James O'Brien

via Calgary Flames

Good stuff: Flames embrace Calgary Pride Parade

Need a pick-me-up? NHL teams participating in their respective cities’ pride parades have a tendency to brighten your day.

We’ve seen examples already this summer, with the Vancouver Canucks having a great time and Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby being involved in a parade, too.

The Calgary Flames are no strangers to be involved in their local parade, and the 2016 edition seemed like a good time.

Troy Brouwer, Chad Johnson and other Flames were involved in the festivities.

“I think it’s important for everybody to show their support,” Matt Stajan told NHL.com. “With us being pretty popular in the city of Calgary it’s important that we go out there and show our support, celebrate with the people of Calgary.”

It’s tough to top Harvey the Hound’s shorts:

Harvey’s shorts weren’t the only example of great merchandise related to the event and the Flames:

Sportsnet notes that Brian Burke wishes he could have been involved.

If the Flames’ presence wasn’t enough, there were plenty of other entertaining sightings:

Good stuff.

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    World Cup could accelerate Auston Matthews’ growth

    BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Auston Matthews gives an interview after being selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

    When it comes to developing prospects, the process boils down to a mixture of planning and luck.

    Auston Matthews‘ decision to spend a year overseas playing against grown men falls under the category of clever planning. Getting a chance to compete in what he acknowledges as a “best-on-best” tournament via the 2016 World Cup? That’s a little more on the serendipitous side.

    This opportunity plays nicely for the Toronto Maple Leafs – health permitting – as he gets another taste of competition against professionals before he even plays a game in the NHL.

    As Team North America GM Peter Chiarelli mentions to the National Post, he already stood out during the world championships, and he could really enjoy a coming out party this month.

    “We went into the tournament saying, ‘Let’s see how he does.’ And it was just too hard to ignore. He played too well,” Chiarelli said of Matthews. “He had a hell of a tournament against world-class players.

    “In that Canada game, he was arguably the best player on the ice.”

    He made quite a few headlines thanks to moves like these.

    As Matthews told Sportsnet, merely training with high-level players and facing off against others is a boost for the young forward.

    “Just being here for two days now, I’ve really learned a lot and it’s really progressed a lot,” Matthews said.

    Matthews and the Maple Leafs still have plenty to prove, but this seems like a great way for him to ramp up to the NHL level.

    ‘Keep evolving’ – The process behind selecting Team Canada

    VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 28:  (L-R) Patrick Marleau #11, Joe Thornton #19, Dany Heatley #15 and Dan Boyle #22 of Canada pose for a group photo after receiving their gold medals for winning the ice hockey men's gold medal game between USA and Canada on day 17 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 28, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. Canada defeated USA 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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    For some of us, a study of the construction of Team Canada’s roster would revolve around a series of questions regarding the decision to choose Jay Bouwmeester over the likes of Kris Letang and P.K. Subban.

    Sportsnet’s Dan Robson provided an interesting glimpse at the process that Doug Armstrong, Mike Babcock, Marc Bergevin and others went through to put together an absurdly deep 23-man roster.

    No, there isn’t much insight regarding those nitpicking questions, and there also isn’t a Brian Burke scorching Bobby Ryan‘s intensity-type bombshell. But it’s still a worthy read.

    One thing that stood out: you couldn’t merely rest on pest accomplishments.

    “What won in 2010 and in 2014 won’t be good enough to win here,” Babcock said. “You have to keep evolving.”

    Interestingly, that didn’t just mean bringing in young blood, although Babcock admitted that the under-23 team affected decisions, as well.

    (Is that Babcock essentially acknowledging that Connor McDavid would have made the team? Anyway …)

    It also meant that players could work their way into the mix, which Joe Thornton apparently did during an impressive 2015-16 season.

    “He was someone who bumped off someone we probably had higher up the food chain,” says Armstrong. “We couldn’t ignore the work that he did.”

    It’s also tough to ignore certain quibbles, whether you agree with the criticism of selecting Bouwmeester or believe that a different player got snubbed. As Armstrong told NHL.com, that’s just the nature of the beast when it comes to choosing between All-Stars.

