One of the most recognizable voices in hockey, Buffalo Sabres play-by-play man Rick Jeanneret, has signed a three-year contract, the club announced today.
When the contract is up, 71-year-old Jeanneret says he’ll retire.
“This decision was obviously very difficult for me to make,” Jeanneret said in a release. “It has become a yearly deliberation, deciding if the coming year would be my last or what season I would finally step away. I initially thought doing a full year of games this coming season and then retiring was the way to go. After discussing it with my family and with the Sabres, we all thought signing this new deal was the right choice. I get to continue to do what I love while slowly reducing my workload and eventually turning the reins over to Dan, who I greatly respect and believe Sabres fans will grow to love.”
From the release, here’s the succession plan:
The Sabres Hall-of-Famer will call an increasingly reduced number of games during the next three seasons before stepping away from the microphone for good. Veteran broadcaster Dan Dunleavy has been added to the Sabres broadcast team and will serve as Jeanneret’s substitute before assuming the primary play-by-play duties for the 2016-17 season.
Jeanneret and Dunleavy will be joined by Rob Ray, who will return to serve as color commentator for all Sabres broadcasts. Brian Duff will also return for his third season with the Sabres broadcast team, maintaining his role as the in-game host for pre- and post-game coverage, as well as intermission reports.
Per the Buffalo News, Jeanneret will work 57 games this season, 47 games the next, and half the games in his final season.
Appreciating Stamkos after he hit 600 points in Bolts’ blowout of Penguins
The modern NHL is no stranger to star players missing extended stretches because of injuries, opening the door for “What if?” frustrations.
As glorious as the last couple years have been for Sidney Crosby, the threat of another concussion looms like Michael Myers in the bushes. Connor McDavid lost half of his rookie season. Carey Price has already dealt with serious issues of his own.
Still, you can forgive Steven Stamkos and Tampa Bay Lightning fans for being especially miffed over the years, as his issues have bordered on the freakish. Stamkos has dealt with blood clots, his most recent right knee injury that required surgery, and broke his tibia after taking this bad-luck spill in 2013:
(Even about four years later, it’s still unsettling to watch Stamkos rapidly become aware of how bad his injury was.)
Stamkos has missed playoff time and saw at least two seasons short-circuited by injuries, as he only played in 17 games in 2016-17 and 37 in 2013-14.
It almost seems fitting, then, that Stamkos scored his 600th regular-season point during the Lightning’s 7-1 beatdown of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Even so, it’s resounding that – with all Stamkos has been through – he’s at that level at 27, and he’s done so in 595 games.
91’s assist on the Sergachev goal clocked in as his 600th @nhl point.
Impressive. With this incredible head start of 18 points in nine games, a healthy Stamkos might match or exceed the work he did during his best days earlier in his career. Note how dominant he was from his second through fourth seasons (while Stamkos managed 29 goals and 57 points in the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season, his fifth):
2009-10: 51 goals, 95 points
2010-11: 45 goals, 91 points
2011-12: 60 goals, 97 points
The other eye-popping stat from that run: he played in all 82 regular-season games in each of those three campaigns.
As you can see, Stamkos ranks among six active players who’ve averaged at least one point-per-game since 2009-10.
Chances are, Stamkos will cool off mainly because, as great as Kucherov is, he’ll settle down a bit too. The Russian winger currently boasts a 29.4 shooting percentage, nearly doubling his already-impressive career average of 15.1 percent.
Still, it’s plausible that Stamkos could enjoy one of the best seasons of his career, and the interesting wrinkle might be that this stupendous sniper may serve as something of a facilitator (he currently has three goals versus 15 assists).
Now, don’t forget that Kucherov has been the catalyst for this burst, even if Stamkos makes this one of the NHL’s most scintillating symbiotic relationships. Hitting the 600-point milestone is merely a friendly reminder that Stamkos shouldn’t get lost in the elite conversation, and that hockey fans should be very, very happy to have him around.
Sometimes you need to zoom out from a shaky move and appreciate the bigger picture.
Mike Babcock nailed it when he described the Toronto Maple Leafs, at least at times, as dumb and fun. The Leafs currently lead the NHL with 37 goals, one more than the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning, despite Toronto playing one fewer game. Still, these young Buds also must raise Babcock’s blood pressure at times with their double-edged sword style.
Credit Babcock, then, with mostly embracing what makes this team tick. More rigid coaches would strain against such designs, almost certainly lowering the Maple Leafs’ ceiling in the process.
