During this season, the NHL had great success in pulling off two distinct outdoor games. There was the Winter Classic in Pittsburgh that saw the Penguins fall to the Washington Capitals and there was the Heritage Classic in Calgary, Alberta, Canada that saw the Flames shutout the Montreal Canadiens 4-0.
For next season, we’re hoping Canadian fans got their fill of the Heritage Classic because according to a report from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the NHL will only be putting on the Winter Classic and not the Heritage Classic. The 2011 Heritage Classic was the first one held in eight years since the original took place in Edmonton in 2003 and featured the Oilers taking on the Canadiens. While the Heritage Classic this year was a huge financial success, the availability of locations in Canada appears to be a major problem. There’s also the issue of the league oversaturating the market for outdoor games by staging two of them per year.
For next season, it’s rumored that the Flyers and Rangers will face off with each other in Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park on January 2, 2012. The NHL has yet to confirm those reports but it’s believed strongly that that’s what the matchup and location will be. Not doing a Heritage Classic is likely to ruffle many feathers north of the border, but in order to pull these off they have to have a place large enough to host it and in a location where weather won’t be a major factor. Cities like Toronto and Montreal have ideal weather but no real place to hold the games. Vancouver has a venue that could be used but the weather along the Pacific Coast doesn’t lend itself well to real winter-like conditions.
While the report says that the Heritage Classic won’t be played this year, there’s hope it’ll return for the 2012-2013 season. That could lead to the possibility of seeing one take place in Winnipeg but there are some issues there that would need to be settled as far as a venue plus the weather during winter in Winnipeg is harsh, cold, and windy. Not the ideal sort of thing for hockey outdoors. That will be some time away to think about. We’re sure the NHL enjoys putting on these events as they’re a cash cow to put on, but they have to have the locations needed to do it and that’s just something they don’t have enough of in Canada.
Pavel Datsyuk will not play for Russia on Saturday night against Canada in their World Cup semifinal game.
Datsyuk has been bothered by a lower body injury that also kept him out of their first round game against Finland. He had been a game-time decision leading up to the game, but did not take the ice for pre-game warmups.
It’s a big loss for Russia because Datsyuk is still their top-line center and had been skating on a line with Alex Ovechkin and Vladimir Tarasenko before the injury. He recorded two assists in his two games for Russia.
If Russia does not beat Canada on Saturday we could have very likely seen the last of Datsyuk on a North American hockey rink. Datsyuk decided to leave the NHL to return to Russia after spending 14 years with the Detroit Red Wings during a career that saw him win two Stanley Cups and score 314 goals. He was one of the best two-way players in the NHL during his career and one of the best ever
The winner of Saturday’s game will play the winner of Sunday’s Sweden-Team Europe semifinal in a best of three championship series.
Ekblad back on the ice for Panthers after World Cup injury
The Florida Panthers had a bit of a scare during the 2016 World Cup when defenseman Aaron Ekblad, while playing for Team North America, was injured in a first-round game against Finland that kept him out for the remainder of the tournament.
On Saturday, Ekblad was back on the ice for the Panthers doing some individual workouts following the injury.
“Ekblad is going to be fine,” Panthers coach Gerard Galant said, via Alain Poupart of NHL.com. “You see him out there skating already. I think it was a little scary, but he feels real good. He’s going to skate and see how he feels, but everything looks good.”
It was initially reported that Ekblad had a concussion, but it was later reported to be a neck injury.
The Panthers haven’t been overly concerned with the injury over the past week.
Ekblad, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft, has quickly become one of the franchise building blocks for a Panthers team that is on the rise in the Eastern Conference.
Still only 20 years old, he is already a top-pairing defenseman in the league and has scored 27 goals in his career, a number that is pretty much unheard of for a defenseman that young.
After winning the Atlantic Division in 2015-16 and having a busy offseason that saw them add Keith Yandle and Jason Demers to their defense, the Panthers look like they could be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference this season and Ekblad is going to be a major part of that.
Ilya Bryzgalov’s Canada – Russia take is the best take
Unfortunately for the Bruins they will have to wait a few months before he gets an opportunity to make an impact.
The team announced on Saturday that Vatrano is going to require surgery to repair torn ligaments in his foot and is expected to miss at least three months.
General manager Don Sweeney said that Vatrano was injured in his training in preparation for the team’s training camp.
Vatrano appeared in 39 games for the Bruins in 2015-16 season and scored eight goals, including a hat trick in an early season win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He spent the rest of his season playing for Providence of the American Hockey League where he scored a league leading 36 goals in only 36 games. Just for some perspective on that goal total, only one other player in the league scored 30 goals for the entire season, and that was Chris Bourque who scored 30 in 72 games.