Pekka Rinne, once pepper-sprayed by Finnish pizzeria owner, highlights ’13 Masterton nominee list

10 Comments

The official nominees list is in for the 2013 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy and, if voting is based purely on entertaining anecdotes, Pekka Rinne will be the runaway winner.

Nashville’s Masterton nominee for this season, Rinne had this story attached to his nomination bio:

In the summer of 2006, after Rinne’s first year in North America with the Milwaukee Admirals, he was at a bachelor party in Finland when he was a victim of an assault by a pizzeria owner.

The assailant fired pepper spray into Rinne’s eyes and tackled him. Rinne had to undergo shoulder surgery, which kept him out four months.

“I was still young and right away you’re thinking ‘this is it,’ ” Rinne said in a 2011 article about the incident. “It’s a scary feeling.”

Kudos to whoever wrote this for going into such detail, though now we’re left to wonder why a Finnish pizza joint owner was packing pepper spray. Is this, like, a thing?

Anyway, back to the Masterton…

The award is given annually to the National Hockey League player that “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication” to hockey.

Last year’s winner, Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, captured the award after suffering a concussion and fractured vertebrae (on this hit from Zdeno Chara) to record career-highs in goals (33), assists (32) and points (65).

Each team was asked to submit one player for consideration for this year’s award.

They are:

Western Conference

Andrew Cogliano (Anaheim), Steve Begin (Calgary), Marian Hossa (Chicago), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Colorado), Vinny Prospal (Columbus), Ray Whitney (Dallas), Patrick Eaves (Detroit), Ryan Smyth (Edmonton), Jonathan Bernier (Los Angeles), Josh Harding (Minnesota), Pekka Rinne (Nashville), James Sheppard (San Jose), Brian Elliott (St. Louis), Shane Doan (Phoenix), Kevin Bieksa (Vancouver).

Eastern Conference

Adam McQuaid (Boston), Jochen Hecht (Buffalo), Dan Ellis (Carolina), Peter Mueller (Florida), Andrei Markov (Montreal), Stephen Gionta (New Jersey), Radek Martinek (New York Islanders), Marc Staal (New York Rangers), Andre Benoit (Ottawa), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh), Kimmo Timonen (Philadelphia), B.J. Crombeen (Tampa Bay), James Reimer (Toronto), Tom Poti (Washington), Ron Hainsey (Winnipeg).

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

2 Comments

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
1 Comment

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

9 Comments

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

2 Comments

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.