PHT Time Machine: The Lindros trade that didn’t happen

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Throughout the summer we will be taking a look back at some significant moments in NHL history. This is the PHT Time Machine. Today we look back to the Eric Lindros trade and the sequence of events that resulted in him joining the Philadelphia Flyers instead of the New York Rangers. 

Few transactions in NHL history have been as impactful as the 1992 trade that saw the Quebec Nordiques send prized prospect Eric Lindros to the Philadelphia Flyers for a package of players that would later be used to help build a mini-dynasty and one of the most dominant teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

That is the trade we all remember.

It was not the only trade made that day involving Eric Lindros.

The Background

You would be hard-pressed to find a non-expansion team that had a worse three-year run on the ice than the late 1980s/early 1990s Quebec Nordiques. To call the team a dumpster fire would be an insult to dumpster fires everywhere. Between the 1988 and 1991 seasons the Nordiques won just 55 out of a possible 240 games, finishing with what was by far the worst record in the league each year.

How bad were they during this stretch? The next worst team in the NHL (the New York Islanders) was 30 wins better than them.

The bright side to all of this losing is that it happened in the pre-lottery days, meaning the Nordiques earned the No. 1 overall pick each year.

Following the 1988-89 season they used that selection on Mats Sundin, a superstar that would play four years in Quebec before being traded to Toronto (more on this later).

In 1990, the top pick was used on Owen Nolan, another excellent player that remained with the organization through its move to Colorado in 1995 where he would later be traded for Sandis Ozolinsh.

Then there was the 1991 pick.

The 1991 pick was the big one because that was the year Eric Lindros was entering the NHL, and everybody knew this was the player to get. If you recall from our PHT Time Machine on the 1991 dispersal draft and the birth of the San Jose Sharks, Lindros was such a big deal that the NHL intentionally gave the expansion Sharks the second overall pick in the draft to make sure they didn’t get him as he was the most prized prospect to enter the league since Mario Lemieux.

Lindros was some sort of a hockey Frankenstein that was seemingly created in a laboratory due to his unheard of combination of skill, size, and strength.

The Nordiques were the team that was bad enough to get him.

The problem? Lindros wanted absolutely nothing to do with the Nordiques or Quebec, a position he made known before the draft. At the time it was believed that his refusal to play for Quebec was due to everything from the lack of marketing potential in Quebec, to the “french culture” of the city. But in an interview with ESPN following his Hall of Fame induction in 2016, Lindros said it had nothing to do with any of that and was simply due to his desire to not play for team owner Marcel Aubut.

“The decision to not play for Quebec was based solely on the owner. It had nothing to do with language, culture, city,” Lindros said. “Keep in mind, my wife is French [from Quebec]. I was not going to play for that individual — period.”

No matter the reason, he was not playing for Quebec and instead spent the 1992 season playing for the Oshawa Generals and the Canadian Olympic team, which took home the silver medal.

There was also no amount of money that was going to get him to Quebec, with him reportedly turning down a 10-year, $50 million offer that would have made him the highest paid athlete in professional sports history (at the time).

That same November, recently fired Nordiques coach Dave Chambers went on record as saying he did not believe Lindros was ever joining the team and that they had to trade him in an effort to get something for him.

The following summer that is exactly what the Nordiques did.

The only problem with the decision is that they ended up trading him twice.

The Trades

Just hours before the start of the 1992 draft (where the Nordiques would select Todd Warriner with the No. 4 overall pick) they reached agreements with both the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers for the rights to Lindros. This, naturally, caused some havoc around the NHL.

The story goes that Aubut had originally agreed to a deal with the Flyers the morning of the draft, only to change his mind after receiving the Rangers’ offer.

With both teams believing they had a right to Lindros, the NHL was forced to bring in an arbitrator — Larry Bertuzzi — to decide which team would end up getting him.

Bertuzzi ended up listening to five days of testimony and took 400 pages of hand-written notes before finally concluding 10 days later that it was the Flyers, and not the Rangers, that had the valid deal for Lindros.

The final trade ended up being Eric Lindros to the Flyers in exchange for Peter Forsberg (the No. 6 overall pick in the Lindros draft), Steve Duschene, Kerry Huffman, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Philadelphia’s first-round draft picks in 1993 and 1994 and $15 million in cash.

