Leafs VP Poulin preaches patience

13 Comments

Soon after Brian Burke was hired on Nov. 29, 2008, Leafs fans were promised they wouldn’t have to suffer through an all-out rebuild. The new general manager would be active in the trade and free-agent markets while also stocking the organization with prospects. It would be a rebuild on the fly, not a tank for the future. Making the playoffs was the goal right off the bat. Contending for the Stanley Cup would start, well, right about now.

Burke was still preaching the same message in April of 2010 after watching his team miss the playoffs for the second time.

“As I said to you guys a year ago, I wasn’t interested, and I’m still not, in a five-year rebuild like some of these teams have done,” he said. “Maybe because of my age, maybe just because I know it doesn’t have to be five years, because it wasn’t in Anaheim.”

Now, with Toronto on the verge of missing the playoffs for the fourth time with Burke looking on from up high, patience is understandably wearing thin with fans.

With that in mind, you have to wonder how Leafs Nation feels about the club’s V.P. of Hockey Operations, Dave Poulin, saying it’s going to take time.

“We’re making the product better, but it’s not all going to show today,” Poulin told NHL.com. “When I was 12, I wanted to be 13. When I was 15, I wanted so badly to drive. I couldn’t. I had to wait. Certain things just take time.”

Except it’s already taken time. Over 1,000 days have passed since Burke was hired. The 12-year-old kid that wanted to be 13 will be off to college soon.

“You’d love to say we’re going to start something three and a half years ago, but you have to undo before you can do,” said Poulin. “It’s not as simple as saying, ‘OK guys, clean slate, let’s go.’ [Burke] had to undo contracts, roster spots, a lot of things. That was a much more complicated piece than you would think.”

But is it any less complicated now? Maybe a bit, but there are still bad contracts on the books – Mike Komisarek, Colby Armstrong, Tim Connolly and Matthew Lombardi comprise $15.75 million in cap space. Plus there’s still no top-line center or goalie that can be trusted. And while the prospect pool is deeper, is there a franchise player among it?

Patience, Leafs fans.

Patience.

WATCH LIVE: 2020 NHL All-Star Game enhanced broadcast

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NBC Sports will stream a first-of-its-kind digital-only presentation of the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Saturday night on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app, showcasing new puck and player tracking technology that will deliver data and information in real time as the NHL’s top players compete for $1 million.

The new puck and player tracking technology will be emphasized prominently throughout the digital broadcast, highlighting elements such as skating speed, shot speed, skating distance and shift times. In addition, graphic identifiers for players and the puck will be utilized as they move on the ice.

In addition to live coverage on NBC, NBC Sports will produce a digital-only second-screen presentation on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app showcasing puck and player tracking data that will be presented in real time. The action kicks off on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 8 P.M. ET]

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analysts Pierre McGuire and Brian Boucher will call the NHL All-Star Game on NBC.

NBC Sports’ live digital-only presentation on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app showcasing puck and player tracking data will highlight elements such as skating speed, shot speed, skating distance and shift times. In addition, graphic identifiers for players and the puck will be utilized as they move on the ice.

Kenny Albert and AJ Mleczko will call NBC Sports’ digital presentation of the All-Star Game on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

MORE NHL ALL-STAR COVERAGE:
Looking back at the 1988 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis
Florida Panthers to host 2021 NHL All-Star Game
Canada edges U.S. in entertaining debut of Elite Women’s 3-on-3
2020 NHL All-Star Skills: Winners, fun moments, Hertl as Bieber
Shea Weber reclaims NHL Hardest Shot title
NHL All-Stars enjoy ‘really hard’ and ‘unique’ Shooting Stars event
Bettman responds to IIHF president’s Olympic decision deadline
Crosby, Kane, Ovechkin highlight NHL’s All-Decade Team

WATCH LIVE: 2020 NHL All-Star Game on NBC

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The 2020 NHL All-Star Game will take place at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Saturday night on NBC, with four teams vying to share a $1 million prize.

Four teams (one representing each of the Atlantic, Central, Metropolitan, and Pacific Divisions) square off in a two-round tournament. The three 20-minute games will be played 3-on-3.

In round one, the two Eastern Conference teams (Atlantic vs. Metropolitan) face off at 8:15 p.m. ET, while the two West teams (Central and Pacific) meet in the other bracket at 9:15 p.m. ET.

Teams change ends at the 10-minute mark of each game. Shootouts decide any games that are tied after 20 minutes.

The winners of both games will square off for a deciding third game, with $1 million on the line.

