Tag: Rick Dudley

Rick Dudley

Dreger: Rick Dudley to be named Canadiens assistant GM


According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, former Atlanta Thrashers GM and current Maple Leafs director of player personnel Rick Dudley is about to move to Montreal.

Dreger reports Dudley is expected to be named as the new assistant general manager for the Canadiens and pair up with new GM Marc Bergevin to try and straighten the team out. Of course, the move doesn’t come without some issues as Dreger highlights.

Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke and newly appointed Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin are in discussions over Dudley’s jump from one team to the other.

Dudley, a member of Toronto’s management team, has an “out” in his contract with the Leafs, but has done extensive work for Toronto on the upcoming NHL Draft and sources say Burke would prefer Dudley not join the Canadiens until after the Draft.

Both the Leafs and Habs have top five picks in this year’s draft and the last thing Toronto wants to do is lend Montreal a hand when both teams are in critical situations heading into the summer. Toronto handing Montreal what would essentially be a cheat sheet would cause a meltdown amongst Leafs fans.

That said, Dreger hits it on the head – expect the two sides to get something worked out so Dudley can join the Habs after the draft in late June.

Winnipeg Jets round out coaching staff with Tony Borgford, Wade Flaherty and Charlie Huddy

Claude Noel, Kevin Cheveldayoff

While hockey fans await the unveiling of a new Winnipeg Jets logo and the team’s new jerseys, the actual makeup of the 2011-12 team keeps coming into greater focus. Winnipeg discarded many of the elements of the Atlanta Thrashers team they inherited, particularly when they exchanged former GM Rick Dudley and ex-head coach Craig Ramsay for new GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and bench boss Claude Noel (both of whom are featured in this post’s main photo).

There were rumors that beloved former Manitoba Moose forward Mike Keane might be primed to join Noel’s staff as an assistant coach, but it looks like that won’t be the case. The team instead looks to fill out its coaching staff with three new additions: Charlie Huddy, Wade Flaherty and Tony Borgford.

Huddy will take Keane’s rumored spot as the team’s new assistant coach. Flaherty will act as Winnipeg’s goalie coach while Borgford will remain the Jets’ video coach.

Huddy’s been an assistant coach in the NHL for 12 years, serving in that role with the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars. Flaherty was Chicago’s goalie coach for three seasons. Both Huddy and Flaherty might be familiar with fans from their NHL careers; Huddy won five Stanley Cups as a member of the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty while Flaherty played 120 regular season games as a goalie. Borgford is one of the rare Thrashers employees who will make his way to Winnipeg; he’s been with the franchise since the position was created in 1999, according to the Canadian Press.

For better or worse, the foundation for the Jets’ first season seems like it’s in place. Now we just need to wait for an idea of the aesthetics.

Clint Malarchuk’s emotional journey after two life-threatening moments

Calgary Flames v Columbus Blue Jackets
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When most hockey fans think of former NHL goalie Clint Malarchuk, there’s that indelible (and unsettling) image of him getting his throat slashed by an errant skate. Malarchuk needed 300 stitches to close up a jugular wound that left audience members fainting and gave two people heart attacks on that unshakeable day on March 22, 1989.

Yet the remarkable thing about that horrifying incident was that Malarchuk seemingly bounced right back from that incident. He even managed to joke around about that incident during a radio interview with fellow goalie Gerry Cheevers just a few days later, comparing the moment to slaughtering cattle by saying “I was ready to moo out there.”

Malarchuk barely missed a week of game time as the Buffalo Sabres’ goalie after that incident, making him arguably Exhibit A on why hockey players are tough. At least on the outside, that is.

“Coming back as quick as I did, I became a cult hero,” Malarchuk, sipping coffee, dipping chew, says the other day. “It was like, ‘Holy crap, this guy had his head cut off almost, and he’s back playing.’ I became a pretty good celebrity in that town. I basked in that, basked in my courage, basked in my cowboy mentality. I thought everybody back home, my cowboy buddies, would all be pretty proud of me.

“I never thought about trauma or anything like that. Never ever.”

Never thinking about the trauma – or at least truly addressing it – might have had an impact on what was the other darkest moment in Malarchuk’s life. That second moment didn’t take place because of someone else’s imperfectly placed skate; instead it was the result of Malarchuk’s own actions on October 7, 2008. During what was labeled a “hunting mishap,” Malarchuk put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger while his wife was watching.

Malarchuk claimed it wasn’t really a suicide attempt as he didn’t realize the gun was loaded, but the message seemed clear either way.

“I remember thinking, ‘Holy crap, I just shot myself in the head,’ ” says Malarchuk. “It wasn’t like a premeditated suicide. It was stupid. I actually thought the gun wasn’t loaded. It was impulsive. Crazy, irrational. Mind spinning a hundred miles an hour. It wasn’t like I left a note. I call it an accident.”

After that near-death experience, Malarchuk underwent something he probably should have experienced after he nearly died on the ice: “heavy, heavy therapy.” That’s not to say he didn’t try to get better in the years between those two incidents – he experienced “15 good years” after finding some help, including the use of Zoloft – but he didn’t really address the issue specifically. Malarchuk started to make progress once he was treated for post-traumatic stress related to that throat-slashing catastrophe.

“I thought it was only people in war who had that,” says Malarchuk. “When they come back, some of them are basket cases, some are homeless people, alcoholics, drug addicts. Why? Because they never got help.