It was a total blockbuster.

On the day Bertuzzi’s decision was announced, it was also revealed that the Rangers’ trade was just as massive as the Flyers’ and reportedly included Tony Amonte (the Calder Trophy runner up the previous year), Alexei Kovalev, Doug Weight, John Vanbiesbrouck, three future first-round draft picks, and $12 million in cash.

The Aftermath

A lot of things happened as a result of Bertuzzi’s decision to award Lindros to the Flyers.

First, Lindros went on to become the player everyone thought he would be and was as dominant a player as the NHL had during his career. The only thing that held him back were the injuries and concussions that ultimately cut his career short and perhaps kept him from being even better than he was.

The Flyers never ended up getting a Stanley Cup out of it, but they were a consistent playoff team during his time and did reach the Final in 1997.

Quebec, meanwhile, would use that package of players and draft picks to help assemble a mini-dynasty shortly after relocating to Colorado for the 1995-96 season.

Among the pieces Colorado ended up getting as a result of the trade…

  • Peter Forsberg would go on to be one of the cornerstone players in Colorado’s championship runs and one of the league’s best two-way players.
  • Steve Duchene was later traded to St. Louis for a package of players that included Garth Butcher, Ron Sutter and Bob Bassen. Butcher was later included in a trade, along with Sundin and the 1994 draft pick acquired in the Lindros trade, that would bring Wendell Clark to Quebec. Clark was then later traded to the New York Islanders in a one-for-one swap in exchange for Claude Lemieux, who would play a huge role on the 1996 Stanley Cup team in Colorado.
  • Mike Ricci was a member of Colorado’s 1996 Stanley Cup winning team and was then traded to San Jose one year later for Shean Donovan and the Sharks’ 1997 first-round pick. The Avalanche would use that pick to select Alex Tanguay, who would be a top-line player in Colorado for several years. He also recorded 21 points in 23 playoff games during Colorado’s run to the 2001 Stanley Cup.
  • Ron Hextall would get traded (along with Quebec’s own first-round pick in 1993) to the New York Islanders for Mark Fitzpatrick and a draft pick that would later be used to select Adam Deadmarsh, who would win a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 1996 and then be used as a trade chip to acquire Rob Blake in 2001 who would help the team win another Stanley Cup.
  • Quebec used the 1993 first-round pick acquired from Philadelphia to select goalie Jocelyn Thibault. Thibault’s claim to fame with the Nordiques/Avalanche franchise would be the fact he was one of the key pieces in the 1995-96 trade that was sent to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for goalie Patrick Roy.

In other words: Along with adding Forsberg, the Lindros trade tree had branches that extended into the acquisitions of Claude Lemieux, Adam Deadmarsh, Patrick Roy, Rob Blake and Alex Tanguay, a stunning level of roster and asset management, the likes of which we will probably never see in the NHL again.

This was a perfect storm of circumstances and a once in a lifetime chain of events that would be nearly impossible to duplicate in today’s NHL.

But what about the Rangers in all of this?

While none of the players they agreed to trade were as good as Forsberg, there was still a ton of talent potentially going the other way. Amonte, for example, was coming off of a rookie season that saw him score 35 goals and would go on to play more than 1,100 games in the NHL, scoring 416 career goals. Weight was a promising young center, and Kovalev, the Rangers’ first-round pick in 1991, was a superstar level talent with off-the-charts potential that had yet to make his NHL debut.

As disappointed as general manager Neil Smith was with losing out on the Lindros decision, things still had a funny way of working out in the form of a Stanley Cup victory in 1994, ending the franchise’s 54-year championship drought.

  • Kovalev, playing in his second season at the age of 20, was the Rangers’ third-leading scorer in the playoffs during that 1994 Stanley Cup run.
  • Weight was traded the following year to the Edmonton Oilers for Esa Tikkanen, who would be a valuable role player on the ’94 team before being traded a year later to the St. Louis Blues for Petr Nedved. After a half season the Rangers traded Nedved and Sergei Zubov to Pittsburgh for Luc Robitaille and Ulf Samuelsson.
  • Amonte was traded at the 1994 deadline for veterans Stephane Matteau and Brian Noonan. While neither player would go on to have the career that Amonte did, they did play a big role in the playoffs with Matteau scoring one of the most famous goals in Rangers history.

