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.
Is it possible that this year’s edition of Canada’s World Junior team will rival the one they had during the 2004-05 lockout when Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Getzlaf, Jeff Carter, Dion Phaneuf, Brent Seabrook, Shea Weber, Mike Richards and Corey Perry — among other future NHLers — crushed the competition en route to a gold medal? The 2013 squad certainly has big shoes to fill. (Winnipeg Sun)
Meanwhile, Stefan Noesen might lose his chance to represent Team USA because of a 10-game suspension handed to him by the Ontario Hockey League. (Ottawa Citizen)
Montreal Canadiens teammates Yannick Weber and David Desharnais found themselves at opposite sides in the Swiss League. (Montreal Gazette)
Connor Bruseski is the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 13th annual winner of the Lightning Community Hero award. Bruseski learned he had Lymphoma at the age of six and decided to raise money to fight cancer and help other children. The Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program gave Bruseski $50,000, which he will donate to the All Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Dream Fund. (Lightning.nhl.com)
JC Lipon didn’t get selected during the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, but that’s not likely to happen again. (Calgary Sun)
The Pittsburgh Penguins have opened “Penguins Pond,” an outdoor rink that will be available until January 13. (Penguins.nhl.com)
Understatement 1: the 2016-17 season was rough for the New York Islanders.
Understatement 2:John Tavares‘ future is a pretty big deal, to Islanders and hockey fans alike.
Many of the worries surrounding the second understatement stem from the first one; last season was rough, to the point that people are worried that Tavares’ confidence might be shaking in the Isles.
Of course, it’s not just about the 2016-17 season.
After all, they’ve only won one playoff series (eliminating the Panthers in 2016) since 1992-93. If Tavares is growing impatient with the Islanders’ process, then 2017-18 stands as potentially integral in keeping him around. Islanders fans cringe at such talk, but there’s no sense pretending that isn’t an issue on Isles day.
I can't wait until this is over. Either he signs and I laugh or he's gone and I say goodbye, too. I've wasted enough energy on this already.
The Islanders are sticking with Doug Weight as head coach after a largely successful interim run.
As far as changes go, GM Garth Snow traded Ryan Strome for Jordan Eberle, a player Tavares has some history and chemistry with. That was a good way to entice Tavares … but trading away Travis Hamonic might not have been the most endearing move. At least since the Islanders didn’t land, say, Matt Duchene for their troubles.
There’s always the chance that a Duchene deal – or some other upgrade – could still be in the works, but as is, this off-season feels more like a lateral move for the Islanders. The draft picks they got for Hamonic probably don’t mean much for Tavares, after all.
Islanders day will explore many facets of the team on Monday. Some might not even revolve around that Tavares fellow.
Malkin on ‘workaholic’ Crosby, Penguins’ chances for three Cups in a row
It’s not surprising to see Malkin praise Crosby and pump up the Penguins’ chances. Last year, he showed confidence in Pittsburgh’s repeat chances and professed an interest in being on the same team with Crosby for the next “10 years.”
This summer’s been a great one for Geno, with plenty of team honors mixing with some great individual feats. For example:
Congratulations to Evgeni Malkin for winning the 2017 Kharlamov Trophy (most valuable Russian NHL player). 📷: Malkin's Instagram pic.twitter.com/7gw9ZrzIlf
Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron is so speedy on the ice, his skating can sometimes be intimidating, particularly when he’s on the penalty kill.
Every now and then, we’ll see, say, a floppy-haired snowboarder also show some serious skateboarding acumen, and skateboarding seems to blend well with surfing to boot. So what about ice skating and skateboarding?
Taylor Hall deserves credit for that great “lottery ball specialist” tweet when the New Jersey Devils landed the top pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, but you could picture the star winger making such a joke while gritting his teeth.
You see, as much as Hall seems to be a luck rabbit’s foot for a team when it comes to landing the top pick of a draft – just consider his Edmonton Oilers days on top of this last bit – but that good fortune hasn’t always come from an individual standpoint.
Officially adding "NHL lottery ball specialist" to my hockey resume.
In hopes that we may some day see Hall in, say, a playoff game, let’s recount some of his unluckiest moments. Keep in mind that he’s still just 25.
He became the first pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, which means he’ll be compared to Tyler Seguin (though that discussion mercifully doesn’t come up that often).
Hall’s rookie season was limited to 65 regular-season games thanks to the ill-advised decision to fight Derek Dorsett. His first NHL bout ended his 2010-11 campaign; Hall received criticism for the choice, which sometimes overshadowed debuting with 22 goals.
It was reckless to fight, especially with someone like Dorsett, but we’ve seen plenty of players get through skirmishes without anything major happening. Jarome Iginla endeared himself to hockey fans, in some ways, by doing just that … but Hall wasn’t so lucky.
Even if you chalk that first bit up to poor decisions, Hall’s injury luck has often been poor. He was limited to 61 games in his sophomore season, 53 in 2014-15 and missed significant pieces of 2013-14 and last season, too.
Some of the injuries were just downright-freakish.
Click here if you want to remember the time he caught a skate in the head during warm-ups, which left him with a disgusting “Frankenstein” wound and … it’s just gross. If you haven’t seen it, you’re lucky.
While his speedy, courageous style might leave him susceptible to issues, it seems like Hall catches an unusually high number of bad breaks.
Terrible team to bad team
Taylor Hall has been a productive player, keeping his head up even as he’s played for some miserably bad teams.
The Oilers have been pretty clueless for virtually the entirety of Hall’s career; this National Post article provides a handy rundown of their mishaps in rarely finding decent defensemen.
Those struggles likely inspired the team to trade Hall for Adam Larsson, a steady Swedish blueliner.
It says a lot that Oilers fans voted massively in favor of the Oilers winning that trade in at least one poll, as most hockey people agree that the Devils ended up with the upper hand.
He didn’t even get to truly benefit from Connor McDavid‘s presence, as Hall’s bad injury luck seemed to transition to McDavid for a brief spell; as you recall, McDavid’s season was greatly limited by an lucky fall that came from the same sort of driving style you’d expect to see from Hall.
New Jersey is making some nice strides toward being a more competitive team, and Hall’s a big part of that sunnier outlook. It has to sting to take all those steps back to the painfully familiar rebuilding stages after suffering through all of those with the Oilers.
Look, Hall is nicely compensated for his play. He also was the top pick of a draft, so it’s not like he’s totally anonymous.
Still, it’s difficult not to root for the guy to soak in the accolades that come with greater team success, as Hall has been a fantastic power forward in some not-so-fantastic situations.
In other words, here’s hoping a little more luck goes his way … on the ice rather than in the carousel.