Author: Mike Halford

2016 NHL Winter Classic

NHL announces Adidas deal, jerseys will be ad-free


On Tuesday, the NHL confirmed what was reported last month — that Adidas is the league’s new official outfitter — but the real news came when commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the subject of jersey ads.

And by addressed, we mean emphatically shot down.

“We are not currently considering putting advertising on NHL jerseys,” he said. “There have been no discussions, formally or informally, with anybody about doing that.”

So as it stands, Adidas will begin its seven-year reign as the league outfitter starting with the 2017-18 campaign, but its relationship with the NHL and NHLPA will begin a year earlier, when it becomes the official outfitter of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

And regarding jersey ads at the World Cup, Bettman was more open to the idea.

“We’ve had some discussions about it,” he said. “But there’s nothing imminent right now.”

Union boss Donald Fehr provided further context.

“What the World Cup does, as well as other international events — when we get to the point of getting those accomplished — is it gives us, among other things, an opportunity for experimentation,” he explained. “It’s an opportunity, if we want, to try other things.

“From a players’ standpoint, my obligation is to explore all avenues, and then consult with the players and make some judgment calls.”

As for other notes from Tuesday’s announcement:

— Adidas exec Mark King said it will be up to the NHL if the company’s Tech-Fit technology will be utilized. Bettman said the league is currently not looking to revamp its jerseys.

— 2017-18 is the NHL’s centennial, and Bettman suggested there may be commemorative jerseys released in conjunction with the celebration.

Report: Avs bring Meszaros to camp on PTO

New York Rangers v Buffalo Sabres

The Colorado Avalanche have brought veteran d-man Andrej Meszaros to training camp on a professional tryout, per the Denver Post.

Meszaros, 29, spent last season in Buffalo, where he scored seven goals and 14 points in 60 games, averaging just under 18 minutes per. Those seven goals put him second among Sabres d-men, one back of Rasmus Ristolainen.

Though far removed from his best days, Meszaros could stick in Colorado. The club has nine defensemen on NHL contracts — Francois Beauchemin, Erik Johnson, Brad Stuart, Tyson Barrie, Nick Holden, Nikita Zadorov, Brandon Gormley, Nate Guenin and Zach Redmond — which seems like a crowded situation, but could be mitigated by the fact Zadorov and Gormley are on two-way deals.

It’s worth noting that Zadorov and Meszaros occasionally played together on the same pairing in Buffalo last season, which could be another reason why Colorado extended the PTO.

Devils’ Boucher concussed at prospects tourney

Chicago Blackhawks v New Jersey Devils

On Tuesday, New Jersey announced that forward Reid Boucher has been sidelined with a concussion, suffered while playing for the club’s entry at the Buffalo Sabres Prospects Challenge.

“Boucher was injured during the Prospects Challenge game against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night,” GM Ray Shero said in a statement. “Following further evaluation yesterday, he has been diagnosed with a concussion. He will continue to work on a program under the observation of our medical staff, and be held out of team activities until he is cleared.

“Reid will not be available to the media until he resumes practicing on the ice with the team.”

Boucher, 22, has scored eight points in 34 games with the Devils over the last two seasons, and it’s fair to wonder if the club might be second-guessing its decision to have him participate in what amounts to a rookie tournament.

A former 60-goal scorer in junior, Boucher was one of the older players on the prospect tourney roster, and one of just two with NHL experience.

Avs’ first-rounder Bleackley says lack of contract is ‘in the back of my mind a lot’

2014 NHL Draft - Round 1
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Safe to say Colorado isn’t thrilled with the progression of Conner Bleackley.

Things haven’t gone great since Bleackley went 23rd overall in ’14, two spots ahead of impressive B’s rookie David Pastrnak. Shortly after getting picked, Bleackley’s junior coach, Brent Sutter, said he wasn’t ready for NHL hockey.

Bleackley then barely spent any time at Avs camp last fall, getting sent back to junior after arriving in inadequate shape, putting forth what Patrick Roy called a “disappointing” effort.

Oh, and Bleackley is still without an entry-level deal.

Compare that to Colorado’s first-rounder from this year, Mikko Rantanen, who signed his two weeks after getting picked.

“Obviously, it’s in the back of my mind a lot,” Bleackley said of his contract situation, per the Denver Post. “I try not to focus on that. I think it’s out of my control. What I can control is the work I put in this summer and what I do here at camp.

“If I do all the things right, like my goal is, that’ll happen.”

Bleackley is coming off a good campaign in WHL Red Deer, where he posted 49 points in 51 games (missing time with a groin injury). At 19, he’s almost assuredly headed back to junior this year, so the focus now will be on when he signs.

Should he not get his ELC done by next summer, he’ll re-enter the draft — though that’s not something Bleackley wants to happen.

He wants to earn his ELC at this year’s training camp.

“They told me to come ready to work,” he explained. “Hopefully I can earn it here in camp. I’m looking forward to it.”

Simon Gagne calls it a career


Simon Gagne announced his retirement on Tuesday.

“Today, I want to thank my trainers and teammates,” he said in a statement. “You inspired me to surpass myself. You made me understand that you need more than talent; it takes sacrifice and discipline and you need to work harder than your rivals.

“I also wish to thank my fans. Every evening, you energized me and inspired me to perform.”

Gagne, 35, is hanging ’em up after an abbreviated ’14-15 campaign in Boston. He played in just 23 games with the Bruins before leaving the team in December to spend time with his father, Pierre, who eventually succumbed to liver cancer.

Following his father’s passing, Gagne told the Bruins he wouldn’t be returning to the club.

“Last year, I lost my father: my number one fan, my coach, my confidant, my best friend, and my top teammate,” Gagne explained in today’s announcement. “The hard knocks of life often teach us to stop, think and look back at the road traveled, so that we can make the right decisions going forward.

“Today, I am hanging up my skates, calmly and with peace of mind, knowing that it is the right time and the right decision.”

Gagne walks away from the game with an impressive resume.

Over 14 years he racked up 601 points, won a Stanley Cup with Los Angeles in 2012, and an Olympic gold with Team Canada in 2002.

A two-time All-Star, Gagne will probably best be remembered for his time in Philadelphia, during which he became a fan favorite. He had a tremendous season in 2005-06, scoring 47 goals and 79 points en route to capturing the Bobby Clarke trophy as team MVP.

Gagne was later re-acquired by the Flyers in ’13 and, fittingly, scored in his first game back with the team.