Would the Rangers have still won that Stanley cup with Lindros in place of Kovalev, Tikkanen, Matteau, and Noonan? Would they have maybe won more than the one Stanley Cup with Lindros over several years? Would Quebec/Colorado have been able to turn those assets into the same type of returns they did? All fascinating questions that we have no answer for.

Still, the only team involved in all of this that did not get a Stanley Cup championship out of it was the team that ended up getting Lindros — the Flyers.

Lindros would ultimately end up in New York nearly a decade later when the Flyers sent him to the Rangers in exchange for defenseman Kim Johnsson and forwards Jan Hlavac and Pavel Brendl.

Johnsson is the only one that would have any sort of a career with the Flyers, while Lindros spent two mostly disappointing seasons with the Rangers in 2002-03 and 2003-04. The ’03-04 season was particularly disastrous for the Rangers as Lindros was limited to just 39 games and the team, having also acquired Jaromir Jagr, Pavel Bure, and re-acquiring Kovalev ended up winning just 27 games.

Previous PHT Time Machines:
• Remembering the Jaromir Jagr Trade Nobody Won
• When the Blues skipped the NHL draft

• Expansion teams build Montreal dynasty
The 1991 Dispersal Draft and Birth of the San Jose Sharks

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Rivals Crosby and Ovechkin relish being All-Star teammates

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SUNRISE, Fla. – Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin have played dozens of regular-season and playoff games against each other since breaking into the NHL together in 2005.

The longtime rivals and respective captains of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals have also shared the ice at All-Star Games before. But with each superstar in his mid-30s, they know this trip could be their last together.

They took advantage of it, with Ovechkin setting up Crosby for two goals Saturday in the lone game of the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament their Metropolitan Division team got to play.

“I think we have fun to play together, not against each other,” Ovechkin said, flashing his gap-toothed smile. “Right now, we was on the same team, and it was pretty special, pretty good moment.”

Crosby, who also had the secondary assist on Ovechkin’s goal, did not expect to get the puck back. That’s not unreasonable given Ovechkin has built a career on scoring and is only 82 goals back of Wayne Gretzky’s NHL career record.

“I was thinking I just did my job: gave it to him,” said Crosby, whose career numbers are so close to Ovechkin’s that he has just five more points overall. “I thought he was just going finish it, but he was kind enough to send me a couple back. We had some nice goals there.”

Not enough to win the 3-on-3 semifinal against the Atlantic, which beat the Central in the final. Ovechkin lamented not scoring more and took some jabs at his goalie teammates for a day: fellow Russians Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers and Ilya Sorokin of the Islanders.

“Obviously goalie could play better,” Ovechkin said.

Crosby and Ovechkin being together at All-Star weekend for the first time since 2018 was one of the themes of the weekend, given how they shared the stage as faces of the NHL for much of their careers. But they don’t want this to be a Sid and Ovi swan song and could do this again as soon as next year when the festivities are in Toronto.

“You try to go out there have fun and stay in the moment,” Crosby said. “Hopefully, it’s not our last one. That’s the best way to approach it.”

HOMETOWN HEROICS

The introductions for Aleksander Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk were saved for last.

And of course, the two Florida Panthers stars, representing the Atlantic Division, delivered in their home arena.

“We play regular-season and playoff games here, but with this event, it’s even more special to be here representing the Florida Panthers,” Barkov said.

Tkachuk was clearly comfortable playing in the same arena where has amassed 66 points (sixth in the NHL) this season with the Panthers. He was named All-Star MVP after his seven points (four goals, three assists) Saturday, including a goal and an assist in the Atlantic Division’s 7-5 win over the Central Division to take the All-Star game title.

“To be honest, I really didn’t care about anything other than just representing my team,” Tkachuk said, “and it’s a big honor to be one of the representatives, along with Barky, to be the host city. Without everybody saying it, it kind of revolves around us a little bit with having the home crowd on our side and doing the big skills and starting the game having the fans basically just cheering for us.”

Tkachuk had a hat trick and a pair of assists in the Atlantic squad’s semifinal game against the Metropolitan division – tying a single-game points record for the 3-on-3 All-Star format. Two of those goals were assisted by his Panthers teammate to give their squad a win 10-6 and advance to face the Central division the final.

