Author: Mike Halford

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Three

Report: Extension talks underway between Pens, Cole


Penguins defenseman Ian Cole, a pending restricted free agent, has “officially” started contract extension talks with the club, according DK on Pittsburgh Sports sources.

Cole, 26, is a former first-round pick (18th overall, 2007) that came to Pittsburgh in the Roberto Bortuzzo-to-St. Louis trade at the deadline. The former Notre Dame product played well upon joining the Pens, scoring eight points in 20 regular season games while averaging just under 19 minutes a night.

In the playoffs, with Pittsburgh’s blueline decimated by injury, Cole scored two points in five games while averaging 23 minutes per night.

Getting Cole back in the mix is fairly important for the Pens. While they do have some good young d-men on the horizon — Derrick Pouliot and Olli Maatta most notably — veterans Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff will be UFAs on July 1, and could be playing elsewhere next season.

Journeyman Ferriero signs in Austrian League

Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Rangers

Benn Ferriero, who spent last season with the St. Louis organization, has agreed to terms with EC Red Bull Salzburg of the Austrian League, the club announced on Tuesday.

Ferriero, 28, has appeared in 98 career NHL games with the Sharks, Rangers and Canucks. He enjoyed his greatest big-league success while in San Jose, scoring a playoff OT winner against Detroit in 2011, but has struggled to remain in the league since then, and spent all of lat season with the Blues’ AHL affiliat ein Chicago.

A Massachusetts native, Ferriero was drafted by the Coyotes in 2006 (196th overall) following his freshman year at Boston College.

Report: NHLPA working on ‘back to school’ program for players

2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series - Press Event

Just weeks after Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo openly questioned the NHLPA’s exit program, TSN reports the union is currently working on a “back to school” program, aimed at helping current players adjust to their post-hockey careers.


TSN has learned that for the past two years, [NHLPA executive Mathieu] Schneider and his colleagues have been quietly researching professional sports leagues around the world, consulting with sports industry executives as far away as in New Zealand about programs that help active professional athletes improve levels of education and prepare for post-playing careers.

The personal development program will see players receive counseling about personal relationships and parenting, and be given the opportunity to shadow executives in industries such as finance.

The NHL and NHLPA have each pledged close to $1.5 million over the next three years to the pilot project, though it’s unclear how much of the collective $3 million will go to pay for tuition and other fees at colleges, universities and trade schools.

Per TSN, Schneider said he was aware of Carcillo’s exit program critiques and acknowledged they had merit. Carcillo’s remarks came shortly after the passing of friend and ex-Blackhawks teammate Steve Montador, who died in February at 35.

“So after Monty died, I really did some research, kind of asking guys that had already moved on and that I had played with if they knew what our exit program was for the NHLPA and I was kind of astonished to find out that not one guy can tell me what it was,” Carcillo said.

“Right now, as far as the PA goes, we would receive a phone call to see how we’re doing and that’s pretty much our exit program.”

Per TSN, the union hopes to launch its “back to school” program this fall, which aims to eventually include retired players as well.

Frustration mounts as ‘Hawks suffer ‘two tough losses in a row’

Kevin Pollock, Jonathan Toews

CHICAGO — Yes, the Blackhawks have been here before.

But no, it isn’t making things any easier.

Numerologists would likely be intrigued by the fact that, in their third Stanley Cup Final appearance since 2010, the Blackhawks have now lost Game 3 all three times: in 2010, they fell at home to Philly; in 2013, they lost at TD Garden in Boston and this year, they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Bolts at the United Center.

But this time, there’s a bit of a different feeling at play.

“Two games we had the lead, but short-lived both times,” ‘Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville said following Monday’s defeat. “Two tough losses in a row.”

Blown leads have become a staple of this series. The Lightning have frittered away first-period leads (they’ve had one in all three games), while Chicago blows leads quickly. In Game 2, the ‘Hawks had a 2-1 lead that lasted all of 1:32 and tonight, their advantage held up for exactly 13 seconds before Ondrej Palat canceled Brandon Saad’s third-period tally.

Palat’s gut-punch was the first of two absorbed by Chicago in the final frame. The second came courtesy Cedric Paquette’s late marker with just over three minutes remaining.

“It’s frustrating,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews explained. “A lot of things we did today gave us the feeling we were going to come out on top with the effort we gave. It was just a couple of little bad habits that ended up hurting us.

“We are responsible for that, but I think this game could have been similar to the way we stole Game 1 from them. I feel like we had a lot of chances, especially early in the game. Late in the game, we gave up those odd-man rushes. We’ve been talking about that and they ended up in the back of the net.”

For Toews, his frustration likely extends beyond the result. He’s now gone three straight game without scoring a goal — this after scoring five over the last four games of the Western Conference Final — and has just one point to show through 180 minutes against the Bolts.

For Corey Crawford, the frustration stems from the same thing Quenneville lamented — dropping consecutive games the ‘Hawks felt they could’ve won.

“Tough loss,” he said. “I thought we played well. Frustrating, for sure.”

Lightning heap praise on ‘warrior’ Bishop

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three

CHICAGO — “He was excellent,” said Jon Cooper.

“You need guys to step up —  he did,” said Steven Stamkos.

“He’s a warrior,” said Victor Hedman.

All three — Tampa Bay’s head coach, captain and best defenseman — agreed on one thing Monday night: Ben Bishop’s performance in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final was huge.

How huge? Well, consider what transpired. Bishop stopped a series-high 36 shots while dealing with what appeared to be a pretty painful injury. He also bailed his team out of a first period the ‘Hawks thoroughly dominated.

The NHL’s tallest netminder then labored over the next two periods, often struggling to get to his feet after saves while looking about as uncomfortable as one can in a contest of this magnitude. Bishop also took a healthy knock on Brandon Saad’s goalie interference penalty, just for good measure.

But in the end, he was the winning goalie as Tampa Bay moved within two victories of the Stanley Cup.

Now don’t forget, in the hours prior to Game 3, it wasn’t known if Bishop would even play tonight. The Lightning were completely mum on the status of his health and, Monday morning, Bishop took a very limited skate before stonewalling reporters (but also apologizing for it, which was nice.)

After tonight’s tilt, the Bolts suggested they knew Bishop was in better shape than the media was led to believe.

“He was huge for us tonight,” Hedman said. “There was a little bit of a controversy going into tonight, but I think he showed how good he was and how healthy he is.”

Stamkos also suggested the team knows Bishop isn’t 100 percent, won’t be anytime soon, and that the narrative about his health isn’t going anywhere.

“The speculation is going to go on until this series is over,” Stamkos explained. “[Bishop’s] a competitor. He stepped up to the challenge tonight. He’s done it all playoffs.

“He’s been our best player a lot of nights and gave us a chance today.”

Ryan Callahan echoed those statements, explaining that regardless of how Bishop is feeling, the Bolts have faith that he’ll keep turning in solid performances.

“He’s out there, he’s out there,” Callahan said. “You don’t second-guess anybody this time of year. Everybody wants to play no matter what’s going on.

“He played big tonight.”