PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Wojtek Wolsk, who now plays for Torpedo Nizhny Novgoro in the KHL, showed off his soft hands during the shooutout in a recent game against HC Dynamo Moscow.
Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Monday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.
NHL Winter Classic: Setting up rinks a shared passion for father and son (The Washington Post)
Kings’ defenseman Alec Martinez admits contract talks are in the back of his mind (L.A. Kings Insider)
Did the Devils contact Adam Oates without permission? NHL and Capitals consider case closed (The Bergen Record)
Sharks’ Nieto set for return after missing 9 games (CSN Bay Area)
Travis Green and Mike Stothers named coaches for AHL All-Star Classic (The AHL)
Curtis Lazar and Connor McDavid: Junior hockey’s odd couple (Toronto Star)
What can the NHL do to get more fans? (The Hockey News)
Canadian gold-medal Olympic men’s hockey team named CP Team of the Year (The Canadian Press)
This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.
St. Louis Blues
1. Brett Hull — 1,099 votes
2. Al MacInnis — 267 votes
3. Wayne Gretzky — 175 votes
4. T.J. Oshie — 93 votes
It’s probably not a shock that The Golden Brett came away with the victory here.
Hull is the franchise’s all-time leader in goals with 527, third in games played and second in points behind fellow Hall of Famer Bernie Federko.
Curiously enough, Federko didn’t even make Top 4 on the vote even though he was the franchise’s all-time leader in scoring. He also netted the Blues the centerman that helped lead Hull to three consecutive 70-plus goal seasons, including 86 in 1990-91, in Adam Oates as he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for the young upstart pivot. The combination of Hull and Oates helped give the Blues some of the most prolific offense the franchise has ever seen in the early 90s.
Now that he’s back with the team as an executive vice president, Hull’s place with the franchise is solidified.
MacInnis checking in second in our vote shows the mark he left in St. Louis. Originally a Calgary Flame, he brought his wicked slap shot and leadership to a Blues team that had a young Chris Pronger that needed some guidance. Incredibly, he played 10 seasons with the Blues after spending 13 with Calgary and won the Norris Trophy in 1999.
We’re assuming you guys were joking around with all the votes for Gretzky. His 31 total games with the Blues (regular season and playoffs) in 1995-96 couldn’t have been that impressive.
Last season, the Washington Capitals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07. That disappointment led to coach Adam Oates and longtime GM George McPhee being fired and turned the offseason into a bit of a tumultuous one.
If you ask Caps forward Brooks Laich about last season, he’s looking on the bright side of life as Dan Rosen of NHL.com shared.
“My honest opinion is not making the playoffs last year might have been the greatest day going forward for our organization, because I really think it made us all take a look in the mirror and at our failures and why we are failing,” Laich told NHL.com. “If we would have made the playoffs and lost in the first or second round it would have been the same old story, but you wouldn’t have had that hard, brutally honest look at yourselves to realize why you are failing.”
To say the Caps have been treading water in the postseason the past few years may sound cruel, but when you don’t get past the second round six straight seasons, maybe that’s the right way to put it.
Going through a season that saw virtually everyone’s production drop is a painful way to make change happen, but now the Caps will look forward to Barry Trotz and GM Brian MacLellan trying to get the team to their first Eastern Conference Final since 1998.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin knows it was a rough summer for the organization.
Both coach Adam Oates and 17-year GM George McPhee were fired and replaced by Barry Trotz and Brian MacLellan. As he arrived in Las Vegas for the NHL Awards that take place on Tuesday night, he lightened the mood about the changes made as Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post shared.
“Thank God they don’t fire me yet,” he added, drawing laughs from the reporters around him. “I’m still here with the Capitals.”
Hey-oh! Ovechkin is in Vegas after all. As for working with Trotz, Ovechkin said he doesn’t know what the coach wants to do yet, but said it’ll be a chance for everyone to get on the same page. From Prewitt:
“I can tell you nothing, but we’re going to see how it goes into training camp,” Ovechkin said. “[Trotz is] going to explain to everybody. It’s not about just me. Everybody has to change. We’re going to be in that kind of position.”
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006, it’s safe to say just about everyone is on notice, even the captain of the team who scored 51 goals last season.
Missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07 didn’t come without consequences for the Washington Capitals.
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and president Dick Patrick announced they will not renew the contract of general manager George McPhee and have fired coach Adam Oates.
McPhee has been with team since 1997 and his ouster comes as more of a surprise than Oates’ release. That said, if the Capitals were making a change at coach, allowing McPhee to make the decision after going through three coaches in three seasons wouldn’t look good on the organization.
Leonsis released a statement regarding both of them:
“George has been a terrific, longtime executive for our franchise, and I’m grateful for his commitment to the Capitals organization for the past 17 years,”said Leonsis. “Under his leadership the Capitals won seven division titles, twice were the top team in the Eastern Conference, earned a Presidents’ Trophy and competed in the playoffs 10 times. He was a highly effective manager who is extremely well regarded within our organization and around the NHL. We have the utmost respect for him and his family and wish them nothing but the very best.”
“We are also appreciative of Adam’s efforts and thank him for his devotion, work ethic and contributions to the Capitals the past two seasons. He is a smart, tactical coach who improved the performance of several of our players. He is a Hall of Fame player who we believe will be a longtime coach in the NHL. We will help him in whatever way we are able and wish him well.”
Oates record as Caps coach was 65-48-17 in two seasons.
After helping Washington reach the playoffs last season, he wasn’t able to get them to overcome struggles this season and helped exacerbate the situation with curious decisions with the lineup. Oates also upset some in Washington by not throwing a lifeline to goalie Jaroslav Halak late in the year when he reportedly opted out of playing against his former team, the St. Louis Blues.
Oates may have sealed his fate when he sparred with Alex Ovechkin regarding his effort backchecking in a game against Dallas.