By the time Barkov and Tkachuk came out for the All-Star game final, “Let’s go Panthers!” cheers were being belted throughout FLA Live Arena.

Barkov, the beloved Panther in his 10th season, has 14 goals this year and 33 assists. He has 234 career goals and 600 points.

BROTHERLY LOVE

Brothers Matthew Tkachuk and Brady Tkachuk have played against each other plenty over the years. But with both players starting for the Atlantic division, they got to experience playing together as the 11th set of brothers to be All-Star teammates.

The brothers each had a goal in Saturday’s semifinal game between the Atlantic and Metropolitan divisions. And Brady assisted on his brother’s goal in the final against the Central division.

“We’ve always dreamt of playing with each other one way or the other,” Matthew Tkachuk said. “We thought that the best chance would be a Team USA thing at one point because I was in the West forever and he was in the Atlantic, so we never really thought this was a possibility.”

Matthew, drafted in 2016 by the Calgary Flames, is a two-time All-Star with 177 career goals and 448 points.

Brady, the younger Tkachuk sibling, was drafted in 2018 by the Ottawa Senators and has 110 career goals and 243 points.

Both were All-Stars back in 2020 in their hometown St. Louis. Brady represented the Atlantic division, while Matthew represented the Pacific squad.

WEATHER WOES

It was 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 Celsius) outside FLA Live Arena when the All-Star 3 on-3 tournament started – more than 50 degrees warmer than 2024 host Toronto. That doesn’t mean this year’s event didn’t have a weather issue.

The NHL All-Star Beach Festival – which had areas where fans could test their hockey skills, get a photo with the Stanley Cup and check out a Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit, among other things – couldn’t open on Saturday.

Rain in the morning delayed the opening on Fort Lauderdale Beach, and then 40 mph (64 kilometers per hour) wind gusts later in the day forced the NHL into keeping it closed and calling off a watch party for the All-Star Game.

It was open Thursday and Friday.

MVP Matthew Tkachuk lifts Atlantic to NHL All-Star Game win

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SUNRISE, Fla. – Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk was right at home at the NHL All-Star Game.

Again.

Detroit’s Dylan Larkin had a hat trick, Toronto’s Mitch Marner had three assists and the Atlantic Division topped the Central Division 7-5 in the All-Star Game final on Saturday.

All-Star Game MVP Matthew Tkachuk – playing alongside his brother Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators – had seven points on the day, after a five-point outburst in a semifinal win over the Metropolitan Division. Larkin had five goals in the Atlantic’s two games.

“We wanted to get a win for the home crowd, the fans,” Montreal’s Nick Suzuki said. “They did a good job of cheering on the Atlantic Division. We just wanted to put on a good show for them.”

And for the MVP, winning in front of Panthers fans meant more than just winning.

“It’s been an honor to play in front of them this whole year and it’s great that the other players in the league can see what a great place this is to play,” Matthew Tkachuk said. “I’m as happy as can be here.”

Arizona’s Clayton Keller, Dallas’ Jason Robertson, Colorado teammates Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen all had goals for the Central in the final. Makar also had two assists.

It was the first time the Atlantic won the All-Star Game, after six previous tries in the divisional format. The 11 players – nine skaters and two goalies – on the Atlantic roster split $1 million for the win.

“It was so much fun,” said Larkin, who had five goals in the two games. “I’m proud of how we won it. What a great group of guys … it was just a great weekend.”

Matthew Tkachuk has now been on the winning team in both of his All-Star appearances, and both times, he enjoyed the comforts of home. He helped the Pacific win the 2020 All-Star title in St. Louis, his hometown and one of the many spots that his father – Keith Tkachuk, who was in the crowd Saturday – played during his career.

“I’ve been very fortunate, the two that I’ve been in that I know the ins and the outs of everything that goes on away from the rink,” Matthew Tkachuk said. “It just made it so much more comfortable for me and extra special.”

And this one truly had home-ice advantage. Matthew Tkachuk – the former Calgary standout who picked Florida this past offseason, despite much speculation that he would be going to St. Louis – had three goals and two assists in the Atlantic’s 10-6 win over the Metropolitan in the second semifinal.

