Jason Brough

Habs’ new AHL affiliate to be called the Rocket de Laval

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In tribute to Habs legend Maurice Richard, the Montreal Canadiens’ new AHL affiliate will be called Club de hockey Rocket de Laval.

In July, the Canadiens announced that they were relocating their AHL club from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to the Montreal suburb of Laval. Starting in 2017-18, the Rocket de Laval will play in a new arena called Place Bell.

The team name was chosen by a fan contest. It was the “heavy favorite among some 850 different names submitted,” according to Place Bell president Vincent Lucier.

“The message was loud and clear from fans looking for a meaningful identity for their team while paying tribute to Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard as one of the Canadiens’ most legendary figures,” said Lucier.

The Habs also announced today that former NHL goalie Sean Burke has joined them as a pro scout.

From the press release:

Sean Burke, 49, spent six seasons as a member of the Coyotes hockey management as goaltending coach and director of player development before being promoted to assistant general manager on July 10, 2012. 

Burke left the Coyotes last summer after his contract expired.

“I felt it was time to turn the page,” he told Fox Sports Arizona. “There wasn’t going to be the opportunity to continue to advance and grow with the Coyotes. That happens in a lot of organizations with a lot of people.”

Jonathan Quick to start Friday against Canada


Jonathan Quick will start in goal for Team USA when the Americans take on Team Canada in their first World Cup exhibition game Friday in Columbus.

Head coach John Tortorella told reporters today that Quick would play half the game, or maybe two periods, and then would be replaced by backup Ben Bishop. Tortorella added that Quick getting the start did not necessarily mean that he would be the starter when the tournament gets underway for real on Saturday, Sep. 17.

The Americans meet Canada again in pre-tournament play on Saturday in Ottawa.

Team USA’s third goalie is Cory Schneider.

Quick has won two Stanley Cups for the Los Angeles Kings, so it will be no real surprise if he does, indeed, start for Team USA when the tournament begins. He was the Americans’ No. 1 in Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympics, where he famously ripped his team’s effort after the bronze-medal game, a 5-0 loss to Finland.

But Quick will still have to prove he’s sharp in exhibition play, because Bishop and Schneider are no slouches. The former was a Vezina finalist last season and actually finished with more votes than Quick, also a finalist. The latter may be lacking in big-game experience (he was behind Roberto Luongo in Vancouver and the Devils haven’t been a playoff team while he’s been in New Jersey), but he has a career .925 save percentage in the NHL, higher than both Quick’s (.916) and Bishop’s (.920).

“You look at our goalies, they’re all world-class goalies,” said American forward Ryan Kesler. “There are a lot in this tournament, but I think we’ve got three of the best.”

Related: Carey Price to start Friday for Canada against USA

J.T. Brown explains his criticism of Tortorella’s anthem stance


Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown has “no ill will towards John Tortorella,” but he does want to explain the tweet he published on Tuesday that was critical of Tortorella’s promise to bench any of his players that “sit on the bench for the national anthem.”

“I responded to a story on Twitter with my opinion and that was how I saw it,” Brown said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. “He sees the situation through his reality and I see it through mine, as a black athlete in the NHL. I know I’m not on the United States World Cup roster, but I have had a chance to represent my country on other occasions. My Tweet was a hypothetical. What if I took a stance to promote awareness for one of the many injustices still occurring in our country and was punished despite there being no rule or law against it? My Tweet was a response to that question.

“I could have been quiet and just kept my opinion to myself, but I don’t want young minorities who love the game of hockey to think that what’s going on in America today is going unnoticed by the hockey community. I love America and thank the military for protecting our freedoms, as well as law enforcement for protecting and serving our communities, but that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge that there is still racism today. I am glad my Tweet provoked a discussion, because we need to start having a conversation about racism if we want to work towards a better America.

“While I don’t plan on sitting during the national anthem, I will look for more opportunities to positively impact my community and bring awareness to racial issues.”

Tortorella, the head coach of Team USA at the upcoming World Cup, expanded on his stance yesterday.

“We are in a great country because we can express ourselves,” he said, per the Toronto Sun. “I’m not against expressing ourselves. That’s what is great about our country. We can do that.

“But when there are men and women who give their lives for the flag, for their anthem, continue to put themselves on the line, families that have been disrupted, traumatic physical injuries, traumatic mental injuries with these people, who give us the opportunity to do the things we want to do, there is no chance an anthem and a flag should come into any type of situation where you are trying to make a point.”

Related: Seth Jones has ‘no problem’ with Tortorell’s anthem stance

After a lengthy recovery from a knee injury, Carey Price to start Friday for Canada against USA


Carey Price will make his long-awaited return to the net on Friday in Columbus when he starts for Team Canada against Team USA in a World Cup pre-tournament game.

Price missed the majority of the 2015-16 NHL season with a knee injury. His last game for the Montreal Canadiens was on Nov. 25.

He says he’s 100 percent healthy now. So, deep breaths, Habs fans.

Price is expected to play the entire 60 minutes on Friday. Canada’s two other goalies, Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford, will split Saturday’s pre-tournament rematch against the Americans in Ottawa, according to head coach Mike Babcock.

Canada closes out its pre-tournament schedule next Wednesday in Pittsburgh against Russia. Its first preliminary round game is Saturday, Sep. 17, against the Czech Republic in Toronto.

Related: Price is healthy and ready to go

Pavelski named Team USA captain, has huge responsibility as first-line center


Joe Pavelski will captain Team USA at the World Cup. Patrick Kane and Ryan Suter will be the alternates.

Pavelski, 32, is coming off a fantastic 2015-16 for the Sharks. He had 38 goals during the regular season, then added 14 more in the playoffs as San Jose made it first-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

In pre-tournament practice, Pavelski has been centering wingers Kane and Max Pacioretty on Team USA’s first line.

Suffice to say, centering the first line is a huge responsibility for the Wisconsin native — especially on a team that many feel is lacking down the middle, at least compared to the favorites from Canada.

“The fairly obvious biggest thing is the middle doesn’t have the top [guys],” USA GM Dean Lombardi conceded in an interview with ESPN.com. “That said, a guy like Joe Pavelski is one of the top players. He finally got his recognition this year. If you were playing against him, you know how good this guy is. It’s not totally fair to say this guy is not a No. 1 center.”

Team USA opens its pre-tournament schedule Friday versus Canada in Columbus.