James O'Brien

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Boy, the Blue Jackets aren’t exactly taking Reilly rejection in stride

40 Comments

Not every Columbus Blue Jackets player has submitted a bitter tweet about Mike Reilly signing with the Minnesota Wild (yet?), but a couple of them are coming across as jilted lovers.

It started out with what almost felt like a “subtweet” on June 17, as Ryan Johansen simply said “We didn’t want him anyway.”

Apparently that bitterness lingered over the holiday weekend, as Brandon Dubinsky (pictured fighting Sidney Crosby in the main image) chimed in last night.

(The #burntbridges hash tag seems like the height of the “sour grapes” angle, at least if you’re looking at this in terms of a bitter breakup.)

Dubinsky’s tweet prompted plenty of responses, and he even had a little give-and-take:

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo wondered if, erm, the holiday spirit(s) might have been involved:

(Dubinsky is from Alaska, so he may have been celebrating the Fourth of July. Just saying …)

Anyway, it’s all in salty-good fun, right? The Blue Jackets face Minnesota in a preseason game on Sep. 24, then in two regular season contests on Oct. 22 and Jan. 5. Perhaps we’ll see at least one contest that features Reilly, Johansen and Dubinsky entering on-ice @-replies, then?

Maybe Dubinsky’s just bitter about this “coaching decision,” though:

Quick hits: Caps give Bourque two-year, two-way deal

Nashville Predators v Washington Capitals
2 Comments

Let’s take a look at some of the smaller signings around the league in quick-hit form:

The franchise is familiar with the forward (pictured), as he appeared in 13 of his 51 career NHL games with Washington. Bourque last appeared at the NHL level in 2012-13, when he generated four points in 18 games with the Boston Bruins. He had a productive AHL season in 2014-15, generating 66 points in 73 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack.

The Capitals originally drafted Bourque, 29, with the 33rd pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.

The 27-year-old was drafted in the first round (21st overall) by the New York Rangers in 2006. Like Bourque, the defenseman hasn’t played in an NHL game since 2012-13, but both players have been productive in the AHL.

Cundari, 25, has eight career NHL games under his belt, all with the Calgary Flames. Those appearances were spread out as four contests in 2013-14 and four in 2012-13. Like the other guys on this list, he provides his team with emergency injury depth and a solid AHL hand, as the blueliner managed 29 points in 50 games with the Adirondack Flames last season.

Is it too early to get excited about Crosby vs. Ovechkin again?

150703_SidneyCrosbyAlexOvechkin
34 Comments

Yes, we’ve been in this spot before.

For all the star power that the NHL boasts outside of Pittsburgh and Washington, it’s difficult to resist the siren call of a spike in the Sidney Crosby – Alex Ovechkin rivalry. It’s perfectly plausible that we’ll never get a sequel to that memorable 2009 playoff series.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s be honest: it’s been a while since the Penguins and Capitals were in a better position collectively to pull this off.

Serious firepower

It’s still strange to picture Phil Kessel in a Penguins uniform, firing home well-placed passes from Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin … but would it be that outrageous to imagine Kessel chasing Ovechkin in the Maurice Richard race now? As excited as Crosby and Malkin seem to be about the acquisition, Kessel and hockey fans should be especially thrilled.

Here’s the wrinkle that makes things even more fun: while the Penguins added the biggest name, Washington’s moves likely provide the Capitals with a deeper array of weapons.

Beyond the obvious in Nicklas Backstrom, the Caps now combine seasoned newcomers (Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie) with promising youngsters (Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky) to form a frightening forward group.

Hockey’s a team sport, and Crosby – Ovechkin can only be so riveting on their own … so how about Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and Kris Letang vs. Ovechkin, Backstrom, Williams, Oshie and Washington’s bevvy of pricey blueliners? Yeah, that sounds like appointment viewing.

While they’re still young

NHL TV Awards Show
via Getty Images

As strange as it sounds, the window might be closing on this rivalry, at least as a true showcase of two players who are seriously considered two of the best alive.*

Ovechkin will turn 30 on Sept. 17, and his hair is already looking a little grayer these days. Crosby turns 28 in August and people are already wondering if he’s starting to slow down.

No, the Penguins and Capitals haven’t totally mortgaged their futures this summer, yet the complexion of each franchise changed in some resounding ways in the past few days. You never know what might happen – we’ve been fooled before – but it’s tough not to picture an epic 2016 playoff series between these two players (and teams).

If nothing else, it’s fun to think about.

* – One could quibble about where the two rank among the elite, but they’re at least up there, right?

Senators hire André Tourigny as an assistant coach

Los Angeles Kings v Colorado Avalanche

The Ottawa Senators announced that André Tourigny was hired as an assistant head coach on Thursday.

Tourigny (pictured to Patrick Roy’s left) was with the Colorado Avalanche in 2014-15 and 2013-14. He resigned in May, with the reasoning be stated that he was pursuing a head coaching gig. Instead, he’ll serve as Dave Cameron’s assistant.

The Denver Post postulated that Tourigny wasn’t to blame for the Avs’ oft-mentioned possession issues, yet it’s not exactly the greatest calling card, either. That said, he had a lot of success at the QMJHL level and must have made an impression on Cameron while coaching Team Canada at multiple World Junior Championships.

For more on Tourigny, check out the Senators’ release.

PHT Morning Skate: Columnist says Kings should part with Voynov

Slava Voynov
12 Comments

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.

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times believes that the Kings should either trade Slava Voynov or terminate his contract, regardless of how everything ultimately shakes out with the league and law enforcement. (Los Angeles Times)

Speaking of departing Kings, The Royal Half bids Justin Williams a fond farewell. (The Royal Half)

Paul Martin’s heartfelt goodbye letter to the Pittsburgh Penguins (and fans) is a great read. It also might leave you yelling “Spumoni!” the next time you see Martin hemmed in his own zone. (Players’ Tribune)

How much better is Edmonton’s defense, really? (Oilers Nation)

Looking back at Martin St. Louis’ career. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Steve Dangle views Phil Kessel’s time in Toronto as “an era wasted.” (Warning: you might want to turn your volume down before watching this.)

Speaking of Kessel, ouch: