Markus Naslund to have his number retired in Vancouver tonight

It’s a special night in Vancouver for former team captain Markus Naslund. Naslund will have his number 19 lifted to the rafters at Rogers Arena as the team retires his number in recognition of his outstanding career with the Canucks.

Naslund joined Vancouver during the 1995-1996 season in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Canucks traded Alek Stojanov to the Penguins for Naslund straight up. As a Penguin, Naslund was, for lack of a better word, a pedestrian hockey player. In Vancouver, Naslund blossomed into a scoring machine. Seven seasons in a row, Naslund scored 65 or more points from the 98-99 season through 05-06.

In 2002-2003 he won the, now named, Ted Lindsay Award as the MVP of the NHL as voted on by the players. That year he scored 48 goals and had 56 assists for 104 points. Naslund finished his career with three 40+ goal seasons, three other 30+ goal seasons and as a consistent 20+ goal scorer in every other season. Even in his final year with the New York Rangers, Naslund scored 25 goals. We’re pretty sure the Penguins would like a do-over on that trade, but as it is, Naslund’s role in Vancouver is similar to what Sidney Crosby has done in Pittsburgh: He single-handedly reinvigorated a struggling franchise.

Naslund joins former captains Trevor Linden and Stan Smyl (pictured above) as Canucks captains honored with retired numbers. With Naslund now being honored, many Canucks fans are hoping that another franchise legend in Pavel Bure will be honored similarly. As for tonight, Naslund will be remembered well as a captain that did all he could to set the example for his teammates, and for a guy that does that, receiving this honor is truly special.

Video: Predators’ Kevin Fiala leaves on stretcher, hospitalized after scary fall

1 Comment

The crowd in St. Louis was sent to stunned silence at the scary sight of Nashville Predators rookie Kevin Fiala crashing feet-first into boards during the first period of Game 1.

Fiala was taken off the ice on a stretcher after he awkwardly hit the boards following a hit by Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo. An arena announcement indicated that Fiala will be taken to a nearby hospital.

The Predators announced that Fiala is alert and stable in an update.

It’s a cruel twist for the 20-year-old forward, whose high-end speed stands out most when you first see him. A bit longer than a week ago, he scored the biggest goal of his career as he ended Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks with the overtime-clincher. Now one has to wonder about his bigger-picture health.

Members of the Blues and Predators both escorted Fiala off the ice during a stunning moment for all involved.

Colin Wilson: still far more productive in playoffs (Video)

Leave a comment

When you put together a list of “clutch” players, do you put Colin Wilson on it?

Before you laugh that question off – which, really, that’s kind of mean – consider how productive the under-the-radar Nashville Predators forward is during the postseason.

In 33 career playoff games, Wilson had 11 goals and nine assists for 20 points. He’s now at 12 goals and 21 points in 34 games after the first period of Game 1, and there is time to add to those totals.

That’s already pretty solid, but consider his regular season: 12 goals and 35 points in 70 games. He’s only scored 20 goals once in his career.

Yet … for whatever reason, when the games get bigger, the 27-year-old has developed a knack for scoring at a much higher clip. In the case of Game 1 against the Blues – his first game of this postseason thanks to injuries – he deflected P.K. Subban‘s booming shot for the 1-0 goal. Watch it above.

And wonder: is it hasty to consider him clutch?

Video: Erik Karlsson gets Jeremy Roenick’s seal of approval

Leave a comment

Jeremy Roenick is so impressed by Erik Karlsson, he almost likes him as much as Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion does.

As a reminder, Dorion … didn’t exactly go the humble route in his praise of the all-world defenseman. When speaking of Karlsson’s play through ridiculous injuries, he provided quite the quote, as the Ottawa Citizen reports.

“Was I surprised? A bit,” Dorion said. “What do you say? I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this but, you believe in whatever you believe in, and they always say God rested on the seventh day, I think on the eighth day he created Erik Karlsson.”

Surely Karlsson’s critics will love this.

Anyway, Roenick and Keith Jones had some fun with such comments, as you can see in the video above.

For more genius Swedish fun, enjoy the Henrik Lundqvist video above. That’s a bonus, folks.

Babcock, McLellan and Tortorella are 2017’s Jack Adams finalists

Getty
5 Comments

The NHL Broadcasters’ Association named the three finalists for the 2017 Jack Adams Award on Wednesday: Mike Babcock, John Tortorella and Todd McLellan.

The Jack Adams is given to the head coach who “contributed the most to his team’s success.”

It might tickle some to realize that Babcock and McLellan once coached together on the Detroit Red Wings’ staff. All three coaches share the distinction of bringing teams to the playoffs who failed to make the postseason in (at least) the previous season.

The Maple Leafs missed from 2013-14 to 2015-16. Columbus failed in its previous two seasons. And, of course, the Oilers hadn’t seen the playoffs since falling in Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

One could make an argument for each coach in a number of ways.

Babcock molded a Maple Leafs team topped by young players, showing a refreshing willingness to take the good with the bad (especially for a guy who’s known for his scowl). McLellan broke that Oilers slump, gradually finding a lineup that could be “more than just Connor McDavid.” The Blue Jackets were expected to be one of the worst teams in the NHL to the point that they’d get Torts fired; instead, they boasted a power play that baffled opponents for much of the season and Tortorella enacted some (gasp) progressive ideas to help Columbus compete.

Now, you could critique all three in different ways – barely making the playoffs, riding hot goaltending, deploying Connor McDavid – but that’s part of the fun, right? There are certainly some cases to be made for snubs (Bruce Boudreau, perhaps even Joel Quenneville?), yet this trio of finalists is strong nonetheless.

The NHL has a more traditional rundown of each coach’s credentials, by the way.