Remember that whole lockout thing? Well, it appears the National Hockey League has rebounded quite nicely since the labor dispute came to an end in January of 2013.
These Stanley Cup playoffs, now into the conference finals, have been lauded for the speed and skill on display, as well as the factor that anything has been possible, with comebacks upon comebacks.
On Wednesday, while the Chicago Blackhawks and L.A. Kings did battle in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final, the NHL took home hardware at the SportsBusiness Journal Awards.
In all, the league earned three awards:
“Usually I’m standing with a trophy and getting booed. It’s strange to be receiving one and be cheered,” said commissioner Gary Bettman.
“Our athletes are the best in team sports. We wouldn’t be standing here tonight without the players,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, as per the SportsBusiness Journal Twitter account.
The NHL took home the award for the second time in four years, according to the league’s website.
Bettman said this year’s Winter Classic was “the biggest and best New Year’s Day party in our history.” It was a huge success in terms of television ratings and the league sold more than 105,000 tickets to the event at the Big House, which provided a beautiful setting on a snowy afternoon for a match-up between two historic Original Six rivals, the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
As per the NHL’s public relations department, the 2008 Winter Classic in Buffalo also won for this award.
Larry Robinson has joined the St. Louis Blues.
The Blues made the announcement Thursday, revealing that Robinson has joined the organization as a senior consultant to hockey operations.
Based on the comments of Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, it sounds like Robinson will work closely at times with head coach Mike Yeo. It could also further help the development of an already impressive defenseman in Colton Parayko.
“Bringing someone like Larry in, I just think, helps our hockey operations from top to bottom,” said Armstrong, per the Blues website.
“His ability to talk to Mike Yeo about coaching — that’s one area that we don’t have on our staff is a former head coach. You can think you know what Mike’s going through but I don’t know what Mike’s going through. Larry does. So he’s going to be able to relate to him on a lot of the things that he’s going to go through.
“He’s coming in as a consultant. I can learn a lot from him, our assistant coaches can, Parayko can. There’s not an area of our hockey operations he can’t touch to make us a better group.”
Robinson was most recently the director of player development with the San Jose Sharks, however it was reported in May that he would not return to that organization for this season.
According to reports, there is substantial interest from other teams in Matt Duchene. That said, he remains with the Colorado Avalanche for now and will, it appears, make his preseason debut Thursday against the Dallas Stars.
Earlier this week, Darren Dreger reported on TSN that as many as eight teams have interest in Duchene, with the Senators aggressively pursuing the 26-year-old forward.
According to Mike Chambers of The Denver Post, Duchene will be in the lineup tonight versus the Stars.
Trade speculation has been swirling around Duchene for months now. He reported to training camp last week, and has since said his status with the Avalanche is a “day-by-day” situation.
“I love playing hockey. I want to win,” Duchene told The Denver Post. “That’s the biggest thing on my mind. I’m trying to get better every time I touch the ice right now.”
Tough news for the Montreal Canadiens and prospect defenseman Noah Juulsen on Thursday.
The Habs have announced that the 2015 first-round pick is expected to be sidelined six weeks after suffering a fractured foot on Monday.
The Habs selected Juulsen with the 26th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft following his 52-point regular season with the Everett Silvertips in the Western Hockey League.
This past spring, Juulsen appeared in two playoff games for the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. He turned 20 years old in April and it seemed like the Habs were going to give him a serious look to make the NHL club out of training camp.
“We like the way he skates and his transition game,” said head coach Claude Julien earlier this week, before the injury was revealed. “He’s going to get a chance to make this team and if he doesn’t he’s not going to be too far away.”
Who says players don’t care about preseason hockey?
Matt Puempel and Nick Lappin are trying to earn spots on their respective clubs, so they know they may have to do the little things others aren’t willing to do to stick around in the NHL.
On Wednesday night, that involved dropping the gloves against each other. These two seemed to be in mid-season form when it came to throwing punches.
Neither player is considered a tough guy. Lappin had 17 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Devils last season, while Puempel has 28 penalty minutes in 79 career NHL games.
Here’s the video footage of the scrap:
By the way, the Rangers won 4-3 in overtime.