Of all the coaching changes in New York this summer, one is likely to affect Marc Staal more than the others — the hiring of Ulf Samuelsson as assistant coach.
“It’s going to be great learning from Ulf, and it will pay big dividends I think for all of our defensemen,” Staal told Blueshirts United. “He’s coached a long time and worked with a lot of different players. And obviously his vast experience in playing the game, and knowing what we go through on a day to day basis, will make him an important guy for all of this season.”
Samuelsson, 49, was hired in June to join Alain Vigneault’s staff. The former NHL defenseman has extensive assistant coaching experience — he was with the Coyotes from 2006-11, working under Wayne Gretzky for the first three years of his tenure, then Dave Tippett for the last two.
Last season, Samuelsson was the head coach of Modo of the Swedish Elite League, taking the club to a seventh-place finish in the regular season and a quarterfinal loss in the playoffs.
Samuelsson also has experience with the Rangers organization, having served as an assistant with AHL Hartford during the 2005-06 campaign. That year, he coached two key cogs of the current New York defense — Staal and Dan Girardi.
Staal, who joined the Wolf Pack for the playoffs after finishing up with OHL Sudbury, remembers the time well.
“Even in those couple of weeks he gave me some important tips,” said Staal, who was 19 at the time. “I think it’s going to be great to have him here now. He played in the NHL for so long and he knows what he is talking about and is a very good coach and a good guy.”
Get set for the Heritage Classic with hot dog facts and more
The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field this afternoon. You can watch it on NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports 2 or NHL.tv at 3 p.m. ET.
With that in mind, let’s get prepped with super-important stats about unhealthy food, interesting photos and fun facts.
Want to get an in-depth look at the rivalry between the Jets and the Oilers? NHL.com and Sportsnet both have some great retrospectives.
The CBC notes that there was rain ending in the morning but it’s expected to be cloudy. Overall, sounds like a nice climate for an outdoor hockey game. NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika wonders if the sun’s glare might cause some issues.
The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.
While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’re both at least fairly experienced netminders.
(Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)
Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.
As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.
Dave Tippett does not think Mike Smith will be ready for home game vs. Colorado on Oct. 29, but he is not far from getting back on the ice.
Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.
Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.
You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:
Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.
So, who is Shane Harper?
For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.
His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.
You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone: