“Three (News) Stars of the Week” will run every Friday. It’s our way of acknowledging the week’s big NHL stories that gave us lots of page views, thereby increasing PHT’s attractiveness to advertisers.
Third star: Hitch is back and bluer than ever
The NHL’s first coaching casualty brought the return of Ken Hitchcock. But not to Columbus, where it was rumored he’d replace Scott Arniel. Rather, Hitch took Davis Payne’s job in St. Louis. The Blues started the season as a young team with playoff potential. Now they’re a young team with playoff potential and a coach that doesn’t mess around. Some think this is a good thing. Others disagree. The Ottawa Senators demoted Nikita Filatov to the AHL on Monday. There was some irony there. Hitchcock says he’s been studying new ways to relate to young athletes. Just don’t expect him to start playing video games with TJ Oshie.
Second star: Goalie conundrum in T.O.
Toronto goalie James Reimer hasn’t played since getting clipped in the head by Brian Gionta on Oct. 22. Reimer has been suffering concussion-like symptoms; however, the Leafs are adamant it’s not a concussion. It’s all very confusing. Even his mom isn’t sure what’s going on. Reimer’s agent says it shouldn’t be long before his client is healthy again. The Leafs sure hope so, because Jonas Gustavsson is lost and Ben Scrivens is a wildcard.
First star: Two teams just standing there looking at each other
The Flyers and Lightning engaged in a curious affair Wednesday in Tampa Bay. It all started in the first period when the Flyers had the puck in their own end looking to break out. The Lightning players responded by dropping into their coach’s infamous 1-3-1 zone, to which the Flyers responded by doing…nothing. They just stood there holding the puck, daring the Lightning players to come after it. But the Lightning players held their positions. The referee eventually blew the whistle because the Flyers failed to advance the puck. But the Flyers had an answer for that, too. They just skated in circles in their own end. No rule against that. Meanwhile, the crowd booed, everyone on Twitter went nuts, and the future of hockey came into doubt. The next day people debated who was to blame for the debacle. Was it Lightning coach Guy Boucher for employing a tactic that was bad for the game? Or was it Flyers coach Peter Laviolette for being a bit of a jerk about it? All sorts of solutions were brought forth. Maybe the NHL should penalize the trap. Maybe it needed a shot clock. The general managers will discuss the issue next week. Nothing’s going to happen though.
Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.
Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:
Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.
Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.
“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”
Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”
People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.
Matt Murray was just on another level in Game 3, giving the impression that the Washington Capitals would only beat him with perfect shots.
Jay Beagle got that memo … and maybe added a little element of surprise on top of that.
As you can see from the video above, Beagle beat Murray from an unexpected angle with a pretty resounding goal. It was one of those “Wait, did that just happen?”-type moments.
The Capitals saw their lead go away moments before this post was completed, so it’s now 1-1.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won Game 3 thanks to Matt Murray‘s heroics, but now they must face the Washington Capitals without Kris Letang in Game 4.
(And the Penguins were overwhelmed for much of that last contest with their best blueliner.)
The Capitals, meanwhile, acknowledge the baggage – perceived or not – of the past as they try to tie this series.
It should be a fascinating Game 4, and you can soak in all the drama and action on NBCSN and also stream it via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
It sounds like the Arizona Coyotes’ youth movement won’t merely be seen on the ice.
ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that the Coyotes will promote 26-year-old assistant GM John Chayka to GM. The team teased a major press conference for Thursday, when that news is likely to be made official.
The presser could be useful for more than the usual quotes and mission statements, as the Coyotes seem like they may parallel the Toronto Maple Leafs in combining an experienced executive, a young up-and-coming thinker and a more empowered head coach.
Dave Tippett is expected to have more of a say in personnel decisions while the Coyotes hope to bring in a Lou Lamoriello-type to assist Chayka, according to Custance.
(Custance’s ESPN Insider article [subscription required] goes in much greater depth, including a comparison to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors rather than the Maple Leafs.)
It’s possible that Dallas Stars assistant GM Les Jackson might come in to help Chayka, although an earlier report suggests that Jackson might stay in Dallas.
Multiple reporters including Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper back up Custance’s report.
Considering Chayka’s age – he’s primed to become the youngest GM in NHL history – it’s no surprise that people are churning out jokes.
(This post’s author comes with six more years of [life] experience and a resume stacked with impressive video game and fantasy hockey team-building, by the way.)