‘What a great ending’: Selanne caps off Olympic career in style

3 Comments

Teemu Selanne has been so great for so long, it’s hard to believe his career’s coming to an end. Heck, many don’t believe it’ll happen, even though he’s been very direct about his intentions.

So it’s appropriate the international phase of his career had a storybook ending, as Selanne scored two goals in his final Olympic contest — Saturday’s 5-0 win over the U.S. in the bronze medal game — making him the oldest medal winner in men’s Olympic hockey history.

“What a great ending,” Selanne said, per the Toronto Star. “Twenty-six years ago I played my first national team game. I’ve been carrying this jersey with a lot of pride and love.”

Since the NHL started sending its players to the Olympics in 1998, Finland has led the pack with four medals and Selanne is a big part of the reason why. Just as he has excelled on the NHL stage, Selanne has consistently found a way to elevate his game.

He has 24 goals and 43 points in 37 Olympic contests. He tied the Olympic lead in scoring twice (1998 and 2006) and goals twice (1992 and 2006) and, as noted by Sportsnet’s John Shannon, has been a pretty consistent scoring threat (save a slump in Vancouver):

Despite being 43 and having his role with the Anaheim Ducks being significantly diminished, Selanne played a critical role in Finland’s success from start to finish on Sochi. He had six points in six games and, for the first time, agreed to lead the Finns while serving as captain.

“Usually I’m [alternate] captain and a lot of times if they have asked if I want to be captain, I don’t really need a letter to be a leader,” Selanne explained to NHL.com before the tournament started. “A lot of times it’s better if somebody else going to be [captain]. But now it’s my last one, this time I felt it’s time to be captain and I’m very honored.”

Selanne wanted to make the most of his last trip to the Olympics as a player. As has been the case so many times before, he succeeded.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said, per AP. “What a great ending.”

All of a sudden, hope for hockey in Houston

Getty
5 Comments

Leslie Alexander’s decision to sell the NBA’s Rockets has revived hope for a hockey team in Houston.

That’s because Alexander is arguably the biggest reason that Houston doesn’t already have a team. The 72-year-old billionaire controls Toyota Center, where the Rockets play. Without getting into all the details, he’s essentially been the only one who could bring an NHL franchise to the city.

From the Houston Press:

But Alexander selling the Rockets (and the lease that goes with it), opens up an NHL-ready hockey arena in Houston. And that’s something that Seattle, which the NHL seemed to favor, can’t offer, and unlike Quebec City, Houston offers up a huge media market with many, many large corporations around to buy up luxury seats.

Houston is certainly a big city. In fact, only four metro areas in the United States — New York, L.A., Chicago and Dallas — have higher populations.

And Houston is growing fast.

Jeremy Jacobs, the influential owner of the Boston Bruins, has not hidden his desire to put an NHL team in Toyota Center. Back in 2015, he told ESPN.com, “I would love to see one in Houston, but we can’t get into that building.”

Perhaps soon the NHL won’t have that impediment.

Predators hire new assistant coach in wake of Housley departure

Leave a comment

The Nashville Predators have hired Dan Muse as an assistant coach.

Muse, who spent the last two years as head coach of the USHL’s Chicago Steel, will be in charge of the Preds’ forwards as well as the penalty kill, while associate head coach Kevin McCarthy  — in the wake of Phil Housley’s departure — will now have responsibility for the defense and the power play.

Muse led the Steel to a championship in May. He also won an NCAA title in 2013 as an assistant coach for Yale.

“Dan comes to us as a successful young coach that brings great energy and passion to the game,” said Preds head coach Peter Laviolette in a statement. “He has worked his way up through the coaching ranks, first winning an NCAA title at Yale in 2013, and then taking a Chicago team that had missed the playoffs eight straight seasons and turned them into the Clark Cup champions in just two seasons. We are excited to welcome him to the organization and look forward to his contributions to the coaching staff.”

Senators avoid arbitration with Ryan Dzingel

Getty
Leave a comment

The Ottawa Senators have narrowly avoided arbitration with Ryan Dzingel.

Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Dzingel has signed a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8 million.

Dzingel’s hearing was scheduled for today. Last season, the 25-year-old forward had 14 goals and 18 assists in 81 games.

Earlier this week, the Sens also avoided arbitration with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, though that case didn’t go down to the wire like Dzingel’s did.

Pageau and Dzingel were the only Sens with arbitration hearings scheduled.

Related: Sens want to avoid arbitration with Dzingel

Palat feels ‘pretty good’ about Lightning bouncing back next season

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman accomplished quite a bit this offseason.

Not only did he acquire Mikhail Sergachev for Jonathan Drouin, but he also managed to lose Jason Garrison‘s contract before re-signing Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. They also signed Chris Kunitz and Dan Girardi in free agency.

Even though fitting everyone under the cap couldn’t have been easy, Yzerman managed to get it done, and it has at least some of his players excited about the prospect of next season.

“I feel pretty good about the team,” Palat, who signed a five-year, $26.5 million contract extension last week, told the Tampa Bay Times. “I like all the new guys. They’re in the league for a while. Great veteran guys, experienced guys. That’s what you need to have on your team if you want to win a Cup.”

Going into last season, many people pegged Tampa Bay as one of the teams that would compete for the East Division crown. Not only did they not win the East, they didn’t even qualify for the playoffs. A lot of that had to do with injuries, but there’s no denying that the 2016-17 season was disappointing for the Bolts.

Despite not playing hockey in the spring last season, there seems to be a good amount of optimism surrounding the team’s chances of making a run this year (a healthy Steven Stamkos would help in a big way).

Sure, keeping guys on the ice and off medical tables would increase the odds of the team having a bounce back season, but there’s more to it than that. Outside of a handful of players (mainly Nikita Kucherov), the Lightning didn’t get consistent efforts from a lot of their key players that were healthy.

“It was an experience for us last year because we came from two good (playoff) runs and we thought we were going to make the playoffs just like that, and it didn’t happen,” added Palat. “In the NHL we have to play good from the beginning of the season, and we have to be good all season long.”