Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.

Jiggs McDonald to call first Kings game in 45 years

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Thursday’s Kings-Panthers game in Florida will be a special one for Jiggs McDonald.

McDonald, the legendary play-by-play man and winner of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt Award, will return to the Kings’ booth for the first time since 1972 to call tomorrow’s game, alongside color commentator Jim Fox.

More, from the club:

McDonald is the “Original Voice of the LA Kings,” working in Los Angeles from 1967-72 during the club’s very first five seasons. He called the club’s first preseason game, first regular season game and first playoff game. His first Kings game in 1967 was also his first NHL game.

He has also worked as a club broadcaster for the Atlanta Flames, Florida Panthers and the New York Islanders, totaling more than 3,000 contests. In 1990 he was the recipient of the Foster Hewitt Award, which is recognized by a plaque in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and he will return to Los Angeles for Opening Night as the 1967-68 Kings are reunited. He is one of three Kings broadcasters to be so honored along with Bob Miller and Nick Nickson.

In what is scheduled to be his last NHL game, McDonald will now have called a Kings game in their first year and again during the club’s 50th Anniversary celebration. He has also called at least one NHL game in each of the last 50 years.

McDonald, 78, is best known for his lengthy stint calling Islanders games, and being the play-by-play voice for three of New York’s Stanley Cup championships.

Grubauer could be Vegas-bound — not that he’s focused on it

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Here’s someone to keep an eye on with regards to the Golden Knights:

Philipp Grubauer.

Grubauer, currently employed as Braden Holtby‘s trusty backup in Washington, could be in play when Vegas starts roster construction this summer. A pending RFA, he qualifies as a goalie to be exposed — Holtby will obviously be protected — and should the situation change, there’s always the possibility of Vegas targeting Grubauer in a potential trade.

There are connections in Sin City.

Vegas GM George McPhee was the boss in Washington when it took Grubauer in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. What’s more, McPhee hired former Caps goalie coach, Dave Prior, to oversee things in Vegas.

Prior has spoken highly of his former pupil.

“Philipp does things effortlessly,” Prior said, per the Washington Post. “That’s the talent that not everybody is lucky enough to be equipped with. He also stays between the puck and the net instinctively.”

Grubauer ticks several boxes for Vegas. He’s young (25), projects to be affordable (currently carrying a $750,000 cap hit) and looks as though he’s ready to audition for a No. 1 gig.

Currently in the conversation for the NHL’s best backup, Grubauer is enjoying a great season. He’s 10-3-2 with a .931 save percentage, 1.98 GAA and three shutouts.

Of course, Vegas speculation is just noise to the German ‘tender. His main focus is on the Caps.

“I don’t care right now,” Grubauer said of the potential to become a starter, per the Washington Times. “I’m just looking to help this team and win the games I play and help the team get the points. When Holts needs a rest, I’m confident that I can step in.”

Will Sens ask Phaneuf to waive NMC for expansion draft?

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From the Ottawa Sun:

What’s going to happen on June 17 is that the Senators and the other 29 teams will submit their off-limits lists of players the Golden Knights can’t snatch away. Basically, it will consist of either seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender, or eight skaters and one goaltender. All players who have a no-movement clause must be protected and all first- or second-year pros, as well as unsigned draft choices, will be exempt.

It’s widely believed the Senators will protect Cody Ceci and Marc Methot along with Erik Karlsson, and ask Dion Phaneuf to waive his no-move with the thinking Las Vegas won’t touch the latter’s hefty contract.

As it stands, Phaneuf’s modified no-movement clause means the Sens would have to protect him come the expansion draft. He’s the lone Ottawa skater that requires it.

But his contract could provide protection on its own.

In the third of a seven-year, $49 million deal, Phaneuf — who turns 32 in April — is due $7 million annually through 2021. Though the actual salary paid does decrease slightly at the end ($6.5M in ’18-19 and ’19-20, $5.5M in ’20-21), it’s still a truckload of money and, to be blunt, represents one of the more onerous deals in the NHL.

(In terms of cap hit, Phaneuf is the sixth-highest paid blueliner in the league — ahead of fellow Sens d-man and two-time Norris winner Karlsson.)

This isn’t to say Phaneuf is having a bad year, or isn’t still a top-four guy. He’s on pace for 32 points, and could hit double digits in goals for the first time in five years. He’s also logging a healthy 22:57 TOI per night for the Sens and, as one of the alternate captains, serves an important role in the leadership group.

Despite that, logic suggests Vegas would pass on Phaneuf. And Ottawa brass could ensure that happens by, say, offering Vegas a pick or asset in exchange for not taking him.

But on a larger scale, this kind of move is something to keep an eye on. Chances are more teams might go this route, or at least down a similar path.

No hearing for McLeod after concussing Baertschi

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Nashville forward Cody McLeod has escaped punishment for his hit on Vancouver’s Sven Baertschi, per ESPN.

McLeod won’t be subjected to a disciplinary hearing for the incident, which forced Baertschi from Tuesday’s game with a concussion.

The hit, which occurred early in the first period, was deemed an “accidental collision” by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety (again, per ESPN).

But that’s not quite how Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins saw it:

It’s worth noting McLeod wasn’t penalized on the play.

Martin Havlat calls it a career

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Martin Havlat, the speedy forward that scored nearly 600 points in close to 800 career games, has announced his retirement after 14 seasons in the NHL.

“That was fast,” Havlat said in a statement, released by the NHLPA. “I feel like I was just getting started in the NHL a short while ago. I would love to continue playing but my body will not allow me to play at the level I expect from myself.

“I feel very fortunate to have played in the NHL for 14 years. Rest assured, I am retiring as a grateful man.”

Some career highlights, per the PA:

— Armed with great speed and a blistering wrist shot, Havlat impressed in his debut season (19-23—42) to finish as a Calder Memorial Trophy finalist in 2000-01, and he was also named to the NHL All-Rookie team. A testament to his knack for timely goal-scoring in Ottawa, with 23 game-winning goals in 298 regular season games, Havlat was recently named to the Senators’ 25th anniversary team as voted by the fans.

— Havlat spent three seasons in Chicago, which he punctuated with an impressive 2008-09 season when he set career-best marks in assists (48), points (77) and plus/minus (+29) in 81 games. He led the team in assists and points, while he placed second behind teammate Jonathan Toews’ 34 goals. For his efforts, he was named the Blackhawks’ team MVP. 

— Havlat signed a six-year contract as a free agent with the Minnesota Wild in July 2009. In 2011, he made his second NHL All-Star Game appearance. Havlat averaged 58 points in 75 games during his two years in Minnesota (40-76—116 in 151 GP). 

Havlat also spent time in San Jose, New Jersey and St. Louis. Internationally, he starred at numerous tournaments for his native Czech Republic, which included gold medal-winning performances at the 2000 World Juniors and World Championships.

“I will miss playing the game I love so much, Havlat said. “It is time to start a new chapter in my life.”