Jason Brough

Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk smiles as he hoists the Beanpot trophy after his game-winning goal against Northeastern during overtime of the college hockey Beanpot Tournament's championship game in Boston, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. Boston University defeated Northeastern 4-3. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Bruins sign Grzelcyk (who just so happens to be pals with Jimmy Vesey)

1 Comment

The Bruins announced today that they’d signed Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk to a two-year entry-level contract. The deal will start next season. In the meantime, the Charlestown native will join AHL Providence on an amateur tryout agreement.

Grzelcyk was a third-round pick of Boston’s in 2012. After spending four years at BU, if he didn’t sign with the Bruins, he could’ve become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15, a la Harvard’s Jimmy Vesey.

Speaking of whom, Grzelcyk and Vesey are childhood pals, so this — despite the protests of some –will only add to the speculation that Vesey will choose to sign with the B’s this summer.

Toronto is the other team that’s been linked to Vesey.

Related: Vesey will reportedly sign with the B’s

Goalie nods: Desperate Red Wings turn back to Howard

Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard blocks a shot from the Los Angeles Kings during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Los Angeles, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Their playoff streak on the line, the Red Wings are turning to their veteran netminder tonight at home to Minnesota.

Jimmy Howard will get the start over the Wings’ struggling youngster, Petr Mrazek.

From MLive:

Petr Mrazek has been pulled in his past two starts and in three of his past four. Mrazek, since Feb. 12, is 6-6-2, with a 3.40 goals-against average and .885 save percentage.

Not that Howard has been lights out himself — his numbers have been mediocre at best — but he’s been better than Mrazek.

The bottom line for the Wings is that the goaltending needs to improve, and so do the players in front of the goalie.

“In March we’ve given up too many goals,” coach Jeff Blashill told reporters. “For the most part we just got to clean up mental errors. We just got to make sure we’re sharp in our decisions every single time.”

It’s April now, so perhaps the Wings can put March’s defensive issues behind them. If they can’t, then it may be the Pittsburgh Penguins that end up owning the NHL’s longest postseason-appearance streak.

No word yet on who will start for the Wild. It’s an interesting decision for coach John Torchetti. Devan Dubnyk started last night at home to Ottawa, allowing three goals on just 22 shots in a 3-2 loss, but backup Darcy Kuemper hasn’t played in a couple of weeks so there could be a rust factor there.

The Wild still haven’t officially clinched a playoff spot.


Tuukka Rask likely for the Bruins in St. Louis, where Brian Elliott will go for the Blues. (Boston is just one point ahead of Detroit for third place in the Atlantic.)

Scott Darling for the Blackhawks in Winnipeg. Ondrej Pavelec for the Jets.

Braden Holtby for the Capitals in Colorado. Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Jacob Markstrom‘s a possibility for Vancouver in Anaheim, after Ryan Miller played last night in San Jose. For the Ducks, John Gibson is expected.

Canada’s NHL playoff shutout has ‘painful’ business ramifications

A woman holds up a Canadian flag as the national anthem is played during pre-game ceremonies at the NHL game between the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014 in Ottawa, Ontario. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld)

Paul Samborski and his father, Lenn, were at Winnipeg Arena for the original Jets’ final playoff game in 1996 before the team moved to Phoenix. When the NHL returned in 2011, Samborski joined the thousands of fans who signed up for season tickets and brought his dad to the new Jets’ first home playoff game last year against Anaheim.

“I lost my voice in the first period screaming at Ryan Kesler,” Samborski said. “It was a lot of fun. The whole city was buying in. It was all everybody talked about.”

A year later, the Jets are out of contention and a spring of discontent is looming for Winnipeg — and the rest of Canada, too.

None of the seven Canadian NHL teams was good enough this season to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs, a dismal milestone in the home of modern hockey and the first time it has happened since the 1969-70 season.

Back then, only Montreal and Toronto were the only possibilities in a 12-team league. So going 0 for 7 is an unprecedented blow that will be felt not just in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver but nationally.

“It’s painful,” said Rod Appleby, manager of Hurley’s Irish Pub in Montreal. “It’s painful on a fan point and it’s painful on a business point. … We’ve got to keep going, keep doing what we do and watch the playoffs, but the other problem is there’s no Canadian team, so who do we watch?”

It’s not quite the same kind of existential national crisis that comes each time Canada doesn’t win a gold medal at the Olympics or world junior championship. But the phenomenon of a playoff season without a Canadian team is having real consequences.

