Nicklas Backstrom

Nicklas Backstrom wears 99 in KHL


Is Wayne Gretzky’s number sacred to you? In the NHL, no player can wear the No. 99, in honor of The Great One’s record-shattering career.

But as long as the players are locked out, Nicklas Backstrom isn’t playing in the NHL. He recently joined Alex Ovechkin as a member of KHL Dynamo and he’s skating around with 99 on his back.

Sportsnet’s Luke Fox reported on the story and asked, “Could this be seen as another shot across the pond at the stagnant NHL?”

He also noted that Backstrom’s number with the Capitals, 19, was already taken and so was 91.

Ultimately, unless Backstrom states his intentions, we can only guess at his reasoning.

It does seem appropriate to add that, as ESPN once wrote, Gretzky originally wanted to wear No. 9 for his idol and another legend, Gordie Howe, when he was a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The only reason he didn’t do it was because that number was already taken and eventually his coach suggested No. 99 as a compromise.

Wearing another player’s number can be a tribute or a sign of the type of player you look up to, but this is one story that might rub some people the wrong way even if Backstrom’s motivations truly are innocent.

Video: Flyers, Bolts confirm 3-on-3 OT is pretty much the greatest thing ever

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Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.

Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.

And what a look it was.

In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.

It was, in a word, fun.

Lots of fun.

A quick sampling of reviews:

Of course, not everybody was a fan:

Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.

But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.

In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron (Updated)


Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…