James O'Brien

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three

Bishop or Vasilevskiy? Lightning will go with ‘both’ for now

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By leaning on Ben Bishop even as he fought through a groin tear, the Tampa Bay Lightning made it clear that the big netminder is their goalie of the present. That said, many wondered if we were getting a glimpse of the future when Andrei Vasilevskiy made his presence felt in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

Actually, it seems almost inevitable that Vasilevskiy will be a part of that future; the real question is whether he’ll end up being the top guy over Bishop.

No reason to rush

With Bishop’s recent run and Vasilevskiy’s status as a first-rounder, these questions seem reasonable. That said, it’s clear just how hasty many of us are being.

GM Steve Yzerman admitted that the franchise will need to choose at some point, but as he told the Tampa Bay Times, it seems like they’ll enjoy the best of both worlds in the meantime.

“At some point we’ll have to make a decision, but not yet,” Yzerman said. “Whether that’s one year or two years from now, I don’t know. But I know we’ve got Bish, who has proven to be one of the top starters in the league, and we’ve got a really talented young guy.”

As usual, Stevie Y is smart when he opts to “enjoy it for a year or two.” Considering how unpredictable goaltenders can be, why box yourself into a corner prematurely?

A fork in the road (eventually)

Both goalies’ contracts run through 2016-17; Bishop, 28, would be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent while Vasilevskiy, 20, would be an RFA.

The Lightning could see any number of scenarios play out. After a season or more, it might be determined that Bishop’s $5.95 million cap hit will end up being too rich for Yzerman’s taste, at least with key players needing new deals. Conversely, the Bolts may see enough of Vasilevskiy to decide that he’s not quite ready to carry the No. 1 mantle in 2017-18 and beyond.

While “goalie controversies” can lead to headaches, it’s better to have two viable options than none (something Lightning fans have quite a bit of experience with, actually).

PHT Morning Skate: Rozsival raises the Cup (plus pronouncing Plekanec)

cupcap
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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.

Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec answers a burning question for many of us who lost our pronunciation guides:

Q: So how do you pronounce your name?

A: PLEK-a-nets (laughs). Really, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care at all anymore. I’m fine when people say it Ple-CAN-ek, but it’s PLEK-a-nets.

It’s probably good that he’s laid back about the situation, right? /Flubs his name out of habit. (Click here for the full Q & A at Habs Inside/Out)

Ten big trade candidates at the upcoming 2015 NHL Draft. Yes, there’s at least one Blackhawk on the list. (The Hockey News)

Another look at Kimmo Timonen’s long-awaited moment with the Cup. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

A strong argument that the ‘Hawks are, indeed, worthy of the “dynasty” moniker. (Five Thirty Eight)

In case you’re wondering, yes, Patrick Kane rocked the playoff mullet back in 2010 as well.

Considering what the Chicago Blackhawks defenseman went through – and how much Chicago strained in his absence – it’s cool to see Michal Rozsival hoisting the Stanley Cup:

Slater admits contract talks haven’t ‘picked up’ with Jets

Winnipeg Jets v St Louis Blues
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When you think of the Winnipeg Jets, Jim Slater likely doesn’t come to mind. Heck, track pants might come up in your head sooner than his name.

Even so, he’s the longest tenured member of the team, as his days stretch back to the 2005-06 season when the Jets were the Atlanta Thrashers. The unrestricted free agent isn’t sure if his run will come to an end this offseason, as he told the Winnipeg Sun that not a whole lot is happening in general regarding contract talks.

“For me, things haven’t picked up right now,” Slater said last week. “Most teams are waiting for the draft to see and Winnipeg is no different. After the draft and with that window on June 25, we can start talking to other teams. Hopefully on July 1, I’ll have a contract and be playing in the NHL for another couple of years.”

The 32-year-old managed to play a career-high 82 games in the regular season and also appeared in every game during Winnipeg’s “close sweep” at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks.

Despite being a first-rounder (30th overall in 2002), Slater seems like an energy guy at best at the NHL level.

His efforts have likely been appreciated by the Jets franchise, yet it wouldn’t be outrageous to imagine them moving on in 2015-16. We’ll likely find out around July either way.

Roenick says Coach Q deserves Babcock money

Joel Quenneville
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At this point, it’s just a matter of time before Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville becomes a member of the Hall of Fame. Really, the bigger question is where he’ll finish in the minds of hockey fans and observers compared to other all-timers.

If you ask Jeremy Roenick, Coach Q deserves to be paid the part, too. He told NHL.com as much.

“I think he gets a lot of credit, but I don’t think he gets enough credit, if that’s the word,” Roenick said. “I think with Babcock signing the deal he did, Quenneville should be licking his chops waiting for his next contract. He deserves to be having the same kind of money that Mr. Babcock got.”

For a Blackhawks organization that is readying for a financial storm after all this success, there’s good news on that front: The ‘Stache is locked up through 2016-17.

A lot can happen until then, as his mettle will be tested in the likely event that the Blackhawks’ supporting cast gets split up quite a bit starting this summer.

That said, he’s also likely to climb the all-time ranks. In the near future, it looks like he’s knocking on Al Arbour’s door in a few categories:

All-time coaching wins (regular season)

1. Scotty Bowman (1,244)
2. Al Arbour (782)
3. Joel Quenneville (754)
4. Ken Hitchcock (708)

All-time coaching wins (playoffs)

1. Bowman (223)
2. Arbour (123)
3. Quenneville (115)

Arbour still has the edge for now (and one more Stanley Cup victory), yet when you’re breathing down the neck of that New York Islanders legend, you know you’re in select company.

In fact, Coach Q is just the third coach behind Arbour and Bowman to coach in 200+ playoff games. He also became just the 11th coach to hoist the Cup three times.

He’s probably already the greatest Blackhawks coach, or at least the most decorated:

Quenneville likely cares most about getting as many Cup rings as possible. In the end, the stats and money will come with the bigger picture success, anyway.

Sights and sounds from Chicago’s Cup celebrations

Via Getty Images
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The Chicago Blackhawks’ party began basically before the Stanley Cup even arrived last night, yet for some, it will probably feel like the question is if the fun will end (not when).

While some team members may still be celebrating for all we know – hey, these guys showed superhuman stamina at times in these playoffs – others may be nursing some serious hangovers and many icing a few wounds at this point (hopefully just from hockey).

Let’s take a mostly photographic tour through some of the reactions to last night’s big victory.

It only seems right to start with Kimmo Timonen finally raising the Cup:

Via Getty Images

Here’s video of his emotional interview with Pierre McGuire:

Of course, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are the two faces of the franchise, even if Kane makes faces like these.

source: AP
Via AP

Duncan Keith won the Conn Smythe, and his kid may grab the playoff cuteness MVP.

source: Getty Images
Via Getty Images

Not to say there wasn’t competition, mind you …

Actually, maybe we should just call it a tie …

The Keeper of the Cup grabbed a candid shot or two:

Speaking of having a few sips, one “inside” account:

Let’s enjoy some random shots of large groups of (possibly inebriated) fans enjoying themselves.

source: AP
Via AP
source: AP
Via AP

There were plenty of kudos from big names ranging from U.S. President Barack Obama:

To memorable Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas:

And Lil Wayne …

Finally, here’s a snapshot of how all the Chicago newspapers handled the big win:

OK, one more bonus for Blackhawks fans who are really reveling: