Vancouver city council rips NHL over Stanley Cup riots; Do they have a point?

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The riots that erupted in Vancouver after the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals to the Boston Bruins were one of the most embarrassing things to happen in recent memory. After seeing all the crime and vandalism break out in one of North America’s most beautiful cities all thanks to losing a championship game made everyone feel disgusted that such a thing could happen.

While the Vancouver Police Department report said that their police force was overrun by the sheer number of people, intoxicated and otherwise, another Vancouver government group feels that there’s another group to blame for what happened.

The Vancouver city council filed their report on what happened and pointed the finger squarely not at their own citizens for acting like hooligans but at the NHL for allowing it to happen.

Seriously.

Rod Mickelburgh of The Globe And Mail has the baffling story out of a city that finds a new way to make an ugly situation look worse.

“In spite of four Stanley Cup riots in the last five years, [the NHL] has no approach, no policy and no apparent strategy to work with host franchises and municipalities on this issue,” says the lengthy internal report to be debated at a special council meeting on Tuesday.

“[This] clearly … threatens the value and perception of their brand.”

The city’s criticism of the NHL follows similar barbs tossed at the league by the provincially appointment independent review of the riot, headed by co-chairs Douglas Keefe and John Furlong.

In their report released last week, they said it was “unfortunate and regrettable” that the NHL has no specific programs to help teams “with the kind of challenge [Vancouver] faced that night.”

Concluding that the sport of professional hockey, itself, cannot be separated from the riot, they urged the NHL to work with teams and communities to promote “peaceful, happy hockey celebrations.”

Pardon us but… What?

Let’s get this straight, the NHL is supposed to help the city with how to protect themselves and deal with a massive crowd that at another time in their history showed that they weren’t able to handle losing in the Stanley Cup finals well at all? Shenanigans have been declared.

This the City of Vancouver’s way of passing the buck and shuffling the blame for the insane and foolish violence that broke out to help make themselves look good and the NHL like the big, bad corporate entity that’s forcing hockey and excitement upon them. The NHL is in the business of playing and hosting hockey events. Protecting the people and maintaining civil peace is the sort of job we’re pretty sure the police department would be insulted at being told what to do by the league.

As it is, the Canucks are already going to start working with the city closer to help better manage these events in the future, but the city coming out and ripping the NHL for this comes off as petty and gutless.

Given that the city erupted in violence in 1994 when the Canucks lost to the Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals, this was something the current police department and those involved had to at least be prepared on how to handle. After all, they were going to have a civil disturbance (albeit a joyous one) if the Canucks had won the Stanley Cup this year. With the team being humbled at home in Game 7 after a raucous and mutually agitating Cup finals series, the possibility that there’d be troublemakers looking to use losing as an excuse to raise hell had to be in the back of their minds and there had to be a contingency plan in case things got out of hand.

In other words, the city and the police force not being properly prepared isn’t the NHL’s problem. The NHL doesn’t control the fans and they certainly don’t run the City of Vancouver or any other cities around North America where hockey is played. If the NHL gets in the business of hiring their own private security firms to handle event security then that’s fine, put it on them. For this, however, Vancouver had to know what they were getting into and they had to know based on their own recent history what might happen.

Canucks could really use Patrick or Hischier

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The Vancouver Canucks are hoping for better luck in tomorrow’s draft lottery. If they receive it, they may get a player who can step right into their lineup, and stay there for years to come.

The top two picks in the 2017 draft are expected to be centers Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier.

It remains to be seen who will go first overall. Patrick was the consensus pick for a while, but Hischier started to gain ground with an impressive showing for Switzerland at the World Juniors.

“I think the top two players in this draft have the potential to maybe step in and play next year and be productive players at the NHL level,” said Canucks GM Jim Benning. “But I think the next three players, whether you’re looking at a play-making center, or potentially a power-play defenseman, there’s good choices there too.”

Gabe Vilardi, Casey Mittelstadt, and Cody Glass are centers the Canucks could select if they fall out of the top two. Cale Makar, Miro Heiskanen, and Timothy Liljegren are options on defense.

But getting Patrick or Hischier would be a huge win for a team that will soon have to replace Henrik Sedin, who turns 37 in September.

