Author: Mike Halford

Edmonton Oilers v Arizona Coyotes

Report: Oilers send Nurse to AHL for Calder Cup playoffs


Darnell Nurse’s lengthy campaign will be extended a while longer.

Nurse, Edmonton’s first-round pick (seventh overall) at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, will reportedly be assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City for its playoff series against Utica, per 630 CHED radio in Edmonton.

As mentioned above, Nurse’s year has been a whirlwind. He made the Oilers out of training camp and appeared in two games — including his NHL debut — in mid-October before the club sent him back to his junior team in Sault Ste. Marie.

From there, he enjoyed a stellar OHL campaign — 33 points in 36 games — and, along the way, helped Canada capture gold at the World Juniors.

Now, shortly after getting eliminated in the third round of the OHL playoffs, he’s heading to the American League.

The nephew of ex-NFL QB Donovan McNabb, Nurse is expected to challenge for a roster spot in Edmonton next season and a taste of the Calder Cup playoffs will likely serve him well. He and the Barons will be in tough against top-seeded Utica, however.

Bolts will protect Bishop ‘as we see fit’

Brandon Prust, Ben Bishop

The Habs have history with getting in Ben Bishop’s wheelhouse — see here — and that trend continued on Sunday as they took a pair of third-period penalties on the Bolts goalie in an eventual 6-2 loss.

Despite the effort, Montreal’s moves moves don’t seem to have rattled Bishop much (.959 save percentage through two games) — and they don’t seem to have rattled his teammates much, either.

“They have been falling on him and hitting him — I think last night was obvious,” Lightning forward Brian Boyle explained on Tuesday. “[Torrey] Mitchell and [Brandon] Prust slew-footing him, those are penalties and they’re going to get called and they’re going to go in the box.

“We’re going to try and stay disciplined. We’ll protect our goalie as we see fit. But sometimes it’s OK to take a punch in the face in the playoffs if you’re going to go on the power play.”

Mitchell was called for tripping Bishop early in the third period and Tampa Bay converted with the man advantage, scoring its fourth and final PPG of the game. All told, the Lightning went 50 percent on the power play and used Montreal’s lack of discipline to revive a unit that had struggled coming into this series, as the Bolts were just 2-for-30 on the PP in Round 1 against Detroit.

As for the rough stuff, Boyle preached discipline on Tuesday, but also suggested his team was more than willing to step up and protect Bishop when the time calls. Evidence of that was on display last night, as Braydon Coburn dropped the gloves almost immediately after Prust ran Bishop — a move that Prust approved of, noting that the Bolts remained in control of the situation.

“I don’t know what [Prust] is thinking, and I don’t really care,” Boyle explained. “Everybody understands it’s a 6-2 game. I think [Coburn] did a great job in doing what he did.

“You see things happen like that in lopsided wins. You expect and be ready for them and as long as nobody’s injured, you just kind of forget about them.”

End of an era in New Jersey as Shero replaces Lamoriello as GM

Lou Lamoriello

The NHL’s longest-serving GM is done.

Lou Lamoriello, who’s been in charge in New Jersey since 1987, has relinquished his title as general manager to former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero.

“This is my decision with 100 percent support of ownership,” Lamoriello said on a conference call, adding that he would retain his role as president of hockey operations. “Ray is well-respected throughout the hockey industry and knows what it takes to win.

“His 22 seasons of NHL front-office experience will be beneficial to the New Jersey Devils organization. I look forward to working alongside Ray.”

Lamoriello, 72, steps away from his GM role after winning three Stanley Cups and leading the Devils to the playoffs all but three times between 1988 and 2012. The club has failed to make the postseason in each of the last three seasons, however, and Lamoriello has faced increasing criticism following several failed free agent acquisitions.

“Teams and personnel dictate changes,” Lamoriello said. “Ray might do things just a little different than I do.”

Shero, 52, has been out of work since being fired by Pittsburgh last summer. During his time with the Penguins, Shero captured one Stanley Cup (in 2009) in eight years on the job. He will immediately be tasked with hiring the club’s next head coach, as the Devils finished last season with Adam Oates and Scott Stevens behind the bench.

With this hire, Shero falls out of contention with the vacant Boston Bruins GM gig, which he was rumored to be shortlisted for.

“It’s a great situation for me,” Shero said during Wednesday’s call. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

Shero has plenty of work ahead of him. Aside from the coaching search, he holds the sixth overall pick at this June’s draft, as well as No. 36 and 41 (the latter acquired in the Jaromir Jagr trade with Florida.) Shero will also need to work on new contracts for RFAs Stefan Matteau, Adam Larsson and Eric Gelinas, and decide what he wants to do with veteran UFAs (Michael Ryder, Martin Havlat, Steve Bernier, Jordin Tootoo, Scott Gomez, Bryce Salvador, Peter Harrold and Mark Fraser.)

Give the names on that list and the regime change from Lamoriello to Shero, the Devils could be a very different-looking team in 2015-16.

Note: Lamoriello went out of his way to thank Penguins CEO David Morehouse and the entire organization for their cooperation in the Shero hiring process, but noted there would be no compensation going to Pittsburgh. This offseasons is the first of the NHL’s re-instituted policy to award teams compensatory draft picks should their executives or coaches be hired by other teams.