[WATCH LIVE – NHL ALL-STAR GAME 8 P.M. ET – NBC]

Atlantic Division
F David Pastrnak, BOS (2nd appearance) — captain
F Tyler Bertuzzi, DET (1st)
F Anthony Duclair, OTT (1st)
F Jack Eichel, BUF (3rd)
F Jonathan Huberdeau, FLA (1st)
F Mitchell Marner, TOR (1st)
F Brady Tkachuk, OTT (1st)
D Victor Hedman, TBL (3rd)
D Shea Weber, MTL (7th)
G Frederik Andersen, TOR (1st)
G Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL (3rd)
Coach: Bruce Cassidy

G Tuukka Rask, BOS, has chosen not to play. F Auston Matthews, TOR, will attend but not participate in on-ice activities because of a wrist condition.

Metropolitan Division
D Kris Letang, PIT (6th appearance) — captain
F Mathew Barzal, NYI (2nd)
F Nico Hischier, NJD (1st)
F Travis Konecny, PHI (1st)
F T.J. Oshie, WSH (1st)
F Chris Kreider, NYR (1st)
D John Carlson, WSH (2nd)
D Jaccob Slavin, CAR (1st)
D Seth Jones, CBJ (3rd)
G Braden Holtby, WSH (5th)
G Tristan Jarry, PIT (1st)
Coach: Todd Reirden

F Jake Guentzel, PIT, F Kyle Palmieri, NJD, D Dougie Hamilton, CAR, G Joonas Korpisalo, CBJ, and F Artemi Panarin, NYR, were replaced because of injury. F Alex Ovechkin, WSH (captain), has chosen not to play.

Central Division
F Nathan MacKinnon, COL (4th appearance) — captain
F Patrick Kane, CHI (9th)
F Ryan O’Reilly, STL (3rd)
F David Perron, STL (1st)
F Mark Scheifele, WPG (2nd)
F Tyler Seguin, DAL (6th)
F Eric Staal, MIN (6th)
D Roman Josi, NSH (3rd)
D Alex Pietrangelo, STL (2nd)
G Jordan Binnington, STL (1st)
G Connor Hellebuyck, WPG (2nd)
Coach: Craig Berube

Pacific Division
F Connor McDavid, EDM (4th appearance) — captain
F Leon Draisaitl, EDM (2nd)
F Tomas Hertl, SJS (1st)
F Anze Kopitar, LAK (5th)
F Max Pacioretty, VGK (1st)
F Elias Pettersson, VAN (2nd)
F Matthew Tkachuk, CGY (1st)
D Mark Giordano, CGY (3rd)
D Quinn Hughes, VAN (1st)
G Jacob Markstrom, VAN (1st)
G David Rittich, CGY (1st)
Coach: Rick Tocchet

F Jakob Silfverberg (personal), ANA, F Logan Couture (injury), SJS, and G Darcy Kuemper (injury), ARI, were replaced. G Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK, has chosen not to play.

Here’s a look back at what happened during Friday’s NHL All-Star Skills event:

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analysts Pierre McGuire and Brian Boucher will call the NHL All-Star Game on NBC.

NBC Sports’ live digital-only presentation on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app showcasing puck and player tracking data will highlight elements such as skating speed, shot speed, skating distance and shift times. In addition, graphic identifiers for players and the puck will be utilized as they move on the ice.

Kenny Albert and AJ Mleczko will call NBC Sports’ digital presentation of the All-Star Game on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

MORE NHL ALL-STAR COVERAGE:
Looking back at the 1988 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis
Florida Panthers to host 2021 NHL All-Star Game
Canada edges U.S. in entertaining debut of Elite Women’s 3-on-3
2020 NHL All-Star Skills: Winners, fun moments, Hertl as Bieber
Shea Weber reclaims NHL Hardest Shot title
NHL All-Stars enjoy ‘really hard’ and ‘unique’ Shooting Stars event
Bettman responds to IIHF president’s Olympic decision deadline
Crosby, Kane, Ovechkin highlight NHL’s All-Decade Team

3-on-3 overtime in NHL has evolved over past 5 seasons

Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils scores the game-winning overtime goal
Getty Images
2 Comments

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Victor Hedman fondly recalls the NHL’s first 3-on-3 overtime because it was madness.

”It was probably a minute and a half of just breakaways,” the Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman said. ”Jason Garrison scored the goal – beat the D-man (and scored) five-hole.”

Trading breakaways and playing at a frenetic pace was what 3-on-3 was about when it debuted in 2015. The idea was to open up the ice for skilled players so fewer games needed to be decided by a shootout.

When All-Stars play their annual 3-on-3 tournament Saturday night, it’ll look like the overtimes of years past, with less regard for defense, of course. But in the regular season, 3-on-3 overtime has become a much more methodical game full of strategy predicated on holding on to the puck and only taking the highest of quality shots.

”You have tactics now,” Hedman said. ”In the beginning, you kind of didn’t know what to do. It’s all about maybe not coming down on an angle and taking a bad shot and it goes out and goes the other way. It’s all about puck possession. … I think as guys have played it more, they’ve learned more and now I think more and more games go to a shootout.”

