James O'Brien

cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwjkmzi5ntfmzwzlmti5ntgxngjmzjrmogy5mzk4ote21

Report: Red Wings will name Blashill as head coach next week

2 Comments

It sounds like the two sides won’t need to play coy much longer: MLive.com’s Ansar Khan reports that the Detroit Red Wings will announce Jeff Blashill as their new head coach sometime next week.

Khan believes that Blashill is set to receive a three-year contract, since that’s also the length of Red Wings GM Ken Holland’s current deal.

Blashill’s currently the head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate. They were just eliminated from their postseason run, so this opens the door for a pending announcement. Khan explains the timing of the pending (but not yet confirmed) roll-out to the press and fans:

An announcement ordinarily might have come later this week but Holland has been in Buffalo for the NHL’s Scouting Combine and will attend the league’s general managers meetings in Chicago early next week during the Stanley Cup finals.

Blashill has scheduled exit interviews for players in Grand Rapids on Monday. So the earliest an announcement on his hiring can come is on Tuesday.

At 41, Blashill would be the second-youngest coach in the NHL, right behind 40-year-old newly minted New Jersey Devils bench boss John Hynes. In a way, Blashill’s ascent follows the way the Red Wings often nurse prospects, as he’s had a great run in the AHL while patiently awaiting the big call-up.

There’s always the chance that this will be refuted, yet all signs point to this being the likely decision. We’ll find out for sure next week, though.

(Probably.)

Rangers’ Skapski faces 4-5 month rehab from hip surgery

skapskigetty
3 Comments

New York Rangers goaltending prospect Mackenzie Skapski is expected to need four-to-five months to recover from hip surgery, which means the rehab could possibly eat into the 2015-16 season.

The 21-year-old tweeted that the surgery was successful and that he hopes for a speedy recovery. More specifically, the Rangers describe the specific procedure as “hip arthroscopy to repair a labral tear in his right hip.”

Skapski saw two games of NHL action this past season, winning both contests and even grabbing a shutout. Most of his reps came with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack as he went 15-8-3 with a solid .914 save percentage.

Among Rangers fans and observers, the reaction seems a bit split regarding whether Skapski’s surgery would have any impact on Cam Talbot’s near future.

The New York Post’s Brett Cyrgalis observes that Skapski’s injury means that the Rangers would have to get a backup goalie from “outside the organization” if they want to trade Talbot.

Others believe that Skapski’s not really in the phase of his career where he’s really relevant to Talbot, who has enjoyed two strong years as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup.

As a sixth-rounder (170th pick) from the 2013 NHL Draft, some may dismiss Skapski’s potential, yet the Rangers found Lundqvist in the seventh round back in 2000, so you never know.

2015 NHL Awards entertainers: Rob Riggle and Daughtry

Crackle's "Dead Rising: Watchtower" Cast At Wondercon
13 Comments

That guy who just didn’t like Will Ferrell’s face in “Step Brothers” (Rob Riggle) and the band with that dude who almost won “American Idol” (Daughtry) will be your entertainers for the 2015 NHL Awards on June 24.

The event will air live at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, by the way.

Riggle (pictured) is a pretty well-known face among comedy nerds, but you may know him from his days as a correspondent for “The Daily Show.” He’s a guy who is seasoned at drawing sports-related laughs, as he also did some work for the NFL. As a general rule, he’s pretty funny when he yells.

Need more examples of his work? The NHL provided a lengthier rundown:

Riggle is widely known for his memorable comedic roles in films such as The Hangover, Step Brothers, The Other Guys, 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street and Dumb & Dumber To. The stand-up comedian and improv actor’s television credits include Saturday Night Live, his work as a correspondent on The Daily Show, a recurring role on Modern Family and the star of the new Fox animated series, Golan the Insatiable. The Kansas native is a passionate sports fan and recently retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve after 23 years of service. 

