This might be a case of oversimplification, but it seemed like a light switch went on when the New Jersey Devils changed coaches last season. The team went from cellar dwellers to a squad on a scary hot streak toward playoff relevance when John MacLean made way for Jacques Lemaire, even if they still fell short of the postseason.
The most dramatic improvement could be seen in the play of Ilya Kovalchuk. The $100 million winger scored 23 of his 31 goals and 42 of his 60 points once Lemaire took over after clearly clashing with MacLean, who even benched him for a game. (That decision might have been the hockey version of “When keeping it real goes wrong.”)
Naturally, the unavoidable question for new Devils coach Peter DeBoer is: can he reach Kovalchuk? It’s way, way too early to jump to any conclusions, but the first game didn’t go too well. The Philadelphia Flyers stomped the Devils 3-0 and Kovalchuk was on the ice for all three goals, giving him an ugly -3 rating.
As Kovalchuk told Dave D’Alessandro of the Newark Star-Ledger before the game, it might all come down to trust.
“When the coach trusts you, it changes everything. With Jacques, he had a style where you wanted to play hard for the guy. So that’s what happened. Jacques was one of those guys who would always say the right things at the right time, and he’d put every guy in this room in the right position to be the most successful. That’s why we were playing so well.”
DeBoer has a tough assignment ahead of him: get the most out of a top-heavy group of players who are used to success. DeBoer wasn’t working with much in his stint with the Florida Panthers, but hopefully he knows what to say and do with Kovalchuk and the Devils.
If he doesn’t, it might just cost him his job and keep the Devils out of the playoffs for a second season in a row.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Twitter will live stream for free one Major League Baseball game and one NHL game per week under a new deal.
The agreement announced Monday will allow viewers to watch games nationally that would normally be available only in the two teams’ home markets. Users will not need to be logged into Twitter to see the games.
The baseball games will also be available outside the U.S., with some exceptions. Twitter did not announce the game schedule Monday.
The social media network is attempting to move into live sports streaming through “over-the-top” broadcasts, which do not require a cable subscription. In April, Twitter reached a deal with the NFL to stream 10 “Thursday Night Football” games this fall.
The Red Wings added some goalie depth on Monday, agreeing to terms with journeyman Cal Heeter.
Heeter, 27, broke in with the Flyers organization a while back and made his big-league debut in ’13-14, appearing in one game.
Since then, he’s bounced around the ECHL, AHL (with the Toronto Marlies) and, last season, split his time between Hamburg of the German League and Zagreb Medvescak of the KHL.
By itself, this signing isn’t especially noteworthy, as Heeter projects to be an American League mainstay next year.
But the contract is kind of interesting when looking and the big-picture goalie situation in Detroit. The Wings now have Heeter, Petr Mrazek, Jimmy Howard, Jared Coreau, Eddie Pasquale and Jake Paterson all under contract for next season, which is an awful lot of goalies.
With that in mind, remember that Howard’s name has been in trade talks for quite some time.
HC Kunlun Red Star, the Beijing-based expansion team that will begin playing in the KHL next season, has added a pair of former NHLers.
Sean Collins, who appeared in a pair of games for the Capitals last season, and Brett Bellemore, a veteran of over 100 contests with the Carolina Hurricanes, have agreed to join the club, per Russian news outlet R-Sport.
Bellemore, 28, was originally drafted by the ‘Canes in 2007 and spent most of his professional career with the organization. He signed on with Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence last year, and appeared in 56 games.
Collins, 27, broke in with the Blue Jackets before signing with the Caps last season. He spent the majority of the year in AHL Hershey and fared well — 16 goals and 39 points in 75 games — and scored three times in the playoffs, helping the Bears advance to the Calder Cup final.
Veteran forward Mike Santorelli, who’s appeared in over 400 NHL contests over the last eight years, is headed overseas.
Per multiple reports (see here and here), Santorelli has signed with Geneve-Servette of the Swiss League. The 30-year-old spent last season with the Ducks, scoring nine goals and 18 points in 70 games but didn’t dress for any of the club’s opening-round playoff loss to Nashville.
Santorelli broke into the NHL with Nashville but enjoyed his best years with Florida and Vancouver. He was a former 20-goal scorer with the Panthers and enjoyed a successful stint with his hometown Canucks in ’13-14, scoring 28 points in 49 games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
Santorelli is the second veteran forward to sign in the Swiss League recently. Over the weekend, fellow journeyman Kris Versteeg agreed to join SC Bern.