Thrashers start the season without team captain, opt for three alternates

nikantropov2.jpgIt’s a rarity in the NHL but on occasion a team will sometimes go without a team captain. The Minnesota Wild went without a permanent one for years before choosing Mikko Koivu. The Montreal Canadiens last year went without a captain in the wake of former captain Saku Koivu leaving the team.

This year, the Atlanta Thrashers are the team going without a player wearing the captain’s “C” and will instead roll with three players as alternate captains as Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tells us.

Forwards Nik Antropov and Andrew Ladd and defenseman Johnny Oduya will begin the season wearing an ‘A’ on their sweater.

Coach Craig Ramsay said he will use other players in the role as the season progresses.

“We are definitely going to have other people take a crack at it,” Ramsay said. “We want to make sure, on this team, it’s team first and everyone has to be a leader. Beyond that, as far as I’m concerned, there have to be followers. Somebody is leading and somebody is putting themselves on the line, even if it’s one good shift. You have to follow it with your good shift and your good effort. We need the leaders to take charge and show the way, but we need people ready to follow in their footsteps and play hard. I think we have those people.”

The Thrashers have not had a captain since the trade of Ilya Kovalchuk in February. Antropov wore an ‘A’ for several games after the trade.

For a team that’s had as much turnover and additions as the Thrashers have had this off-season, not naming a captain right away isn’t the worst thing in the world to do. What also could be playing a role in this decision is the lack of players signed on with the team in the long term.

Take a look at the Thrashers team as far as contracts are concerned. Only ten players are signed beyond this season, and of those ten, four of them have their deals end after next season. Naming a team captain is a commitment to the future for many teams, and the Thrashers could use that type of thing, but they’ve got to be smarter about it.

When the team named Ilya Kovalchuk captain, they were showing their hand to him hoping that by making that sort of commitment to him he’d want to stick around in Atlanta. You could say that perhaps the Thrashers are “once bitten, twice shy” when it comes to handing out the “C” but in this case, it’s just not true.

There’s a lot of youth in Atlanta and having someone who’s viewed to be a long-term Thrasher emerge as the team leader is the optimal situation. From a fan’s perspective, however, it’s a bit annoying to not have a team captain out on the ice. The captain doesn’t just lead the team on the ice, he’s the focus of attention for the fans off of it whether they like it or not.

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    The ECHL would have an ‘open mind’ if Las Vegas NHL team wanted Wranglers name

    LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 22:  (l-r) Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak and Bill Foley celebrate the admittance of a new NHL franchise during the Board Of Governors Press Conference prior to the 2016 NHL Awards at Encore Las Vegas on June 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The search for a general manager has been over for a while, the successful candidate in place. However, the Las Vegas NHL franchise is still looking to name its team. That search is still ongoing.

    With its first season in the league set for 2017-18, the Las Vegas franchise has run into some trade mark issues with potential names, much to the dismay of owner Bill Foley.

    One possibility could be the ‘Wranglers’ — the name of the former Las Vegas ECHL franchise, which officially folded in January of 2015.

    However, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the ECHL still owns the rights to the name ‘Wranglers.’ The report also stated that the team does have a temporary logo — the NHL shield with ‘Las Vegas’ written underneath. Again. Only temporary.

    “I have not been approached by either Mr. Foley or by the NHL,” ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

    “We own all the names of all the teams that have played or are playing (in the ECHL). Frankly, I would be surprised to hear from them now. But if they called to say they were interested in reviving the Wranglers name in Las Vegas, we would have an open mind about it. We always liked the name and the logo and the way they built up the brand in the community.”

    Meanwhile, the people of Las Vegas have had their say on team names.

    According to a bracket posted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the name ‘Outlaws’ emerged as the favorite among the people after the polls, which the newspaper admits are completely unscientific.

    The Las Vegas Visitors didn’t make it out of the first round…

    Related:

    McPhee wants Las Vegas team to compete right away; history says it won’t be easy

    Report: Las Vegas NHL team asked permission to speak with Capitals assistant GM

    Report: Graham James granted extended day parole

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    Graham James, the disgraced junior hockey coach who pleaded guilty in June of 2015 to the latest charge of sexual assault against a former player, has had his day parole extended an additional two months, according to a report from The Canadian Press.

    From the Canadian Press:

    Documents from the Parole Board of Canada show James’s day parole, which was granted in January, has been extended for two months while the board schedules a hearing to consider his request for more freedom.

