Author: Joe Yerdon

Pavol Demitra

NHLers hold charity games in Slovakia honoring Pavol Demitra


The plane crash that killed all the members of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL in 2011 was one of the saddest stories in sports history. The lives lost that day ranged from veteran players who never left Russia to former NHL players who returned to Europe to keep their career going.

One of those players was Pavol Demitra and a host of former NHL players are touring his home country of Slovakia this summer hosting three charity hockey games to raise money for youth hockey in the country as shared.

A team of Slovak stars will face a team of St. Louis Blues stars in the games. Former NHL players Peter Stastny, Anton Stastny, Peter Bondra, Miroslav Satan, and John Wensink joined up with Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara for the effort all to help remember their friend and countryman.

“I am glad that we could pay tribute to [Pavol] this way,” Chara said. “The other good thing was the game was a sellout. It shows people here love hockey. Playing with all these stars from both teams was a great honor for me.”

The two sides have played one game already in Poprad. Game 2 will be on Friday in Trencin followed by Game 3 in the Slovak capital, Bratislava, on Saturday.


McDavid on teams possibly tanking for him: ‘It’s pretty crazy’

Connor McDavid

BUFFALO — When the NHL announced changes to the Draft Lottery process on Wednesday for the 2015 and 2016 Drafts, it was considered a way to potentially combat against teams tanking in the upcoming season.

After all, with players of elite talent like Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel – possibly landing a franchise-changing player is something some might think stinking up the house for a season would be worth doing to land them.

McDavid doesn’t necessarily agree with that.

The 17-year-old star forward was in Buffalo on Thursday for the announcement that his team, the Erie Otters, would be playing a game in October at First Niagara Center. He was asked his thoughts on the NHL making the lottery changes and how it might all be because of him – a notion he doesn’t necessarily buy into.

“It’s pretty crazy,” McDavid said. “I don’t think too many teams are throwing seasons. I don’t think that’s how hockey works. I don’t think that’s how anyone who plays hockey thinks. Owners, GMs, coaches, players – no one just throws games away. That’s not how it works. Maybe it’s just a bit of a coincidence I guess, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Call it naiveté if you want, but the NHL began looking into fixing up the lottery process back in March.

While the threat of having multiple teams tanking to try and get the best odds is something the league is correct in trying to head off, keep in mind the team with the worst record hasn’t won the Draft Lottery since 2011 when Edmonton did it.

It’s all on Crosby, Malkin to make it work in Pittsburgh

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Matt Niskanen

In what might be the least surprising thing you’ll read on this website: If the Penguins are going to push for the Stanley Cup this season, it’s up to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to make it happen.

Yes, we know they’re the two best players on the team by far. Heck, they’re two of the best players in the league. They’ve both won MVP awards and they were vital to winning the Cup in 2009.

Consider this however: It’s been five years since that victory against Detroit. Since then, a myriad of injuries have befallen both superstars. For Crosby it was his head and his broken teeth and Malkin had his knee give way on him. Failing to win in the seasons affected by that is excusable, but last season felt like everything was there for the taking.

Crosby and Malkin were the team’s top two scorers with Crosby winding up with a runaway victory for the Hart Trophy. While Malkin had more injury trouble for parts of the year, 72 points is nothing to sneeze at especially when he played in 60 games. When he’s healthy, he’s a dominating offensive force the same as Crosby.

Yet somehow, success eluded them.

The Pens struggled in six games to knock off the Columbus Blue Jackets and blew a 3-1 series lead to the New York Rangers before losing in seven games. Crosby looked average for most of the postseason and while Malkin looked dangerous all playoffs long, he was often a man on an island trying to do it all himself.

The Penguins are at their best when both players are able to take over games or share the burden. Think back to that 2009 Cup Final – Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg was able to keep Crosby under wraps, but they had no answer for Malkin. That brand of play was missing in the playoffs last season.

For the Penguins to be at their most dominating, yes they’ll need help from teammates and new coach Mike Johnston certainly has a lot of pressure on him, but they’ll need Crosby and Malkin to show they’re the best every night to do it.