At Rogers, the telecom giant that shelled out $5.2 billion (Canadian) to buy the national TV rights for 12 years, flagship network Sportsnet is feeling the pinch. Scott Moore, president of Sportsnet and NHL properties for Rogers, says he cheers with his heart for the Canadiens and cheers with his wallet for every Canadian team.

“This has been a tough year,” Moore said. “To have seven Canadian teams out of it – and what really is as difficult or more difficult is they’ve been out if it for weeks, if not months, so the ratings have been a challenge for I’d say, six, seven, eight weeks that the teams have been out of it. That makes it a challenging year for us.”

Rogers Media recently laid off several employees, including Sportsnet on-air personalities Hugh Burrill, James Cybulski and Jamie Thomas. Moore said it has been challenging for the company to get sponsors excited for playoffs.

Last year, five Canadian teams made the playoffs, but Commissioner Gary Bettman isn’t worried about having none this time.

“As long as the hockey is entertaining and exciting and competitive, we’re hoping and expecting that fans will tune in and watch great hockey,” Bettman told The Canadian Press.

Tom Renney, president and CEO of Hockey Canada, said technology allows fans to keep up with non-local teams and players. Moore also said online streaming service NHL GameCentre Live is seeing high viewership.

Yet having no Canadian teams in the playoffs still makes a difference.

“I think that there are ramifications,” said Renney, who has also coached the Oilers and Canucks. “We want someone to participate in the game at all levels, and it matters what’s going on within our borders at the highest level that it’s played, and that is the National Hockey League and our seven Canadian teams.”

Even if there were only realistic playoff expectations in Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver, the lack of games makes a huge dent in revenue. According to league estimates, each playoff game generates between $1.5 million and $2 million for the home team, and that doesn’t count the impact on local businesses.

Appleby said during the 2012-13 lockout that other Montreal bars were in danger of closing their doors because hockey is such a draw. And the playoffs bring a vibe like few other things in sports.

“The energy, there’s more drinking, there’s more round-buying, there’s more shots, there’s more everything – everyone’s happy,” Appleby said. “Not so much this year.”

Samborski said he will still watch the playoffs but won’t be as engaged as he was last year. Moore knows “hard-core” hockey fans will still watch, and Sportsnet will sell the “March Madness” aspect of the playoffs and hope Canadian-born stars like Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings attract casual fans who might otherwise turn away.

Moore is optimistic that this 0-for-Canada won’t happen again for a long time and future years will see Canadian teams dominating the playoffs.

“We’re going to have some years where things are out-of-control great,” Moore said. “If the Leafs or the Canucks or the (Canadiens) ever make the final, I always joke there’ll be two parades. There’ll be one for the team and then one for whoever’s sitting in this office at the time because they’ll say, `What a great hockey deal that was.’ I’m hoping I’m still here after this year, so we’ll see.”

Flyers signing Emery for rest of regular season


PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia Flyers say they’re signing goaltender Ray Emery to a contract for the remainder of the season.

The 33-year-old Emery joined the Flyers on a professional tryout agreement earlier in the week. Because he signed after the trade deadline, he’s not eligible to play in the playoffs.

Philadelphia brought in Emery as insurance because goalie Michal Neuvirth is out with an unspecified lower-body injury. Starter Steve Mason has played seven consecutive games since Neuvirth was injured, and rookie Anthony Stolarz has yet to make his NHL debut.

Emery is a veteran of 287 NHL games and went 10-11-7 with a 3.06 goals-against average and .894 save percentage as the Flyers’ backup last season. He bounced around the minors and Europe this season before being invited to join Philadelphia.

Related: Emery happy to be back in NHL

NHL fines Kadri for three dives in the past two months

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri has been fined $5,000 for diving, after the NHL logged three occasions of embellishment in the past two months.

The first one was logged Feb. 4 against New Jersey. He received a warning for that. The second one, which earned a $2,000 fine, occurred in Ottawa on March 12. And the third one, which triggered a $3,000 fine, came March 21 against Calgary.

If there’s another one, it’ll be a $4,000 fine for Kadri and a $2,000 fine for his head coach, Mike Babcock.

Babcock, by the way, recently stuck up for Kadri, suggesting his player wasn’t being treated fairly by the officials.

“So that’s four games the memo must be out there that they’re not allowed to call a penalty [for infractions against Kadri],” Babcock said Saturday after a 3-1 loss to Boston.

The NHL also announced that Oilers forward Nail Yakupov has been fined $2,000 for diving (warned Oct. 13 versus Dallas, second offense March 12 versus Arizona).

The NHL also announced that Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal has been fined $2,000 for diving (warned Dec. 6 versus Carolina, second offense March 12 versus Edmonton).