Kings Blackhawks

NHL on NBC: Kings to raise banner, take on ‘Hawks

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The Kings will celebrate their Stanley Cup championship on Saturday with a banner raising and ring ceremony.

Then they’ll get onto the business of battling the 2010 Cup champs.

That’ll be the scene as Los Angeles hosts the Chicago Blackhawks (3 p.m. ET, NBC) at Staples to open up the 2013 NHL regular season.

While the focus will largely be on the Kings — the reigning champs enter the season with targets on their back — there’ll be some focus on the Blackhawks as well.

Chicago isn’t far removed from being king of the hill, and dealing with the pressure that comes from it. Since winning the Cup two years ago, the ‘Hawks have struggled to achieve similar success and have been eliminated in the first round of consecutive postseasons.

Backup netminder Ray Emery said the opener against Los Angeles and the condensed 48 game schedule will give the ‘Hawks a new opportunity to remind people they’re a Cup contender.

“We get to wipe the slate clean,” he explained. “We know that we have tons of talent. We’ve got role players and depth. It’s exciting to correct some mistakes and move forward.”

Los Angeles is looking to wipe the slate clean too, albeit in a different manner.

The Kings want to carry over postseason momentum — they only lost four games en route to the Cup — and return almost their entire roster from last season.

But they also recognize a new season means new beginnings, and they can’t rest on past laurels.

“We’re the defending champs,” Anze Kopitar told the Los Angeles Times. “Everyone is going to try to beat us. I don’t think that changes anything in here. It’s going out there and leaving the past behind you.…You’ve got to turn the page now and write a new script for it.

“It’s going to be a short season and you can’t afford to make any mistakes.”

Tale of the Tape

Los Angeles Kings (2011-12) Chicago Blackhawks (2011-12)
Record: 40-27-15, 95 PTS (3rd in Pacific, 8th in Western Conference) Record: 45-26-11, 101 PTS (4th in Central, 6th in Western Conference)
Leading Scorer: Anze Kopitar (25G-51A-76PTS) Leading Scorer: Marian Hossa (29G-48A-77PTS)
Goalie: Jonathan Quick (35-21-13, 1.95 GAA) Goalie: Corey Crawford (20-17-7, 2.72 GAA)


Notes

Kopitar will miss Saturday’s game with a knee sprain. (LA Times)

— Willie Mitchell will also be out with a knee injury (ESPN)

— Jonathan Toews didn’t practice on Friday. (NHL.com)

Report: In expansion draft, teams must protect players with no-movement clauses

Washington Capitals v Columbus Blue Jackets
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If a player has a no-movement clause, his club will be forced to protect him in next summer’s expected expansion draft.

If, on the other hand, a player merely has a no-trade clause, his club will have no obligation to put him on its protected list.

Those details were reported this morning by TSN’s Gary Lawless, shortly after he’d reported that the NHL and NHLPA had come together on a framework for a potential expansion draft.

Per General Fanager, here’s the difference between the two clauses:

A No-Movement Clause prohibits a team from moving a player by trade, loan or waivers, or assigning that player to the minors without the player’s consent. This keeps the player with the pro team unless permitted by the player to move the player by one of these means. A No-Movement Clause does not restrict a team from buying out or terminating a player’s contract.

A No-Trade Clause is less restrictive, as it only places restrictions on movement by trade. A player with a No-Trade Clause cannot be traded by a team unless the player provides consent. A Partial or Modified No-Trade Clause is often less restrictive than a Full No-Trade Clause, and depends on the conditions outlined in the player’s contracts. Often these are No-Trade Clauses with conditions that give the player the right to provide a list of teams to which the team can or cannot trade the player.

So, for example, in Pittsburgh, the Penguins would be obligated to put Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil KesselMarc-Andre Fleury, and Kris Letang on their protected list. All five have NMCs, per General FanagerPatric Hornqvist, however, would not require protection, even though he has a modified no-trade clause.

Now, granted, the Penguins weren’t going to risk leaving their superstars exposed anyway.

Where this rule could have consequences is if a team is forced to protect a player with a no-move, at the expense of exposing a player it would prefer to keep. 

In Columbus, for example, David Clarkson, Scott Hartnell and Fedor Tyutin have no-moves, as do Brandon Dubinsky and Nick Foligno. So, assuming General Fanager’s information is correct and there aren’t any complicating factors, that’s five players they’d be obligated to protect, whether they’d want to or not.

We’ll let Jackets fans fret over what that may cost them. There will be plenty of fretting league-wide, no doubt. 

But just remember, if the NHL only expands to Las Vegas — and that’s the most likely scenario at this point — each team can only lose one player in the expansion draft.

BREAKING: Ducks fire Boudreau

Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, back, looks on against the Colorado Avalanche in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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In the end, it was one playoff failure too many.

