Ron Francis

Best and worst sweaters of all-time: Carolina Hurricanes

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When you talk about the Carolina Hurricanes and their history of sweaters, there’s really not a whole lot of change they’ve done since they’ve been in North Carolina. Don’t think we’re going to ignore the whale in the room when it comes to their departure from Hartford, however.

Best: The original road red sweaters the Hurricanes busted out with is the one I identify best with when it comes to what they’ve had over time. It was a simple design and while the logo leaves a lot to be desired, the storm flags design that goes around the bottom of the sweater with the simple stripes make it stand out well. The piping that came in later on after the lockout and the addition of the RBK Edge designs dumbed the whole thing down. The Hurricanes got it right the first time around without the needless piping.

Worst: When the Hurricanes introduced a third sweater that was going to take advantage of their secondary logo, I was excited to see what they would pull off. After all, their secondary logo is ingenious using a hockey stick as a flag pole with the, ahem, tropical storm warning flag atop it being blown by the wind. Instead, they went full on with the black color scheme dulling everything out, including the storm flag stripes at the bottom. They had a real chance to do something cool and came up with something that was hip for the moment. For shame.

Long Live the Whalers: Give me your tired, your weary, your Pucky the Whale (although not like this). Give me your green and blue, your navy blue and gray, and your Brass Bonanza. Give me the Hartford Whalers sweaters in every iteration they’ve ever donned in their history. The Hurricanes bolted Hartford and left behind a legacy of looks that tug at every hockey fan’s heartstrings. If you can’t appreciate the looks the Whalers brought to the ice, I don’t want to even know who you are.

“Iconic” doesn’t even begin to describe what the Whalers are and were to hockey fans… If only as many people loved the Whalers then as they do now perhaps Peter Karmanos wouldn’t have run screaming for North Carolina.

Assessment: Listen, nothing is ever going to live up to the bar that the Whalers set beforehand and the Hurricanes have been fighting that retroactive Whalers fandom since they moved to North Carolina so that’s not fair. All things considered, the Hurricanes have an OK look right now. The logo is tough to love but they have a great color scheme and the sweaters are nicely designed enough. Hey, if it’s good enough for the “Justin Bieber of hockey” it’s good enough for me. It’ll just never be as nice as something that once originated out of Hartford.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.