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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Claims of Canucks’ drinking culture ‘baseless and categorically false,’ says Linden

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Vancouver has responded to an Irish Times column in which Lee Chin — a hurler and Gaelic football player — expressed shock about the club’s alleged drinking culture, and slump-busting methodology.

“Our team recently accepted a request from Lee Chin and a TV show for access to an individual on-ice skills session and a game with Canucks alumni. We were disappointed to learn of the comments made in an Irish Times article about his experience,” Canucks president Trevor Linden said in a statement, per Yahoo. “The assumptions made by Lee Chin on hockey culture and reported by the Irish Times are baseless and categorically false.

“They do not reflect our players, their conduct or the culture of our game in any way.”

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Update: The Daily Hive reports that Chin released a statement apologizing for the interview. Here’s a portion of his response

“On Thursday 09 March, Chin participated in an interview that lasted a total of 25 minutes, during which he discussed at length the warm welcome he received from the Vancouver Canucks, the skill and grace of the players he met, the professional attitude and set up of the team and how he was in awe of their athleticism,” the statement reads.

“Lee did however as part of that interview speak about the players’ social lives. He accepts that what he said is not a true reflection of the culture of the Vancouver Canucks or its players and does not reflect what he witnessed during his time with the team.”

Chin’s statement noted that he was disappointed that the comments became “the focus of media commentary” and that he did not want to “call into question the professionalism of the Vancouver Canucks.”

More here.

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Chin swapped sports with former Canucks goalie Alex Auld for a Irish broadcast (RTE) program called The Toughest Trade. In it, Chin learned how to play hockey, and spent time with various members of the organization. His presence was profiled on Hockey Night in Canada.

In the Times article, Chin said he “couldn’t believe” the drinking culture in Vancouver, explaining that players were “lowering pints the day before a game.”

Chin also referenced what he says the club called a ‘change up.’

From the Irish Times:

“When a player is not on form, not scoring. The manager will call a ‘change up’, and basically that player has to go out and ruin himself for the night, then come back the next day, with the attitude of you just don’t care.

“So they send him out, drink 20 pints, go off with a couple of women, whatever he wants. And come back the next day. That’s the way they live. It’s the culture, what they believe in, letting off steam like that. I don’t know if they look at the science behind it.”

For an opposing view, here’s Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy, who travels with the Canucks:

Goalie nods: Bernier gets seventh straight start in place of injured Gibson

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Jonathan Bernier will continue to shoulder starting duties for Anaheim tonight — and for the foreseeable future.

Bernier will start his seventh straight game tonight in place of the injured John Gibson, who hasn’t played since Feb. 20 due to a lower-body injury. Gibson, who is traveling with the Ducks on their current road trip, has been ruled out of tonight’s game against Chicago and Friday’s tilt in St. Louis.

As for Bernier he’s been good, but not great, since assuming the No. 1 job. He’s 3-2-0 in his last five with a .916 save percentage, which is an upgrade on his overall numbers for the year (.904 save percentage, 2.85 GAA).

This is a pretty crucial stretch for both player and organization. Bernier’s a UFA at season’s end and not expected to be back in Anaheim, so he’s essentially auditioning for a job. The Ducks, meanwhile, have watched Calgary catch up to them in the Pacific Division standings — heading into tonight’s tilt, the Flames are just two points back for third place.

For Chicago, Corey Crawford starts in goal.

Elsewhere…

Henrik Lundqvist is hurt, so Antti Rannta gets the call in Carolina. He’ll be backed up by ECHL recall Brandon Halverson. For the ‘Canes, Cam Ward is in net after Eddie Lack started the last two.

Michal Neuvirth goes for Philly in a huge game in Toronto. Frederik Andersen counters for the Leafs.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, who’s been great since securing the No. 1 gig in Tampa following Ben Bishop‘s departure, gets the call when the Bolts host the Wild. Devan Dubnyk, in a bit of a slump having lost three of his last six, goes for Minnesota.

Mike Condon gives Craig Anderson a night off as the Sens travel to Arizona. Mike Smith, who’s lost four straight, starts for the Coyotes.

— Good matchup in Calgary as the in-form Brian Elliott and the Flames host Carey Price and the Habs.

— It’s Cory Schneider versus Calvin Pickard as the Devils take on the Avs in Colorado.

