Cory Stillman

Carolina hires Stillman, promotes Francis

A significant day behind the bench and in the front office of the Carolina Hurricanes on Tursday, as a number of announcements were made on the hockey operations front.

From the ‘Canes website:

Ron Francis, who is entering his seventh season in the team’s front office, has been promoted to Vice President of Hockey Operations. Jason Karmanos, in his 15th year with the Hurricanes, is now Executive Vice President and Assistant General Manager. Rod Brind’Amour joined the team’s front office in 2010, and will serve as a full-time Assistant Coach in 2012-13. Assistant Coach Dave Lewis and Director of Defensemen Development Glen Wesley also each received contract extensions.

Former Hurricane Cory Stillman has joined the organization, taking the position of Director of Forwards Development previously held by Brind’Amour.

Greg Stefan, 51, rejoins the Hurricanes’ coaching staff as Goalie Coach. Tom Barrasso, who served as an assistant coach for the Hurricanes last season, will remain with the team as a pro scout.

As for what it all means…

— This could bee seen as another step in Francis potentially succeeding Jim Rutherford as ‘Canes GM. Rutherford’s 63 and the longest-tenured GM in the league, dating back to 1994, and Francis is considered one of the better GM candidates in the league.

— Carolina has compiled a ton of experience in the coaching ranks. Ex-players include head coach Kirk Muller, Brind’Amour, Stillman, Wesley and Barasso; ex-head coaches include Lewis and John MacLean.

— Stillman’s a neat hire because he’s barely removed from playing with Carolina. He’s a former teammate of Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, Cam Ward, Tuomo Ruutu, Tim Gleason and Joni Pitkanen.

— Interesting note here from Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News and Observer about the Stefan hire: “Been much talk in past few years about how well Cam Ward and Tom Barrasso worked together. So that now changes.”

PHT Morning Skate: Beat writers survey predicts Ducks will win Cup

Corey Perry, Frederik Andersen
AP Photo
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

In a survey of 29 beat writers, the Anaheim Ducks emerged as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you’ll recall, they have that in common with the EA Sports simulation. (Boston Globe)

Alex Ovechkin would pick an Olympic hit against Jaromir Jagr as the biggest check of his life. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 5-4 victory over Colorado:

The Montreal Canadiens seem committed to using Alex Galchenyuk as a center throughout the 2015-16 campaign. (The Canadian Press)

The NHL recently enlisted its players to read off some not so mean tweets. (USA Today)

Bills coach Rex Ryan talked about the Sabres in Thursday’s press conference. (

Frederik Andersen may have the Anaheim Ducks’ starting job for now, but with John Gibson still a big part of their plans, Andersen has to keep proving himself. (Orange County Register)

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.