Jason Brough

NHL players pose for a photo following a televised event promoting the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

World Cup rosters to be announced March 16, but only the first 16 spots


From NHL.com:

Team USA will announce its initial 16-man roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey during ESPN SportsCenter on Wednesday, March 2, at 6:45 p.m. ET. 

All eight teams competing in the World Cup will reveal their preliminary rosters on March 2, with Sportsnet’s Hockey Central broadcasting the announcements for Team Europe (4:30 p.m. ET), Team North America (5:15 p.m. ET) and Team Canada (6:05 p.m. ET), as part of a live, three-hour special beginning at 4 p.m.

Team Sweden will make its announcement during a press conference at the MSG Training Center in Tarrytown, N.Y., at 12:30 p.m. ET. 

Team Russia will unveil its roster via press release at 3 a.m. ET; Team Finland will hold a press conference in Helsinki at 4 a.m. ET; and Team Czech Republic will hold a press conference in Prague at 11 a.m. ET. 

These are not the full rosters, just the first 16 guys. The remaining seven spots will be revealed in June, with the tournament beginning in September. Those last seven will be the most heavily debated spots, one would assume, though there may be a surprise or two among (or not among) the first 16.

Related: Here are your ’16 World Cup coaching and management teams

Bettman upholds Wideman’s 20-game suspension


NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld Dennis Wideman’s 20-game suspension for abuse of officials.

Wideman had appealed the suspension that was originally assessed by the NHL’s senior executive VP of hockey operations, Colin Campbell.

Click here to read Bettman’s decision.

In it, Bettman dismissed the contention that “Mr. Wideman’s actions were the result of confusion” due to a concussion, the commissioner adding that he was “left with the firm view that a significant suspension is appropriate” and that he was “troubled by Mr. Wideman’s total failure to accept any responsibility for his actions.”

As you can see in the excerpt below, Bettman also noted a text message that Wideman sent to a teammate on Feb. 2


Wideman is expected to appeal further to an independent arbitrator.

More to come on PHT.

In search of offense, Roy shakes up the lines

Patrick Roy

Patrick Roy has shaken up his lines ahead of tonight’s visit from the Montreal Canadiens.

The hope is more goals. Roy’s Avalanche have scored just 14 times in their last seven games.

From NHL.com:

… Roy is moving Matt Duchene, who had been playing right wing, back to his natural center position to skate with Mikhail Grigorenko and Jarome Iginla. Nathan MacKinnon will center Alex Tanguay and Jack Skille, and John Mitchell will center Cody McLeod and Andreas Martinsen. The line of Gabriel Landeskog, Carl Soderberg and Blake Comeau remains intact. 

Colorado’s coming off a 4-1 loss in Buffalo on Sunday — a game in which the Avs actually outshot the Sabres, 35-21, only to be thwarted 34 times by goalie Robin Lehner.

“We felt like that was our best game of the road trip, and that just goes to show you where this game is sometimes. You have your best effort and you feel you’re dominating, but you still lose 4-1,” Landeskog told the club’s website. “We got to make sure that we take that offensive game with us that we played in Buffalo, where we felt like we created a lot of scoring chances. It’s just a matter of putting the puck in the back of the net.”

Of note, the Avs have some winnable games coming up. They get the Canadiens tonight, then travel to Edmonton to play the Oilers on Saturday. The day after that, they take on the Canucks in Vancouver.

For now, they hold the second wild-card spot in the West. But Arizona and Minnesota are only four points back, and each have three games in hand.

The Flint Firebirds have fired their coaches….again (Updated with statement from OHL)

Flint Firebirds head coach John Gruden, second from left, and assistant coach Dave Karpa, right foreground, talk with their defensemen during a workout, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Flint, Mich. The Firebirds were back on the ice, trying to regain a sense of normalcy after the Ontario Hockey League players stood up for their fired coaches and ended up getting them reinstated. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Hey, remember in November when the Flint Firebirds fired coaches John Gruden and Dave Karpa and then hired them back the very next day after owner Rolf Nilsen — who was upset that his son, defenseman Hakon Nilsen, wasn’t getting enough playing time — admitted he made “an irresponsible mistake”?

Well, today the Flint Firebirds fired coaches John Gruden and Dave Karpa.

This time, they appear to mean it. According to a press release, the OHL team’s director of hockey ops, Sergei Kharin, will take over head-coaching duties from Gruden.

The Firebirds are last in the West Division with a 16-31-4-2 record, but this is reportedly once again about Hakon Nilsen’s ice time:

Supporting that theory, here’s what former Firebird Vincent Scognamiglio had to say about today’s firings:

The Firebirds did share some good news in the same press release that announced Gruden and Karpa had lost their jobs:

Thursday is “College Night!” Featuring $2 beers and $2 hot dogs for all fans in attendance and all college students will receive $2 off tickets with valid ID.

Tight ship.


OHL commissioner David Branch has released the following statement:

It has come to the league’s attention that the Flint Firebirds ownership has once again made significant changes to their coaching staff.  This change, the manner in which it occurred and the way it was communicated to the players and to the league is of great concern. 

We have been in contact with the team captain and it is our intention to meet and communicate with all players and families in short order.  The players and their playing experience is of the utmost importance to the league and we will continue to work to ensure that they are treated with respect.

It is the league’s intention to immediately review the actions of the Flint Firebirds before we determine the next steps we will take to address this situation.


Demko focused on winning a title with Boston College, will talk with Canucks this summer

Boston College players mob goalie Thatcher Demko (30) after they defeated UMass Lowell 4-3 in the NCAA Northeast Regional hockey final in Worcester, Mass., Sunday, March 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

If Thatcher Demko doesn’t sign with the Vancouver Canucks by Aug. 15, 2017, he can become an unrestricted free agent and join whichever NHL team he chooses.

Canucks fans are naturally nervous about this, because the 20-year-old Boston College netminder has been outstanding this season. Demko, a junior, is 20-4-4 with a .935 save percentage for the No. 2 team in the nation. Recently, the 36th overall pick in the 2014 draft earned his ninth shutout of the season in the Beanpot final, a 1-0 victory over Boston University.

So, what’s his plan?

“My plan right now is to win a championship here at Boston College,” Demko told TSN 1040 today. “I’m not sure what this summer’s going to look like. I do have another year (of eligibility) here at Boston College, so I’m trying to stay in the present here, not look ahead, because it can be a distraction. We’ll see what this summer has in store for me.”

Would he consider signing this summer and starting his pro career?

“To be honest, I haven’t even talked to the Canucks about it,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a two-way street, so they’ve got to talk to me about it before it can even be an option. I think once the season ends, I’ll just touch base with them and see where they’re at and we’ll have a discussion about it.”

The Canucks would surely love to get Demko under contract ASAP. He could play next season in the AHL, with an eye on joining the big club in 2017-18. (Ryan Miller, remember, is only signed through 2016-17.)

Individually, Demko has little left to prove at the college level. So Canucks fans should probably be cheering for the Eagles when the Hockey East playoffs begin next month. For Demko, a national title would be a nice way to end his college career. Anything less and he might be tempted to stay.

Related: Preds believe Vesey could ‘come in and play right away’