Leafs, Habs, ‘Hawks draftees plead guilty to party-related charges

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Three NHL draft picks have plead guilty to charges of supplying alcohol to minors at a team party last September.

University of North Dakota captain Andrew MacWilliam, Toronto’s seventh-round pick at the 2008 draft, assistant captain Danny Kristo (Montreal, 2nd round 2008), defenseman Joe Gleason (Chicago, 7th round 2008) and forward Carter Rowney (undrafted) all reached plea agreements last week and were given deferred sentences.

The players — along with Hobey Baker hopeful Corban Knight — found themselves in hot water last year following a Sept. 15 team party.

Details of what transpired were unknown at the time, but MacWilliam (pictured), Kristo, Knight and Rowney were suspended for UND’s season-opening game, followed by this press release from the North Dakota athletic department:

“The behavior in this situation was unacceptable,” [UND Director of Athletics Brian] Faison said. “Measures taken by the athletics department do not preclude possible additional measures by the department, or actions by the University or local and state authorities.”

“Recent actions by our team are not a good representation of our place as role models within our community,” said UND head men’s hockey coach Dave Hakstol. “We have young men of high character in our locker room, but our players, and in particular our leaders, must be accountable for their actions.”

In addition to the suspension of the team captains, Faison also announced several additional team disciplinary measures including, but not limited to:

  • Athletics Department-issued team probation under which any further violations by a team member could result in immediate reduction of scholarship, suspension from competition, or expulsion from the program.
  • The implementation of a mandatory team community service program
  • Weekly team alcohol education programming

Gleason wasn’t part of the original UND suspension, but has since been charged.

The charges against Knight were dropped after Grand Forks County prosecutor David Jones told the Associated Press there was no evidence he was involved in the case.

Image courtesy UNDsports.com

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.