Thomas Greiss, coming off a 27-save win in Edmonton on Tuesday, goes right back in for the Isles. The host Canucks are going with Ryan Miller, as Jacob Markstrom is still out injured.

— Another scintillating matchup, this time in San Jose: Martin Jones and the Sharks host Braden Holtby and the Caps.

Jonathan Quick, who was terrific in a shootout win over the Leafs last week, draws back in for the Kings tonight. He’ll be up against Pekka Rinne, who was equally good in Nashville’s shootout loss to the Ducks on Tuesday (39 saves on 42 shots).

 

Filppula says nixing trade was ‘nothing against Toronto’

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Just prior to his trade to Philadelphia, reports surfaced that ex-Bolts center Valtteri Filppula turned down a potential move to Toronto.

On Thursday, Filppula confirmed it.

“Yeah, there was interest on Toronto,” Filppula said, per Sportsnet. “Obviously, I made a [trade] list earlier and just decided to stick with the list. Everything at the trade deadline comes at you really quick, and when you do those lists you have a little bit more time to think about things, so I wanted to just stick with that.

“It’s nothing against Toronto,” Filppula added, per The Athletic. “They obviously have a great team.”

With that, attention turned to Filppula’s relationship with Leafs head coach Mike Babcock. The two spent considerable time together in Detroit and, publicly, didn’t always appear to have the greatest relationship.

Filppula shot down that notion, however. What’s more, Babcock made a pseudo-recruitment call to Filppula prior to the deadline, trying to convince him to join the team, to which Filppula said “it was nice to catch up.”

The Leafs did eventually get a veteran center out of Tampa Bay — acquiring Brian Boyle, a Babcock favorite. It’s also worth noting Filppula had a 16-team trade list, so it’s not like Toronto was the only team he wouldn’t waive for.

No Lundqvist, Nash or Grabner for banged-up Rangers tonight

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The Blueshirts are limping into this evening’s tilt with Carolina.

Starting netminder Henrik Lundqvist is sidelined with a lower-body injury. Leading goalscorer Michael Grabner will miss his fifth straight contest with a hip ailment. Alternate captain Rick Nash is out with a lingering upper-body issue.

So what sayeth you, J.T. Miller?

“People go down and people have to step into a different spot normally,” the Rangers’ leading scorer said, per the club website. “Just have to play like any other game.”

On their own, the losses are significant — but when piled on top of the guys New York was already without, it’s pretty overwhelming.

The Rangers were down the services of d-men Kevin Klein (back) and Dan Girardi (ankle), while versatile forward Jesper Fast is on the shelf with a separated shoulder.

As a result, head coach Alain Vingeault’s working with a patchwork lineup. The Chris KreiderDerek StepanMats Zuccarello line will remain intact, while Miller will jump to fill Nash’s spot alongside Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad.

Matt Puempel, a healthy scratch recently, will draw back in and play alongside Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes. That leaves Tanner Glass, Oscar Lindberg and Brandon Pirri on the fourth line.

On defense, it’ll be Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Brendan Smith, Nick Holden, Brady Skjei and Steve Kampfer.

Antti Raanta will get the start, while ECHL recall Brandon Halverson will back up.

Flyers, Sabres goalie prospects among Richter Award semifinalists

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A nice feather in the cap for Philly’s and Buffalo’s scouting departments on Thursday.

Cal Petersen, the Notre Dame product taken by the Sabres in the fifth round of the ’13 draft, and Harvard’s Merrick Madsen — Philly’s sixth-round pick that same year — have been shortlisted as 10 semifinalists for this year’s Mike Richter Award, given annually to the NCAA’s top goalie.

The rest of the field includes: Michael Bitzer (Bemidji State), Park Gahagen (Army), Kyle Hayton (St. Lawrence), Tanner Jaillet (Denver), Hunter Miska (Minnesota-Duluth), Jake Oettinger (Boston University), Shane Starrett (Air Force) and Charles Williams (Canisius).

It’s worth noting that Miska and Oettinger were the lone freshmen nominated.

Introduced in 2014, the Richter Award has gone to some pretty prevalent names. Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck was the inaugural winner, followed by Bruins farmhand Zane McIntyre in 2015.

Last year, prized Canucks prospect Thatcher Demko captured the trophy. Demko is currently with Vancouver’s AHL affiliate in Utica, and was called up to the Canucks in a backup role earlier this season.