Mike Halford

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 20:  Former Boston Bruins players Bobby Orr and Milt Schmidt stand at center ice before the game between the Boston Bruins and the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden on October 20, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Boston legend, Hall of Famer Schmidt dies at 98

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One of the most iconic figures in Bruins franchise history has passed away.

Milt Schmidt, who won four Stanley Cups as a B’s player and GM, has died at the age of 98, per the Boston Globe. The Globe reports Schmidt had suffered a stroke recently, and was living in a care facility.

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961, Schmidt helped the Bruins win titles as a player in 1939 and ’41, then two more as GM in ’70 and ’72. He also served as head coach immediately following his playing days, leading Boston to back-to-back Cup Finals in ’57 and ’58.

A member of the “Kraut Line” alongside fellow Hall of Famers Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer, Schmidt was highly revered throughout the Boston hockey community and the NHL.

Upon news of his passing, an outpouring of condolences flooded social media.

Fittingly, Schmidt — along with Bobby Orr — dropped the ceremonial puck this past October at the Bruins’ first home game of the season.

Detroit hopes Ott will spark league-worst power play

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 29:  Steve Ott #29 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Dallas Stars at Joe Louis Arena on November 29, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 3-1. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Last month, we wrote about Detroit’s struggling power play — ranked 29th in the NHL at the time — and things haven’t gotten better since.

In fact, they’re worse.

The Red Wings now own the league’s worst PP, sitting dead last at 11.7 percent. They scored just two goals with the man advantage in all of December, and didn’t exactly flip the script with the calendar, going 0-for-3 in a Centennial Classic loss to the Leafs on Jan. 1.

Desperate times? Desperate measures. At Tuesday’s practice ahead of tonight’s game in Anaheim, the Red Wings put veteran grinder Steve Ott on a power play unit.

More, from the Detroit News:

“Frustration doesn’t do anybody any good,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “What you can do is find ways to be successful. We look at every which way we can find ways to where we can be successful.”

Putting Ott on net-front, with Niklas Kronwall, Anthony Mantha, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar gives the Red Wings a rugged player who will retrieve the puck, something the Red Wings have lacked.

“We don’t spend enough time in the zone and there are two reasons for that,” Blashill said. “We don’t retrieve enough pucks, so he (Ott) can certainly help with retrieving pucks, and the other is the break in. Those are two things we have to make sure we do a better job of.

Ott’s appeared in 33 games this year and, all told, received a grand total of 102 seconds of power play time. He also hasn’t scored a PPG since the ’13-14 campaign.

That said, if you go back far enough, the 34-year-old does have some history of power play success. He had eight PPGs in Dallas one season — granted, it was six years ago — and has carved out a reputation as a guy unafraid to do the dirty work, go to the greasy areas, and all the other hockey cliches you’ve come to know and love.

And really, Detroit needs to try virtually anything at this point. Their power play issues date all the way back to last year, when the club went an awful 1-for-25 in an opening-round playoff loss to Tampa Bay.

Coyotes acknowledge Hanzal trade could go down

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 25:  Martin Hanzal #11 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks at Gila River Arena on November 25, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Ducks 4-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Martin Hanzal‘s in the last of his five-year deal. Per the Arizona Republic, Hanzal said both sides are “not really talking right now” about an extension and, as we wrote about back in mid-November, his name has surfaced in trade rumors.

Don’t expect those to go away anytime soon.

This week, Coyotes GM John Chayka told the Republic a “transaction could be made” for Hanzal, who would be one of the key targets available at the trade deadline.

“It’s one of those things where we kind of know where the player is at,” Chayka explained. “The player knows where we’re at. If there was an opportunity to do something, I don’t think it would take too long.”

Hanzal, who turns 30 in February, has 14 points through 32 games this year, missing time with a lower-body injury. Health has been an issue for the big Czech — he stands 6-foot-6, 226 pounds — and, over the last two years, he’s missed 63 games due to various ailments.

But when healthy, Hanzal can be very effective.

Last year he racked up a career-high 41 points (in just 64 games played), often skating alongside two youngsters in Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. Hanzal was also terrific in the faceoff circle, winning nearly 56 percent of his draws, and has routinely averaged around 18 minutes per night for the Coyotes, the only NHL club he’s ever known.

Financially speaking, Hanzal has appeal ($3.1M cap hit). And there are teams that would certainly be interested in bringing him aboard.

Montreal has been floated as a suitor. The Habs aren’t deep at center, something that was an issue before losing Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais to injury. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also suggested San Jose or St. Louis would make sense.

To date, Chayka said he’s yet to receive a serious offer for Hanzal, and both the player and organization remain open to an extension.

But one gets the sense Arizona may be ready to move on — in addition to stockpiling centers through waivers and trades (Josh Jooris, Peter Holland, Alexander Burmistrov), the Coyotes also have some good youngsters in the system, including two currently starring at the world juniors — Canadian captain Dylan Strome, and the U.S.’ Clayton Keller.

Related: Coyotes scouts were ‘unanimous’ in wanting Burmistrov

World Juniors: Canada sticks with goalie Ingram for Sweden semifinal

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 02:  Simon Stransky #23 of Team Czech Republic scores on goaltender Connor Ingram #1 of Team Canada during the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship quarterfinal game at the Bell Centre on January 2, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  Team Canada defeated Team Czech Republic 5-3.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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Canada head coach Dominique Ducharme has announced that Connor Ingram will start over Carter Hart in goal against Sweden in today’s world junior semifinal.

Goaltending has been a major storyline for Canada in this tournament, and not a good one. Neither Ingram nor Hart have looked strong at any point, and the numbers reflect as much — Canada has the ninth-ranked save percentage (.874) among the 10 teams in the tournament.

Only Latvia, which was relegated yesterday, is lower.

Ducharme’s decision to go with Ingram is likely because the Tampa Bay prospect has played in each of the last two games — a loss to the U.S., and a win over the Czechs — while Hart hasn’t seen game action in seven days.

That said, the temptation to make a switch had to be there, especially since Ducharme wasn’t very complimentary of Ingram the Czech game, in which he allowed three goals on his first 16 shots faced.

Hart, a Flyers prospect and the reigning CHL goalie of the year, came into this tournament as the starting netminder but looked shaky at the onset. He allowed a pair of soft goals in a win over Russia, and has only received one start since — an easy 10-2 rout of the aforementioned Latvians.

Sharks waive Nieto, their first-ever Californian draft pick

NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 03:  Matt Nieto #83 of the San Jose Sharks skates against the Nashville Predators during the second period of Game Three of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 3, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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For some time, Matt Nieto‘s been a cool story in San Jose. The Long Beach native was the first-ever Californian to be drafted by the team — 47th overall in 2011 — and, after a solid rookie year in which he scored 10 goals and 24 points in 66 games, looked to be a key part of the Sharks’ future.

Today, that narrative took an abrupt turn.

Nieto was placed on waivers Wednesday, after a difficult season that saw him dress for just 16 of San Jose’s 38 games, failing to score a single goal. Nieto has been out of the lineup since mid-December, when he played just under 12 minutes in a win over Ottawa.

Long regarded for his speed and skating ability, Nieto will almost certainly have suitors on waivers. He posted a career-high 10 goals and 27 points in ’14-15, and only turned 24 in November.

What’s more, Nieto has over 200 games on his resume and some good postseason experience as well — in that aforementioned rookie campaign of ’13-14, he scored five points in seven games, then dressed for 16 games during San Jose’s Stanley Cup Final run last spring.

He’s also affordable, currently on a one-year deal worth $735,000.