Author: Mike Halford


Avs unveil Stadium Series jerseys


On Monday, Colorado revealed the duds it’ll be wearing on Feb. 27 when they take on the Red Wings in the 2016 Stadium Series game at Coors Field.

From the NHL release:

As they did during the height of the rivalry with the Red Wings, the Avalanche, as the home team, will feature white as the main color of the jersey; a connection to the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies.

The C puck mark becomes a powerful front crest, an unmistakable reference to Colorado hockey. Streamlined sleeve striping connects to the bold visual of the Avalanche stripe, part of the team’s socks since 1995.

The modern styled collar features a 5,280 call out, referencing the Avalanche’s home in the Mile-High City.

Per people on social media that think far too much about jersey aesthetics, the gigantic numbers appear to be divisive. Some like the fact they’re huge and, ergo, easy to see from distance (which will be useful in a baseball stadium); others think they’re gaudy.

Ducks extend Gibson: three years, $6.9 million

John Gibson

The Anaheim Ducks made a big move on Monday, locking up John Gibson — pegged by many as their goalie of the future — to a three-year contract extension.

Per ESPN, the deal is worth $6.9 million with a $2.3 million average annual cap hit, and will kick in next year (Gibson has one year left on his entry-level contract.)

Gibson, 22, burst onto the scene two years ago. One of the top young goalie prospects in hockey, he made his NHL debut late in the regular season before eventually inheriting Anaheim’s playoff starting duties.

Many thought that was the start of his ascension to the No. 1 gig, but it wasn’t to be in. Last year, injuries and the progression of Frederik Andersen limited Gibson to just 23 regular-season games, and none in the playoffs.

Gibson’s ascension might be on hold for this year, too.

The Ducks are primed to carry Andersen and Anton Khudobin as their Nos. 1 and 2 this season, leaving Gibson to carry a starter’s workload in AHL San Diego.

Then, presumably, Gibson would challenge Andersen for the starting gig in 2016-17, when his new contract kicks in.

Khudobin is a UFA after this year and likely out of the Ducks’ plans, while Andersen — who was very good for the Ducks last year, finishing top-10 in wins (35) and save percentage (.923)  — is a pending RFA, making just $1.15 million this year.

Report: John Tortorella — yes, John Tortorella — will coach USA at World Cup

John Tortorella

Bit of a stunner ahead of tonight’s announcement from USA Hockey — per TSN, John Tortorella has been chosen to lead the American team at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

It’s a decision that will definitely generate debate.

Tortorella, 57, is the winningest American coach in NHL history but has been unceremoniously dumped from his last two gigs. His last stop, the ’13-14 campaign in Vancouver, was an outright disaster — the Canucks recorded their lowest points percentage in 14 years and Tortorella was slapped with a lengthy suspension for trying to attack Calgary head coach Bob Hartley.

If you’re trying to make sense of the hire, do consider Tortorella has history with USA Hockey. He was the head coach of the team that finished sixth at the 2008 Worlds, and an assistant at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

So this hiring isn’t totally out of left field.

But it’s definitely out of shallow left field.

There are other candidates — seemingly more “in form” candidates — like Peter Laviolette and Todd Richards, both of whom were mentioned in our now-hilariously-useless poll from earlier today.

There was also some thought the World Cup of Hockey would be comprised primarily of (active) NHLers, especially among the North American teams, since Doug Armstrong is the Canadian GM, Dean Lombardi is the American GM and Peter Chiarelli is the Youngstars GM.

That said, we could see a trend developing among coaches, as in, maybe they’re looking for guys to focus solely on the World Cup?

If Tortorella takes the U.S. gig on the heels of Ralph Krueger accepting the Team Europe bench boss position, it could suggest coaches for this event will be ones focused solely on the World Cup — unlike NHL coaches, who would (theoretically) be preoccupied with the upcoming campaign, training camp, exhibition games and the like.

Remember that, in February, Tortorella said he wanted to coach again and sounded determined to do whatever it took to break back in.

Poll: Who will coach USA at the World Cup of Hockey?

Peter Laviolette

Tonight, USA Hockey will announce its head coach for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, so let’s start speculating.

At first glance, the most likely candidates are two of the NHL’s most well-regarded bench bosses: Nashville’s Peter Laviolette, a reigning Jack Adams nominee, and Columbus’ Todd Richards, who led the U.S. to bronze at this year’s World Championships.

Another pair of veteran NHLers could be in the mix: Isles bench boss Jack Capuano (who, it must be mentioned, is the fourth-longest tenured head coach in the league) and Buffalo’s Dan Bylsma, who seems an unlikely fit after leading the Americans to a disappointing fourth-place finish at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

As for darkhorses?

New Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill could be considered, though it’d be a real surprise given his only experience at the NHL level was one year as Mike Babcock’s assistant (in 2011-12).

On that note, we should mention new Devils coach John Hynes, who’s even less experienced at the NHL level; prior to the New Jersey job, Hynes had spent six years as the head coach in AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Anyway, have at the poll. Feel free to add unlisted candidates in the comments section and, just so we’re clear, this whole conversation is based on the assumption an American will be the head coach.

NBCSN to host ‘Slap Shot’ doubleheader for Kraft Hockeyville

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Four

Next Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins will host the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown, Pa. as part of this year’s Kraft Hockeyville celebration.

If that rink sounds familiar, it’s with good reason — Cambria County War Memorial was the arena featured in the iconic hockey flick Slap Shot.

To celebrate both Hockeyville and the movie, NBCSN is rolling out a special “doubleheader” for the evening of Sept. 29 — pregame coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET, followed by puck drop at 7:30, followed by a special airing of Slap Shot in its entirety following the game.

Highlights will include:

  • Coverage anchored by NBC Sports’ Bob Costas, who got his start in broadcasting in Johnstown in 1973. Costas, who began his career as the play-by-play voice of the Syracuse Blazers of the North American Hockey League, called his first-ever game at Cambria County War Memorial.
  • An interview with the Hanson Brothers.
  • Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick paying homage to legendary Charlestown Chiefs broadcaster Jim Carr.
  • Current NHL players discussing their favorite scenes from Slap Shot.

Liam McHugh, Jeremy Roenick and Mike Milbury will also be part of the Hockeyville coverage, with Milbury providing special insight into “what it was like to play in the era of old-time hockey.” Better tie up your shoes.

Related: Johnstown wins inaugural Kraft Hockeyville USA