Matt Martin

Isles’ Martin: No ill will towards Wang or Snow

The lockout has been acrimonious at times, but not enough for New York Islanders forward Matt Martin to have beef with team owner Charles Wang or GM Garth Snow.

“I can’t speak for all my teammates, but I don’t think there’s any ill will toward Charles or Garth [Snow, the Islanders’ GM],” Martin told Newsday. “There could be some guys around the league who’ll feel differently, I would imagine, given the negotiations and the contracts that were signed.

“But I think our guys know this is a business, and when it’s time, our job is to play hockey. That’s what we want to do.”

This isn’t a revolutionary statement, since Snow gave Martin a four-year, $4 million extension and Wang will be the one signing checks.

(Y’know, don’t bite the hand that feeds.)

But it is interesting in a historical context, as players have been outspoken in their critiques of owners throughout the lockout.

One example was Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter who, in late October, accused owners — including the Wild’s Craig Leipold — of “trying to go back on their word.”

“It’s disappointing. If you can’t afford to [sign contracts] then you shouldn’t do it,” Suter said. “[Leipold] signed us to contracts. At the time he said everything was fine. Yeah, it’s disappointing. A couple months before, everything is fine, and now they want to take money out of our contracts that we already signed.”

Suter quickly softened his stance after some backlash, explaining “I don’t question Craig Leipold and Minnesota with regards to negotiating our contracts in good faith.”

Another example was San Jose forward Logan Couture, who blasted “hard-line” owners like Leipold, Boston’s Jeremy Jacobs and Calgary’s Murray Edwards for their negotiating tactics — yet didn’t go after the Sharks ownership group.

“They don’t give you the time of day, and they barely even look at you,” Couture said of the aforementioned ownership trio. “They’re there for one reason, and that’s to help their teams make money. I wish we could hear from all 30 teams’ owners, but obviously they’re not letting them speak out and have their opinions known.”

Couture said he didn’t know where San Jose owners stood on things, and couldn’t “hold judgment against them” until he knew the truth.

So, the end result for players seems to be this: Bash owners that aren’t yours, stay mum on the guy that pays you.

Related

Miller denies calling out Jacobs during meeting

Andrew Ladd doesn’t want Jeremy Jacobs “spewing his stuff” in players-owners meeting

Zach Parise is mad at owners but doesn’t single out Craig Leipold

Leopold on meeting with owners: “I don’t want any part of it”

Sharks flip the script, tie Penguins heading into third period

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates with teammates after scoring a second period goal against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (not pictured) in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the San Jose Sharks in the first period of Game 1, no doubt about it.

Even so, the Sharks entered the middle frame down 2-0, and responded rather than shriveling up. They basically switched roles with the Penguins in the second period, ultimately tying things up 2-2.

The first goal was one Matt Murray would probably like back (even more than a goalie would want any goal back, mind you), as Tomas Hertl beat him five-hole for a power-play goal.

Witness the Sharks’ first-ever goal in a Stanley Cup Final:

Fittingly, a grizzled veteran and longtime face of the Sharks’ franchise tied it up, as Patrick Marleau made it 2-2 with a clever wraparound:

Which team will win the third period? Could we see overtime? Find out on NBC.

Report: Blues will bring back Hitchcock with one-year deal

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues walks on the ice in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Yes, the St. Louis Blues fell short of the Stanley Cup Final, but they still broke some playoff hexes in 2015-16. Apparently Blues management saw enough to bring back Ken Hitchcock.

That’s the word from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos, who report that the Blues are expected to announce a one-year deal with the veteran head coach on Tuesday.

Friedman wonders if these one-year pacts (Hitchcock was on one for 2015-16 as well) may chase away other staffers:

When asked about these scenarios, Hitchcock seemed like he was in favor of experiencing a perpetual “contract year.”

“I scare myself because I think if I take long-term deal, I’m gonna get sloppy,” Hitchcock told Hockey Central at Noon and Sportsnet back in mid-May. “I want to stay on one-year deals.

For plenty of fans, it makes perfect sense to bring Hitchcock back after the Blues took steps forward.

Others wonder if Hitchcock’s style (which leans toward dump-and-chase and “gritty” hockey more than some other teams) may leave the Blues in the dust, however.

That’s a debate for a bar or a message board, yet one can see deeper logic in giving Hitchcock one more shot.

While the Blues have decisions to make – including what to do with free agent captain David Backes – the team is also structured to make another run. Brian Elliott, Jake Allen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colton Parayko all have deals that will expire after 2016-17, and each contract is a bargain.

If St. Louis believes that Hitchcock is the right fit for that personnel group, then it makes sense to give him another go.

Crosby, Rust and Sheary lead Penguins’ early charge

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Bryan Rust #17 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with Evgeni Malkin #71 after scoring a first period goal against the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Generally speaking, the strategic talk heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final focused on the San Jose Sharks’ deeper defense vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins’ blinding speed.

It’s very early, but so far: advantage Penguins.

Pittsburgh came roaring out of the gate in front of a boisterous Consol Energy Center crowd, but it took them a while to break through.

Once the Penguins did, they raced ahead to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals just 1:02 apart.

First, Bryan Rust kept his red-hot streak going with the 1-0 tally.

Moments later, Sidney Crosby made a beautiful pass to Conor Sheary to put the Penguins up two.

There were a few other moments in which the Sharks looked like they were really struggling with the Penguins’ speed, but Martin Jones made some saves that could be big if San Jose can gather its wits.

Beard breakdown: Burns vs. Thornton (Video)

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Sometimes you need to ask important questions, breaking down positional battles and strategies.

Other times you can’t help but ask “Which guy has the better beard?”

In the case of Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, the San Jose Sharks boast two players with elite beards to match their elite skills. “Jumbo Joe” drew a lot of attention for his wild facial hair, yet Burns may very well have inspired Thornton to go heavy-whisker in the first place.

The video above breaks down those two beards, in case you’re itching for a comparison.

One thing that sparks little debate? Both players’ wives are real troopers.