Keenan to coach Rangers in Winter Classic alumni game

TSN’s Darren Dreger is reporting via Twitter that Mike Keenan has signed on to coach the New York Rangers…in the 2012 Winter Classic alumni game.

Keenan coached eight NHL teams from 1984 to 2009, but he only won the Stanley Cup once, leading the 1994 Rangers to their first championship since 1940.

But Iron Mike’s Cup-winning season was his first and last with the club. A feud with Rangers GM Neil Smith ended with the coach’s departure to St. Louis.

From a 1997 Sports Illustrated profile of Keenan:

The enmity built to such proportions that by the time New York won the Cup, Keenan and Smith could hardly stand the sight of each other. Still, it was a shock to adoring Rangers fans when Keenan blew off the final four years of his contract and bolted for St. Louis, where for the first time he was given total control. Keenan claimed that the Rangers had breached his contract by sending out his playoff bonus one day late.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman fined Keenan $100,000 and suspended him for 60 days for the “unseemly spectacle” he had created and then issued a gag order forbidding either side from discussing the settlement, but he allowed Keenan to remain with the Blues. “I left the Rangers because, fundamentally, Neil didn’t want me there,” Keenan says. “He intentionally breached my contract, but that’s in the past, and I want to leave it in the past. There are two sides to every story, and the truth is somewhere in the middle.”

The Winter Classic alumni game will take place on Dec. 31 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. With Keenan behind the bench, the Rangers are expected to dress 10 goalies.

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    ‘Making Gretzky’s head bleed’ wasn’t so easy for ‘Swingers’ filmmaker

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    Remember that classic (and very NSFW) video game hockey scene from “Swingers?” The one where Vince Vaughn espouses the virtues of Jeremy Roenick? It was pretty great, right?

    There was something so organic about two friends getting up to video-game shenanigans (and discussing which 16-bit era game featured the best pixelated violence), but apparently it was easier to set the scene that it was to “make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed.”

    The Ringer’s Achievement Oriented podcast caught up with Doug Liman (pictured with Jon Favreau in this post’s main image) for some hysterical background information on getting that highly amusing scene right.

    “I had never actually seen Wayne Gretzky draw blood, but Vince [Vaughn] claimed he could do it repeatedly, so we put it in the script,” Liman said. “The actors are reacting to that. And then we’re editing the movie and I bring the [game console] into the editing room and we start playing it and we’re recording it onto a videotape so that when we get the one piece we need we’ll play that back on the TV and shoot it. [We do this] for, like, weeks. Nobody can draw blood. And I’m like [to] Nintendo, ‘Hey, can you give us the backdoor key to doing this?’ It wasn’t like we were having fun playing the game, because all we would do was pass the puck down and set it up for Gretzky to get the puck and then we would, you know, try to slam him into the boards.”

    Like a rare athletic feat, they got it right, but don’t ask Liman to pull it off on a whim. Liman sure made it seem like they were lucky to ever commit that moment to film.

    Liman explained that it was “infuriatingly fleeting” and not the sort of video game trick that you could make work over and over again once you learned the right combination of button presses.

    This is some really funny, fantastic background information on the movie that launched the careers of Favreau and Vaughn. It also helped remind us of that golden 16-bit era of EA NHL games, whether you preferred NHL ’94, ’95, or ’96. (And so on.)

    Liman also shares a very amusing story about how hockey video game skills don’t exactly translate to the real sport, so check out the transcript and the full podcast for more.

    And, if you’re playing a modern game like NHL ’17, don’t pick on “Super Fan 87.” Be nice to your friends. That’s the money move.

    Here’s the scene itself. Again, a warning: there is strong language and 16-bit “gore.”

    Price’s agent, Canadiens’ GM expected to meet next week

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    It seems the two big orders of business for the Montreal Canadiens this offseason will be finding a way to re-sign Alexander Radulov, and come to terms on a new contract extension with franchise goaltender Carey Price.

    According to multiple reports, including Pierre LeBrun and RDS, Price’s agent, Gerry Johansson, and Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin are expected to meet next week to potentially begin talking about a new deal.

    Price, who has one year remaining on his current contract, will be eligible to sign a new extension on July 1 and it would be reasonable to assume that is going to be one of the larger contracts among the league’s goaltenders.

    Price’s current contract will pay him $6.5 million next season, a figure that places him among the top-five goalies in the league.

    Given what Price has meant to the Canadiens over the past four years he should expect to make something closer to the $7.5-$8 million figure that Henrik Lundqvist and Sergei Bobrovsky are currently making.

    The 29-year-old Price has been one of the NHL’s best goalies for four years now and has a massive impact on the success of the Canadiens. When he is healthy, they win. When he is not (as he was not a year ago), they do not.

    Of the 46 goalies that have appeared in at least 100 games since the start of the 2012-13 season, Price currently ranks in the top-three in save percentage (first), even-strength save percentage (first) goals against average (second), and shutouts (third). He has also taken home a Hart Trophy as league MVP and a Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best goalie during that stretch.

    Stanley Cup Final odds: Penguins open as favorites over Predators

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    The 2017 Stanley Cup Final is set with the Pittsburgh Penguins, continuing their quest to repeat as champions, facing the Nashville Predators.

    Both teams come in missing some key players (Kris Letang, Pittsburgh; Ryan Johansen, Nashville) but both still have plenty of star player with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, P.K. Subban, Filip Forsberg and the rest of Nashville’s defense headlining the series.

    According to the folks at Bovada, the Penguins open the series as favorites to win it over the Predators.

    NHL Stanley Cup Finals Series Price
    Nashville Predators +135 (27/20)
    Pittsburgh Penguins -155 (20/31)

    The series begins on Monday night in Pittsburgh.

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    2017 Stanley Cup Final Schedule: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Nashville Predators

    Canucks sign free agent defenseman Philip Holm to one-year deal

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    The Vancouver Canucks announced on Friday that they have signed free agent defenseman Philip Holm to a one-year, entry-level contract.

    Before signing with the Canucks Holm had been rumored to be on the verge of joining the Toronto Maple Leafs, but that obviously did not come together.

    “Philip is a mobile, two-way defenseman who adds depth to our blue line,” said Canucks general manager Jim Benning in a statement released by the team. “He made strides in his development last season with Vaxjo and played a strong series with Sweden at the World Championships We’re pleased to welcome him to the Canucks organization.”

    The 25-year-old Holm has spent the past seven seasons playing professionally in Sweden for Vaxjo HC and Djurgardens IF.

    He is regarded as a smooth skating, puck-moving defenseman and had a pretty strong season for Vaxjo this past year, scoring four goals and adding 17 assists in 52 games. He was the top-scoring defenseman on the team.

    He also had three points (one goal, two assists) in seven games for Sweden at the 2017 IIHF World Ice Hockey Championships. Sweden won the Gold Medal at the tournament by defeating Canada in the championship game.

    The Canucks already have six defensemen under contract for 2017-18 (and they do not seem to be in a hurry to trade any of them) but it was a unit that clearly needs an upgrade, so Holm should be an opportunity to make an impact next season.