Canucks discuss how they’ll help Vancouver deal with big events, learn from riots

Considering how tragic this summer has been for individuals in the hockey worldparticularly enforcers – some might forget that the season ended with an entire city getting a black eye. That ugly night of rioting in Vancouver was especially unfortunate considering the fact that the city dealt with similar issues 17 years earlier, when the Canucks also lost a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.

The hope is that even though history repeated itself in a way, the city, team (and even to some extent the NHL) will learn from those awful times. Winnipeg’s CTV took a look at two reviews of the June 15 riots – one was an independent review by retired law enforcement representatives, the other was an internal review by the city of Vancouver – to see how responsible the NHL and its teams should be for managing large crowds that gather for games in places that aren’t considered their designated buildings.

Various sides argued the cases for and against the league and its team taking a larger role in policing large crowds that aren’t at their buildings. Some (including Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson) believe that teams should work along side cities during major events while others believed that the Canucks and other teams would be out of their element.

“I’m very hopeful we see a positive response from the NHL and the Canucks in the event we are in this situation maybe next year,” Robertson said. “I’m hopeful we have a real pro-active role coming from the league and the Canucks so that we don’t see this kind of situation again.”

But business professor Richard Powers questioned why the league or Canucks have any responsibility for what happens outside the arena.

“The club and league, they provide a source of entertainment,” Powers, a professor of business law and ethics at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, said Friday.

“It’s sports. It’s not policing, it’s not crowd control. It’s not their expertise.”

The Canucks responded to the reviews by saying that they will encourage “responsible, fun celebrations” and that they hope to work with the city and province to help them out if they plan on arranging similar events in the future. Here are few excerpts from  Canucks COO Victor de Bonis, via the Vancouver Sun.

“Obviously, the first thing is that we’re committed to working with the city and province in the future to try to help and support them if they plan to do public-viewing parties of our games.”

De Bonis said he was uncertain what the level of support might be, whether it would involve funding for security and police, as well as education and awareness programs.

The latter initiatives, he noted, are a certainty.

“We’re really looking forward to trying to support the recommendations in the report and build programs that would drive success for these kinds of events in the future,” de Bonis said.

When asked about the possibility of shutting down those big, public events altogether – an extreme but understandable notion considering how hard it is to control crowds of “too many people” who get “too drunk” – de Bonis acknowledged that possibility but said that he hopes “it never gets to that.”

It’s great to hear that the Canucks are pledging heightened responsibility when it comes to helping the city deal with big events, although the details seem a bit vague right now. It would be a shame if the sports world needs to cringe every time the Canucks reach such a high level because of worries about riots, especially since Vancouver as a whole responded admirably to that ugly situation.

Click here for a gallery of the riot and some information about the arrests. Hopefully those sights will remain rare for Vancouver and other NHL markets.

Capitals’ Tom Wilson has a discipline hearing today for interference

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The NHL’s department of player safety announced on Saturday morning that it has scheduled a disciplinary hearing with Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson as a result of his late hit on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas on Friday night.

It will be the first hearing for the department under the direction of its new leader, George Parros.

This particular incident happened early in the third period of the Blues’ 4-0 win on Friday night.

Here is a look at the entire sequence, including the fight that Wilson found himself in with Dmitri Jaskin in response to the hit.

It is clear that Wilson delivered his hit long after Thomas was in possession of the puck.

Even though Wilson always seems to be getting attention for some of his hits and physical play he has never been suspended in his career. His only punishment from the league has been in the form of two fines — one for diving/embellishment, and another for kneeing Pittsburgh Penguins forward Conor Sheary during the 2015-16 playoffs.

The fact that he has a hearing for his hit would seem to indicate a suspension might be on the horizon. The only question is whether or not it will just end his preseason (the Capitals still have four more games) or if it will carry over into the regular season.

Antti Niemi had to make a save with his bare hand

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Antti Niemi made 31 saves in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night, and 30 of them were pretty standard.

The one that wasn’t came in the third period when he lost his glove during a scramble around the net and still managed to instinctively make a save on the puck. With his bare hand.

Niemi said after the game, via the Tribune Review, that he thought the referees would stop the play after his glove came off, and when they didn’t “I just kept playing.”

You can watch the play by clicking here.

Probably not the type of thing you want to see happening because that looks like a great way to break a bone (or the entire hand) and get sidelined for extended period of time. Niemi said the officials told him there will no longer be an automatic whistle for goalies losing a glove or a blocker, but that one will remain for when they lose their helmet.

The Penguins signed Niemi to a one-year contract this summer as a replacement for Marc-Andre Fleury after they lost him in the expansion draft to the Vegas Golden Knights. Niemi is looking to rebound from a tough year in Dallas. He will serve as Matt Murray‘s backup for the season.

‘A good start’ — Stamkos stands out in preseason debut

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The Tampa Bay Lightning and National Hockey League unveiled the 2018 All-Star Game logo Friday.

Far more importantly for the Bolts this evening was the return of their all-star center Steven Stamkos, as he made his preseason debut in what was his first game in 10 months.

His 2016-17 season was abruptly ended in the middle of November because of a knee injury and subsequent surgery, making it the second time in four years his regular season had been disrupted by a major injury.

It may still take a while before Stamkos feels truly comfortable coming back from this injury.But his performance on Friday proved to be a very promising start for No. 91, the Bolts and their fans in Tampa Bay.

He didn’t score, but he assisted on two first period goals, including a nice set-up to linemate Nikita Kucherov, and the Lightning beat the Nashville Predators by a score of 3-1. Stamkos also received a healthy dose of ice time, playing more than 19 minutes, including 5:32 on the power play.

His pass to Kucherov resulted in a power play goal.

“It was exciting to get out there, I was pretty anxious about it… It was a good start, something to build on,” said Stamkos afterward, per the Lightning. “It was nice to just go through a game day, I haven’t done it in a long time… I was glad with how the first one went.”

Golden Knights assign 2017 first-round picks Glass, Suzuki to junior

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The Vegas Golden Knights continue to make roster moves during their inaugural training camp.

On Friday, the expansion club assigned four players to junior. That includes 2017 first-round picks Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks and Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack.

The Golden Knights made franchise history by taking Glass with the sixth overall pick and then selected Suzuki at 13th overall. Both players appeared in two preseason games for Vegas, each recording two points in the exhibition opener versus the Vancouver Canucks.

“Nobody is going to rush (the rookies), that’s for sure,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant told the Las Vegas Sun following the club’s 9-4 win over Vancouver on Sunday.

“We are in a position where we want to make sure they are ready to play. They are going to be good players when they’re healthy and strong enough to play in the league.”

Vegas has all three 2017 first-round picks — Glass, Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom — signed to three-year entry-level contracts.