Cam Tucker

DALLAS, TX - MAY 01:  David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues walks off the ice after scoring the game winning goal against Antti Niemi #31 of the Dallas Stars in overtime in Game Two of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center on May 1, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Stillman: Western Conference Final loss provides ‘fuel’ for Blues


The St. Louis Blues have had some time to digest losing to the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final.

Their run to the NHL’s final four included series wins over the rival Chicago Blackhawks and high-flying Dallas Stars, after posting 107 points in the regular season. In the end, however, they couldn’t find a way to beat the Sharks, the emotion of that Game 6 loss showing on the faces of guys like David Backes.

On Friday, the Blues released a letter online from chairman Tom Stillman, who highlighted those more optimistic points.

From Stillman:

Our post-season adventure brought us a hard-fought Round 1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, the defending Stanley Cup champions and our biggest rival. The atmosphere at Scottrade Center was electric throughout the series, and our Game 7 victory is one of my fondest memories as a Blues fan. Round 2, a match-up between the top regular-season teams in the Western Conference, was another series for the ages, as our team took another Game 7 victory.

Unfortunately, our quest for the Cup ended in the Western Conference Final. While the loss still stings, it does not diminish our pride in the team’s accomplishments throughout the season; it only provides fuel and experience for our ongoing efforts to bring the Cup to St. Louis.

He continued:

As we bring this tremendous season to a close, we are working on making next season even better. Head Coach Ken Hitchcock will return for his final season, eager to build on this year’s progress. With a compelling mix of seasoned players and young, breakthrough talents, the future is very promising.

Yes, the Blues retained Hitchcock behind their bench for one more season. (On that note, it was reported the Blues are interviewing Mike Yeo as a possible replacement-in-waiting for Hitch.)

Yes, 20-year-old rookie Robby Fabbri enjoyed an 18-goal, 37-point regular season and 15 points in 20 post-season games. Vladimir Tarasenko was held in check during the conference final but still scored 40 goals during the season and 15 points in the playoffs.

But the Blues still have work ahead of them this summer.

Backes and veteran forward Troy Brouwer, who had a breakout performance in the playoffs, are pending unrestricted free agents.

Backes has said he wants to be back in St. Louis, while Blues GM Doug Armstrong has said it’s a priority to get Backes to return, though it will depend on what the player wants and if it fits into the team’s cap situation.

Taking shots at Bruce Boudreau? Ryan Kesler dishes on what the Ducks need in a new coach

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Ryan Kesler #17 of the Anaheim Ducks awaits a face off against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on April 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. the Ducks defeated the Avalanche 5-3. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Ryan Kesler has offered his take on what the Anaheim Ducks need in a new coach.

In doing so, it certainly sounds like the veteran forward also had some criticisms of former Ducks bench boss Bruce Boudreau, and his in-game adjustments or the lack of.

“We just need a good bench coach, a coach that does things on the fly and makes changes during the game and not just between periods,” Kesler told The Province newspaper in Vancouver. “We need a coach that holds everybody accountable — not just certain guys. We need a coach to come in and just be a good motivator and do what a coach does.

“The biggest thing is we need a good bench coach for strategies. But it’s not my job to pick a coach because there are a lot of good ones out there.”

Boudreau lost his job after the Ducks were eliminated in the first round of these playoffs, marking another post-season disappointment for the franchise. His time on the open market was brief, as the Minnesota Wild hired him eight days later.

Meanwhile, the Ducks are still searching for his replacement.

It was previously reported that the Ducks had interest in Travis Green, who coaches the Utica Comets, the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks.

Related: Ducks get Sens’ permission to interview Richardson

Laine dealing with ‘some problem with my leg’ at scouting combine

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 21: Patrik Laine #29 of Finland looks on against Russia at Ice Palace on May 21, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. Finland defeated Russia 3-1.(Photo by Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images)
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Highly touted forward prospect Patrik Laine began dealing with a left leg issue at the NHL Scouting Combine.