    /Continues to grumble about Subban and Letang not making the team …

    World Cup of Hockey provides glimpse of Finland’s rising star power

    MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MAY 22:  Patrik Laine #29 of Finland and Mikko Rantanen #96 look on during the award ceremony. The 2016 IIHF World Championship gold medal game at the Ice Palace on May 22, 2016 in Moscow, Russia. Canada defeated Finland 2-0. (Photo by Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images)

    Look, Finland might not fare that well at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

    Bovada gave them middle-of-the-pack odds, and even with the wave of injury ask-outs in mind, there are some issues with that team.

    (As there are with any squad that isn’t Canada, really.)

    Still, the tournament looms as yet another showcase for the rising power that is Finland.

    Established names like Mikko Koivu, Tuukka Rask and Sami Vatanen make it so Finland isn’t just a different-flavor under-23 team, but it’s those futures that makes this group so exciting.

    Aleksander Barkov is a rising star. More than a few people entertained the notion that Patrik Laine might not be that far behind Auston Matthews. Rasmus Ristolainen is already racking up points at the NHL level.

    So, yeah, that will be exciting.

    You can also view Finland’s rise merely by glancing at the upper ranks of the 2016 NHL Draft. Laine went second overall, people were stunned that Jesse Puljujarvi “dropped” to fourth and then Olli Juolevi went fifth. Finland churned out three of that year’s top five picks, and the likes of Barkov mean that it wasn’t just a one-year wonder.

    Watch Laine light up scoreboards and dislodge Gatorade bottles is more fun than considering how a nation takes the next step … but the story of Finland’s rise is still pretty fascinating.

    Seriously though, Laine should be fun to watch. He’ll also be fun to listen to.

    “In my opinion I’m funny, but I don’t know what everybody else says—maybe sometimes funny,” Laine said to Sportsnet in a Q & A. “And the kind of guy who if he decides to do something, he will do it. And the kind of person who wants to win and who never quits. That’s me.”

    From baby steps to leaps

    For some time, Finland felt like a solid, grinding machine that also happened to pump out goalies with disproportionate success.

    As the Hockey News’ Matt Larkin found out, the nation began to generate more high-end types in part thanks to a summit cited by Goran Stubb, the NHL’s director of European scouting.

    “They changed the way of training, so now the Finnish players, the coaches, are trying to teach the young Finnish players more individual skills than before,” Stubb said. “And of course, that was exactly what Sweden did 10 years ago. They are delivering the most players from European countries nowadays, so it’s kind of a Swedish model that the Finns have taken.”

    (Gasp, Finns following a Swedish model?)

    Twenty-eight full-time skills coaches really helped propel that growth, too, according to this interesting Canadian Press article. It makes you wonder if other struggling hockey nations would be wise to spring for similar “summits.”

    Then again, the rise might have a lot to do with what makes Finland tick.

    Ken Campbell details how Finland generates rather inane Olympic medals per capita in this Hockey News article, but you can’t really top this specific paragraph:

    There’s a lot we know about Finland. It has the highest child literacy rate in the world. It’s the only country that fully repaid its debt from World War II and it did so in an incredible seven years. It is home to the greatest number of off-the-grid world championships in the world – including global tournaments in wife carrying (where the winner gets his wife’s weight in beer), mobile phone throwing, mosquito catching, swamp soccer, sauna and air guitar. It was the first country in the world to make internet access a legal right and it is a global leader in recycling, which explains why Teemu Selanne kept making all those comebacks.

    Everyone, prepare for the reign of our swamp soccer-loving, air-guitaring overlords.

    Flyers consider Radko Gudas week-to-week

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 03: Zack Kassian #44 of the Edmonton Oilers gets the elbow up on Radko Gudas #3 of the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at the Wells Fargo Center on March 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Oilers shutout the Flyers 4-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    It’s easy to scoff at players pulling out of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey – especially if you’re the cranky type who makes a lot of noise on the Internet – but plenty of guys probably really do need the extra time.

    From the way the Philadelphia Flyers are depicting the situation, it sounds like defenseman Radko Gudas is one of them.

    The Flyers provided some additional information about the brute beyond Gudas being unable to play for the Czech Republic.

    Here’s the statement from GM Ron Hextall:

    “Radko Gudas sustained an upper body injury during his offseason training and will be evaluated on a week to week basis. We are hopeful and optimistic that he will not miss any regular season games.”

    Week-to-week doesn’t sound especially promising.

    The Flyers signed Gudas to a contract extension back in June, so they have to hope that any missed time is minimal.

    (Unless you’re of the opinion that they’re better off without him … although it’s a little late for that considering the extension they gave Gudas.)