James O'Brien

2015 NHL All-Star Weekend - Mascot Portraits

Panthers will bring hockey to Dominican Republic

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The Florida Panthers are set to bring hockey (and Stanley C. Panther) to the Dominican Republic from Sept. 8-10.

Specifically, their latest youth hockey and community outreach initative will take place in Santo Domingo with the help of JetBlue.

Forward Vincent Trocheck and TV analyst Randy Moller will be on hand (along with Stanley C. Panther, of course).

During that trip, the Panthers will make a stop at CURE Hospital and run a steet hockey clinic for as many as 100 students.

Pretty neat, eh?

This isn’t the first time the Panthers hopped on a JetBlue plane as part of this outreach program, either. The team also visited the Bahamas (more about that here) and Puerto Rico in the past:

The franchise is really developing a knack for expanding its audience through means that may seem unconventional to other NHL teams. This fits in nicely with endeavors such as featuring Spanish announcers for select Panthers games.

Report: Bruins extend tryout offer to Gustavsson

Jonas Gustavsson
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The Boston Red Sox have “The Green Monster” and now the Boston Bruins might add a Swedish “Monster” as a backup goalie.

The Bruins extended a professional tryout contract offer to Jonas Gustavsson, HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman reports.

Some greeted the announcement with sardonic responses while others wondered if the offer is an indictment of the Bruins’ pipeline beyond Tuukka Rask.

Really, though, it’s a pretty low-risk move by the Bruins.

Gustavsson, 30, is far removed from the hype he brought to Toronto back in 2009-10, and it’s true that his overall stats are lacking (no one’s too excited about a netminder with a career save percentage of .901).

If you want to stretch the boundaries of optimism a bit, you could point to Gustavsson’s sneaky-solid work in just seven appearances last season: his even-strength save percentage was .939. Many believe that’s a more honest indicator of a netminder’s effectiveness, so perhaps he could revamp his career in Boston, at least as a backup?

It probably won’t hurt the Bruins to find out what he can offer.

In other Bruins news, Lee Stempniak and Daniel Paille were involved in an informal practice with Bruins players, according to CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty.

Yes, in 2015: Red Wings sign Cleary to one-year deal

Edmonton Oilers v Detroit Red Wings
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A lot has changed this summer for the Detroit Red Wings, but to the dismay of a number of their fans, they’ll still employ aging forward Dan Cleary.

Just to clarify: some robot didn’t auto-publish a PHT post from 2012. This contract is for the 2015-16 season, and HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman reports that it’s worth $950K.

Here’s another statement that seems evident from the news alone: Ken Holland is still the Red Wings’ GM.

Cleary, 36, appeared in 17 games last season, collecting a goal and an assist.

Is there a chance it might not count against the cap if Cleary fails to make the team?

Beyond playing the experience/loyalty card, the best thing you can say about Cleary from 2014-15 is that his possession stats were decent, although much of that may be attributed to the fact that he began 61 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone.

That’s the nicest thing you can say. Here are some of the more amusing things that were said:

Question: Did Cleary ever make up a song about shampoo and conditioner bottles trash-talking each other?

Today’s expansion/arena news, including the end of ‘Phase III’

Gavin Maloof, Bill Foley
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For whatever reason, Friday presented a bevy of smaller news regarding NHL expansion and arena-building, so let’s go one-by-one.

  • The most immediately substantial bit is that “Phase III” of expansion for Las Vegas and Quebec ended today, although there are still some i’s to dot and t’s to cross, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.

Even so, it seems like that process is progressing smoothly, although anyone who’s followed larger-scale ownership news knows that these situations can turn on the dime. As always, PHT will provide updates, as things progress (or fall apart … or both).

  • Obviously, Quebec still awaits confirmation that it will add an NHL tenant, yet the Globe & Mail reports that people are coming in droves merely to get a tour of the new building:

For a few days, anyway, Quebec City’s gleaming new hockey arena is the hottest ticket in town. More than 170,000 people signed up for Videotron Centre tours that began Thursday. And the 18,500-seat ice palace is sold out for next week’s inaugural junior hockey game.

Seattle mayor Ed Murray acknowledged a continued interest in bringing both an NBA and NHL franchise to the hypothetical building in this statement:

“The City of Seattle continues to do its part and we are one step closer to having an arena that is ready to host NBA basketball and NHL hockey. Seattle has the transit, restaurants, hotels and other infrastructure that will make the new arena a success. We will continue to work with partners and stakeholders on the potential impacts in SODO of this new facility.”

Go to King 5 for a detailed look at the situation, but the takeaway is the same as always, really: a lot can change, but it’s (another) interesting scenario to watch. That’s especially true if you’re a hockey fan in the Pacific Northwest.

Happy now? Kessel dropped 13 lbs. this summer

Phil Kessel
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It remains to be seen if Phil Kessel can silence his critics with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but he’s doing his part to put work ethic murmurs to bed.

Despite making scores of defensemen look foolish (and sometimes winded) with his immensely underrated foot-speed, people have railed on the sniper for “not looking like an athlete.” Maybe that will remain the case, but he’s dropped 13 lbs. this summer, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.

Dreger notes that Kessel lost the weight after going through Gary Roberts’ vaunted off-season plan, which drew rave reviews from players such as Steven Stamkos over the years.

So, with that, where are we at on the list of Kessel beefs? (Sifts through “doesn’t play defense” and “is bad with the media.”)

Then again, there’s always the Kyle Wellwood corollary: what if he’s better off with a little extra beef?