    “You would like to be granted full parole,” states the decision dated July 8. “You have rented an apartment where you plan on living on your own. There are no financial concerns. Family members have been deemed to be positive supports.

    “Your (case management team) supports your release on full parole.”

    Former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy, who was a victim of sexual abuse from James, his coach in Swift Current at the time, has spoken out against the decision from the parole board.

    From Global News:

    “There has to be commitment and a proven commitment to change and currently there is no commitment to change by the Parole Board of Canada,” he said. “To me what it all comes down to is a lack of understanding of the true impact of this crime by the parole board.”

    Kennedy predicts James will leave the country where he can operate under the radar. He has previously moved to Spain and Mexico. Kennedy also believes it’s just a matter of time before James reoffends.

    “Oh absolutely, there’s no question,” Kennedy said.

    In February of 2013, James had his original two-year sentence increased to five years for sexually assaulting two of his former players.

    James is serving seven years, following the latest charge from last year that resulted in a two-year sentence, according to Global News.

    Get to know Nolan Patrick, early favorite to go first in 2017 NHL Draft

    KELOWNA, CANADA - OCTOBER 25: Rourke Chartier #14 of Kelowna Rockets faces off against Nolan Patrick #19 of Brandon Wheat Kings during the first period on October 25, 2014 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
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    The NHL’s Central Scouting staff put out a full list of 2017 NHL Draft “futures” on Saturday, supporting the notion that it’s never too early to hype up the next wave of prospects.

    At the moment, the top pick speculation revolves around Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings, including in NHL.com’s breakdown of the biggest names among those futures.

    In vague terms, his size and willingness to go to high-danger areas distinguishes Patrick. Scoring 102 points in 72 games in the WHL with the Wheat Kings doesn’t hurt his cause, either.

    It’s only natural to seek comparables, of course, and there are plenty streaming out already.

    Craig Button compares Nolan to Jonathan Toews in this introduction for TSN:

    Nolan’s style of play is similar to that of fellow Manitoban Jonathan Toews. He’s skilled, smart and capable of playing and making a difference in all situations of the game. Like Toews, he does it without much flash, but brings significant determination and reliability every time he steps on the ice. 

    Meanwhile, his coach compared his style to that of Brayden Schenn, as Buzzing the Net noted in February.

    There’s hockey in his blood, too, as his father Steve Patrick was an NHL forward.

    Maybe that explains the notable lack of fawning from his dad in this Sportsnet article.

    “Nolan was a funny little player at eight. I certainly didn’t look at him and think he’s gonna be a special player,” Steve Patrick said in May. “But he always saw the ice well and even when he was little he could pass the puck. He was a smaller kid and he sometimes played up a year, so I thought he had to be little sneakier to hold on to the puck.

    “Plus, he had an older sister who could throw him in a snowbank, so he had to figure a way to keep the puck from her.”

    Now that is a scouting report.

    Speaking of scouting reports, NHL.com and Sportsnet both discuss other players who will jockey for top draft position with Patrick.

    Of course, plenty can change in the season, so Patrick must dodge hurdles as if they were siblings readying to “throw him in a snowbank.”

    Related: Nolan Patrick, potential No. 1 overall pick in 2017, undergoes sports hernia surgery

    There is a report about Islanders eyeing a new arena in Nassau, too

    UNIONDALE, NY - MAY 05:  A closeup of arena workers tools used to help remove the ice and the rink from the Nassau Coliseum on May 5, 2015 in Uniondale, New York. The New York Islanders have played their last game at the Nassau Coliseum and will begin to play at the Barclay's Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York City next season.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The New York Islanders’ new owners claim that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center is “our home,” yet there are all kinds of rumors going around about where they may settle.

    Things really heated up with talks of moving next to the New York Mets with a new arena in Queens, but apparently that’s not all.

    New York Newsday reports that the Islanders have met “several times” with the New York Racing Association to build a new arena in Belmont. This would mean that the Islanders would (wait for it) bring the team back to the Nassau area.

    It was emphasized that such talks were in early stages and that the ownership group is “weighing multiple options, including remaining in Brooklyn.”

    When it came to the rumors about Queens, more than a few people believed that it may have come down to leveraging Barclays for a better situation in Brooklyn. The Isles’ ownership group hasn’t discussed these rumors, so it’s difficult to gauge how seriously the team would consider moving again.

    In the grand scheme of things, it feels far too early to get too excited or bent out of shape about these murmurs. Even if something significant happens – and there have been plenty of gripes about Barclays – it sounds like it would take some time for plans to formulate.