On Friday, the Ducks reacted to their upset loss to Nashville by doing the expected — relieving head coach Bruce Boudreau of his duties.

“I would like to thank Bruce for his hard work and dedication to the franchise,” Ducks GM Bob Murray said in a statement, tweeted out by the club. “This was a very difficult decision to make.

“Bruce is a good coach and character person, and we wish him the best of luck in the future.”

Boudreau, 61, enjoyed tremendous regular-season success in Anaheim — 208-104-40 record over five years — but ultimately paid the price for the club’s playoff failures.

Despite a wealth of talent and repeated home-ice advantage, the Ducks never qualified for a Stanley Cup final and were twice bounced in the opening round. Most damning was the club’s record in Game 7s — Wednesday’s loss to Nashville was the fourth straight Game 7 defeat Anaheim had suffered.

What’s more, it was the fourth time they lost a series in which they led 3-2.

What’s more, it was the fourth Game 7 they lost on home ice.

For Boudreau, this firing will only add to the narrative that’s dogged him throughout his career, dating back to his time in Washington.

Great regular-season coach, not so much in the playoffs.

It’s ultimately unfair and probably too simplistic, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that a coach with an impressive win total — 409, putting him No. 32 all-time — has never competed for the Stanley Cup, and only qualified for one conference final.

Looking ahead, it’ll be interesting to see if Boudreau can find work as quickly as the last time he was fired. After getting turfed in Washington, it took him all of two days to be hired by the Ducks, and it’s quite possible Ottawa could now be in the mix for his services.

The Sens are looking for an experienced bench boss, per new GM Pierre Dorion, and have already interviewed ex-Wild head coach Mike Yeo.

Related: Boudreau says this was the Ducks’ toughest loss yet

Radulov is playing in the NHL next year, says Radulov

AlexRadulovAP
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According to multiple reports (including this one from Sport Express), on-again, off-again NHLer Alexander Radulov has confirmed he’ll be playing in the NHL next season.

Radulov, who turns 30 in July, will be making his second North American comeback. The first came in 2012, when he returned to the team he was drafted by and debuted with — The Nashville Predators. Radulov left the Preds in 2008 amid great acrimony, signing a deal with KHL club Salavat Yulaev Ufa while still under contract in Nashville.

Radulov’s first comeback wasn’t ideal.

Though he did rack up points — seven in nine regular season games, six in eight playoff games — his tenure ended badly as he and fellow Preds teammate Andrei Kostitsyn were suspended for breaking curfew during a second-round series against the Coyotes.

The Preds would eventually be bounced by the ‘Yotes, and cut ties with Radulov. That led to him going back to the KHL, where he’s been one of the league’s marquee players over the last four years.

Though he’s been a major headcase, Radulov’s talent is undeniable. He was Russia’s leading scorer at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi — a team that featured Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk — and has repeatedly torn apart the KHL: 71 points in 46 games last year, 65 points in 53 games this year.

That talent is why he keeps getting chances.

As for which NHL team Radulov will play for… well, that remains to be seen. Colorado has long been pegged as an interested suitor, thanks to Radulov’s connection with Patrick Roy, his junior coach in QMJHL Quebec (where Radulov famously scored 61 goals and 152 points in a 62-game season.)

In Minnesota, skepticism greets Fletcher’s optimism

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Rounds 2-7
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Safe to say Chuck Fletcher’s press conference yesterday didn’t quell the growing media skepticism in Minnesota.

A few excerpts from a column by Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, following the Wild GM’s day in front of the cameras:

He preached more patience, spun statistical gold out of cubic zirconia and praised the resiliency of his club.

The Wild, quite simply, are adrift. Their identity changes slump to slump, streak to streak, game to game, shift to shift. They are a difficult team to defend until they throw away the puck. They play tentatively until confronted by absolute crisis.

He needs a miracle worker behind the bench to engage this group over 82 games.
He has to wade through a thicket of prohibitive contracts to create cap space to acquire one or two of the top-flight forwards he craves.

Indeed, it was Fletcher’s optimism that many were struck by yesterday. While conceding that the Wild had a “disappointing” season, he insisted that better days were ahead:

Now, granted, any GM that’s been on the job as long as Fletcher will be loath to admit he’s got a bit of a mess on his hands. He’s the one who put this Wild roster together. He’s the one who gave out all those big contracts. He wouldn’t be the first GM to put a positive spin on a challenging situation.

Or, perhaps Fletcher isn’t spinning anything. Maybe he’s really and truly optimistic about the potential to improve the Wild this offseason.

“I’m much more comfortable with our flexibility this year than last year,” he said. “It’s going to give us more options.”

One thing’s for sure, though — Fletcher will be a GM to watch this summer and into next season.

The pressure’s on to justify the optimism.

Related: Fletcher ‘not on any hot seat’ with Wild owner