Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
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‘It’s the perfect fit’ — Preds officially name Fisher captain

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Nashville did the expected on Thursday, naming veteran forward Mike Fisher the seventh team captain in franchise history.

“It is the right time for Mike to be the captain in our history,” GM David Poile said, per the Preds website. “In my mind, he could’ve easily been the captain many times in his career, but this is his time; it’s the perfect fit.”

Fisher, 36, certainly seems like the ideal pick. He’s one of Nashville’s longest tenured players, having been with the club for the last six seasons, and served as an alternate with both the Preds and Senators.

He’s well-established in the community, married to country music star Carrie Underwood, and has earned the respect of both his peers and his head coach, Peter Laviolette, who called Fisher “probably one of the best pros I’ve ever seen.”

Fisher takes over the captaincy from Shea Weber, who was shipped to Montreal in this summer’s blockbuster trade that saw P.K. Subban join the Preds.

Roman Josi and James Neal — who, along with Fisher, all served as alternates last season — are expected to retain their A’s, though the Preds didn’t confirm that in today’s release.

Updated: Worth noting that, per the Tennessean, Poile said he doesn’t view Fisher’s anointment as a “one-year captaincy.” That declaration is key with regards to the Subban acquisition. Destined to be a star in Nashville and a potential face of the franchise — for a long time, too, armed with a contract through 2022 — Subban was thought, by some, to be a future Preds captain.

 

World Cup goalie nods: Rinne over Rask for Finland in exhibition opener

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Today, we’ll get our first look at six of the teams participating in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey and, subsequently, the starting goalies for said teams.

So without further ado, here are your starters for today’s exhibition openers…

Sweden at Finland: The Finns will start Pekka Rinne over Tuukka Rask in the opener, though Rask is slated to get the start when the two sides meet again on Saturday at the Scandanavium in Sweden.

Finland’s third goalie, Mikko Koskinen, is expected to be exactly that throughout the exhibition stint and tournament — Finland’s third goalie.

Sweden, meanwhile, will start Jacob Markstrom tonight with Jhonas Enroth listed as his backup. The country’s regular No. 1, Henrik Lundqvist, won’t dress for the opener — something head coach Rikard Gronborg said was planned before Lundqvist suffered a rib injury during practice last week.

Czech Republic at Russia: Per NHL.com, Petr Mrazek will get the nod over Michal Neuvirth for the Czechs as they open exhibition play at the Yubileyny Sports Palace. This comes after Tuesday’s news that the Czechs are only going to play Mrazek and NeuvirthOndrej Pavelec, the veteran Jets netminder, will serve as the No. 3 throughout.

Russian head coach Oleg Znarok hasn’t made it official yet, but it’s believed Sergei Bobrovsky will get start in goal ahead of Semyon Varlamov and Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Team Europe at Team North America: Per TVA, Jaroslav Halak will get the nod for Europe over Thomas Greiss and Philipp Grubauer, a late addition to the squad after Frederik Andersen was ruled out due to injury.

It’s a bit of an interesting dynamic at play, as both Greiss and Halak are also competing for the No. 1 gig with the Islanders. Greiss, you’ll recall, filled in admirably for the injured Halak last season and helped the Isles win their first playoff series since 1993.

For Team North America, no big surprises — GM Peter Chiarelli said Matt Murray was the team’s No. 1 netminder coming into the tourney, and he’ll get the start tonight. John Gibson is expected to back up.

Trade to Chicago was a ‘disaster,’ says Weise

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None of Chicago’s trade deadline pickups last season panned out very well.

Andrew Ladd was OK, but didn’t produce much in the playoffs. Tomas Fleischmann looked decent during the regular season, then faded. Christian Ehrhoff was a non-factor.

And then there was Dale Weise.

“Going to Chicago was a disaster,” Weise said of his brief cameo in a Blackhawks uniform, per Philly.com. “I played like five minutes a night. It’s pretty tough to do anything when you play so little. It was a new experience for me.”

Weise is mitigating his role. To be accurate, he averaged 9:57 over 15 regular season contests, and 8:24 in four playoff games.

But that doesn’t mean he was a bigger presence on the team than he thought. He sat as a healthy scratch on a few occasions and really struggled to find the back of the net, which was at direct odds with the rest of his campaign — prior to the trade, Weise scored a career-best 14 goals with Montreal, in just 56 games.

It was pretty clear head coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t a huge fan.

But you know who was? Flyers GM Ron Hextall, who opened up the checkbook this summer to ink Weise to a four-year, $9.4 million deal.

That contract carries a $2.35 million average annual cap hit, which is a really nice payday. Prior to this, Weise had never earned more than $1.025M in a single season.

It’ll be interesting to see if Weise can match the success he had in Montreal. Philly does need someone to replace the sandpaper lost with Ryan White‘s exit in free agency, and could use some more balanced scoring in the bottom six forward group.

Florida signs veteran d-man Pardy to PTO

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The Panthers spent most of this offseason overhauling their blueline, and that trend may continue into training camp.

Per TSN’s Gary Lawless, journeyman defender Adam Pardy has agreed to join Florida on a training camp PTO. Pardy, 32, split last season between Winnipeg and Edmonton after the Oilers picked him up off waivers in late February.

At 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds, Pardy’s always been a robust physical player that plays with an edge (something the Panthers lost in trading away Erik Gudbranson this summer).

His skating and offensive ability have been called into question, though — he’s never scored more than 10 points in a single season — and there are concerns about his ability to keep up.

Still, he could fit as a depth guy in Florida.

There will be an adjustment period next season, as newbies Keith Yandle, Jason Demers and Mark Pysyk try to gain familiarity next to their new d-man partners.

Based on the current look of Florida’s depth chart, Pardy would need to leapfrog the likes of Jakub Kindl or Mike Matheson to secure a spot on the team.

Seth Jones has ‘no problem’ with Tortorella’s anthem stance

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In the wake of Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protest, it wasn’t surprising that Blue Jackets and Team USA head coach John Tortorella made headlines yesterday when he said “if any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there for the rest of the game.”

Reactions to Tortorella’s remarks came quickly.

On Wednesday, Seth Jones — who plays for Torts in Columbus and, potentially, against Torts at the upcoming World Cup of Hockey — weighed in on what’s become a hot-button issue.

“I think that it’s fair,” Jones told Sportsnet’s Fan 590. “That’s [Tortorella’s] way of doing it, and obviously they’re comparing it to the whole Colin Kaepernick thing, but he’s got a right to believe whatever he wants.”

Jones, the highest-drafted African American player in NHL history, will represent Team North America at the tourney. He was acquired by Columbus from Nashville in a midseason blockbuster and proceeded to play 41 games under Tortorella last year, averaging a career-high 24:27 per night.

Jones reiterated to Fan 590 that he doesn’t take issue with his coach’s stance.

“I have no problem,” he explained. “You’re not going to see anything from any of us with Torts, so I have no problem with that.”

Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown, who is also African American, took to Twitter on Tuesday evening to share his thoughts on the matter:

Brian Burke, serving as a senior advisor for Team USA, told USA Today he respects athletes’ rights to “express opinions, vote, attend political rallies and make political contributions.”

But Burke also said “I don’t believe the field of competition is a place to make political statements.”

In somewhat related news, it looks as though Jones’ Team North America is closing in on a plan for its pregame anthems at the World Cup.

According to TSN, the squad will play both Canadian and American anthems before each contest.