After the Ottawa Senators made the ugly (especially in hindsight) decision to give Wade Redden a big raise and let Zdeno Chara walk, he ended up signing a Chara-sized five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Boston Bruins. The Bruins were a team looking for a new identity in the post-Joe Thornton era, so they decided to acquire another player who was big for his position – in Chara’s case, any position – yet who carried a perception of playoff troubles.
Much like any other big-money free agent, Chara made proclamations that he wanted to bring a Cup to Boston. The big sports city completed the journey to “truly spoiled” status in that time, as the Boston Red Sox (2007) and Boston Celtics (2008) added championship banners while the New England Patriots came one Super Bowl loss short of a perfect season in 2007.
Yet the Bruins and Chara were left without a Stanley Cup victory since 1972 and without a Cup finals appearance since 1990. It either seemed ridiculous or generic when Chara claimed that he wanted to win a championship in Boston five years ago, but Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald believes that there was something different about Chara’s message and ultimately how he delivered it.
Yet it was somehow different with Chara. For when he spoke about winning a championship, the words seemed to be coming from deep in the belly, delivered with feeling, with passion, with forethought, as opposed to sounding as though he were rehearsing his lines from the school play.
He didn’t pull a Nikita Khrushchev and bang his shoe (or skate) on the table to get our attention. He didn’t channel his inner Curt Schilling [stats] and proclaim he had come to town to get rid of the ghosts, goblins and curses left over from previous failed campaigns. He didn’t ladle out campaign stump speeches about a chicken in every pot, a rendezvous with destiny and that it’s time for change.
Instead, it was a calm, poised, rational Zdeno Chara who, rather than promising a Stanley Cup celebration, outlined a plan on how to get there.
“I’m not afraid of challenge,” Chara said that day. “I’m willing to lead by my example of hard work and dedication, discipline and drive. I want to bring this team on the winning track. I want us to be competitive for a Cup, and hopefully be champions.”
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)
The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.
Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.
As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.
More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.
That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.
(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)