James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

The hockey world pays tribute to Gordie Howe


The hockey world is in deep mourning on Friday, as word surfaced that “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe died at age 88.

People tend to throw around superlatives at times like these, yet they’re fitting in this case; there will never be another player quite like No. 9.

The “Gordie Howe hat trick” – a goal, an assist and a fight – is a testament to his unmistakable blend of courage, toughness and skill. Even so, it represents a mere sliver of the impact he made on the sport (and beyond).

Odes to “Mr. Hockey” are pouring in from all corners today. Here are some of the most touching and heartbreaking remembrances.

Red Kelly spoke of Howe being a Canadian hero, the country’s equivalent to John Wayne, as he told The Globe & Mail:

He’s gone now, but he’d long ago become a feature of our imaginations. Howe’s name summons up a game we’d no longer recognize and an idyllic, illusory vision of the sea-to-sea-to-sea.

What he represents now is Canada’s frontier spirit. We don’t have movie stars or galloping politicians to anchor our national mythology. We have hockey players, and none greater than Howe. He’s our John Wayne, our Theodore Roosevelt.

He is an idealized vision of ourselves – tough, decent and uncompromising.

The tone was often appropriately solemn, yet there were moments of humor and awe mixed in as well.

Again, his impact reverberates beyond hockey into other sports and even pop culture:

Few athletes make the kind of mark that “Mr. Hockey” ended up leaving behind.

PHT Morning Skate: Another sign that ads on NHL sweaters are coming


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

A high-ranking Toronto Maple Leafs executive talks up “measured, tasteful, controlled” ads on jerseys. THAT’S HOW THEY ALL START. /cries (TSN)

25 Stanley Cup facts. (Sportsnet)

A little late on this, but Greatest Hockey Legends presents its top 100 hockey players of all-time. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Apparently John Calipari was at Game 5. (The Score)

NHL Numbers breaks down the Philadelphia Flyers’ salary cap situation. (NHL Numbers)

How the Pittsburgh Pirates supported their NHL cousins. (Puck Daddy)

My goodness, Antonio Brown. My. Goodness.

Video: Martin Jones absolutely robs Nick Bonino


Sometimes you just step back and say “Wow.” Game 5 is generating plenty of “Wow” moments, yet Martin Jones may have authored the best one so far.

The Pittsburgh Penguins seemed like they were going to tie things up in the second period. You could almost feel things moving in that direction when ultra-dangerous forward Phil Kessel had just a little too much time and space.

He sent a hard shot at Jones, but it was Nick Bonino‘s rebound opportunity that really seemed like it would seal the deal.

Instead, Jones managed to sprawl out and stop Bonino for a jaw-dropper that some are labeling as the stop of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. At least so far.

Check out this mosaic view, too:

Thanks in large part to Jones’ efforts, the San Jose Sharks enter the third period up 3-2. If things continue in their current direction, San Jose may need a little more magic from Jones.

Dirty or not: Roman Polak’s hit on Brian Dumoulin


Previous controversies regarding San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak mainly revolved around him receiving so much playing time in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

In Game 5, many were wondering why he didn’t spend more time in the penalty box.

Judge for yourself in the video above, as that hit on Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Brian Dumoulin.

Plenty of people believe that it was a missed call.

Sharks regain lead over Penguins after hectic first period


If the first four games of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final weren’t wild enough for you, here’s hoping you didn’t tune in late to Game 5.

The first five minutes were downright zany, beginning with Brent Burns‘ wraparound goal giving the San Jose Sharks their first lead of the series (what with their lone win coming via an overtime-clincher).

Watch that goal above.

The Sharks looked like they were going to swim away with this contest when Logan Couture tipped in a 2-0 goal for his 28th point of the postseason, but it was not to be.

The turning point of the … first five minutes came when the Sharks were whistled for a delay of game. The Pittsburgh Penguins made it 2-1 and then tied it up in the span of 22 seconds.

The first period isn’t even half-over and there have been plenty of other close calls. The Penguins have been scary-dangerous since that 2-1 tally.

The action is on NBC and you can stream it here. You’d be foolish to miss a second.

Update: Despite the Penguins dominating more or less from the moment they made it 2-1, Melker Karlsson regained San Jose’s edge at 3-2:

We’ll see if Matt Murray gets the hook.

Either way, San Jose gets another shot at protecting a rare lead.