At the All-Star break, 8.2% of games this season have been decided by a shootout, up slightly from 7.9% in the first four seasons with 3-on-3 overtime. The evolution of 3-on-3 with so many teams opting to circle back over and over has prompted talk about adding a shot clock, forcing teams to stay in the offensive zone and potentially adding time beyond the current five-minute period.

The initial theory was so much open ice made 3-on-3 coach-proof. Coaches and players have figured out different tactics, and the results are noticeable.

”The biggest change is probably the ability to get your players on and not allow them to change while maintaining puck possession,” Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. ”The goaltenders are used a lot more in terms of making line changes by throwing it back to the goalie. Regrouping – I think at first it was just get in the zone and try to find a give and go somewhere that works. Now, guys are going back, they’re going back, they’re going back, tire out the other team, try to score off the rush.”

There’s more science to 3-on-3 now, and, therefore, less fun. It’s still an entertaining product, only with more players thinking about fatiguing opponents than putting the puck on net as much as possible.

”The most important thing is line changes,” Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano said. ”I think we’ve all learned that you can’t change at the wrong time (because) it’ll cost you an odd-man rush. The puck possession, I think teams are figuring it out.”

A basketball-style shot clock could force more action. But the biggest conversation right now is about extending 3-on-3 OT to seven or perhaps even 10 minutes in an effort to further reduce shootouts.

As one of the players who would be taking on those extra minutes, Hedman is in favor of a longer overtime. But not all players want to see it doubled.

”Maybe a few more minutes tacked on would be cool,” Giordano said. ”We love playing it, but you’d have to look at how it would affect the guys who are playing and the more wear on their bodies with those minutes because 3-on-3 minutes are a lot different than 5-on-5 minutes. It’s a lot more taxing, for sure.”

Goaltenders would also get taxed with a heavier workload. They don’t see as many shots in 3-on-3 as the rest of the game, but almost every one is difficult to stop.

”Every single shot is dangerous,” Flames goalie David Rittich said. ”It’s usually hard. You kind of know you’re going to face some breakaways, 2-on-1s, 3-on-1s, so you’ve got to be ready for everything. … I’m not a big fan of 3-on-3 hockey, actually.”

Goalies are in the minority there. Arenas still feel a special buzz for 3-on-3 overtime, and skaters get to show off the skill that’s not ordinarily possible at 5-on-5.

”I think it’s cool for the fans, too,” Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau said. ”I just really like playing in that.”

Bettman: NHL puck and player tracking to start in playoffs

NBC
3 Comments

Puck and player tracking is coming to the NHL in the playoffs.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday that puck and player tracking will be up and running in all playoff arenas this spring and is expected to be fully operational leaguewide next season.

”There will be more data than ever before,” Bettman said. ”I believe the players will generate something like 200 data points per second and the puck 2,000 data points a second, so in terms of getting inside the game, telling stories, as a fan delving in to get what you’re interested in, you’re going to be able to do more things than ever before and even imaginable.”

The league will test the system – which is a mix of sensors and optical tracking – during certain games in the regular season. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league hasn’t decided which games will be chosen for that testing.

During his annual state of the NHL address, Bettman also revealed there had been a few complaints raised about a team official’s behavior since the topic garnered significant attention at the Board of Governors meeting last month. Bettman and Daly said those complaints were investigated, and none turned out to be of significant concern.

”Obviously, what we announced at the board meeting, some people have followed up and there have been some things reported to us,” Daly said. ”I’ve gotten a couple calls from clubs who have had issues raised with them. This is I think what I’ll expect when we have a platform up and running that people are going to utilize it.”

Bettman also touched on the status of collective bargaining talks with players, a potential deadline to decide about going to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing and the possibility of changing the All-Star format next year.

Four months since owners and players each decided not to opt out of the CBA that goes until 2022, Bettman said the Players’ Association has taken a ”deep breath” on negotiations. He expects CBA talks to resume in earnest soon, despite the lack of an urgent deadline.

”My expectation is we’ll re-engage shortly in a more energetic way than perhaps we’ve been in the last couple of months,” Bettman said. ”Perhaps knowing there’s more time than we had going into September, I wouldn’t read anything into it other than we’re both still focused on it.”

Bettman brushed off the notion of a deadline for an Olympic decision set by the International Ice Hockey Federation. He continued to say it’s disruptive for the NHL to stop its season to go to the Olympics, which it did five times from 1998 to 2014 before skipping 2018, but didn’t rule out sending players to Beijing.

Some international hockey could be coming closer than Asia before 2022. Bettman alluded to having a ”distinct international flavor” at the 2021 All-Star Weekend, which will be hosted by the Panthers in South Florida.

The league and players abandoned plans to hold a World Cup of Hockey as soon as the winter of 2021, but Daly said there’s a working model on what might be coming at the next All-Star Weekend. Much like the women’s 3-on-3 game at this year’s Skills Competition, that event could showcase the U.S.-Canada rivalry and others.

”I think we have a general understanding of what we’re talking about and what it looks like,” Daly said.