It’s Heritage Classic weekend in the NHL, which means that there will be an alumni game between the Jets and Oilers on Saturday afternoon.
The rivalry between these two teams has come down a few notches over the years (mainly because the Jets moved to Phoenix), but that doesn’t diminish how intense it used to be.
It was so intense that Wayne Gretzky, who will be dressing for the Oilers alum, was surprised when he was cheered during Friday’s practice at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg.
“I was kind of Public Enemy No. 1 back in the day,” Gretzky said, per NHL.com. “But, that is the way it should be. I was with the other team. When I was in Winnipeg, the people were great to me and they always treated me with respect. You have to cheer for your own team and I understand that.”
It’s not hard to figure out why Gretzky and the Oilers were so hated in Winnipeg during the 1980’s and early 90’s.
Edmonton won five Stanley Cups between 1984 and 1990 and they beat the Jets all six times they met in the playoffs, sweeping four of those.
Gretzky, who’s looking forward to playing against the Jets alumni on Saturday, hasn’t played much hockey since retiring in 1999.
“I don’t play a lot. I skate once a year. I just never really find the energy, the enthusiasm to grab my equipment and say I’m going to go play pickup hockey.
“I played in one outdoor game in Edmonton and it was fun and it was great for hockey. When Winnipeg talked to me about this game a couple years ago, playing in Winnipeg was always fun and when we get together as a team, it is always a unique situation.”
Here are the rosters for this afternoon’s game:
The alumni game gets going at 4:00 p.m. ET.
To say that the Kings haven’t been lucky this season would be an understatement.
Earlier this month, they lost starting goaltender Jonathan Quick for three to four months and now, they may have lost his backup too.
On Saturday, Jeff Zatkoff suffered a groin injury during the team’s morning skate and needed help coming off the ice.
“He stopped a shot, and his groin tightened up,” head coach Darryl Sutter said, per lakingsinsider.com. “We’ve seen it in a game, and now we’ve seen it in practice.”
Even with him in goal, the Kings had been struggling mightily since Quick went down.
Zatkoff has an 0-3 record with a 4.37 goals-against-average and a .839 save percentage in 2016-17.
Expect Peter Budaj to make this second consecutive start. He should be backed up by former first rounder Jack Campbell, according to beat reporter Jon Rosen.
Coming into this year, Budaj had made just one NHL start over the last two seasons.
There is a silver lining in all of this mess.
With Campbell being recalled from AHL Ontario, it means that Los Angeles’ minor league goalie coach, Dusty Imoo, will be the backup for his son Jonah in Ontario’s game against the San Jose Barracuda.
The New York Islanders may have won their home game against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night, but at least one player wasn’t happy with his home rink.
Cal Clutterbuck wasn’t pleased with the quality of the ice and he made it known after the game.
“From about the 5-6 minute mark of the second, you knew it was one of those nights,” Clutterbuck said, per Newsday. “You basically couldn’t string three passes together, the ice was unplayable. But we found a way.”
We know the ice is bad, but why is it so bad?
Chris Botta reports that the piping system at the Barclays Center isn’t up to NHL standards. The only solution, according to Botta, is to ‘tear up’ the floor of the arena to put in the proper pipes, which is something that should have been done during the off-season.
New York’s next home game is Sunday night against Minnesota.
Hockey players are known for their toughness, but Daniel Winnik is taking it to a whole new level.
The damage was done after Winnik blocked a shot against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
After the game, Caps head coach Barry Trotz said his forward had lost a piece of his ear, but it sounds like that wasn’t totally accurate.
“I wouldn’t say I lost a piece of it,” said Winnik, per the Washington Post. “I mean, it’s really chewed up, and obviously some scabs and all of that, but no visible missing piece…The puck hit basically half ear, maybe a little more ear than helmet. Very fortunate it wasn’t way worse.”
He didn’t need any stitches, but they did have to use some glue to patch him up.
To watch how his ear got “chewed up,” click here.
It doesn’t sound like the injury did enough to scare Winnik into putting on a visor or an earpiece.
“I mean, my face has been banged up a lot over the years, and I still haven’t worn a visor. I mean I’ve probably broken my nose like 15 times or something. I just can’t wear it, and the earpieces, I think you’re just used to wearing it for so long without it. I mean you take them out you’re like, ‘Why the hell was I wearing earpieces in the first place?’ But I guess this is kind of an indication on why guys do.”