Rick Nash

Best and worst sweaters of all-time: Columbus Blue Jackets

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The Blue Jackets have proven since they started playing in 2000 that getting a look on the ice is a hard thing to do. From insect mascots, stars on the uniform, to oddly phallic new mascots the Blue Jackets have had a hard time with their identity. Here’s to hoping that by embracing the cannon they can latch onto something that will move them forward.

Best: It’s time for me to eat some crow. When the Blue Jackets first unleashed their newest third sweater on the world, I wrote about it here proclaiming it to be too old fashioned, uninspired, and just blah. Just like many things I don’t think about before mouthing off on, I was wrong. The Jackets’ third is an old time lookalike that makes sense for a team that’s trying to pay homage to the Union Army in the Civil War. There are no over-the-top green bugs in a Civil War getup, the Ohio flag isn’t the logo, and the cuffs on the sweater don’t have stars. It’s just a cannon and the team name and a great look.

Worst: Let’s dial it back to the Jackets’ inaugural season. Their team name is all about paying homage to the Civil War and to do that they introduce… A green insect as the mascot. But that’s OK, he’s wearing the Union Army uniform and they made the sweater have a ribbon-like logo on the crest with stars on the cuffs. Whether it was their home or away sweater it was just a confusing look. Good lord, talk about trying too hard to hammer home a theme. Fast forward to the RBK Edge re-design and the bug and the star cuffs are gone. Lots of teams got their look down the right way right off the bat. The Blue Jackets cannot be considered among those teams.

Americana gone wrong: The Winnipeg Jets took some grief for introducing a team logo that was deemed by critics to be “too militaristic” and even “too Canadian,” but the Blue Jackets took the hometown American thing just about as far, just without the modern military influences. With a red, white, and blue color scheme it’s tough to avoid being so seemingly jingoistic, but given the references to the Civil War and the fact they shoot off a cannon at the games, you could say that the Blue Jackets are the most American-themed hockey team since… Well, the New York Americans. Hopefully the Jets’ management takes note what can happen when you get the whole look of the team wrong when it comes to sweater designs by looking at how the Blue Jackets did it when they started in 2000.

Assessment: The Jackets current home and away uniforms are bland by comparison to their third sweater. The Ohio flag-themed logo with the rather dull design of the sweaters when compared to the simple goodness of the third leaves us feeling empty. After all, when your team is named the way it is it can be tough to find a great look. Here’s to hoping they’ll take the third sweater inspiration and run with it for a future re-design.

Datsyuk ‘wants to make sure the Wings have options,’ says his agent

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 21:  Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings checks his stick before a face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 21, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Pavel Datsyuk‘s future with the Detroit Red Wings and in the National Hockey League has been up in the air for a while now, as he’s linked to rumors of a return to Russia and the KHL.

His agent, Dan Milstein, recently explained to the Detroit Free Press that Datsyuk’s future should become clear in mid-June after meeting with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.

As per General Fanager, Datsyuk has one more year left on his current deal, which comes with a cap hit of $7.5 million.

From the Detroit Free Press:

“He would like to leave, but at the same time, he wants to make sure the Wings have options,” Milstein said. “He wants to help the team any way he can with the salary cap issue.”

Wings general manager Ken Holland has said there are no loopholes. Because Datsyuk signed his last contract after he turned 35, his $7.5 million salary cap hit remains in tact even if Datsyuk departs. The Wings’ only option is to trade his contract to a team such as Arizona or Carolina that could use the hefty cap hit in order to be above the salary cap minimum.

At the age of 37, his career in the league started in 2001-02, and has spanned 953 regular season games in which he’s accrued 918 points.

He’s had a highly decorated career, with two Stanley Cup championships with the Red Wings, three Selke and four Lady Byng trophies.

Allen or Elliott? Another goalie decision looms for Hitchcock

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues tends goal against Nick Spaling #16 of the San Jose Sharks during the third period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The St. Louis Blues need to win Game 6 on Wednesday, or their season is over. Who they decide to turn to in net is likely to be a talking point — heated debate, maybe? — leading up to that contest.

Do they go back to Jake Allen for a third consecutive start, despite the fact he allowed four goals on 25 shots in Monday’s Game 5 loss to the San Jose Sharks? Or, will head coach Ken Hitchcock turn once again to Brian Elliott, who started every single game from the series opener of the first round versus Chicago to Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

Hitchcock at least felt that going with Allen over Elliott in Game 4 provided the necessary spark for his team, as the Blues evened the series.

But on Monday, the Sharks, on the strength of two Joe Pavelski goals, eventually overpowered the Blues for the win, moving San Jose one victory away from the Stanley Cup Final.

“I thought he was fine. I don’t know, those are decisions we make in a day or so. But I thought he was fine today. He stopped some point-blank shots, especially early, three times early,” Hitchcock told reporters.

“I don’t know. That’s stuff we’ll talk about tomorrow.”

Feeding frenzy: Sharks send Blues to the brink of elimination in Western Conference Final

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The San Jose Sharks won a back-and-forth Game 5 to take back the lead in a back-and-forth Western Conference Final, moving one victory away from appearing in the Stanley Cup Final.

After scoring the tying goal late in the second period, Joe Pavelski notched his 12th of the playoffs to give San Jose the lead for good just 16 seconds into the third period.

The Sharks earned a 6-3 victory on the road, in a bounce-back effort from Saturday.

Twice, the Blues grabbed the lead. Troy Brouwer gave them the advantage in the first period, showing off his baseball skills by batting the puck into the net on a rebound. Robby Fabbri gave them another lead in the second period, making Roman Polak pay for snapping on Dmitrij Jaskin along the boards.

But the Blues couldn’t hold on. The Sharks scored twice on three power play opportunities and can now clinch the Western Conference on home ice in Wednesday’s Game 6.

As for the Blues, will Ken Hitchcock change up his starting goaltender again? It’s certainly an aspect of this series that will once again be up for debate leading up to Wednesday’s game.

After Brian Elliott had backstopped the Blues through the first two rounds and started the first three games of this series, Hitchcock decided to start Jake Allen in Game 4.

Allen recorded the win Saturday, and was called upon again in Game 5 as expected, but gave up four goals on 25 shots Monday.

Video: Sharks’ Polak snaps, Blues make him pay on the power play

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San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak took serious issue with St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin during the second period, as the two eventually threw off the gloves off in a fight in the corner.

In the process, Polak let his emotions get the better of him — he snapped — by also taking a roughing minor to give the Blues a power play.

The Blues made him — and the Sharks — pay on a blast from Robby Fabbri, who was a game-time decision for Monday’s contest.

The Sharks tied the game at 3-3 before the end of the second period on Joe Pavelski‘s 11th of the playoffs. Pavelski struck again in the third period, giving San Jose the 4-3 lead.