Laine, who is likely to go second overall in the draft later this month, began to experience discomfort in his leg during the VO2 max bike test on Friday, according to, and he said he’ll stick to upper-body tests for the duration of the event.

“I couldn’t finish [the tests] because I had some problem with my leg, but I think it went pretty normal otherwise,” said Laine. “I’m OK. I didn’t finish the test because I just don’t want to get hurt; I have an important summer and I don’t want to miss that.”

With the draft approaching, it’s believed Laine, the MVP for the Finnish league playoffs and named to Finland’s World Cup team, will go No. 2 after Auston Matthews.

It’s difficult to imagine this having any possible impact on where Laine goes in the draft, especially given his already glowing list of hockey accomplishments — he was also named MVP for the world hockey championship following a stellar world junior run with Finland.

“I don’t know that I can do that much more now,” said Laine, as per the Buffalo News.

“It’s just interviews and a couple tests. I think I showed my skills during the season. I think I’ve done my work at the ice and they can now decide.”

Rangers play-by-play announcer Sam Rosen to receive Foster Hewitt Memorial Award

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 22: Broadcaster Sam Rosen conducts the ceremony for former New York Ranger players Andy Bathpage and Harry Howell prior to the game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Rangers on February 22, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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TORONTO (AP) Voice of the New York Rangers Sam Rosen will receive the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for hockey broadcasting and Chicago Blackhawks team historian Bob Verdi will get the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for excellence in hockey journalism.

They will be honored during the Hockey Hall of Fame’s induction weekend in November.

Rosen has been the television play-by-play broadcaster for the Rangers since 1984 and is best known for his call of New York’s Stanley Cup victory in 1994: “This one will last a lifetime.”

Verdi spent three decades at the Chicago Tribune writing about the Blackhawks before being hired by the team in 2010.

The Foster Hewitt is determined by the NHL Broadcasters’ Association and the Elmer Ferguson by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

Desjardins reiterates that if Sutter was healthy, Canucks could’ve challenged for playoff spot

VANCOUVER, BC - OCTOBER 10: Brandon Sutter #21 of the Vancouver Canucks skates in the pre-game warm up prior to NHL action against the Calgary Flames on October 10, 2015 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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The Vancouver Canucks finished 28th in the NHL’s overall standings. Their 2015 off-season acquisition Brandon Sutter, penciled in as the team’s second line center when the season began, played only 20 games as injuries disrupted his season.

Yet, Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins is still of the belief that if Sutter had been healthy — his last game was Feb. 9 as he suffered a broken jaw that ended his season — his team could’ve challenged for a playoff spot.

Again, the Canucks finished 28th in the standings.

Sutter had five goals and nine points in his first season in Vancouver.

“The tough thing for Brandon is he didn’t get to show what he could do,” said Desjardins to TSN 1040 radio.

“We’re looking forward to it this year. Everybody felt in our dressing room that if he’s there, then we’re in the playoffs this year. If he could’ve stayed healthy, then we had a real good chance of making the playoffs.”

The Canucks acquired Sutter last July, then signed him to a pricey five-year contract extension a few days later.

In exchange, the Canucks sent Nick Bonino to Pittsburgh.

It’s interesting to re-visit that trade now, especially since Bonino is playing for a Stanley Cup and he’s been a solid contributor to the Penguins in this post-season, with four goals and 17 points in 20 games with the vaunted HBK Line that includes Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin.

“Hindsight is easy,” said Desjardins.

“I like Nick Bonino. I’ve always liked him. He’s a great guy, he moves the puck really well. I think the thing that was tough for us — if you look at Pittsburgh, why is Pittsburgh so good? One of the reasons is their speed. They come back and forth and they’re really quick. We had to find more speed in our lineup. We just had to.

“Nick’s one fault is he’s not quick. But when you put him with Hagelin and Kessel … they make up for his speed. It becomes a quick line. We didn’t have that luxury, so we went with a guy that’s a little quicker and we went with Brandon Sutter.”