Cam Tucker

St. Louis Blues website

Original Blues defenseman Noel Picard dies at 78

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Noel Picard, an original member of the St. Louis Blues when they entered the National Hockey League in 1967, passed away Wednesday after a long battle with cancer, the club announced in a statement.

He was 78 years old.

Picard played in three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals for the Blues. He spent six seasons in St. Louis after initially beginning his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens in 1964-65.

“Noel was one of the best friends and teammates that I had here. He gave me a chance to be a better player,” said his teammate and defense partner Bob Plager in a statement on the Blues website.

“He made a lot of us better players and our success in the playoffs in those early years, he was a big, big part of us being successful. He was a player that gave a lot of our players a chance to become better players. I know he made a better player of me.”

Picard played in 335 career NHL games, scoring 12 goals and 75 points with 616 penalty minutes.

Report: Skille agrees to terms with KHL’s Dinamo Minsk

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Jack Skille is on his way to Russia to continue his playing career, according to a report Thursday.

The former seventh overall pick spent last season with the Vancouver Canucks after making the club on a professional tryout last fall. He appeared in 55 games for a struggling Canucks team, scoring five goals and nine points while playing on a one-year contract.

After becoming an unrestricted free agent at the end of last season, the 30-year-old winger has since agreed to terms with Dinamo Minsk in the KHL, according to Igor Eronko of Sport-Express.

Skille has played 368 regular season games in the NHL, with stops in Chicago, Florida, Columbus, Colorado and Vancouver.

Former NHL enforcer Colton Orr finds new role in spotlight

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TORONTO (AP) The hardest part for Colton Orr was pretending.

After duking it out many times in an NHL career that spanned almost 500 games, Orr was trying to pretend he was fighting in front of the camera as a first-time actor in “Goon: Last of the Enforcers.”

It’s the latest step in the spotlight for the 35-year-old former enforcer.

Orr retired from the NHL in April, just over a year after his final game with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Though he played in hockey hotbeds like Toronto, New York and Boston, Orr was often reluctant to step in front of the microphones and cameras.

All that is beginning to change as he adjusts to life with wife Sabrina and their two young children. Not only will Orr have a part in the “Goon” sequel that features Seann William Scott and Liev Schreiber, he’s also getting into broadcasting with SportsNet New York.

His real-life story slightly resembles that of Doug Glatt, the main character in “Goon” (Scott), an enforcer forced to confront the end of his playing career. Unlike Orr, who stepped away for good as the NHL transitioned away from enforcers, Glatt decides to give his dream another go.

“It’s not always easy when you retire from something that you did for so long, that was your livelihood and everything you’ve done since you were a kid,” said Orr, who is also coaching youth hockey and working with the Rangers’ alumni program.

“It’s hard, but you have to find ways to push through and figure out what you’re going to do next.”

Orr was thrilled when Jay Baruchel, the film’s Canadian writer and director, asked him to be involved.

He found the nerves were different as an actor.

As a player, he was often worried about getting hurt in a fight. On the set, he would sometimes feel a pit in his stomach when someone would shout, `Action!’

Orr was worried he might make a mistake and force the shoot to linger longer into the night.

“At first you’re like, `OK, what? What was my line again?'” Orr said with a chuckle. “It was like one word.”

Orr was excited to get a trailer of his own on set and spent time between shoots catching up with longtime colleagues like George Parros and George Laraque – both of whom were in the film – as well as some of his acting heroes.

A film and TV buff, Orr was a fan of Scott from “American Pie,” Schreiber from “Ray Donovan” and Baruchel for his role in “Tropic Thunder.”

He came away somewhat starry-eyed.

“You watch these guys all the time, you see them on TV and in interviews so it was kind of surreal being on set with them and being part of their movie,” Orr said.

The choreographed fight scenes proved to be the biggest challenge.

As if he were a professional wrestler, Orr was having to sequence his usual fighting motions to script – right punch, left punch, upper-cut – and sell it hard when he supposedly got hit.

He remembers thinking: “If we can just get in a real fight and just film that, I’m pretty sure that’s going to look good on camera!”

