Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
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Botterill has ‘no problem’ with Lehner as Buffalo’s No. 1

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Newly minted Sabres GM Jason Botterill has plenty of work to do this summer, so he’s not going to try and fix things that don’t need fixing.

That’s what Botterill explained on Tuesday, telling Sportsnet he has “no problem” starting next season with Robin Lehner as the club’s starting goalie.

“There are more pressing needs,” Botterill continued. “I liked what I saw from him when he won the Calder Cup.”

Botterill is referring to the 2011 AHL championship, which Binghamton captured on the strength of Lehner’s play in goal. The big Swede has yet to find similar success at the NHL level, but has played well at times.

Last year was a big one for Lehner. Though overall a disappointment for the Sabres on the whole, there were some positives to be taken — the 25-year-old ‘tender posted career highs in games played (59) and finished with a solid .920 save percentage.

Yes, his play was erratic at times and yes, his trademark intensity was on display on several occaions — and not necessarily in a good way.

More: Fiery Lehner won’t apologize for being fiery

But there’s something to be said for a guy that finished 12th among goalies in save percentage while playing for one of the worst teams in the league. There’s also promise for the future, given Lehner is still reasonably young and responded well to his first full NHL workload.

So Botterill probably won’t explore uprooting his goalie situation, which makes sense. But that doesn’t mean the GM can ignore the position entirely — Lehner is a restricted free agent, and a new deal will need to be struck soon.

Ralph Krueger turned down two NHL coaching jobs

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Ralph Krueger, just months removed from taking Team Europe to the World Cup of Hockey final, rejected a pair of NHL head coaching gigs this offseason.

Krueger explained as much in an exclusive interview with ProSoccerTalk’s Joe Prince-Wright. The 57-year-old currently serves as the chairman of Southampton Football Club in the English Premier League.

“It was nice and honorable that I was offered two NHL jobs this postseason and I was happy they didn’t forget about me, but I turned them down,” Krueger said. “It just feels like we’ve only just got started here [at Southampton] and especially with the management re-organization we just did, there is kind of like there’s something here where we are going to take it to another level.

“I still love the game and I have lots of friends still in the playoffs, I am keeping a close eye on them. My son is playing at the World Hockey Championship for Germany right now in Germany, but it is Southampton. At the moment this is doing it. I don’t think you ever close the door on anything in your life but I love being here.”

When asked which teams were interested, Krueger said they were “undisclosed,” only confirming there were two.

Krueger’s name popped up last month in connection to the then-vacant Canucks gig. It was reported Vancouver had interest following the dismissal of Willie Desjardins, but the job eventually went to Travis Green.

It’s worth noting Canucks president Trevor Linden later said Green was the only coaching candidate the team interviewed.

But that wasn’t the first time Krueger had been tied to a potential NHL return. Following his success at the World Cup, there was speculation he’d entertain the idea of coming back, having previously been the bench boss in Edmonton.

Krueger didn’t rule it out, but said his allegiance was to the Saints.

“I came in here committed completely to Southampton Football Club and the future of that organization in my role,” he explained prior to the World Cup final. “You can never say never, but at the moment I’m very proud to be back in hockey at this level and to be competing.

“We are just having so much fun in our room, the coaches, the players, the whole group is enjoying it, and I am, too. But my real life is my commitment to Southampton Football Club at the moment.”

Currently there are only two NHL head coaching vacancies, in Florida and Buffalo.

Swedish blueliner Borgman unveils mystery team — it’s Toronto

Earlier today, we passed along word that Swedish blueliner Andreas Borgman — fresh off winning SHL rookie of the year — had left his club team, HV71, for a yet-to-be-announced NHL club.

Turns out it’s the Leafs.

On Tuesday, Toronto announced the Borgman signing, along with another defensive addition: Calle Rosen, a 23-year-old Swedish rearguard who spent last season with Vaxjo.

Both received two-year, entry-level deals.

Borgman, 21, is coming off a very solid campaign. He had five goals and 15 points in 45 regular season games, then had a terrific playoff as HV71 captured the league crown, finishing with 10 points in 14 games.

Passed over in his draft year, Borgman had previously starred in the Allsvenskan — the Swedish second division — and represented his country at the 2013 World Juniors.

Rosen — who, like Borgman, was passed over in his draft year — also had a quality offensive campaign. He finished second among all under-24 SHL defensemen in points-per-game.

That Toronto landed both shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Last week, Leafs coach Mike Babcock told TSN’s Darren Dreger the club planned to sign European players while in Paris for the World Hockey Championship.

 

Blues part ways with four assistant coaches

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It’s been a dramatic year with regards to coaching changes in St. Louis, and that trend continued on Tuesday.

The Blues announced that assistant coaches Ray Bennett, Rick Wilson and Steve Thomas had been let go, along with goalie development coach Ty Conklin.

“I would like to thank Ray, Steve, Rick and Ty for their service to the Blues and wish them nothing but the best of luck in the future,” GM Doug Armstrong said in a release. “Mike Yeo and I will work together in the offseason to fill the coaching vacancies for next season.”

These moves come just three months after Armstrong fired longtime bench boss Ken Hitchcock, replacing him with Yeo. Veteran goalie coach Jim Corsi was also relieved of his duties at the time, with Conklin and Martin Brodeur inheriting and splitting the role.

Last week, Brodeur said he would no longer serve as goalie coach, instead focusing full-time on his role as the club’s assistant GM. Brodeur did say he would head up the search for a new one.

Today’s dismissals are noteworthy, because Wilson and Thomas lasted just one year on the job. Both were hired last summer — Wilson came over from Minnesota (where he worked under Yeo) while Thomas spent two years as Jon Cooper’s right-hand man in Tampa Bay.

Bennett, meanwhile, was cut loose after 10 years behind the Blues bench. He survived four different coaching changes, having worked with Andy Murray, Davis Payne, Hitchcock and Yeo.

Conklin had been with the organization since 2013.

Hayes scores twice as U.S. hands Russia first loss at Worlds

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Team USA notched its biggest win of the World Hockey Championship on Tuesday, knocking off previously undefeated Russia 5-3.

Kevin Hayes scored twice, while Anders Lee continued his terrific tourney by netting the game-winner on the power play in the third period. Isles teammate Brock Nelson — who’s also playing very well for the U.S. — had a three-point effort, while Johnny Gaudreau and Dylan Larkin registered two points each.

The Russians were led by Nikita Gusev, who scored twice.

As mentioned above, this was the first setback of the tourney for Russia. The team had previously run roughshod through the preliminary round, largely on the strength of its “big three” — forwards Nikita Kucherov, Artemi Panarin and Vadim Shipachyov. The trio had combined for 36 points but went silent on Tuesday. Shipachyov was the only one to find the scoresheet, registering an assist.

The U.S. has to be thrilled with today’s result. It’s a stark turnaround from its opening loss to the Germans, and has put the squad among the favorites for gold. The Americans have reeled off six straight wins and have looked dangerous offensively, scoring 16 goals over their last three games.

The U.S. also locked up top spot in Group A with Tuesday’s victory.