Report: NHL to discuss bullying at GM meetings

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Bullying will be one of the topics discussed during today’s NHL general managers meetings in Toronto, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

Lavoie reports the NHL “wants to make sure what goes on in the NFL won’t happen in hockey” — an allusion to the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito controversy in Miami, where Incognito is being accused of spearheading a “culture of harassment” in the Dolphins’ dressing room, with Martin being the primary target.

Regardless of opinions on the Miami situation or the notion of bullying being an issue in the NHL, the league is probably doing the wise thing in getting out in front of any would-be issue. (Remember, we’re not that far removed from the Dustin Brown-Sean Avery relationship being described as “bullying” by former teammate Ian Laperriere.)

What’s going on in the NFL right now is ugly, so trying to avoid any potential ugliness with a preemptive strike makes sense.

Regarding the NHL GM meetings, it’ll be curious to see if the topic extends to rookie dinners. An annual rite of passage practiced by a number of professional teams, the rookie dinner — one where the veterans dine, usually at an expensive restaurant, on the first-year players’ dimes — has also come under scrutiny in the Dolphins saga.

From Fox Sports:

The [Miami] rookies were stuck with a $30,000 bill during a recent team dinner. Veteran defensive end Jared Odrick tweeted about the incident, showing off a picture of the team at dinner and even following it up by noting how expensive the bill was. “Yes that bill would make you sick,” Odrick tweeted out later. He’s since deleted the Tweet from his account.

Rookie safety Will Davis, who makes $405,000 this season, confirmed the report soon thereafter with a tweet of his own.

It’s not uncommon for veterans to have a bit of fun at the rookies’ expense. Many teams will have rookies pick up the bill on a big meal or a similar outing, but while $30,000 might be chump change to vested veterans, it’s a lot of money for rookies who likely are only making somewhere in the $400,000 to $1 million range.

To be fair, the NHL does not appear to have any similar issues regarding its rookie dinners. In the wake of the Miami situation, Fox Sports Florida asked former Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen about the evolution of these meals.

“Traditions have changed over the years since I was a rookie,” Dineen said. “There were things (then) that probably are not acceptable these days. That’s just the evolution of sports in general. It can be looked at a lot of different ways.

“I think it’s gotten to the point with the maturity of leadership in the NHL that instead of turning this into a ‘We’re going to get these guys,’ it has turned into, ‘Let’s turn this into a really nice evening.’ “

Ducks deny rally, end Penguins’ winning streak

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When Ondrej Kase cashed in on another breakaway opportunity for the Ducks to make it 4-1 in the second period, it looked like that goal would be icing on the cake for Anaheim. Even if it would be especially pretty frosting.

Instead, that stylish goal ended up being critical, as the Pittsburgh Penguins nearly rallied in the third period to at least send Wednesday’s game to overtime. John Gibson ended up holding down the fort, and with an empty-netter in the dying seconds, the Ducks ended up beating the Penguins 5-3.

You could call it a game of periods and close calls.

The Penguins entered the first intermission thanks to a 1-0 Evgeni Malkin goal, but the Ducks dominated the middle frame with their first four-goal period of 2017-18. The Penguins’ prolific power play helped them stay in the game (2-for-4, with both goals coming during that third-period comeback bid), but the rally fell short. Pittsburgh’s winning streak ended at four victories.

Some bounces went both ways, as Antoine Vermette nearly scored for the Ducks while Carl Hagelin suffered a near-miss. So maybe those missed opportunities cancel each other out?

From the Ducks’ perspective, this is the latest argument in favor of this team being a threat now that key pieces have returned to the lineup. This win begins what they hope is a successful five-game homestand, as Anaheim still needs to battle for its own playoff hopes.

The Penguins can’t ruminate on this loss for very long. They head to Los Angeles to face what must be a frustrated Kings team (four straight defeats, only two wins in their last eight games) on Thursday, with little reason to expect any mercy.

This last stretch of wins improved the Penguins’ outlook, but dropping games in back-to-back nights could make things tense again in a hurry. You can check out that Penguins – Kings game on NBCSN Thursday.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Willie O’Ree celebrates 60th anniversary of debut with Bruins

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BOSTON (AP) Hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree was honored in Boston on Wednesday on the 60th anniversary of the Bruins forward breaking the NHL’s color barrier.

At a news conference at the TD Garden before the Bruins game against the Montreal Canadiens, Mayor Marty Walsh declared Jan. 18, 2018 to be “Willie O’Ree Day”. O’Ree made his debut in 1958 during a 3-0 victory against the Canadiens at the Forum in Montreal.

Walsh called O’Ree a Boston legend who changed the city for the better and thanked him for his courage. As part of the celebration, the city dedicated a new street hockey rink in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood to be known as Willie O’Ree Rink.

A native of Canada, O’Ree, 82, had four goals and 10 assists in 45 games over parts of two NHL seasons. He spent a total of 21 years in pro hockey.

For the past two decades, O’Ree has served as the NHL’s Diversity Ambassador, spreading the message that hockey is for everyone.

More AP NHL hockey at https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Bruins cruise vs. Canadiens in Julien’s return to Boston

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Don’t blame Claude Julien if Wednesday made him think of better times, and not just because it was his welcome back night in Boston.

Coming into this one, it was a tale of two teams going in opposite directions, and the teams stuck to their scripts. The Boston Bruins remain red-hot with a 4-1 win, while the Montreal Canadiens are mired in mediocrity .. or worse?

When you’re as disappointing as the Canadiens have been, plenty of things are going wrong. It was a weak start even with a 1-0 lead and 1-1 first period in mind, and it obviously didn’t get any better.

Nights like these have to sting for Julien, a coach known for his sophisticated systems and eye for defensive detail.

There are questions about Max Pacioretty possibly being trade bait. People wonder if Jonathan Drouin or Alex Galchenyuk fit as centers, or if neither work that way. Yet, these performances make you realize that as exasperated as management must be, they may also appreciate more specific distractions.

Because, frankly, this was a team … non-effort.

Then again, the Bruins are a red-hot squad, so maybe they shine an especially harsh light on the Habs’ haplessness?

Boston generated a 32-22 shots on goal advantage in this one, with multiple contributors stepping up. Big guns came through (Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were among the goal scorers, Patrice Bergeron collected two assists), while David Backes and others added to the fun.

It was the kind of effort Julien would have been very happy with, if it didn’t come at his expense.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Anaheim Ducks

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PROJECTED LINEUPS

Pittsburgh Penguins

Dominik SimonSidney Crosby — Daniel Sprong

Carl HagelinEvgeni MalkinPatric Hornqvist

Conor ShearyJake GuentzelPhil Kessel

Tom KuhnhacklRiley SheahanRyan Reaves

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Olli MaattaJustin Schultz

Matt HunwickJamie Oleksiak

Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry

[NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Canadiens vs. Bruins; Penguins vs. Ducks]

Ducks

Rickard RakellRyan GetzlafCorey Perry

Derek GrantRyan KeslerJakob Silfverberg

Nick RitchieAdam HenriqueOndrej Kase

Chris WagnerAntoine VermetteJ.T. Brown

Cam FowlerKevin Bieksa

Hampus LindholmJosh Manson

Francois BeaucheminBrandon Montour

Starting goalie: John Gibson