Mike Halford

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No hearing scheduled for Marchand after Stralman trip

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Brad Marchand isn’t set to face a disciplinary hearing for his trip on Bolts d-man Anton Stralman last night, an NHL spokesman has confirmed.

Earlier, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported he was “hearing” no supplemental discipline for Marchand, who last week was fined $10,000 for a “dangerous trip” on Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall.

The latest incident occurred late in the second period of Tuesday’s game, when Marchand swept Stralman’s left skate out from under him. No penalty was called, though Stralman contended perhaps there should’ve been.

“I can’t say if he did anything or not, but I’m not the puck holder,” Stralman explained, per the Tampa Bay Times. I’m out in the neutral zone, and I get hit from behind. That’s all I got to say.”

Per Sportsnet, the Department of Player Safety disagreed with Stralman’s assessment. The DoPS suggested Marchand was going towards the puck, and didn’t clip the Bolts d-man intentionally.

While he may have avoided further discipline here, it’s safe to suggest Marchand is firmly on the league’s radar at the moment. The Kronwall incident marked the eighth time Marchand has been fined or suspended since the start of the 2011-12 season.

If the league was to reverse course and opt to schedule a hearing, it would (theoretically) have to do it soon. The B’s are back in action tonight, when they take on the Caps in Washington.

Related: ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ Marchand knows he’s never going to be liked

Gretzky’s coaching return a success, as Metro wins $1M All-Star prize

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LOS ANGELES — For all the accolades Wayne Gretzky received this weekend as part of the NHL100 gala event, little was made of his ill-fated career as a head coach.

Which made sense, really. Gretzky’s success as a player far outweighed his accomplishments in four years behind the bench.

But, fittingly, the Great One set about changing that narrative on Sunday — filling in for absent head coach John Tortorella, Gretzky led the Metropolitan Division to victory at the 2017 NHL All-Star Game, as the Metro defeated the Pacific 4-3 in the finale at Staples.

With the win, Gretzky’s squad — captained by the reigning NHL MVP, Sidney Crosby — captured the $1 million grand prize.

Though it’s a stretch to say he “led” the team to victory, Gretzky did play a fairly integral role in the deciding the outcome. His coach’s challenge of what appeared to be a good Pacific Division goal proved successful, as it was overturned due to a missed offside.

“Helped us win, right? That was the play,” All-Star Game MVP Wayne Simmonds said afterward. “That was the game changer. That was the decision. Obviously he’s got a great hockey mind.

“He pulls that card, it’s offside, and come back, we score two goals and we win the game, so obviously it was a great decision.”

The official ruling, from the NHL:

At 3:24 of the second period in the final of the NHL All-Star Game, the Situation Room initiated a review under the terms of Coach’s Challenge to determine whether the Pacific Division was off-side prior to their goal.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Linesman, NHL Hockey Operations staff determined that Connor McDavid was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Toronto Video Room, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Linesman, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”

Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Pacific Division.

With that goal taken off the board, the Metro responded by netting a pair of second-period markers. The first came courtesy Columbus forward Cam Atkinson — who, like Gretzky, was participating in the game as a replacement (for the injured Evgeni Malkin) — and the second, the eventual game-winner, was scored by Philly winger Wayne Simmonds.

It was Simmonds’ third goal of the tournament, which netted him MVP honors. Blueliners Seth Jones and Justin Faulk also scored for the Metro.

For the Pacific, Johnny Gaudreau and Bo Horvat continued to click in their second game of the tourney, especially on a late first-period goal that gave their squad a 3-2 lead. Gaudreau and Horvat combined for eight points over the two games, and looked consistently dangerous playing together at 3-on-3.

In the end, though, Kings fans received an amusing finish — the guy that put hockey on the map in L.A., once again making his presence felt.

It’s Crosby versus McDavid in the All-Star Game final

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LOS ANGELES — The two players widely considered to be the league’s best will go head-to-head in the final of the 2017 NHL All-Star Game.

The Metropolitan Division, captained by Sidney Crosby, advanced to Sunday’s finale with a 10-6 win over the Atlantic — setting the stage for this afternoon’s game against the Connor McDavid-led Pacific.

The two sides will do battle for bragging rights.

Oh, and the $1 million grand prize.

The ‘Crosby vs. McDavid’ debate has been front and center this weekend, as the NHL unveiled its list of the 100 greatest players. Crosby was part of that group, and it’s widely expected McDavid will be by the time his career is finished.

In their Friday night press conference, both Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky agreed that Crosby was currently the NHL’s top player.

Gretzky, though, suggested that McDavid was closing in on No. 87.

“He’s the best player in the game,” Gretzky said of Crosby. “He’s earned that mantle, and his work ethic is as good or better than anybody in hockey. We encourage, and I know Bobby [Orr] is very close to Connor, that that’s the guy that he’s chasing, and Connor sees him in his vision, and that’s what makes the game wonderful is that you want to be as good as the best player.

“Right now Crosby is the best player, and you have to earn your stripes.”

Looking for a goalie? Crawford says Darling’s ‘definitely’ a No. 1

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LOS ANGELES — It’s already well-established that this summer’s goalie market is going to be interesting.

A slew of guys are set to hit unrestricted free agency, and — in addition to teams needing to address the position — the expansion Las Vegas franchise has to fill out its roster as well.