Benning says Patrick offers a combination of size (6-3, 198), skill and hockey sense, with “no real weakness in his game.”

As for Hischier, it’s his speed that really stands out.

“He’s built for today’s game,” said Benning. “His speed going through the neutral zone is fun to watch.”

The Canucks have the second-best odds to win the draft lottery. The furthest they can fall is to fifth.

Last year, Vancouver fell two spots from third to fifth, with Winnipeg and Columbus moving up. The Canucks drafted Finnish defenseman Olli Juolevi with their selection.

Draft lottery odds

Colorado Avalanche 18.0%
Vancouver Canucks 12.1%
Vegas Golden Knights* 10.3%
Arizona Coyotes 10.3%
New Jersey Devils 8.5%
Buffalo Sabres 7.6%
Detroit Red Wings 6.7%
Dallas Stars 5.8%
Florida Panthers 5.4%
Los Angeles Kings 4.5%
Carolina Hurricanes 3.2%
Winnipeg Jets 2.7%
Philadelphia Flyers 2.2%
Tampa Bay Lightning 1.8%

Paajarvi out, Barbashev in as Blues look for ‘physical element’

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After losing Game 1 — and with it, home ice advantage — of their series against Nashville, the Blues are making a lineup change for Friday’s Game 2.

Ivan Barbashev, who’s been a healthy scratch the last three games, will draw in, replacing Magnus Paajarvi. Paajarvi sits despite being a fairly productive player recently, notching a goal and three points in his last five games.

This, of course, includes the game-winning, series-clinching OT goal against Minnesota on Saturday:

“We like to give players a chance to respond and a chance to get back in there when they’re coming out of the lineup,” Blues head coach Mike Yeo said, per NHL.com. “We saw what that did for (Jori Lehtera). It’s in no way anything against Magnus. We’re very grateful and appreciative of what he’s done and what he can do for us, but ‘Barby’ has been a good player for us for a long time, too.

“Having him in the lineup, he’ll be energized and bring a physical element… When he gets the puck of the offensive zone, he has a chance to create something. We’ll see how he does tonight.”

The hope is that Barbashev can rediscover some of the form shown during the regular season. The Russian rookie made an impact, scoring five goals and 12 points in 30 games.

Sabres granted permission to speak with Futa

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Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Kings promoted Mike Futa to assistant general manager.

But Futa received that promotion before the Sabres cleaned house last week, and that timing is important to note.

Because it’s now being reported, via a Kings spokesman, that the Sabres have been granted permission to speak with Futa about their GM vacancy.

It’s no surprise that Buffalo has asked to interview Futa. He was a candidate for the Sabres’ GM job in 2013 — a job that eventually went to Tim Murray.

Futa was once thought to be heir apparent to Dean Lombardi in Los Angeles. But when Lombardi was fired, the Kings went with Rob Blake instead.

Some background on Futa, courtesy the Kings:

Futa most recently served as Kings Vice President, Hockey Operations and Director of Player Personnel. This upcoming season will be Futa’s 11th season with the Kings.

Futa recently concluded his 10th full season with the Kings, and third in his most recent position. He was named VP of Hockey Operations and Director of Player Personnel in May of 2014 after serving as Director of Amateur Scouting, a position he assumed on June 5, 2007, when he originally joined the Kings.

Futa came to the Kings when he was appointed Co-Director of Amateur Scouting along with Mark Yannetti. Together, Futa and Yannetti rebuilt and retooled the entire Kings Amateur Scouting staff.

Related: Darryl Sutter wants to keep coaching

Habs sign Quebec League sniper Waked

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On Friday, Montreal agreed to a three-year, entry-level deal with QMHJL Rouyn-Noranda forward Antoine Waked.

Waked, 20, is coming off a strong season in which he racked up 80 points in 67 games. He finished tied for ninth in the league in goals, with 39, in what was something of a surprise. Previously, the Quebec native had never scored more than 15 goals in a campaign, suggesting Waked could be the prototypical late bloomer.

An undrafted free agent, Waked had been tied to the Habs earlier this season, with reports he’d receive an ELC at the end of his junior campaign.