Author: Mike Halford

Francois Beauchemin, Jamie Benn

‘There’s nobody that wants to fight Jamie Benn,’ says Stars GM


There’s been plenty of praise for Jamie Benn recently. After capturing the NHL’s scoring title with a final-night flurry — on what was later acknowledged to be a serious hip injury — then earning a nomination for the Ted Lindsay Award, it seems people can’t say enough about good things the Dallas captain.

Like his boss, for example.

“There’s nobody that wants to fight Jamie Benn,” Stars GM Jim Nill said, per the Dallas Morning-News. “I’ve seen it in so many buildings.

“The game gets a little bit rough, he kind of looks at somebody and the fire is put out.”

Benn, 25, is a pretty tough customer. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, racked up a team-high 120 hits this season and, over his six-year NHL career, has fought 14 times, which includes couple of memorable scraps.

Like this one, against Francois Beauchemin:

And another, perhaps most famously, against Joe Thornton:

The toughness factor has played a big role in Benn’s quick ascension to star status. Over the last two years, he’s accomplished an awful lot — won an Olympic gold and Art Ross, became team captain, helped Dallas snap a five-year playoff drought — yet never strayed from the gritty, sandpaper stuff.

“It’s amazing what he’s done just in the two years that I’ve been there,” Nill explained. “And what is he — 25? He’s not even in his prime yet.

“And he’s laying in bed right now with two hip surgeries. He played the whole year injured. People don’t understand that. It’s an amazing what he’s done. The encouraging part is where he’s headed. You know he’s going to get even better.”

Related: Stars’ Benn undergoes second hip surgery

Canucks’ pending UFA Richardson to undergo ankle surgery

Vancouver Canucks v Calgary Flames - Game Six

Veteran Vancouver forward Brad Richardson will undergo ankle surgery today to repair an injury that hobbled him throughout the latter half of the season, per News 1130.

Richardson, 30, appeared in just 45 regular season contests but did return to play in five of Vancouver’s six games in an opening-round playoff loss to Calgary. The ankle injury was a tough development for both the Canucks and Richardson; Vancouver lost the services of one of its better penalty killers and versatile forwards, and Richardson got sidetracked in what was shaping up to be his best-ever offensive season.

The former Avalanche and King scored eight goals and 21 points in 45 games this year, good for a career-high 0.47 points-per-game average (over 82 games, that works out to nearly 40 points.) That production came on the heels of a pretty successful 2013-14 campaign, in which Richardson scored 11 goals and averaged a career-high 14:54 TOI per night.

Richardson just wrapped the last of a two-year, $2.3 million deal with the Canucks and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1.  Recently, he told The Province he’d like to re-sign in Vancouver.

Rinne breaks shutout streak record at Worlds

Norway v Finland - 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
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Pekka Rinne’s time at the 2015 World Hockey Championship didn’t start very well, but sure improved quickly.

During Monday’s tilt against Belarus, the Finnish netminder set a tournament record for longest modern-day shutout streak, going 206:26 to break the previous mark set by Slovakia’s Jan Lasak in 2004.

Rinne set the record early in the first period.

As mentioned above, things didn’t start especially well for Rinne at this year’s tourney. He opened with a 5-1 loss to the U.S. on the first day of competition but got better — and in a hurry — following up that loss with wins over Denmark (3-0), Norway (5-0) and Slovenia (4-0).

In Finland’s last game, a 3-0 win over Slovakia, backup Juuse Saros got the nod.

Rinne’s shutout record at the Worlds is a feather in the cap of a pretty successful campaign. The Preds netminder earned his third career Vezina nomination on the strength of a 41-17-6 record, .923 save percentage, 2.18 GAA and four shutouts. The 41 were were two off his career-high, set in 2011-12 (when he finished behind Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick in Vezina voting.)

Babcock tours Buffalo facility, team has no comment on coaching search


Babswatch is off and running.

Mike Babcock, the longtime Detroit coach that’s been granted permission to interview elsewhere, was spotted in Buffalo on Sunday evening taking a tour of HarborCenter, the hockey-themed commercial complex financed by Sabres owner Terry Pegula.

According to the Buffalo News, Pegula was part of Babcock’s tour, along with Sabres GM Tim Murray; the News also reported that the Sabres issued a “no comment” about its coaching search, and would continue to do so until the new bench boss was hired.

Buffalo’s head coaching position has been vacant since Murray fired Ted Nolan on Apr. 12. The club has been tied to a number of candidates — including AHL Binghamton’s Luke Richardson — but Murray made it clear upon dismissing Nolan the team had aspirations of hiring the “perfect” candidate for the job.

“You have to find a perfect fit to be really successful,” he said, per the News.

Babcock and Murray are familiar with one another, having worked together in Anaheim from 2002-04. Babcock led the upstart Ducks to the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, eventually losing in Game 7 to New Jersey.

Nelson stays hot, scores lone goal as U.S. edges Denmark at Worlds


The U.S. needed a quality result after its disappointing loss to Belarus, and one of its most in-form players delivered.

Islanders forward Brock Nelson scored the lone goal in the Americans’ 1-0 win over Denmark on Friday, pushing them back into first place in Group B at the World Hockey Championships in the Czech Republic.

Nelson, 23, scored an unassisted tally midway through the second period, the only shot to elude Danish netminder Sebastian Dahm on the day. The marker was the latest highlight in what’s been a terrific tournament for Nelson; he currently holds the team lead in scoring (six points) and has four goals through his first five games.

In goal, Winnipeg prospect Connor Hellebuyck stopped all 21 shots faced for the shutout and his third win of the tournament. Team USA head coach Todd Richards opted to give Hellebuyck the start after Dallas’ Jack Campbell was lit up in the aforementioned loss to Belarus, allowing five goals on 23 shots.

The Americans will next play on Sunday against Slovenia, then close out group play on Tuesday in a match against the Slovaks.