Brown, Getzlaf, Toews named Messier Leadership Award finalists

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On Tuesday, the NHL announced a trio of captains — Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, Los Angeles’ Dustin Brown and Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf — had been named finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award, given annually to “the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and office the ice, during the regular season.”

From the league:

Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings

Brown has spent his entire 10-year NHL career with the Kings, serving as their captain for the past six campaigns. Known for his physical style of play, he donates $50 per hit to a different charity each season. In
2012-13 and 2013-14, Brown selected Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit. Prior to that, he and his wife partnered with the nonprofit KaBOOM! to raise $70,000 and build a new playground in Carson, Calif., that now hosts more than 100 kids per day. The 29-year-old Ithaca, N.Y., native is a finalist for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award for the third time, having also been nominated the past two seasons.

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks

Getzlaf enjoyed a banner year in 2013-14, scoring a career-high 31 goals and ranking second in the NHL with 87 points to lead the Ducks to their best season in franchise history. Anaheim’s captain since 2010-11, he also has taken leadership role off the ice, highlighted by the annual Getzlaf Golf Shootout. The third such event, hosted in September, raised more than $300,000 for CureDuchenne, a nonprofit that raises awareness and funds research for those suffering from the progressive muscle-wasting disease, which impacts one in every 3,500 boys. The 28-year-old Regina, Sask., native is a finalist for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award for the first time.

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

Toews has served as the captain of the Blackhawks since 2008-09, when he was just 20-years-old. While his leadership on the ice is undisputed, his work with various children’s charitable causes also makes him a role model in the community. Among those efforts, Toews volunteers to grant wishes through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, including a special skating session with 4-year-old Nicholas Skretkowski prior to the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Soldier Field. The 25-year-old Winnipeg native is a finalist for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award for the second time after finishing as a runner-up in 2012-13.

The league has been handing out the award since the 2006-07, when Chris Chelios took home the inaugural honors. Winners since then include Mats Sundin, Jarome Iginla, Sidney Crosby, Zdeno Chara, Shane Doan and last year’s winner, Daniel Alfredsson.

Expansion draft will force Ducks to make some big decisions

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Bob Murray managed to keep the Anaheim Ducks together for a shot at the Stanley Cup.

But after losing to Nashville in the Western Conference Final, Anaheim’s general manager will now have to make some big decisions — especially with the expansion draft looming.

If the Ducks decide to protect seven forwards and three defensemen, the blue line will definitely be worth watching. Hampus Lindholm will be protected for sure, and Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour are each exempt. But that only leaves two spots for Sami Vatanen, Kevin Bieksa, Cam Fowler, and Josh Manson.

Bieksa, 35, has a no-movement clause, so unless the Ducks find a way to get around that, they’ll need to protect him. (Chances are, they’ll seek a way around it, either via trade or buyout or just convincing him to waive.)

Fowler, meanwhile, only has one year left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent. And after the season he just had, with 39 points in 80 games, the 25-year-old won’t be cheap to re-sign. For that reason, it’s possible Murray may choose to shop Fowler instead. Or perhaps it’s Vatanen that goes on the block.

Yes, there is the option to protect four defensemen and four forwards. But Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler all have NMCs, and the Ducks won’t want to expose Rickard Rakell or Jakob Silfverberg.

In goal, the Ducks have John Gibson under club control for years to come, but they’ll need to choose a backup. Jonathan Bernier is an unrestricted free agent, and even though he played well during the regular season, his performance against the Predators wasn’t great. Murray may want to at least consider his options there.

Related: Fowler surprised he wasn’t traded

Carlyle says Ducks were dealt ‘tough hand’ by schedule-makers

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Call it sour grapes if you wish, but Randy Carlyle thinks the Anaheim Ducks got screwed by the NHL’s schedule-maker.

The head coach launched his complaint last night after his Ducks fell to the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final.

“I don’t think we played poorly in the series,” said Carlyle. “I think that the toughest part I have about the whole thing is that this was our seventh game in 13 days.

“Now, there’s various reasons for that, but I think there’s got to be some consideration in the scheduling in the future between series. We finished on a Wednesday and had to open again on Friday, whereas other teams had to open on Saturday. An extra day would have given us a chance to recover. And we know how tough these games are. And that was a tough hand that was dealt to us.”

The “other” team to which Carlyle was referring is Pittsburgh. The Penguins beat Washington in Game 7 of the second round on May 10, then opened against Ottawa on May 13.

The Ducks, on the other hand, knocked out Edmonton in Game 7, also on May 10, then had to start against Nashville on May 12.

Fatigue may, indeed, have been a factor early in the series against Nashville. In Game 1, the Ducks were badly outshot, 46-29, and lost, 3-2, in overtime.

Carlyle said afterwards that the extra rest had made a difference for the Preds, who’d eliminated the Blues in six and gone four days without a game.

Ducks forward Sorensen signs in Swedish League

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Nick Sorensen, the forward taken 45th overall by Anaheim in 2013, has opted to return to Europe and sign a two-year pact with SHL club Linkoping, the team announced on Tuesday.

Sorensen, 22, returned to North America this season after spending ’14-15 and ’15-16 in Sweden (the latter with Linkoping, so this is a homecoming of sorts).

A former Quebec League standout, Sorensen impressed during training camp and made the Ducks’ opening-night roster, appearing in five games before being dispatched to AHL San Diego.

“Every game, every practice, every day for me, it’s a look to try to stay here,” Sorensen said back in October, per the Daily News. “Even if I play zero, one, five or 20 games, I’m not going to get comfortable up here. It’s the best league in the world.

“I’m just going to try to prove to them every day I want to be here.”

With the Gulls, Sorensen had 10 goals and 22 points in 48 games. He also chipped in with another four in eight playoff contests, but did suffer an injury during the postseason.

Sorensen was a pending RFA, having just wrapped the last year of his entry-level deal.

 

Sens owner: ‘very disturbing’ that tonight’s game may not sell out

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Entire rows in the upper deck of the Canadian Tire Centre still haven’t been sold for tonight’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Not surprisingly, the specter of a non-sellout for one of the biggest home games in franchise history has the Senators’ owner rather concerned.

“It’s very disturbing,” Eugene Melnyk told Postmedia, “however, knowing the players and coaches they will be trying their hardest for Ottawa.”

The Senators’ attendance has been a big story throughout these playoffs. In the second round, a crowd of just 16,744 was announced for Game 1 against the New York Rangers.

It was thought the story would go away once the conference final started. And for Games 3 and 4, capacity crowds were, indeed, announced.

But with no opportunity for the Sens to advance to the Stanley Cup Final tonight, it’s possible the building may not be full.

Via Ticketmaster, the blue dots represent unsold seats, while the pink dots are tickets available for resale: