Tag: homecoming

Phoenix Coyotes v Buffalo Sabres

Fans welcome Shane Doan back to Winnipeg… by relentlessly booing him?


You’d think that fans in Winnipeg would be happy to see their former hero return to the ice for the first time in 15 years. He’s the last member of the Jets 1.0 that is still in the league and he was the final first-round draft pick of the team that moved in 1996. So what’s the best way to welcome the well-respected veteran back to where it all began?

By booing him every time he touches the puck, of course.

For the record, Doan has never trashed the city of Winnipeg since moving with the Jets/Coyotes to Arizona. “I never once said a single disparaging word about Winnipeg,” the Phoenix captain told The Hockey News. “I simply stated that the connection that I had with Phoenix was because I’d been there for 15 years, the same thing as I would have had if I’d been with Winnipeg for 15 years and someone told me I had to leave.” “I never once said a single disparaging word about Winnipeg,” said Doan. “I simply stated that the connection that I had with Phoenix was because I’d been there for 15 years, the same thing as I would have had if I’d been with Winnipeg for 15 years and someone told me I had to leave.”

To be fair, the MTS Centre crowd was ready to boo just about every time any member of the Coyotes took possession of the puck. Still, the loudest boos were reserved for the guy who should have been receiving the loudest cheers.

The Jets organization paid tribute to Doan during a TV timeout in the first period even though the crowd started booing Doan from the beginning of the game. The crowd participated by rising to their feet and giving him a standing ovation—then promptly returned to booing as soon as the game resumed.

Here’s the question for the readers: Does it make sense for the Jets fans to boo Doan in his “homecoming?” Or has the ridiculously cold weather ruined their ability to think clearly during the hockey season?

Mike Richards returns to Philly, helps Kings earn OT victory

Los Angeles Kings v Philadelphia Flyers

The sell-out crowd at Wells Fargo Center gave Mike Richards a standing ovation early in the first period when the Flyers organization displayed a classy message on the jumbotron: “Thank you Mike Richards: For all of your contributions and services to the Flyers organization and our fans.” The warm reception lasted until about halfway through the first period when a portion of fans started booing every time Richards touched the puck for the Kings. Welcome back to Philly, Mike!

It was another former Flyers who made his mark on the game. Justin Williams scored a pair of Kings goals as Los Angeles finished their 4-game “road” trip with a 3-2 overtime win in Philadelphia. The Kings have been on the road since the preseason when the left for Las Vegas on September 30th. They finish the trip with a 2-1-1 record and start the home portion of their schedule on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues.

There are plenty of ex-Flyers on the Kings roster and ex-Kings in Philadelphia, but the man of the hour was certainly ex-captain Mike Richards making his return to Pennsylvania. Between periods, Richards said that “Philadelphia is a funny place” and he understood that he would hear some boos now that he’s wearing an opponent’s jersey. He probably heard a few more boos after his beautiful pass was deflected by Jack Johnson for the overtime game-winner.

Afterwards, he answered the “coming back to Philly” questions for the last time this season:

“It was nice coming back here, I have a lot of good friends out here. Nice to see a lot of the guys from the team. The fans are always passion to play in front of—whether you’re the home team or the visiting team. It was a nice homecoming for me, [but] it’s was nice to get it over with also.”

Not all of the news was great for the Kings on Saturday night. Drew Doughty took a big hit only 24 seconds into the game and eventually left with an “upper body” injury (not related to the head). He’s expected to miss 7-10 days for the Kings.

The overtime loss is the first defeat for the new-look Flyers on the young season. Even with the loss, the Flyers have still navigated the tough early season as well as anyone could have hoped. They’ve already noted victories against the New Jersey Devils, and both Stanley Cup finals participants from a year ago (Vancouver and Boston). They’ll finally get a much deserved rest when they faceoff against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

Mike Richards makes his triumphant (?) return to Philly

Mike Richards

Former Flyers captain Mike Richards is back in Philadelphia, only this time he’s going to be suiting up in the opponents locker room as part of a team with Stanley Cup hopes. Richards’ trade in the offseason to Los Angeles from Philly came as a shock, but seeing him come back now so early in the season (Saturday at 7 p.m.) with his new team is a bit of a switch for the guys in Philly, including the guy he was traded for in Wayne Simmonds.

Sam Carchidi of Broad St. Bull talked with the current Flyers to get their take on Richards’ return and Scott Hartnell had the most fun with it.

“It’s good to see a good buddy that we had a lot of laughs with,” he said. “….I’m sure we’ll have a couple on the ice (Saturday), but when push comes to shove, he’ll be rolling over me to get the puck in the corner and I’ll be doing the same to him.”

Hartnell said it took Richards a while to “wrap his head around” the trade, but that he has accepted it and his mind “is in a good place now.”