The Maple Leafs raised some eyebrows on Sunday by handing slow-footed, limited veteran defenseman Roman Polak a one-year, $1.1 million contract. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that the Maple Leafs slumped some shoulders.
None of these Twitter reactions are really off-base, honestly.
there are probably 4 defenders on the Marlies better than Polak right now
Polak, 31, simply isn’t an ideal fit for the modern NHL, and the Maple Leafs are very much embracing the fast, attacking style that’s (delightfully) coming in vogue.
Here’s a working theory, though: even the best coaches (at least right now) have “their guys.”
“Their guys” are often well-traveled, gritty types. Some only help teams in minimal ways while taking spots from prospects who might eventually be able to make bigger impacts. Others are even worse: actively hurting their teams whenever they get on the ice while taking spots. New York Rangers fans are currently having Tanner Glass flashbacks.
Every GM in the NHL should limit the number of “guys” available to a coach. Otherwise, they’re echoing “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” by holding an intervention at a bar.
Allow a hypothesis: with some injuries surfacing and the Maple Leafs generally playing well, and roaming free, signing Polak stands as something of a reward for Babcock’s patience.
It’s not great, and here’s hoping that Polak doesn’t take meaningful ice time away from better defensemen. There are some discouraging worst-case scenarios where Polak is used as a shutdown guy who really only shuts down the Leafs’ ability to counterpunch.
Ideally, Polak is used in a limited role and Toronto remains one of the most dazzling, heart-stopping, and successful teams in the NHL. That would make everyone happy (except the Maple Leafs’ opponents).
Flyers fans – and fans of other NHL teams, as almost all have a contract or two they’d like to give the “Men In Black” treatment to – should remember to hate the contract, not the player.
(If you’re going to boo anyone, do so to management, as that bad deal happened right around the time Ron Hextall was transitioning to GM. It’s probably not as much on Hextall, but it’s not inconceivable that he gave a thumbs up, too.)
Anyway, with the 31-year-old on the shelf and his $5M cap hit being IR-bound, the Flyers should have plenty of room to call someone up, if they’d like. That’s where things get interesting, as the Courier-Post’s Dave Isaac ranks among those pointing out intriguing defensive prospect Samuel Morin as a potential replacement.
Morin, 22, is a towering, Pronger-sized defenseman. He could slide into some of MacDonald’s roles, as both are going to be counted on for their own-zone work more than offense. Even in the AHL, Morin was known for stacking up penalty minutes more than points, although he’s off to a higher-scoring start so far this season.
It will be fascinating to see if Morin can help in that regard, and really, how he fits into the modern NHL.
A defenseman his size will need to work harder to stay in position and not get burned against faster, attacking teams. With the Flyers’ host of fleet-footed, scoring blueliners, Morin could serve as a nice change-of-pace.
(Isaac also points to Mark Alt as an option, if the Flyers feel like now isn’t the time for Morin.)
With three wins in their last four games and a five-game homestand wrapping up against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, the Flyers have a lot of good things going. As promising as the present can be at times, it’s still the future that makes this group most tantalizing. Perhaps we’ll get a glimpse at how Morin might fit into the puzzle, then?
It’s been a difficult start to the new season for the Arizona Coyotes, as they still search for their first win after eight games.
But they received good news Saturday when sophomore defenseman Jakob Chychrun skated, which, according to Craig Morgan of NHL.com, is the first time he’s done so since he underwent knee surgery at the beginning of August and was sidelined indefinitely.
Chychrun, a left-shooting blue liner with tremendous skating ability and size at 6-foot-3 tall and 200 pounds, had been talked about as a potential top five pick well ahead of the 2016 NHL Draft, but he eventually fell down the order all the way to 16th when the Coyotes selected him.
Despite going midway through that opening round, Chychrun made the Coyotes out of training camp at the age of 18 and remained in the NHL for the entire 2016-17 season, putting up seven goals and 20 points in 68 games on a young Arizona team.
While there is reason for optimism with this development, Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet still doesn’t have a timetable for when Chychrun could return to the lineup, which could certainly use a boost.
“I’ve got to give the guy (credit),” Tocchet told the Coyotes website. “When you talk about a commitment level, Jakob Chychrun’s got it. He’s got that commitment level, that accountability. He went to Philadelphia (to rehab) by himself, and he trained there with the proper guy. He’s there every day doing whatever it takes to get back into the lineup. I love that stuff. That sort of commitment is incredible. We need that around here.”
The Coyotes now begin a five-game road trip through the East, beginning Tuesday against the New York Islanders and ending on Oct. 31 versus the Detroit Red Wings.