It was 3-0 Atlantic after the first half of the 20-minute final; all games under this All-Star format are 3-on-3, 20 minutes in length with a brief break after 10 minutes. The lead got to 4-0 early in the second half of the final, giving the Atlantic 10 consecutive goals; it trailed 6-4 in the semifinal before closing on a 6-0 run.

Larkin scored with 1:06 left to make it 6-2, the first of five goals in a frantic finish.

“It’s been a blast,” said Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, who scored for the Atlantic with 36 seconds left to make it 7-3. “I met a lot of great people.”

NOTES: The NHL gets right back to play on Monday with six games, including a home game for Florida – meaning it’ll be a quick turnaround for the arena. … The Central Division is now the only one yet to win an All-Star Game in this format. The Pacific has three wins, the Metropolitan has three wins and now the Atlantic has one. … Florida was supposed to host this game in 2021, only to have it canceled by the pandemic. The Panthers hosted All-Star weekend in 2023. … Attendance was a sellout, 19,250.

SEMIFINAL 1: CENTRAL 6, PACIFIC 4

Keller had two goals and an assist, MacKinnon scored twice and the Central moved into the title matchup. St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and three assists for the Central. Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson had two goals, while San Jose’s Erik Karlsson and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid also scored for the Pacific.

SEMIFINAL 2: ATLANTIC 10, METROPOLITAN 6

The teams combined for a record-tying – in the 3-on-3 era, anyway – 16 goals. Matthew Tkachuk had three goals and two assists, tying a single-game record for the format. Larkin scored twice and Brady Tkachuk had a goal and three assists for the Atlantic. Columbus’ Johnny Gaudreau had three goals for the Metropolitan. Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby had two goals and Washington’s Alex Ovechkin had the other.

UP NEXT

The next NHL All-Star weekend is Feb. 2-3, 2024 in Toronto.

Panthers offer Sarah Nurse deal to lead girls hockey program

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers are trying to sign a high-scoring forward who has an Olympic gold medal and two world championships, with hopes of getting the deal done in the coming days.

If it happens, she won’t be playing for the Panthers.

Sarah Nurse, the Canadian forward who had a highlight-reel goal against the New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin during the NHL’s All-Star Skills Competition, has the chance to run the Panthers’ new program designed to get more girls playing hockey.

Florida president Matthew Caldwell offered the job to Nurse publicly – very publicly, at a lectern, with a microphone, before a crowd of onlookers. And he was serious.

“I’m going to embarrass you, but we’re going to offer you a job today,” Caldwell told Nurse, who was seated in the crowd. “We want you to be the face of our girls program at the War Memorial. So, are you in? On the spot? We don’t deal with agents, OK. I’m a tough negotiator.”

The idea to hire Nurse was first floated to Caldwell by Melissa Fitzgerald. She’s the general manager for the War Memorial, which is the two-rink facility being refurbished by the team and will become its practice headquarters.

“We’ve been talking about it for a few weeks,” Caldwell told The Associated Press. “Our youth hockey team kind of brought it up as a joke to me, but I said, `Let’s think big. We’re building this huge facility. Let’s put our money where our mouth is.”‘

The only part Caldwell was less than serious about with Nurse was how the Panthers don’t deal with agents. He spoke with Nurse’s representative, Thomas Houlton, after the event.

Houlton did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He and Caldwell spoke for about 15 minutes after the event, which was attended by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Panthers stars Aleksander Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk, and dozens of kids who got to play ball hockey afterward.

Nurse played for Canada’s world-champion teams in 2021 and 2022, along with Canada’s Olympic gold winners at the Beijing Games last year.

She was one of five women’s players from USA Hockey and Team Canada – the two most dominant women’s national teams in the world – who were part of the skills events. She wore custom skates highlighting Black History month and the Black Girl Hockey Club, a nonprofit focused on getting more Black girls and women into the sport.

She used a move made famous by Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg when he helped Sweden win gold at the 1994 Olympics against Shesterkin, a Vezina Trophy-winning goalie.

U.S. star Hilary Knight didn’t think Nurse’s goal should have surprised anyone, saying, “she’s a top scorer.”

Ovechkin, and Ovi Jr., take the ice at All-Star skills night

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SUNRISE, Fla. — When you’ve got the second-most goals in NHL history, you’re evidently permitted to bring a guest onto the ice for the All-Star Skills competition.