These meetings are always a little awkward and even more so when they happen early in the season. New guys are still getting used to life with their new teams and those team bonds aren’t always formed right away.

In Richards’ case, playing in Philly gives the Flyers fans the chance to either show appreciation for his time in Philly, or give him the standard visiting player salute. Maybe Flyers fans will show their respect by booing him but holding off on throwing batteries.

Byfuglien, Ladd return to Chicago for first time since winning Cup

Blue Jackets Jets Hockey

It’s been a while since Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd and assistant captain Dustin Byfuglien have been in Chicago. In fact, the last time they were around, they were carrying that big silver chalice around the city during the Blackhawks own version of the Ultimate Pub Crawl. Since then, the Blackhawks liquidated half their Cup winning team to slide under the salary cap—leading to new teams and new roles for Ladd and Byfuglien.

Since the Atlanta Thrashers didn’t play in Chicago last season, this is the first time Ladd and Byfuglien will appear on United Center ice since winning it all in 2010. Andrew Ladd talked to NHL.com about returning to Chicago—this time as the enemy:

“It’s a little weird, but it’s definitely fun to be back and see a lot of familiar faces and people I haven’t seen in a long time. It’s going to be a fun night for us. A few of us went out for dinner (Wednesday) night, so it was fun to see those knuckleheads and catch up a little bit and see what they’ve been up to.”

Plenty has happened since the pair helped the Hawks win their first Cup in 49 years. Ladd lead his new team with 29 goals and 59 points last season. Right behind him, Byfuglien had 20 goals and 53 points from the blueline. The two were brought in by the Atlanta organization to help bring more talent – and a winning attitude – to the team. They showed the talent part when they were the two leading scorers last season. The next challenge will be for the duo to help the Jets pull together the young talent on roster and make it translate into a playoff spot.

After all, they’ve been part of the same process in Chicago.

Just because they have some good memories from their time in the Windy City, don’t expect Byfuglien and Ladd to take it easy on their former teammates. Byfuglien had a message for the current Blackhawks:

“I’m not afraid to run anybody and knock these guys around a little bit.”

Sounds like it should be a good time.

Tim Thomas inspires hope during his day with the Cup

The 2011 ESPY Awards - Press Room

Leave it to Tim Thomas to have an inspirational, uplifting moment—even on a day when he’s celebrating with the Stanley Cup. Wouldn’t you know it, that Thomas would have the type of celebration that mirrored so much of his career? There have been plenty of parties surrounding the Bruins and the Stanley Cup this summer, but Thomas’ celebration was set on a Michigan football field at his former high school talking to friends and family about his humble roots.

Somehow, I don’t think Brad Marchand was rapping “Black and Yellow” at Cardinal Stadium.

While speaking at his alma mater, he talked about how playing various sports throughout his development effected him over the course of his career. Some guys are solely playing hockey from the moment they can skate, but Thomas was a three-sport athlete at Davison High School. What is it that they say about the “road less traveled?”

“At times early in my career I wondered if that slowed down my path to hopefully the NHL, but looking back it was definitely the right decision. I was able to enjoy those years and play different sports. If anything it developed my love for hockey because it made me realize I loved hockey more than the other sports. Maybe that’s the reason I’m not burned out now at 37.”

He went onto talk about the area that inspired his work ethic—the type of dedication that helped him navigate through the twists and turns of hockey in the minors and overseas. It’s cliché, but it was his environment growing up that cultivated the perseverance that Thomas would depend on throughout his professional career. From Nicholas J. Cotsonika’s excellent story on Yahoo! Sports:

“I think the Midwest work ethic was highly instilled in me growing up. I was also taught that if you want something bad enough and you’re willing to work towards it that you can get it. It’s kind of the American dream, so to speak, which I think a lot of people, actually, to be honest, have kind of given up on. But I’m proof that you still can. If there’s anything that the younger generation that’s watching here today takes out of it, it’s that it’s up to you.”

After sharing the story, Thomas went deeper after the event with Craig Custance and reflected on the bigger picture:

“It’s not the easiest of times, let’s be honest, in the United States right now. There’s high unemployment in the younger generation. I think they need hope… they need to be inspired.”

There are plenty of ways people can take Tim Thomas’ day with the Cup. Some will read into the story with political motives, as they look at an area that has been hit hard by the tumbling economy. Some will take his message with personal meaning, as they push through tough times in their own individual lives. Still others will listen to Thomas’ words and will find the inspiration to chase their dreams—even when they seem impossible. For those people, Thomas’ cousin Susan Danner shared in Custance’s story that her cousin should be providing motivation for the people who need to be inspired.  “We know how hard he worked,” Danner said.  “Anybody who doesn’t believe in patience, there’s a true story of patience.”

Thank you for the feel good story of the offseason.