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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Mike Keenan hired by KHL’s Chinese team

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MOSCOW (AP) Mike Keenan is taking charge of a Chinese hockey team.

The longtime NHL coach has been hired to lead Chinese club Kunlun Red Star, which competes in the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League. Kunlun’s aim is to develop Chinese players as the country builds a national team to compete at its first home Winter Olympics in 2022.

Keenan, who ended the New York Rangers’ 54-year wait for a Stanley Cup title in 1994, has been instructed to ensure at least five Chinese players get regular ice time on a roster dominated by foreigners.

It’s not Keenan’s first job outside North America. In 2015, he became the first coach to win NHL and KHL titles when his Metallurg Magnitogorsk team won the KHL’s Gagarin Cup.

Will Devils lose Hobey Baker finalist Kerfoot to Vancouver?

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Alex Kerfoot has a lot in common with Jimmy Vesey.

And soon, perhaps even more.

Kerfoot, the senior forward who led Harvard in scoring this year en route to a Hobey Baker nomination, was drafted by the Devils in the fifth round of the 2012 draft. But much like Jimmy Vesey — who also went to Harvard, and who also was nominated (and won) the Hobey in his senior year — Kerfoot can balk on signing with the team that drafted him, and be eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer.

A Vancouver native, there’s widespread speculation the Canucks would be interested in securing Kerfoot’s services. But the 22-year-old insists he’ll meet with the Devils first, before making any decisions.

“It’s exciting, I grew up a Canucks fan and I still follow them,” Kerfoot said, per News 1130. “But at this time I’m just focused on Harvard and my plan is to meet with the Devils after the season.

“It was a dream to play for the Canucks growing up, but I’m property of New Jersey and I’m not looking past the Devils at this point.”

Vesey, you’ll recall, opted not to sign with the team that drafted him — Nashville — and had his rights flipped to the Sabres before passing on them as well. He eventually signed on with the Rangers, and has 24 points through 69 games in his rookie campaign.

Kerfoot’s situation is also similar to that of Minnesota d-man Mike Reilly. Originally drafted by Columbus, Reilly had huge ties to Minnesota, where he played in college, and eventually spurned the Blue Jackets to sign with the Wild (where his dad, also named Mike, was a minority owner).

Of note, Kerfoot’s father, Greg, is part of the ownership group of Vancouver’s Major League Soccer franchise, the Whitecaps.

Report: NCAA power forward Vigneault to turn pro, sign with Columbus (Updated)

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Columbus is close to landing 6-5, 202-pound forward Sam Vigneault out of Clarkson, TSN has reported.

Vigneault, 20, is coming off an impressive season for the Golden Knights, leading the team with 36 points through 39 games. The Quebec native is expected to join AHL Cleveland on an ATO this year, and per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, will have his two-year, entry-level deal kick in next season.

UPDATE: Columbus has made the two-year ELC official.

Vigneault opted to forego his senior year at Clarkson, and strike while his stock was high.

“His maturation, physically, as a player, has been great,” Clarkson head coach Casey Jones said, per the Watertown Daily Times. “He’s always had great offensive vision and an IQ for the game. I think he’s become more patient in the application of it and making plays. I like the way his game has rounded out.

“You look down the stretch and he’s impacted some games for us and been a go-to guy. I think he’s taken that step for us this year to understand that it falls on his shoulders and there is expectation for him to be a key cog offensively for us, and he’s done a fantastic job.”

 

Pre-game reading: Dillon and Watson fight, then make friendly summer workout plans

— Above, San Jose’s Brenden Dillon and Nashville’s Austin Watson exchange penalty box pleasantries following a scrap.

Here’s the transcript:

Dillon: Hey Wats… we gotta work on our cardio this summer, huh?

Watson: I’m dyin’ after like 10 seconds, man.

Dillon: Jesus.

Watson: I’ll come see Joey, we’ll mix it in.

Dillon: Joey doesn’t know cardio.

Watson: I know, that’s why I’m gonna come see him.

Dillon: Ah, I like it.

Watson: Good luck the rest of the year, bud.

Dillon: Thanks, you too buddy.

“Joey” is Watson’s teammate, Preds center Ryan Johansen. Johansen and Dillon are British Columbia natives and co-host a charity summer golf event in Whistler each summer. To the best of our knowledge, the tournament does not include cardio.

— On Feb. 3, the Lightning lost 5-2 to Ottawa, dropping them to 22-24-6 and seemingly out of playoff contention. Then, GM Steve Yzerman had a fire sale and traded away Ben Bishop, Valtteri Filppula and Brian Boyle, further suggesting the postseason dream was dead.

But after last night’s OT win over Ottawa, the Bolts are now 12-2-3 since that aforementioned loss on Feb. 3. They’re right back in the playoff picture and, what’s more, there’s a “light at the end of the tunnel” for injured captain Steve Stamkos, who’s missed the last four months following knee surgery.

— Chicago goalie Corey Crawford was hit in the head with a Shea Weber slapshot during last night’s game against the Habs. The Tribune’s Chris Hine wonders if NHL concussion protocol failed Crawford by not removing him from the contest.

— Vancouver won’t make the playoffs, so GM Jim Benning has a new goal in mind, and that’s to see how well his young prospects fare at the NHL level. But will head coach Willie Desjardins, who’s notoriously and fiercely loyal to certain vets, get on board?

“I talk to Willie on a day-to-day basis and we talk about that,” Benning said, per The Province. “Up to this point, his focus was to try and compete hard every night and win enough games to challenge for one of those last playoff spots.

“Now that reality has set in, he’s going to be on-board with getting our young kids more ice time.”

Goalie nods: Allen seeks fifth straight win in another big game for Blues

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The Blues have a chance to push L.A. even further back in their rear view on Wednesday, and they’ll look to the red-hot Jake Allen for help.

Allen will go for his fifth consecutive win tonight when St. Louis takes on the Ducks in Anaheim. With a win, the Blues will move six points clear of the idle Kings for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

They have to like their chances, given the way Allen’s played in March.

In four games, he’s allowed just five goals on 125 shots for a sparkling .960 save percentage. That includes Monday’s big 3-1 win over the Kings, in which he made 38 saves.

It’s fair to say no St. Louis player has benefited more from Ken Hitchcock-to-Mike Yeo coaching change than Allen (to be fair, Allen also got a goalie coach change, from Jim Corsi to Martin Brodeur). Allen was also strong in February, posting a .933 save percentage while allowing three goals or fewer in each of his 10 appearances.

For the Ducks, Jonathan Bernier gets another start as John Gibson remains out with a lower-body injury.

Elsewhere…

— Tonight’s Battle of Pennsylvania will see Matt Murray and the Penguins take on Steve Mason and the Flyers. Murray is coming off a 27-save shutout in Vancouver on Saturday, while Mason makes his seventh start in the last eight games.

Anton Khudobin gets a rare start for the B’s, who are in Calgary. Chad Johnson starts ahead of the ailing Brian Elliott (more on that here).

Jimmy Howard made 26 saves in a win over Chicago last Friday (his first game returning from injury), so he’ll draw back in tonight when the Red Wings take on the Avs. Calvin Pickard starts after making 34 saves in a 1-0 loss to Arizona on Monday.