Author: Mike Halford

Chris Chelios

Chelios named Wilson’s assistant for U.S. World Juniors

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USA Hockey made another big splash with its coaching staff for the 2016 World Juniors, announcing on Wednesday that Hall of Famer Chris Chelios would serve as an assistant under bench boss Ron Wilson.

Chelios, 53, is a symbolic hire for USA Hockey, given he’s one of the most decorated American internationals of all time. He represented the U.S. at four Olympic Winter Games, three Canada Cups, two World Cup of Hockey tournaments and once at the junior level, in 1982.

He, along with Wilson — the ninth-winningest coach in NHL history — gives the program some real clout heading into Finland next year. Chelios is also rumored to be shortlisted for an assistant coaching gig with Detroit under new head coach Jeff Blashill, so it’ll be interesting to see how his duties with USA Hockey play into that.

In addition to Chelios, USA Hockey also added ex-NHLer Danton Cole and Kevin Reiter to Wilson’s staff. Reiter had previously been with the U.S. at the U-18 level.

Report: Sens unlikely to buy out Greening, could be included in goalie trade

Colin Greening
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The Ottawa Senators know they need to move Colin Greening — they just aren’t sure how to do it.

Greening, who fell out of the team’s plans shortly after signing a three-year, $7.95 million extension in 2013, is unlikely to be bought out of his remaining two years and $5.95M, according to Ottawa Sun sources.

Which means a trade could be the club’s lone way out.

In that light, the Sun also reports that GM Bryan Murray has received “mild interest” from a couple of teams about Greening, a big-bodied winger that was a nice producer for Ottawa during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, scoring 19 points in 47 games during the regular season, then three goals and four points in 10 playoff games.

Since that run, though, Greening has been an afterthought in the Canadian capital. He made just 26 appearances last year and spent time with AHL Binghamton.

Per the Sun, the former Cornell standout could end up being packaged when Murray trades either Robin Lehner or Craig Anderson. The Sens have reportedly fielded calls from five or six teams already on their goalies, but it’s possible the club will have to retain some of Greening’s salary in order to work him into a deal.

Sweet home Chicago: Blackhawks are your 2015 Stanley Cup champions

150615_StanleyCupFinalGroupPic
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CHICAGO — They’ve done it again.

But this time, they did it at home.

For the third time in the last six years — and for the first time in Chicago since 1938 — the Blackhawks ascended to the top of the NHL, beating Tampa Bay 2-0 on Monday night in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, winning the series four games to two.

Tonight’s game was, like every game this series, a thrilling affair with little separating the two teams. While the final didn’t go the full seven games and failed to feature a single overtime, the Bolts and ‘Hawks combined for one of the most tightly-contested championship series the NHL’s seen in a long time.

Perhaps that’s why it took a special play from a special player to decide it.

Duncan Keith, the Conn Smythe winner as playoff MVP, scored the winning goal late in the second period on a terrific solo effort, picking up his own rebound before firing past Ben Bishop. That Keith scored the winner was fitting and cemented himself in Blackhawk lore; with the goal, he became the first ‘Hawk to score a cup-winning tally at home since Carl Voss beat the Maple Leafs at the old Chicago Stadium 77 years ago.

Keith wasn’t the only hero on the night, however.

Corey Crawford, outstanding in the latter half of this series, stopped all 23 shots faced for his first-ever Stanley Cup Final shutout. Over the final three games, the two-time Cup-winning ‘tender allowed just two goals, finishing with a sparkling .975 save percentage.

But there’s another side to Crawford’s heroics.

For as good as he was, the Bolts will have their regrets about failing to beat him. The NHL’s highest-scoring team during the regular season struggled to generate offense as the series progressed, and were shut out in tonight’s elimination contest — the first time they’ve been blanked in 19 games.

And it’s not like the Lightning were without their chances. Captain Steve Stamkos, who’ll undoubtedly face criticism after failing to score in the series, hit the crossbar in the first period and had a breakaway spectacularly saved by Crawford in the second.

