Author: Jason Brough

Jake Gardiner

Babcock sees something in Gardiner, wants to ‘build him up’

Mike Babcock once said, “The bottom line is, the game’s real simple. The more time you spend in your zone, the less time you spend in their zone, the more time you dump the puck because you got no speed on the rush. If you’re efficient coming out and move the puck and you do it right, you’re coming with speed. You don’t have to dump the puck, you probably get some sort of entry, or at least you give up possession and get it right back.”

No doubt, that philosophy is a big reason the Maple Leafs’ new coach believes defenseman Jake Gardiner can be an important player in Toronto.

“Everyone talks about Morgan Rielly and everyone knows that he has elite upside (as an) offensive guy,” Babcock told the Canadian Press. “But Gardiner, when I watch him, I think he should be a good player. So let’s build him up, let’s get him going, let’s get him playing good.”

Gardiner, 25, is an excellent skater who had a career-high 31 points in 2013-14.

What he’s not is punishing in the corners or around his own net. Add some “very erratic” play to the equation and he often found himself in former coach Randy Carlyle’s doghouse.

With Babcock, it sounds like Gardiner will get a great chance to show that his positives outweigh his negatives. In fact, he’s expected to be paired with Rielly for at least part of the preseason.

Gardiner is signed though 2018-19 for a cap hit of just over $4 million. 

Related: Babcock expects Nazem Kadri to be ‘an elite player’

After ‘troubling incidents,’ Kings to get off-ice conduct training

2014 Stanley Cup Final Media Day

In the wake of some “troubling incidents that occurred last season,” the Los Angeles Kings today announced a series of “conduct awareness training initiatives” to be implemented for 2015-16.

From the press release:

Highlighting today’s announcement is the Kings’ new partnership with Peace Over Violence, a violence prevention center headquartered in Los Angeles. As part of this new partnership, the Kings and Peace Over Violence (POV) will create a promotional campaign entitled “Kings Over Violence” in an effort to create a platform to significantly increase awareness against violence. Within this campaign, the Kings will seek to support the goals of POV, which is dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence.

In addition to the POV / Kings Over Violence program, the club is adding:

— The Herren Project, aimed at better educating players about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
— Sexual harassment training.
— A conduct awareness program created by the Kings’ owner, AEG Sports properties.
— A new Player Assistance position, which will focus on the challenges of addiction and substance abuse, has been created. The Kings have hired former NHL player Brantt Myhres for this position.

“During the past year, we have been extremely diligent in developing an educational strategy and comprehensive programs in an effort to ensure that the troubling incidents that occurred last season are not repeated,” said AEG’s chief executive, Dan Beckerman, in the release. “We have conducted research, gathered information and forged partnerships that will better prepare our players and staff for challenges that could impact their behavior away from the workplace.”

Added GM Dean Lombardi: “These programs are now part of the development process for all of our players. No longer can we solely focus on their growth and education as just hockey players; we need to give them the tools to thrive as people, too.”


Slava Voynov will leave Kings, return to Russia

Rangers sign Jarret Stoll

Mike Richards charged with possession of controlled substance

Boudreau: It’s ‘not a rule’ that Cup winners need an elite d-man

Hampus Lindholm

The one time the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup, they had Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger on defense.

In the past couple of years, they’ve been eliminated by teams with Drew Doughty and Duncan Keith, each of whom went on to hoist the Cup with the Kings and Blackhawks, respectively.

And so the Ducks will enter another season with hopes that one of their d-men can be “that guy” for them.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau is fully aware that most Cup winners have that one stud back there.

“In recent memory, it’s always happened,” he told the O.C. Register.


“It’s not a rule that it has to be.”

Indeed it’s not. For example, the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. Their six d-men when they dispatched the Oilers were Mike Commodore, Bret Hedican, Aaron Ward, Frantisek Kaberle, Glen Wesley, and Niclas Wallin.

Suffice to say, that team’s main strength was not the blue line.

This year, the Ducks have seven d-men on one-way contracts: Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen, Kevin Bieksa, Clayton Stoner, Simon Despres, and Korbinian Holzer.

If Lindholm or Fowler can develop into a Norris Trophy candidate, great. (Both seem to have the desire. Lindholm, 21, says he wants to be “that key guy to always have an impact in a game”; Fowler, 23, feels “like it’s my time now to kind of show what I can do.”)

If not, the Ducks’ defense boasts an impressive mix of talent and experience regardless, with blue-chipper Shea Theodore still to come.

Related: Anaheim’s Lindholm on the verge of big things