Author: Mike Halford

Josh Harding

Report: Harding expected to announce retirement


Sounds like Josh Harding’s playing career might soon be over.

Following Minnesota’s end-of-year media availability on Monday, the Star-Tribune reported that Harding is “expected” to retire this offseason after missing all but two games with AHL Iowa this season, while dealing with complications from multiple sclerosis.

“I wouldn’t want to speak for him,” Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said, “but he has bigger issues than just hockey.”

Harding, 30, had a difficult 2014-15 campaign. Expected to challenge for minutes with the Wild, he fractured his foot during an off-ice incident in training camp and was subsequently suspended by the team before getting waived in November.

After clearing, Harding reported to AHL Iowa and appeared in two games — but exited his second due to dehydration, and never played again.

Should this mark the end of Harding’s career, it’s an unfortunate denouement for an otherwise remarkable story. After being diagnosed with MS in 2012, Harding vowed to “not just overcome this, but really succeed with it.” Shortly thereafter, he returned to action with the Wild and captured the 2013 Masterton Trophy.

In the first half of the ’13-14 season, Harding was brilliant — 18-7-3, 1.66 GAA, .933 save percentage — and was widely considered to be in the running for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top netminder.

Report: Montador’s family to sue NHL after CTE findings


The family of former NHL defenseman Steve Montador, who passed away in February, is planning on filing a lawsuit against the NHL, according to a report from ESPN.


William Gibbs, of Chicago-based Corboy & Demetrio, confirmed to on Tuesday morning that the firm will be filing a suit against the league on behalf of Montador’s estate. Montador passed away in February 2015 at age 35.

“The Montador family’s suspicions have been confirmed: Steve Montador’s 35-year-old brain was decaying due to the head hits he endured during his NHL career,” Gibbs said in a statement. “CTE has afflicted yet another young athlete and his family.

“It is heartbreaking that such a vibrant young man sustained such monumental brain damage while playing a professional sport.”

Gibbs is the same lawyer that represented Derek Boogaard’s family when it filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the NHL in 2013. The Boogaard family had previously filed against the NHLPA — through a different lawyer — but that suit was dismissed just prior to filing against the league.

Shortly after Montador’s passing, the Chicago Tribune reported that, in the month before he died, Montador had planned to sue the NHL over his concussions (with Gibbs as his lawyer.)

Related: Carcillo talks Montador’s ‘trying times,’ questions NHLPA’s exit program

Video: Drone flies through Vegas hockey arena

Las Vegas

This music is fire:

What you saw in that 45 second clip was the under-construction MGM-AEG arena, which would house Vegas’ proposed NHL expansion team… should prospective owner Bill Foley be granted a team, of course.

A joint venture between MGM Resorts International and AEG Live, the arena is located on the strip, projected to seat 17,500 for hockey and expected to be completed by early 2016.

According to a Las Vegas Review-Journal report from earlier this month, the NHL’s Board of Governors is believed to be voting on proposed expansion this September. But, when reached by email, deputy commissioner Bill Daly told PHT the report was “extremely premature.”

“The Board hasn’t even determined what next steps, if any, it should entertain with respect to expansion generally,” wrote Daly.

Related: Report: BOG to vote on Vegas expansion in September

Bolts are ‘angry’ heading into Game 6, says Cooper

Jon Cooper

Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said his team was an angry lot following a second straight loss to Montreal in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference second-round series.

And you know what? He liked it.

“There was a difference in the room after we lost Game 4 (compared to) Game 5. It was a genuine pissed-off attitude when we lost Game 5,” Cooper said, per the Montreal Gazette. “I could just tell, there was nothing that really needed to be said. Guys were angry, it’s carried over.

“I like our mojo right now. I want to be an angry team.”

There were signs of Tampa Bay’s frustration immediately following Game 5. Goalie Ben Bishop called out his mates, saying “it’s tough when you only show up for half the game” while captain Steve Stamkos added “this one (stinks).”

And it’s easy to see why the Bolts are getting irate.

Carey Price has been tremendous over the last two games, stopping 46 of 49 shots (a .939 save percentage). But within those numbers lies a problem for Tampa Bay — its shot totals have been woefully low this series. After putting 35 on Price in the opener (which happened in double OT), they’ve since registered 24, 19, 24 and 25 shots in goal in the four subsequent games. For a team that led the NHL in goals per game during the regular season and averaged 29.6 shots per contest, it’s a pretty noticeable decline.

“We haven’t had our best stuff yet,” veteran forward Brenden Morrow told the Tampa Bay Times. “We still believe our best hockey matches up pretty good against other teams’ best hockey. We just have to find a way to muster it up.”

Fortunately for Tampa Bay, they’ve got an opportunity to “muster it up” at the friendly confines of Amalie Arena. The Bolts were an NHL-best 32-8-1 at home this year.

More minutes? Timonen will ‘take whatever I get’ after Rozsival injury

Chicago Blackhawks v Philadelphia Flyers

Though he’s largely been a non-factor for Chicago this postseason — averaging just 9:25 TOI per night — Kimmo Timonen says he’s more than ready for an increased workload now that Michal Rozsival is done for the playoffs with a fractured ankle.

“If I get more, I get more. If I don’t, I don’t,” Timonen said, per the Sun-Times. “That’s my role and I’m happy to do it. If it’s seven, eight, 12 minutes — that’s more than I was supposed to play this year anyway.

“I’ll take whatever I get.”

Expect defense to be a major story in the Western Conference Final — specifically, the contrasts between Anaheim and Chicago. The Ducks are feeling great about the health and depth; they’re young, they’re fresh, Hampus Lindholm is emerging as a potential star and, should injury hit, the club is more than capable of dealing — trade deadline pickups James Wisniewski and Korbinian Holzer are sitting as healthy scratches, as are veteran Mark Fistric and youngster Josh Manson.

It’s a far different story in Chicago.

Head coach Joel Quenneville has relied heavily on his top four of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Rozsival was often scrutinized by fans and media, but played an integral role as the No. 5 guy and will now likely be replaced by David Rundblad. The 24-year-old Swede did play a fair bit during the regular season but, as Brough pointed out, received protected minutes and started just 20.6 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone.

Which brings the conversation back to Timonen.

There’s an obvious opportunity here for him to see more ice, given almost all of Rozsival’s minutes were at even strength. The 40-year-old insists he’s feeling great and fit enough to be a factor in the Anaheim series, which might be a necessity given how effectively the Ducks rolled their forwards through the first two playoff rounds.

“I’m probably in the past shape I’ve been in years. I feel great,” Timonen said. “Once I get out there I do my job as well as I can. But it hasn’t been easy. It’s a role I’ve never been through before. It takes a little time to get used to it. It’s a lot of mental thinking.

“Every player wants to play more. When you play more you usually play better.”

Related: Rozsival injury puts Chicago blue line that much more under the microscope