As for the ‘Hawks, tonight’s win officially cemented them as the closest thing we’ve seen to a dynasty in the salary cap era. Sure, the group is going look different moving forward, and some familiar faces will say goodbye, but this collection of players has left an unforgettable mark on the city.

And that’s something that’ll never change.

Notes

Patrick Kane finally snapped his scoring slump in the third period, notching his first goal of the series on a nice Brad Richards pass… Keith became the fourth player to log over 700 minutes in a single postseason (since the NHL began tracking in ’98), joining Nicklas Lidstrom, Drew Doughty and Chris Pronger… Keith also matched Chicago’s franchise record for most points by a d-man in a single season, drawing even with Chris Chelios (21 pts, 1992)… The ‘Hawks continued their impressive run of protecting leads tonight — a perfect 33-0-0 when leading after two periods this year, including a 8-0 mark in the playoffs… Ben Bishop finished with 30 saves on 32 shots.

Been there, lost that: After years of falling short, Timonen relishes chance to win it all

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Media Day
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CHICAGO — If you can think of a big hockey game, Kimmo Timonen has probably lost it.

In three gold medal games at the World Hockey Championships, he’s left with three silver medals. Same thing at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, and the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.

Five years ago, he lost his first trip to the Stanley Cup Final. No runner-up medal there.

But now — at age 40, and with retirement looming — Chicago’s veteran Finnish blueliner is eagerly anticipating one final chance to be crowned a champion.

“I’ve been in every final there is in the hockey world, but I haven’t won anything,” Timonen said on Monday, prior to tonight’s Game 6 at the United Center. “I’ve always been on the losing part of this side of the story.”

As the ‘Hawks look to hoist their third Cup in the last six years — old hat, for some — Timonen’s quest for that elusive title has become a feel-good story. He’s played a small role for Chicago, less than 11 combined minutes in Games 4 and 5, but can take pride in the fact that after sitting the first three games, his reintroduction has coincided with two straight wins.

Playing in the Stanley Cup Final also ensures his name will be engraved on the Lord Stanley’s mug (should the ‘Hawks win it, obviously). Had Timonen sat for the entire series, the club would’ve had to lobby to get him on there.

“I’m part of the team, not as big a part as I used to be, but I’m still there,” he said. “Whatever ice time I get I take it and try to do as good as I can.”

The toughest part now, even for someone with his experience, is not looking too far ahead. Yes, Timonen’s just one win away from the Cup, but closing the deal is tough. Just ask the 2011 Vancouver Canucks. Or the 2004 Calgary Flames, who blew a 3-2 series lead to Tampa Bay — a narrative that’s getting heavy play as the Bolts look to duplicate history 11 years later.

“It is hard not to let your mind wander what will happen,” Timonen explained. “But it was actually really easy to me last night. I’ve been in a lot of finals and I’ve been on a lot of losing side of stories.

“I just try to focus on tonight, and make sure I’m ready.”

Kucherov ‘probable’ for Game 6, says Cooper

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two
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CHICAGO — In a Stanley Cup Final where injury updates have been extremely hard to come by, Monday bucked the trend.

Following the morning skate, Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said injured forward Nikita Kucherov — who exited Game 5 in the first period after crashing into the Chicago net — was “probable” for tonight’s Game 6 at the United Center.

Opting to speak in traditional NFL parlance — “what to they use in football?” Cooper joked — the Bolts bench boss decided to reveal Kucherov’s status, a far cry from what he’s done with the health of starting netminder Ben Bishop. To be fair, things were trending in this direction yesterday, when Cooper said Kucherov was “in considerably better shape” than on Saturday night.

Having the Russian sniper available is huge. Kucherov currently sits second in playoff scoring with 22 points, and Tampa Bay is struggling to score goals right now; they’ve only put two past Corey Crawford in the last two games and sniper Steve Stamkos has gone cold, having failed to find the back of the net since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against New York.