PHT Morning Skate: Oliver Ekman-Larsson discusses late mom’s long battle with cancer

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–Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of Toronto’s last Stanley Cup victory, so Sean McIndoe decided to compare the Leafs’ drought to the struggles other teams have had over the few years. The Panthers, Capitals, Blues and Sharks all made the list. (Sportsnet)

–Here’s the first part of an upcoming series of articles discussing John Tortorella’s views on leadership. Fun fact, the 2017 Jack Adams nominee hates when his players refer to him as “coach”. “Leadership is not about you and thinking it’s like a dictatorship. I think one of the most important aspects of being a leader is to empower people. I can’t stand when players call me coach. I hate the title because it’s all of us doing it together, first of all. And it takes you longer to peel away at being a team if they feel it’s ‘you’ and ‘us.'” (NHL.com/BlueJackets)

–After a 10-year cancer battle, Oliver Ekman-Larsson‘s mom, Annika, passed away this year. As you’d imagine, his mother’s difficult situation really weighed on Ekman-Larsson throughout the hockey season. “She got me skating when I was a kid and when I didn’t like it at first, she kept pushing me. She and my dad were at all the games, and she was the reason I played for Leksands Idrottsförening for two years. I was going to play for another team but she wanted me to look at that team, and I’m happy I did.” (arizonasports.com)

–Thanks to last night’s 2-1 win over the Blues, the Nashville Predators are now just one win away from reaching the Western Conference Final. You can check out the highlights from that game by clicking the video at the top of the page.

–The Dallas Stars were extremely fortunate when they landed the third overall pick in the draft lottery, but should they hang onto the pick or should they ship it elsewhere? The Hockey News’ Matt Larkin believes they need to offer it to New Jersey for Cory Schneider. Larkins writes: “The Stars are one year removed from winning the Central Division and leading the NHL in goals. They have two superstar forwards in their prime in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, and they are running out of good years from No. 2 center Jason Spezza. General manager Jim Nill stuck to his guns and gave his goalie tandem of Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi a chance at redemption this year, and they flopped again. But if Nill can properly remedy his team’s crease for 2017-18, we could see the Stars competitive again.” (The Hockey News)

–The Predators have had a few famous national anthem singers this postseason. Yesterday, country singer Vince Gill sang the Star Spangled Banner with his two daughters. In a bit of a random twist, PGA Tour golfer Brandt Snedeker jumped on the ice after the anthems. (Sportsnet)

–Red Wings forward Anthony Mantha took some huge steps forward this season. From being the grandson of a former NHLer to having a decorated junior career in the Quebec junior league, here’s his story: