on the power play so far.

    Will he breathe life back into the Flyers’ man advantage at this rate?