“We went through some exercises where I had to relive (the neck injury). Cry. Be scared. Shake. I never did that (in 1989). The words ‘counsel’ or ‘psychology’ . . . never came up. I’m not blaming anybody. It never even crossed my mind.”

Even amid these crises, Malarchuk was building up a career as a goalie coach (including time with the Columbus Blue Jackets, as you can see in this post’s main photo). Former Atlanta Thrashers GM Rick Dudley gave him opportunities along the way, including a role as goalie coach for the Thrashers in 2010-11. Malarchuk’s potentially tragic story could turn inspiring as he goes on to his next role as the Calgary Flames’ goalie coach in 2011-12.

“I’m excited — super-excited about this job,” he says. “It’s one of the best things that’s happened to me in a long time. To be a coach with the Flames? Pretty cool.

“I’m 100 per cent mentally. I do have to take medication and I’m not ashamed to say that. And I have a healthy lifestyle.”

Jets re-sign captain Andrew Ladd to five-year, $22 million deal

Andrew Ladd

The Jets are keeping their captain locked in. Winnipeg signed Andrew Ladd to a five-year contract worth $22 million to keep the team captain locked in with the team and lead them into a new future in Manitoba. The deal comes with a salary cap hit of $4.4 million over the duration of the deal and for Winnipeg, keeping a class act player like Ladd made all the sense in the world.

With last season’s Thrashers team, Ladd had a career year scoring 29 goals and adding 30 assists and was named team captain halfway into the season. With Ladd, the Jets have a guy who has won two Stanley Cups (Carolina in 2006, Chicago in 2010) and former GM Rick Dudley was happy to take him off the Blackhawks’ hands when they had to clean house to get under the salary cap after winning the Cup in 2010.

Winnipeg’s summer has been a quiet one filled with smaller signings, but keeping Ladd around and giving him a hearty payout to be the leader of the team heading into a new situation makes a world of sense. Taking care of their own is the right thing to do and given the dearth of offense on the current Jets roster, Ladd’s goal scoring ability will need to continue.

The increase in minutes he saw in Atlanta last season showed the sort of potential he has to be a go-to guy. Through his career he was a guy that averaged between 11 and 14 minutes per game. With Atlanta he played over 20 minutes per game and saw his numbers jump across the board. Seizing an opportunity like that is huge and the potential to do more is still there. Now he’ll have to live up to it in Winnipeg to drive the hometown fans wild.

New name, new location, same game plan? Winnipeg Jets staying quiet in free agency

Kevin Cheveldayoff, Craig Heisinger
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Last season when then Thrashers GM Rick Dudley helped pick apart the Chicago Blackhawks in their great salary sell-off, the additions made to the team helped turn things around in Atlanta for at least a little while. Character additions and talent like Andrew Ladd, Brent Sopel, and Dustin Byfuglien proved to be great ones as Ladd eventually became team captain and Byfuglien was an All-Star while scoring 21 goals as a defenseman.

With the Thrashers being sold and moved to Winnipeg and a new staff in charge of things in Manitoba with GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and team VP Craig Heisinger, things are taking more of a quiet turn for the Jets. It’s the kind of turn that makes you think back on Thrashers offseasons of the past while Don Waddell was in charge of things.

Taking a look at who the Jets have signed this summer, there’s not a single name that jumps out at you for being a difference maker kind of player. Derek Meech, Tanner Glass, Rick Rypien, and Randy Jones highlight the Jets offseason. Meanwhile, they’re still trying to get a deal worked out with Ladd and have seen improving talent Anthony Stewart bolt to Carolina.

If that sounds unimpressive, it makes us think back to the summer of 2009 that saw the Thrashers sign luminaries like Stewart, Noah Welch, Josh Gratton, and Mike Vernace while retaining Colby Armstrong and Kari Lehtonen. For one of this year’s Jets signings, Randy Jones thinks that his new team is going to have to be more blue collar than anything to win as he told the Winnipeg Sun’s Paul Friesen.

“Last year for a good part of the season they were only a point or two behind us and Washington,” Jones said on a media conference call from his home in New Brunswick, Monday. “They work extremely hard, and that’s the main thing you need in this league, is hard work and determination. That’s one thing that stood out, they never give up, they always battled and were always in your face. We’re going to give a good push this season.”

All the hard work in the world can get you only so far though and the Jets are going to need goals. With Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, and Evander Kane already in the fold and young centerman Alexander Burmistrov growing up on the job, there’s a handful of point producers there. Overall, however, they’re going to need to find offense from somewhere. Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press highlights a few free agent targets Cheveldayoff could and should be looking at to help the Jets get on the board.

Tait points out guys like Antti Miettinen, Jason Arnott, Alex Kovalev, and Cory Stillman could be sought out to help produce goals. There’s also some major nostalgia available in Teemu Selanne. Of course, Selanne leaving Anaheim for one last run in Winnipeg is more of a pipe dream than a possibility. Regardless, unless the Jets start getting active they’re going to be fighting for goals and hoping that new head coach Claude Noel has the strategies to help the Jets win with minimal offense. Sure Ondrej Pavelec is a very solid goalie, but asking him to be Vezina-level night in and night out is asking a lot of him.

The Jets have been all about surprises since True North bought the team, but they’re going to need to do things differently from how the Thrashers did them in the past if they hope to conquer the Southeast Division and make the playoffs next season.