A name that’s garnered plenty of attention recently is Chicago backup Scott Darling. And on Saturday, the guy Darling’s currently behind — second-time All-Star Corey Crawford — put forth a glowing recommendation for his crease mate.

“Definitely,” Crawford said, when asked if Darling is starting netminder material. “He’s already come along and learned so many things in his first two years. He’s a big guy that can move well, and there’s still a lot of things to learn.

“I had to learn that too, in my second year. Being a No. 1, there’s a lot more that goes into it — a little more pressure, and some other things that start to come up that you have to deal with. But as far as skill and technique and mental toughness and all that stuff, Darls has come a long way.”

Darling, 28, is in the midst of a banner campaign. As mentioned, he has ideal size — 6-foot-6 — and showed extremely well this year as the temporary starter, when Crawford went down with appendicitis.

All told, Darling is 12-5-2 with a .925 save percentage and 2.31 GAA. And his body of work over the course of his brief NHL career lends credence to the notion he could be a No. 1 — in 65 games, he’s posted a .923 save percentage and 2.34 GAA.

Darling is an absolute bargain right now, in the last of a two-year deal with a minuscule $587,500 cap hit.

That will likely change this summer.

And along with it, his zip code could change too.

Chicago’s starting gig will stay with Crawford, who’s backstopped the team to a pair of Stanley Cups. This is his second All-Star Game appearance in the last three seasons, and he further cemented his status as one of the NHL’s best this past offseason, when he was one of three goalies named to Team Canada at the World Cup (along with Braden Holtby and Carey Price, the two reigning Vezina winners).

As such, opportunity and a nice payday are probably coming from somewhere other than the Windy City.

The big question, of course, is where Darling fits in what projects to be a fluid market. Guys with starting experience — like Ben Bishop, Ryan Miller, Brian Elliott, Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth — could all come available.

And backups like Darling — Buffalo’s Anders Nilsson, New Jersey’s Keith Kinkaid, Ottawa’s Mike Condon and Calgary’s Chad Johnson — are also having good-to-great years, and could be up for grabs as well.

And, lest we forget, there’s a situation in Pittsburgh where one of Matt Murray or Marc-Andre Fleury will have to be left unprotected in the expansion draft.

Whatever the case, Crawford’s words suggest Darling will be a key figure this summer.

“He’s definitely up there for a spot, for sure,” he said. “He’s a great guy to play with, and just a great guy to be around too.

“It’s been awesome having him as a teammate.”

Gaudreau knows targeting won’t go away, so attention turns to Calgary’s response

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LOS ANGELES — This weekend will be a nice reprieve for Johnny Gaudreau.

The diminutive Calgary sniper won’t face many hacks, whacks, slashes or shadows when he participates in the league’s annual All-Star Game.

In fact, he probably won’t face any.

But when Gaudreau returns to the Flames and the regular season resumes, he’ll once again be subjected to targeting, something that’s become a major narrative this year.

“It’s part of the game,” Gaudreau said at Saturday’s All-Star media availability. “It’s not going to go away.

“It’s not going to be the first slash or the last slash I’ve taken. I’ll just play my game and try not to worry about it, try not to get frustrated.”

Just prior to this weekend’s festivities, the Gaudreau situation was front-and-center in Calgary.

After Toronto’s Leo Komarov blasted Gaudreau with a huge open-ice check, ex-Flames tough guy Brian McGrattan followed up a series of angry tweets by telling the Herald “sticking up for each other and being a team is crucial for morale,” adding “it goes so far in the dressing room.”

More, from the Herald:

“Those skilled players get enough abuse as it is as they’re against number one defensive pairings and the top checking line,” said McGrattan. “But with nobody sticking up for them, they’ll get that even more.

“He knows it’s going to happen again in the next week because teams know they can do whatever they want to this guy and nobody is going to do anything.”

The Komarov hit came just weeks after Anaheim center Ryan Kesler acknowledged he was intentionally targeting Gaudreau, and months after Johnny Hockey missed 10 games with a broken finger — which, per Flames GM Brad Treliving, happened on the 11th slash Gaudreau received in a game against Minnesota.

Treliving has emerged as an important figure in all this.

He’s clearly been displeased with how his star player has been treated — after the Wild game, Treliving acknowledged he spoke with NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom — and, in the Herald piece mentioned earlier, Treliving said he was “looking at everything right now” in terms of adding toughness.

Gaudreau touched on his GM’s remarks.

“Brad’s obviously looking into a lot of things, but I don’t think that’s really my call to make,” he said. “The game’s changed today, with speed and skill. At times it’s smarter to have that out there, and sometimes it’s smart to have your toughness out there.”

The strange part with this dilemma that, on paper, Calgary has plenty of guys to answer the bell. The Flames have fought the sixth-most times in the NHL this year (20), and often dress the likes of Deryk Engelland, Garnet Hathaway and Micheal Ferland.

Another enforcer-type, Brandon Bollig, is with the club’s AHL affiliate in Stockton.

So perhaps Calgary’s response won’t be a transaction — perhaps it will guys already on the roster heeding the call to keep the files off Johnny Hockey.

“I don’t really want to complain about it or anything, but some teams like to give it to other players,” Gaudreau said. “At times there’s definitely frustration.”