Let’s leave the Daughtry talk to the NHL, too, actually:

Daughtry has scored four No. 1 hits, garnered four GRAMMY Award nominations, won four American Music Awards, sold more than 8 million albums and has sold-out concerts worldwide. Daughtry’s self-titled debut album was the fastest selling rock debut in Soundscan history and its follow up, Leave This Town, marked the quintet’s second consecutive No. 1 album. Daughtry’s third album Break The Spell was certified gold in only four weeks of its release. Daughtry’s single “Waiting For Superman” broke into the Top 15 and its new single “Battleships” is racing up the charts. The band’s latest album Baptized was released in November 2013.

Here’s a photo of lead singer Chris Daughtry, if that helps:

source: Getty Images
Via Getty

Poll: Should the Ducks fire Boudreau?

Anaheim Ducks v Calgary Flames - Game Three
88 Comments

To some, it’s an absurd question. To others, it’s absurd that people would question the decision.

Either way, we just have to ask at this point: should the Anaheim Ducks part ways with head coach Bruce Boudreau?

On one hand, he’s enjoyed fantastic regular season success, piling up division titles and other impressive accomplishments. Boudreau coached in his first conference final series, which mattered until expectations simply rose with that accomplishment.

You probably know the anti-Boudreau drill: his team failed again in a big situation, and it wasn’t pretty. Many will quibble with various matchup decisions and other mistakes.

Also consider this, from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman:

It’s ridiculous to think Bruce Boudreau could be in any trouble after getting within a win of the Stanley Cup Final, but the relationship between he and Murray is… let’s go with “strained.”

Yes, he’s 1-6 in Game 7s, but he’s won his division (and made the playoffs) in seven of his eight years as a coach. It’s harder than ever to get into the playoffs. He gets you there; the Ducks need to remember that. In the aftermath of Saturday’s loss, a couple of coaches remarked how similar it looked to last year’s 6-2 Game 7 defeat to the Kings.

Feel free to weigh in with reasoning in the comments (maybe provide a replacement if you think he should be fired?) and cast your vote in the poll.

Tampa Bay’s cap situation is still pretty promising

Tampa Bay Lightning v New York Rangers - Game Seven
42 Comments

It’s only natural to look at some upcoming salary cap hurdles and wonder if the Tampa Bay Lightning will stumble while trying to justify all the “team of the future” talk.

Steven Stamkos will command a monster deal after next season. Victor Hedman’s $4 million bargain cap hit dries up after 2016-17. Yikes, right?

MORE: Debating Stamkos’ next contract

Actually, if you dig a little deeper, their opponents should panic instead. Just ponder these nuggets:

Note: As mentioned in the comments, the original version of this article had a mix-up regarding the Lightning’s available cap space. They’re actually closer to $1.1 million. This post has been modified with that in mind. Apologies for the error.

Almost unfair bargains

Just consider this: Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn carry a combined salary cap hit of about $10 million. Johnson and Palat are locked up at their bargain rates of $3.33 million apiece through 2016-17.

Jonathan Drouin didn’t make an impact at the NHL level, yet players of his ilk often make big jumps … and he’s just one of some impressive players Tampa Bay has in its pipeline.

Oh yeah, the Lightning also have 10 picks in the upcoming draft, even if the excess leans toward later rounds.

It almost feels like cheating, doesn’t it?

source: AP
Via AP

Evaporating deals

The flip side of that previous point is that said players will eventually get raises, but their RFA statuses could greatly reduce those worries, anyway.

Either way, relief could come in other forms. Braydon Coburn’s $4.5 million could very well be diverted into Stamkos’ bank account. Mattias Ohlund’s LTIR-bound deal ends after 2015-16. Heck, the Lightning may decide to save some cash and turn to Andrei Vasilevskiy over Ben Bishop long-term, as Bishop’s $5.95 million cap hit expires after 2016-17.

(And Bishop’s surplus could go to Hedman’s raise. Yup, GM Steve Yzerman is practicing some black magic …)

The unknown

What if the 2016-17 salary cap is a lot friendlier than what we expect from next season? Could a possible expansion help teams like the Lightning farm off less-than-friendly contracts? Yzerman may just have a deft hand in getting players to sign cheaper deals, too.

***

The Lightning aren’t necessarily on easy street – those young players and stars like Stamkos won’t be cheap – yet the team’s outlook indicates that they’ll remain a team to beat for some time.