Along with celebrating goals, making fun of opposing and “bandwagon” fans and eating greasy, overpriced food, there’s one activity that tends to bond fans of all 30 NHL teams: mercilessly booing officials. Chances are, every fan base has cursed a ref for (what’s usually) a human mistake while fastening a tin foil hat of suspicion.
It brings up an interesting question, though: which fans are most justified in their (assumed) metaphorical fashion statements? Following in last year’s footsteps, I decided to use NHL.com’s team stats to find out which squads have benefited and lost the most from the referees’ whistle.
(Key: “PP Opp” = power-play opportunities, “TS” = times shorthanded and net chances represents the difference between the two.)
As you can see, the Florida Panthers didn’t just have charity points on their side this season – they also drew 47 more power plays than penalties received. Meanwhile, Dallas Stars fans will nod their heads sadly when they notice that their team went on the PK 59 more times than they had man advantages. That’s essentially an extra penalty to kill in two out of every three games.
You only need to reach down to the fourth-ranked Columbus Blue Jackets to see the first team that couldn’t take advantage of such a disparity. One cannot help but wonder if the Blue Jackets could make a huge turnaround next season if they receive the same advantages (317 power play opportunities!), which is obviously no guarantee. Yet with a potentially luckier James Wisniewski and a full season of Jack Johnson in tow, you never know if they did generate a lot of 5-on-4’s in 2012-13. The Carolina Hurricanes also failed to take advantage of penalty perks by missing the postseason. (Toronto rounds out that group, but they didn’t have quite as much of a dramatic advantage.)
Meanwhile, the five teams that received the worst “treatment” missed the playoffs, while sixth-worst Washington (-21) barely squeaked in as the seventh seed.
Coming soon: A look at which teams benefited or suffered the most from officiating since the lockout.
It sounds like Sam Gagner may determine his destination for 2015-16 in the near future.
The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports that the Columbus Blue Jackets are close to signing Gagner to a one-year, one-way deal. Such an agreement might not be made official until Monday, according to Portzline.
After a bumpy season with the Philadelphia Flyers in which he spent some time in the AHL, Gagner must especially appreciate the one-way nature of his next contract.
The Blue Jackets aren’t the only team interested in the 26-year-old, as his name was also connected to the Vancouver Canucks:
It looks like the still-quite-young scorer will get a clean slate after bouncing around and being defined by a bloated contract originally signed with the Edmonton Oilers.
(Remember when he broke one of Wayne Gretzky’s records?)
Gagner’s presence could make life easier for the likes of Boone Jenner:
It’s conceivable that Gagner could enjoy a nice rebound season if used in a specialized, protected role. The Blue Jackets may very well be the right fit.
… And on the other hand, the deficits in Gagner’s all-around game could at least provide some John Tortorella rage and entertainment.
The Mannheim Eagles announced that German forward Jochen Hecht is retiring from hockey.
(It’s OK to be a little bewildered that he was still playing, just don’t be too mean about it.)
Hecht played 833 regular season games and 59 playoff contests at the NHL level, making his greatest mark as a member of the Buffalo Sabres.
His last bit of NHL action came in 2012-13, when he scored 14 points in 47 games for Buffalo.
Since then, he wrapped up his career with the Mannheim Eagles, a team he’s sporadically played for since 1994-95.
Honestly, it’s weird to see Hecht in any sweater not related to German’s national teams, the Eagles or Sabres, even though the Blues actually drafted him:
Then again, he could also look odd in a certain Sabres sweater.
Apparently he got the NHL 16 Hockey Ultimate Card treatment:
Plenty of Sabres fans and reporters fondly remember Hecht, so here’s to a nice career.
Sometimes you just need a reminder that a remarkable thing actually is happening.
Saturday presented the latest evidence that the NHL coming to Las Vegas isn’t just a collective fever dream, as the still-nameless franchise noted that they’ve begun the process to install ice at T-Mobile Arena for the first time.
It’s not the prettiest picture, but it means a lot:
While setting up the first sheet of ice is a physical sign that things are coming together, the front office side will dictate the sort of team that eventually plays on it.
For more insight into that process, Puck Daddy takes a look at Murray Craven, who appears to be a key part of bringing things together … even if it’s difficult to nail down a specific title.
From the Department of Sights You Can’t Un-see: the Milwaukee Admirals are going to unleash hockey-playing bobbleheads for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton “this fall.”
The Nashville Predators’ AHL affiliate continues the fine tradition of headline-grabbing and all-around-odd promotions from the league.
/Pours one out for the Bakersfield Condors and their Seinfeld “puffy” shirts.
Feast your eyes on the rather disturbing duo:
(The replies to that tweet aren’t too weird yet, but it would probably be wise to stay away nonetheless.)
Naturally, there are other bobblehead options available for the two Presidential front-runners, with the Trump ones being especially entertaining.