Mike Halford

Flint Firebirds head coach John Gruden, second from left, and assistant coach Dave Karpa, right foreground, talk with their defensemen during a workout, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Flint, Mich. The Firebirds were back on the ice, trying to regain a sense of normalcy after the Ontario Hockey League players stood up for their fired coaches and ended up getting them reinstated. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Ex-NHLer Gruden named OHL Hamilton head coach

John Gruden, the former NHL defenseman that appeared in nearly 100 games with the Bruins, Senators and Capitals, has been named the new head coach of the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, the team announced on Friday.

“After an extensive search, I am pleased to announce John Gruden as the Hamilton Bulldogs’ new Head Coach,” GM Steve Staios said in a release. “It was clear to me that John’s values and goals best aligned with what our organization holds in high regard. His background, competitiveness and character are a tremendous asset for our team.”

Gruden, 45, spent last season in the tire fire that was Flint. He was the coach, you may recall, that was twice fired by embattled owner Rolf Nilsen, who has since been suspended by the OHL.

Prior to his coaching career, Gruden played in 92 big league games, and made three Stanley Cup playoff appearances with Boston in ’96.

He replaces outgoing coach George Burnett in Hamilton.

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    Report: KHL sniper Platt garnering NHL interest

    DALLAS - MARCH 02:  Geoff Platt #47 of the Columbus Blue Jackets looks for a pass during the NHL game against the Dallas Stars on March 2, 2007 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  The Blue Jackets defeated the Stars 3-2 in a shootout.  (Photo by: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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    Interesting tidbit out of Belarus — Geoff Platt, a star forward in the KHL that represents Belarus internationally, is reportedly garnering interest for a potential NHL return.

    Per Belorussian news outlet Pressball, a national team official (Platt just finished playing for Belarus at the Worlds)  said the 30-year-old will be offered a contract this summer by an NHL team.

    Platt spent last season in the KHL with powerhouse CSKA Moscow, and finished 10th in the league in goals, with 21 in 55 games.

    A former Canadian international — he won gold with Canada at the ’03 World U-18s — Platt has appeared in 46 career NHL contests with Columbus and Anaheim.

    His last games came with the Ducks in in 2007 and, since then, he’s emerged as a talented scorer in the KHL and Finland’s SM-liiga.

    Journeyman Jeffrey signs in Swiss League

    Dustin Jeffrey
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    Dustin Jeffrey, who’s appeared in over 130 NHL contests with the Penguins, Stars and Coyotes, has agreed to a two-year deal with Lausanne of the Swiss League, the club announced on Friday.

    Jeffrey, 28, split last season between the Arizona and Pittsburgh organization, appearing in a handful of games for the Coyotes. He primarily suited up in the American League.

    A talented minor-league scorer — Jeffrey has been close to a point-per-game guy in the AHL over the last few years — his best big-league stint came in ’10-11, when he scored seven goals and 12 points in 25 games for the Pens.


    Report: Blues interviewing Yeo to be Hitchcock’s replacement-in-waiting

    Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo argues a call in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators Tuesday, March 17, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    The Mike Yeo interview tour continued this week, but with a wrinkle — he’s in discussions for a head coaching gig down the road.

    Per the Star-Tribune, Yeo is interviewing in St. Louis with the goal of taking over from Ken Hitchcock. Earlier this week, Hitchcock signed a one-year extension to return to the Blues next season, and announced the ’16-17 campaign would be his last.


    Associate coach Brad Shaw and assistant coach Kirk Muller stepped down this week reportedly because they wouldn’t accept one-year terms. Muller was originally hired with the thinking that some day he’d replace Hitchcock.

    This means the Blues are currently looking for two assistant coaches, one of whom GM Doug Armstrong hopes can be molded into Hitchcock’s successor.

    Yeo is believed to be a contender for that so-called “Coach in Waiting” position.

    It makes sense the Blues want to get out in front and find Hitchcock’s replacement now, rather than jockey for available candidates next summer.

    It also makes sense they have interest in Yeo, who’s been a fairly hot commodity since being dismissed in Minnesota, where he spent 4.5 years, making the playoffs three straight times.

    Previous reports claim Yeo’s interviewed for the Ottawa, Anaheim and Calgary gigs.

    Despite deficit, Sharks will ‘hold off on the funeral’


    PITTSBURGH — By now, you’ve probably seen the stat.

    But if you haven’t, well, here it is:

    The all-time series record of home teams sweeping Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final is 33-3.

    It was trotted out quite a bit following Pittsburgh’s 2-1 OT win over San Jose in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. The victory gave the Pens a commanding 2-0 lead — with both wins coming at Consol — and presented the Sharks with a daunting task:

    To win it all, they’ll need to beat Pittsburgh in four of the next five games.

    Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer didn’t say if he was aware of “the stat” or not, but did say he’s holding off on eulogies.

    “Game 1 was decided in the last two minutes. Tonight is an overtime game,” DeBoer said in his postgame presser. “I think we’ll hold off on the funeral. We have a lot of hockey left to play.”

    DeBoer is right. And he’d probably be wise to point out that, of those three teams to rally after losing the first two games on the road, two of them happened within the last seven years.

    What’s more, one of them was the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins.

    But if the Sharks are going replicate what the Pens did seven years ago, they’re going to need more production across the board. DeBoer stressed the need for more goals at 5-on-5 — San Jose has just two in the series — and there are individuals, especially at forward, that haven’t shown up yet.

    Joe Thornton has no points. Joe Pavelski has no points. Melker Karlsson has yet to put a puck on net. Chris Tierney is scoreless. So too is Tommy Wingels.

    To a man, the Sharks know a more collective effort is required. Especially when they look across at Pittsburgh, and see the likes of Connor Sheary and Bryan Rust and Justin Schultz and Olli Maatta chipping in with points.

    Despite all these issues — like the fact his team has been out-shot 71-48 — DeBoer was defensive when pressed about them. The way he sees it, things aren’t as one-sided as everyone’s making them out to be.

    “This was a game that went back and forth,” he explained. “They’re at home. They carried the play for parts. We carried it for parts.

    “We’ve got to go back home now, and get back in the series.”