James O'Brien

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Bruins’ top picks fail conditioning test

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A summer rife with not-so-good headlines continued for Boston Bruins fans, as the team’s trio of 2015 first-round picks seem to be limping out of the gate.

All three of those top picks – Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Zach Sensyshyn – failed the team’s conditioning test on Thursday, according to CSNNE.com.

Here’s a quick description of the drill, which could be filed under “reasons fans shouldn’t always envy professional athletes.”

The test consists of a series of six back-and-forth 300 meter sprints with three minutes of rest in between each run, and all of them must be completed in under one minute’s time.

There are some caveats, as GM Don Sweeney told CSNNE.com that they were running on a “wet, slippery turf surface.”

On the other hand, it’s worth noting that the trio fell short of the mark with that same test back in July.

DeBrusk was the closest one to pass the drill, and he seems confident that he’ll do better next time.

For naysayers, this is another bullet in the chamber after some labelled one or more of those picks as “reaches.”

More sober observers will probably laugh the whole thing off.

Let’s not forget that:

  • People freaked out about Calgary Flames prospect Sam Bennett being unable to do pull-ups, and he’s looking like a gem. (He’s also able to do pull-ups now.)
  • The Bruins’ training staff once worried that Milan Lucic was too much of a “string bean” to make it in the NHL. Yes, that Milan Lucic.
  • These players are very young and the Bruins probably want to bring them along gradually rather than throwing them right into the fire.

Hockey fans will look back at this off-season as turning point for the Bruins, but few will remember anyone’s sprint times.

At least we got some jokes out of it.

Devils sign Schlemko for one year, $650K

Anaheim Ducks v Calgary Flames - Game Three
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The New Jersey Devils dipped into the free agent pool on Thursday, signing defenseman David Schlemko to a one-year, $650K contract.

The team notes that it’s a one-way deal, which is noteworthy as there could be quite a bit of competition for roster spots among Devils blueliners.

“David Schlemko is a veteran with five years of NHL experience who brings depth and competition to our defensive corps,” Devils GM Ray Shero said.

Schlemko, 28, bounced around quite a bit in 2014-15, playing 20 games with the Arizona Coyotes, five with the Dallas Stars and then finishing up with 19 contests as a member of the Calgary Flames.

While he experienced instability, he stood as a relatively stable presence in Calgary, putting up some healthy possession stats on a team that didn’t excel in that regard.

The Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti lays out the possible players vying for a role in New Jersey:

One wouldn’t expect spectacular things from Schlemko, but he could be a nice depth guy, at least if he can break into the lineup. All things considered, it’s not a bad deal for the Devils.

Isles ink 2015 first-rounder Barzal

2015 NHL Draft - Portraits
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The New York Islanders signed Mathew Barzal to a three-year, entry-level contract on Thursday.

GM Garth Snow selected Barzal with the 16th overall pick of the 2015 NHL Draft.

He scored 57 points in 44 games with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds in 2014-15, turning heads with his combination of speed and skill.

Lighthouse Hockey postulates that the Islanders would not have traded Griffin Reinhart if they didn’t land Barzal. Even so, they don’t expect him to make the Islanders’ roster in 2015-16.

The 18-year-old has time to mature, yet some Isles fans may already be giddy picturing how he could add to a group that is already bursting with prime-age talent.

You can read more about Barzal in this PHT profile.

Mike Richards’ case pushed back to December

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A lawyer appeared in court on Mike Richards’ behalf on Thursday, and the ultimate result is that his case has been remanded to Dec. 8, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.

No plea was entered regarding charges of possession of a controlled substance (oxycodone).

The incident happened at the Emerson Border Crossing as Richards was entering Canada on June 17, while the arrest itself happened on Aug. 25.

The Los Angeles Kings terminated his contract on June 29, citing a “material breach.” The NHLPA filed a grievance on the 30-year-old forward’s behalf, though a date hasn’t yet been set for that to come to a conclusion.

Much like the cases of Patrick Kane, Ryan O'Reilly and Slava Voynov, there are still things to clarify. Richards’ situation is different in at least one way, however, as he currently isn’t technically under an NHL contract.

PHT will provide updates regarding Richards whenever they may come.

Theo Fleury, country music star?

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Theo Fleury/eOne Music Canada
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You know, Theo Fleury has a point: his life really has been a lot like a country song.

Granted, most people don’t associate country music with former Calgary Flames All-Stars, but he’s experienced the sort of hardships that go far beyond the cliche of losing your dog.

Either way, Fleury is embarking on a career in country music, as his album “I Am Who I Am” will be released via eOne Music Canada on Oct. 23.

His reps released the single “My Life’s Been a Country Song” on Thursday:

Not bad, right? (We’ll leave deeper analysis to country fans/experts/critics.)

“We wanted this to be a real grassroots album — ‘Let’s get back to fiddles and steel guitars and accordions and honky-tonk pianos, but put our own stamp on it,’ ” Fleury said, via eOne Music Canada. “We’re a bunch of guys who love that old-school country sound.”

It should be intriguing to see where this lands on the scale of athletes trying their luck at recording music.

Here’s a guess: Fleury will rank somewhere between Shaq’s misadventures and Wayman Tisdale’s triumphs.