Steve Yzerman

Yzerman won’t play in the 2013 Winter Classic alumni game

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Shortly after the NHL awarded the 2013 Winter Classic to Detroit, Eric Lacy of the Detroit News reached out to franchise legend Steve Yzerman about potential participation in the alumni game.

Warning: If you’re a diehard Wings fan, you might want to stop reading.

“It will be a fantastic event with two great organizations at a storied venue,” Yzerman said via e-mail. “The perfect location and matchup, this is wonderful for the NHL.

“At this time I don’t plan on participating in the alumni game but hope to watch the Classic on TV.”

It’s a stunning — and immediate — decision from arguably the greatest player in franchise history. Yzerman is one of the most popular athletes in Detroit sports history and, after wearing the “C” for over 1300 games, is often referred to simply as “The Captain.”

He led the Wings to five Presidents Trophies and three Stanley Cups, winning the Conn Smythe trophy in 1998.

The news of Yzerman’s decline (Note: Yzerman didn’t offer a reason for not playing) will come as a disappointment not just to Detroit fans, but former teammates and front office executives as well. General manager Ken Holland is on record saying he hoped to get Yzerman to play while ex-Wing Kris Draper said he was “working hard” on having Yzerman suit up.

That said, not everybody turned down the alumni game. Former Toronto and Detroit goalie Curtis Joseph said he wanted in…but only as a Leaf.

“I heard about it, I thought about it, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I want to do that,’ ” Joseph told NHL.com. “There was no question in my mind. I’d play for Toronto, of course.”

Brian Leetch, who played in the 2011 Winter Classic alumni game with the Bruins and the 2012 edition with the New York Rangers, also said he’d be willing to play — Leetch played 15 games with the Leafs at the tail end of the 2003-04 season.

“I was thinking about that when they announced it. I said to myself, ‘There are so many Toronto alumni, I don’t know if I’m going to make the cut on that one, but I’ll certainly throw my name in the hat if they need it,'” Leetch said. “It’s been fun. I got to play in Fenway and then this past year’s, so if I got to sneak into another one it’d be great.

“You never know. I’d say yes if they asked me.”

Video: Pavelski gives Sharks the lead as they look to clinch berth in Stanley Cup Final

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Perseverance paid off for the San Jose Sharks.

Joe Pavelski gave the Sharks the lead in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final, pushing home a loose puck on Brian Elliott after Joe Thornton was unable to convert on the breakaway seconds before.

For Pavelski, that’s his league-leading 13th goal of these playoffs.

The Sharks can clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history with a win tonight.

San Jose increased its lead to two goals, as Joel Ward capitalized early in the second period.

Canucks trade Jared McCann to the Panthers for Erik Gudbranson

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Jared McCann #91 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on during a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on November 30, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers have made a trade — and it’s a big one.

As per Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the two main components are forward Jared McCann, who just completed his rookie season with the Canucks, and 24-year-old defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who has played five seasons with the Florida Panthers.

Here are the details:

McCann is the second draft selection of the Jim Benning-Trevor Linden era, taken 24th overall in 2014. As a 19-year-old rookie armed with a big-league wrist shot, he scored nine goals and 18 points while averaging 12:31 of ice time per game in 69 games.

The Canucks had the option of sending McCann back to junior last season and not burning a year of his entry-level deal, but they chose to keep him in Vancouver for the entire year.

One particular aspect of his development, particularly this off-season, was a need to get physically stronger, which was something that could be exposed at times in the defensive end against bigger forwards.

Gudbranson, selected third overall in 2010 and signed to a one-year, $3.5 million extension earlier this month, certainly gives the Canucks size on the back end at six-foot-five-inches tall, a physical presence and a right shot on the blue line, but he has managed only 13 points as a single-season career best and that was in 2014-15.

The Canucks also gave up two picks in this year’s draft.

 

Vasilevskiy ‘is the big reason we’re in Game 7,’ says Bolts coach Cooper

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It has been an Eastern Conference Final full of twists and turns in the plot.

Exhibit A: The goaltending situation for both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins. 

That began right away, in the first period of Game 1 when Ben Bishop was stretchered off the ice with a lower-body injury. Since then, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been The Guy for the Lightning, which will face the Penguins in a Game 7, winner-take-all contest, in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

Of the many storylines heading into this contest, one that stands out is it’s expected to be a goaltending duel between the 21-year-old Vasilevskiy and the Matt Murray, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Wednesday.

(Remember when Penguins coach Mike Sullivan went with Marc-Andre Fleury to start over Murray in Game 5, only to switch back to Murray for a must-win Game 6? Another plot twist.)

Bolts head coach Jon Cooper had previously left the door open to the possibility that Bishop could return in this series. On Wednesday, however, he told reporters he’ll meet with his staff but does not anticipate Bishop being in for Game 7.

“I think Andrei is the big reason we’re in Game 7,” said Cooper.

“He’s made big save after big save for us. The one thing that I do like that’s happened to him finally in this series is, you know, he finally started a playoff game and won, whereas his other playoff wins were always in relief, and he’s won in Pittsburgh. So you’ve got to like the kid feels pretty comfortable playing there, and we like that.”

WATCH LIVE: Blues at Sharks – Game 6

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues, Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks, and Joe Thornton #19 argue with a referee during the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The San Jose Sharks can make franchise history on home ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Win, and the Sharks clinch their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose, and it’s back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.

You can catch tonight’s Game 6 on NBCSN (9 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Tarasenko needs to start ‘playing within the system’: Hitch

On the brink of elimination, Blues turn back to Elliott

The Blues could sure use a goal or two from Tarasenko

Stanley Cup Final to begin Monday