The NHL is a copycat league. Once a few teams enjoyed success mining the AHL for head coaching talent, the herd followed to an almost comical degree. So even though it’s ludicrously unfair to ask this question, I cannot help but blurt it out anyway: do the Los Angeles Kings need a St. Louis Blues-style wake-up call?
Los Angeles Times beat writer Helene Elliott spoke of the possibility of a “jolt” coming on the heels of the Kings’ 4-2 loss to the surging San Jose Sharks. The thing is, GM Dean Lombardi doesn’t have a whole lot of obvious players to trade, unless he would opt to deal from his significant treasure chest of defensive prospects.
With that in mind, I cannot help but wonder if head coach Terry Murray will be the unfair scapegoat much like Davis Payne was in St. Louis. Let’s look at some of the factors that could justify the move – some of which might seem oddly similar to the Blues’ issues.
- A mediocre record: The Blues fired Payne at 6-7-0 while the Kings are 6-5-3. Los Angeles is on a five-game losing streak in which they’ve generated just two points. That’s a scary trend in a brutal Western Conference and a cutthroat Pacific Division.
- Limp offense: Murray’s Kings are scoring just 2.14 goals per game, the third worst total in the league. Some grimace that former Kings prospects such as Brian Boyle and Teddy Purcell’s offensive games have taken off once they left Los Angeles, too.
- A big batch of home games: The Blues will roll out the red carpet for Hitchcock with five games in St. Louis while the Kings’ next four games will come at home.
- Heightened expectations: While the Blues carry playoff aspirations, many (including certain PHT staffers) believed the Kings have the potential to go to the Stanley Cup finals.
Murray is a good coach who helped the Kings go from an unshaped mass to a playoff contender, but some might believe that they need a new voice to get that extra boost to the elite level.
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, but there are enough similarities that the situation isn’t outside the realm of possibility. What would you do if you were in Lombardi’s situation?
Earlier today, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they would accept an invitation to visit the White House. You can read all about that here, including the Penguins’ brief statement on the matter.
On a day in which NFL teams are drawing attention for how players (and owners) are acting during the national anthem, Donald Trump took a moment to confirm the Penguins’ visit, and also to praise them on Twitter.
Trump issued this tweet on the matter:
This came about four minutes after he addressed the NFL once again, finishing with this tweet:
While NHL players haven’t been as outspoken as athletes in other sports, there have been some reactions to Colin Kaepernick and the situation as a whole.
A year ago, Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said he would bench a player who sits during the anthem, something Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones stated was not a problem. Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown, however, did have an issue with Tortorella’s stance.
Of course, those comments surfaced about a year ago, so it’s plausible one or more of those opinions might be different, in either large or small ways, as of today.
Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler (one of the standouts of the 2010 U.S. Olympic men’s team) criticized Trump on Twitter last night:
The 2017-18 regular season kicks off on Oct. 4, so we’ll see if there are any larger protests or statements from teams and/or players.
For more on how this situation is playing out with other sports, check Pro Football Talk (including this post), Pro Basketball Talk (Mark Cuban’s comments are the latest there), Hardball Talk (noting that Bruce Maxwell became the first MLB player to kneel during the anthem), and other sites under the NBC umbrella.
It sure looks like the St. Louis Blues are going to limp into the 2017-18 season (sometimes literally).
The team announced that promising young forward Robby Fabbri will miss the remainder of training camp after injuring his surgically repaired left knee. The Blues say that they will re-evaluate Fabbri, 21, in 10 days.
It’s difficult to say how bad this issue is, but knee injuries – particularly involving knees that are already problems for athletes – can be tricky.
Even if this is a mere short-term setback, it’s staggering how long the Blues’ injury list is even before their season-opener.
Alex Steen was ruled out of training camp (and possibly beyond) just days ago because of a hand injury. Zach Sanford‘s push toward being an NHL regular is on hold thanks to being sidelined for multiple months with a shoulder issue, while a fractured ankle puts Jay Bouwmeester‘s 2017-18 season in some question, too. (More on Sanford and Bouwmeester here.)
Patrik Berglund might not be back until late 2017 or even into 2018 with his own shoulder issues.
While such injuries open up opportunities for younger players to make even temporary jumps, it’s tough to stomach as Mike Yeo preps for his first full season behind the Blues bench.
In Fabbri’s case, this is a considerable disappointment, as he was starting to show the zip at the NHL level that’s made him such a prolific scorer in the OHL. Here’s hoping he gets over these issues, as considering his size, a significant loss in speed could be a serious problem for Fabbri.
After more than two decades the Arizona Coyotes and Shane Doan parted ways this offseason, ultimately resulting in the 40-year-old forward retiring from the league.
The decision to part ways with Doan was part of a massive overhaul that dramatically changed the outlook of the team, ending a lengthy chapter in its history.
The Coyotes would eventually like to honor Doan by retiring his number “at a time that is right for him.”
That is what team owner Andrew Barroway said at a Coyotes’ town hall meeting, via Sarah McLellan.
“The relationship with Shane Doan has improved,” Barroway said. “We’ve reached out. We’ve spoken with Shane. Everyone loves him. He’s a class act, great guy.”
There are no plans for any sort of an official announcement this season, but Barroway said the Coyotes will revisit it next summer.
Doan spent is entire career playing for the Coyotes organization dating back to its days in Winnipeg (he played one season with the original Jets). During his career he appeared in 1,540 regular season games, scoring 402 goals, 570 assists and 972 total points. He is the team’s all-time leader in games played, goals, assists, total points, even strength goals, power play goals, and shots on goal.
One day after the NBA champion Golden State Warriors announced that they would use their trip to Washington this season to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion in lieu of a White House visit, the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins issued a statement announcing they have accepted an invite to visit the White House again this year.
The Statement from the Penguins reads as follows.
“The Pittsburgh Penguins respect the institution of the Office of the President, and the long tradition of championship teams visiting the White House. We attended White House ceremonies after previous championships – touring the historic building and visiting briefly with Presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama – and have accepted an invitation to attend again this year.
Any agreement or disagreement with a president’s politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways. However, we very much respect the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit.”
This comes on the same weekend that players across professional sports, from the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball, have been speaking out and taking part in unprecedented protests against racial inequality and comments from the President that players that do not stand for the National Anthem should be fired.
During the early Sunday NFL game in London several players from the Baltimore Ravens took a knee during the National Anthem, while Jaguars owner Shad Khan stood and locked arms with his players. Those protests are expected to continue throughout the day.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have chosen to not participate in the National Anthem before their game against the Chicago Bears, instead choosing to remain in the locker room.