Backed by the Pope: Hockey organizations unveil ‘Declaration of Principles’

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NEW YORK (AP) Seventeen hockey organizations teamed up to unveil a “Declaration of Principles” that NHL players hope will boost the game at all levels, particularly among young children and the parents who decide what sports to have them play.

Going beyond the “Hockey is For Everyone” campaign and a partnership with You Can Play that promotes inclusiveness, the league and NHL Players’ Association took the unconventional step to list eight guiding principles for hockey culture. USA Hockey, the International Ice Hockey Federation and others joined in on the initiative, which earned praise from Pope Francis and garnered optimism from top players about the impact it could make.

“Hopefully it makes more kids want to play the game, more parents maybe push their kids into playing hockey or starting it at a young age,” Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones said. “The things I’ve learned as a kid just growing up playing – discipline, the love and the passion for the game, commitment – these are all things that you need in life outside of hockey, and that’s what the principles are about.”

At a news conference on Wednesday attended by leaders from all over the sport, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called it an “important day” for hockey. Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine, now the league’s vice president of hockey development, spearheaded the process.

The declaration says hockey’s greatest value is in the development of character and life skills, and it also noted there are significant benefits to kids playing multiple sports. Among other things, it said programs should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families “regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.”

Asked to evaluate the initiative, Saint Joseph’s University sports marketing professor Amie Sheridan said she considers it an effort to grow hockey’s footprint and show it’s not a cost-prohibitive sport. Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson said he wanted parents and kids to know that.

“I think hockey these days is a much cheaper sport than what it used to be,” Karlsson said. “I think that that’s something that’s important to get out there – that it doesn’t actually cost you that much if you just want to play for fun.”

Second-hand equipment and ice time aren’t available in some parts of the U.S. like in Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby‘s hometown of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, one reason why hockey struggles to attract young players who could more easily pick up a basketball or a soccer ball.

Data from the National Federation of State High School Associations shows high school boys hockey participation has been largely stagnant over the past four years, though USA Hockey reported an increase of about 6.5 percent among all youth players over that time. USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher said “enormous progress” has been made, but this is another effort.

“At a time when sport is under pressure from issues ranging from violence to doping to corruption, it is helpful for an organization to set principles that guide their behavior,” University of Oregon marketing professor T. Bettina Cornwell said. “In terms of marketing, and financial support from sponsors, they want to know what sport stands for and this statement goes some distance in describing a culture that should be appealing to a marketer or sponsor.”

The NHL and its teams have already taken stands on topics of inclusion, including the Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars coming out against what they called “discriminatory” state legislation aimed at restricting restrooms for transgender people.

In a letter written to the Archbishop of New York, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the pope was pleased by the initiative and “trusts that this significant gesture will inspire greater appreciation of the pivotal role played by sports and sportsmanship.”

“To be able to hammer these principles – not into the kids, but into the coaches and into the organizations so they bleed it into the kids, that’s what’s going to draw more people into hockey,” New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. It could “draw more parents to say: `You know what, I like what they’re doing over there. Maybe they’re not going to play baseball or football and I’m going to get my kids involved in something that’s really going to mean a lot for them in their life.”‘

 

Report: Teams will be penalized for unsuccessful offside challenges

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There were warnings in June about the possible impact a failed offside challenge might have on the team that asked for the review.

Well, it appears the NHL will be implementing a change for the upcoming season. An unsuccessful offside challenge in the past came with the loss of a team’s timeout. Not the case anymore, according to a report on Wednesday.

From Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet:

From now on, a failed offside challenge will result in a two-minute penalty against the club asking for the review. It’s a potentially powerful infraction. Can you imagine a team in a tight game giving up a goal it thought was offside, losing the challenge, then having to withstand an immediate power-play opportunity? It’s going to make bench bosses much more wary — and ratchet up the pressure on video coaches.

Incorrect goaltender interference reviews stay the same — the loss of your timeout. That’s probably a wise decision, since there’s much more grey area than with an offside call.

When it comes to the offside review, there was controversy during Game 1 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final after P.K. Subban‘s opening goal was overturned when officials determined Filip Forsberg was offside as he handled the puck along the boards at the Pittsburgh blue line.