That’s why there were two No. 8 Washington jerseys out there.

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin took the ice with his Metropolitan Division teammates – and his oldest child, 4-year-old Sergei.

Sergei, named for Ovechkin’s late brother, was wearing an Ovi Jr. jersey. The kid has built a bit of a following in recent weeks, after scoring a goal at a Caps practice in December and playing a role in helping the Washington crowd celebrate his dad’s 800th goal.

It was Ovi Jr.’s first chance at being part of an All-Star weekend. His father hasn’t participated at All-Star since 2018, either because of COVID-19 or injuries. The last time his dad played in an All-Star event, Sergei hadn’t been born.

Alex Ovechkin has 812 goals. He only trails Wayne Gretzky’s 894 in NHL history.

And later in the night, Ovi Jr. got to center a line alongside his dad and Pittsburgh great Sidney Crosby. They each got an assist on a goal that Sergei scored – beating Roberto Luongo, the Florida great who came out of retirement for All-Star weekend.

Said Ovechkin after his son scored: “I think he’s really enjoying it.”

WELCOME HOME, LU

Luongo got to be part of one more All-Star competition.

In a building where a banner bearing his No. 1 jersey hangs – he’s the only former Panthers player to have that distinction – Luongo was a celebrity goaltender during the Breakaway Challenge during the Skills Competition on Friday night.

He stopped his lone shot in the breakaway, off the stick of Toronto’s Mitch Marner. On one hand, Marner is the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer this season. On the other hand, he was also wearing a white suit, sunglasses and a light blue T-shirt to keep with a “Miami Vice” theme.

Luongo, who was regaled by “Luuuuu” chants from the Florida fans all night, was up to the challenge. Marner tried to beat him to the glove side, but Luongo got enough of it to make the save – then flopped forward to cover up the rebound, the smile clearly seen through his mask.

“You got too close,” Luongo told Marner.

Later, Luongo told ESPN during the telecast of the event that “this is my house. This is my home right here. The crease is my home.”

Luongo’s pads paid tribute to his career – the design depicted his time both as a member of the Panthers and the Vancouver Canucks. They were a gift from CCM for his making the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“I’d never put the pads on since I retired,” Luongo said. “First time I put them on was this week. Felt pretty good.”

He also took part, and scored a goal, in a Florida alumni game on Wednesday night. But if there’s more alumni games, Luongo suggested he might jump back into the net.

“It back some good memories tonight to be in the blue paint, hearing the chants,” Luongo said. “Maybe one day we’ll hear them again.”

REMEMBERING JIMMY

Sergei Ovechkin – who knocked a shot into an open net during a stoppage of the skills events – wasn’t the only child who got a great view of the night.

Philadelphia forward Kevin Hayes has his 3-year-old nephew Beau with him for All-Star weekend. Beau’s father was Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes’ brother.

Jimmy Hayes was 31 when he died in 2021 with fentanyl and cocaine in his system. He played for four NHL teams, including Florida.

Kevin Hayes is part of an All-Star weekend for the first time.

ANTHEM POISE

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by the South Florida Gay Men’s Chorus, and group crushed it – never minding that the crowd, representing several different fan bases, was going to shout some term specific to their team at various points in the lyrics.

Florida fans shout along with “red” and “Knight,” one a nod to one of the team’s primary colors, the other for goaltender Spencer Knight. There also were some shouts from other fan bases; some St. Louis fans, for example, could be heard singing “home of the Blues” instead of “home of the brave” to close the song.

And “O Canada” performer Hannah Walpole had some shouting as she sang as well, particularly when she reached the “true North” portion of those lyrics – something typically heard at Winnipeg games.

SLAP SHOTS

Cale Makar, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner from the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, was the first participant in the Fastest Skater event – the opening competition of the night. He fell coming around the second turn. … Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon, one of the broadcasters on the event, reported that he was “freezing” by working at ice level. “I’m used to the gear,” said Maroon, who was in a blazer and open shirt Friday night. … A big hit for those used to the regular colors of FLA Live Arena – and basically all other hockey arenas – was the ocean-water-shade of blue used for the blue lines and the creases. The faceoff dots at the circles on either end of the ice aren’t the standard solid red this weekend, but depict an image of the sun instead.