Jacques Martin admits “mistakes were made” while he was in charge in Florida but regrets nothing

When a GM or a coach is fired, fans usually hear all about it as the news is immediately splashed all over the headlines. People will debate whether the employee in question should have been fired or got a raw deal. People will want to make snap judgments about the man’s tenure as if all of the answers are obvious for the world to see. In truth, it usually takes a little time to gain the proper perspective to make judgments.

It’s been almost 3 years since Jacques Martin left South Beach and took his talents to Montreal so we can now take an educated look at what he did during his time. George Richards of the Miami Herald did exactly that:

“Some of the deals Martin would probably like to a do-over on include signing Rostislav Olesz to a impossible-to-move six-year contract worth $19 million and not trading Jay Bouwmeester at the 2009 deadline. The Panthers were in the middle of the playoff pack at that deadline and Martin kept Bouwmeester for a playoff chase. That fizzled and Bouwmeester walked away – as expected –with the Panthers getting nothing in return.”

We’re not really breaking new ground here. The Florida Panthers haven’t won a playoff game since 1997 and only appeared in the playoffs once since then (1999-00). They opted for a full rebuild in the middle of the decade—yet only a couple of years later Dale Tallon was brought in to tear it down to the ground again. He was given the exact same task as the Martin regime: rebuild this team into a contender. They’re hoping in Panthers country that Tallon has more luck than Martin did.

In the same article, Martin took a look back at his time in Florida.

“I have no regrets. You learn with every situation in your life… I enjoyed my time here, enjoyed working here. There are some great people here. I always enjoy coming back.”

Translation: I took my shot, I missed. I had fun while I was here, it’s fun to visit but I’m glad I’m only visiting.

All things being equal, the Panthers should be happier today than they were under the Martin regime. They narrowly missed the playoffs in 2008-09, but the reality was that a 9th place finish was the high point of the last decade. A quick look at the standings will tell you they’re in no better shape than they have been in recent memory, but there’s a difference this time. This time, there’s a plan. They’ve drafted a slew of good prospects and are stockpiling draft picks for even more prospects. They’re taking their time and developing them the right way this time around.

It’s going to take time with Tallon, but this time they’re selling hope. There’s the promise of something better down the road—and Tallon has the track record that warrants hope.

Only time will tell if we’re saying the same things about Dale Tallon’s rebuild as we are about Jacques Martin’s failed rebuild.

Caps’ Vrana hoping to earn spot with Ovechkin, Kuznetsov

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It looks like the Washington Capitals are going to give Jakub Vrana the opportunity of a lifetime.

Washington has given the young winger a chance to earn a spot on the right side of the top line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.

On Wednesday night, they got to put the chemistry to the test, as Vrana and the Caps played the Canadiens in Montreal.

Vrana finished the game with a power play goal (an innocent shot that went off Canadiens defenseman Brandon Davidson and in the net). Kuznetsov and Ovechkin registered the assists on the goal and the Caps won 4-2.

“We played fast today,” Vrana said, per the Washington Post. “We had some passes today, some chances. It’s always a good sign when you have chances. … You’re going to be confident when you play with guys like this. You’re just going to be confident on the ice with the puck. Just play fast and build some chemistry there.”

The 21-year-old got his first taste of real NHL action last season, but the production simply wasn’t there (three goals and three assists in 21 games). But the 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft did put up solid numbers in the AHL, as he had 36 points in 49 games last year and 34 points in 36 games with the Hershey Bears two years ago.

“He gets to space,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He gets on the puck because he moves his legs and his speed is noticeable. Kuzy can get him the puck, and getting down ice, he can put some pressure to create a forecheck, too. He worked hard today, and I think we keep putting him with top players, because we think he’s going to be a top player.”

WATCH LIVE: Canucks vs. Kings from Shanghai, China

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The Vancouver Canucks and L.A. Kings will make history on Thursday.

The two teams will face each other in an exhibition series in China, marking the first time NHL teams will play preseason games in that country. The two-game set gets underway with Thursday’s contest from the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.

Set your alarms, wake up early (especially if you’re on the west coast!), put on a pot of coffee and catch the game on NBCSN (7:30 a.m. ET) or online with the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for today’s game:

NHL hopes to make inroads in China with exhibition games

It was a little on the foggy side for Canucks practice in Shanghai

Canucks-Kings exhibition series in China highlights preseason schedule

NHL preseason games in China are ‘the biggest deal’ for local fans

NHL looks to China to ‘expand the sport’

 

Video: Flames goalie makes incredible behind-the-back glove save

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A save of the year candidate in September? It’s possible.

Jon Gillies of the Calgary Flames made an incredible stop during Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Vancouver Canucks.

The camera angle from directly above the net is the best, as it clearly shows how Gillies appeared to bump the puck back toward the goal line, then suddenly reach back with a no-look, behind-the-back glove save to prevent a Canucks goal and stop play.

That is one incredible save.

Drouin shows ‘commitment’ to community with donation to Montreal hospital

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Jonathan Drouin has yet to play a regular season game for his new team, the Montreal Canadiens.

But after getting traded to the Habs in the summer, Drouin has already made a sizable contribution in the community, donating $500,000 over 10 years to the University of Montreal Hospital Centre and planning to help in the fundraising activities to raise an additional $5 million, according to The Canadian Press.

From Sportsnet:

“I think all of that had some impact on his overall decision making,” Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh told Sportsnet. “One day when he’s retired and 50 years old, that hospital [which will begin serving patients for the first time this coming October] will still be here and he’ll have played a role in its development. That means something to him.

“But I think more than anything else he wants to help people. If he can help people—the hospital is going to be the largest hospital in North America and there’s a tremendous need for it in the city—and if he can use the fact that he plays for the Montreal Canadiens to do that, I wish more players felt that kind of responsibility to their communities.”

As noted in the Sportsnet piece above, Drouin is following in the footsteps of Saku Koivu and P.K. Subban, who made generous donations in the community during their time in Montreal.

The Habs acquired Drouin from the Lightning in June, sending prospect defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to Tampa Bay. They then signed the 22-year-old forward — who was born in nearby Ste-Agathe, Que. — to a six-year, $33 million contract.

It won’t be long before the pressure falls on Drouin’s on-ice ability, especially playing as a potential No. 1 center in Montreal and essentially being a hometown player for the Habs. But without even playing a meaningful game for his new team, he’s already giving back to an important cause in the city.

“And when you look at that, if you make $6 million and you give $50,000 a year, it’s not a big deal and you get tax receipts,” he said, per the Montreal Gazette. “But it’s a commitment, and being involved in the community and doing something for your community I think it’s something that you have to do.”