USA Hockey’s deal with top women help them play for career

By Larry Lage (AP Hockey Writer)

PLYMOUTH, Mich. (AP) — Kelly Pannek is on pace to graduate from the University of Minnesota in the spring with a finance degree. With two internships in wealth management also on her resume, she is a prime candidate to get hired in the business world.

The 2018 Olympic champion plans to put her off-ice-career on hold, thanks to a landmark deal involving USA Hockey last year.

”I plan on just playing hockey as long as I can because I can,” she said.

That used to be a challenging choice for the nation’s top female hockey players.

After threatening not to show up at the 2017 world championship at USA Hockey Arena, the top American female players in the sport agreed to a package of improvements, including one that helped their bottom line. Post-graduate hockey players can make about $70,000 a year and about $130,000 annually in Olympic years.

”The progress we made through that deal has changed a lot of our lives, and changed the future of our sport,” said Meghan Duggan, who captained the U.S. when it won gold over Canada at the Olympics earlier this year. ”Before that, all of us relied on other income from a second job, spousal and family support because we weren’t earning a living that supported us in an appropriate way. The deal also created awareness and cultural change.”

During USA Hockey’s training camp last week, where 44 of the top women in the sport gathered, the governing body had some of its top executives in attendance. Three-time Olympian Hilary Knight said that was new and suggested a dramatic difference in support.

USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher was in suburban Detroit not just to be seen. He said he heard what the women had to say and shared information about the USA Hockey’s mission.

”The communication is better than it has been,” Kelleher said before one of his meetings with the group. ”Relationship-wise, we need to have great teammates and be great teammates. We want to understand their side and what they’re looking for. We also want to give them more background on our organization, which has 650,000 participants and 1.2 million members. There’s a lot that goes with that.”

Before the 2017 agreement, many players had to juggle jobs and decide whether to stick with the sport or to give it up to pay the bills.

Knight used to squeeze in private lessons on the ice between her own training and competition to make ends meet after graduating from Wisconsin.

”Coming out of college and having that transition without a set template of what you should be doing and how to be a professional was challenging,” said Knight, now 29 and playing with the CWHL’s Les Canadiennes in Montreal.

Two-time Olympian Amanda Kessel, who is 27, said the increased training stipend allows her to live in New York City and not worry about balancing her career with a life as much as before.

”It was just stressful,” she said. ”You still loved playing hockey, but when you’re 25, 26 years old and you don’t have an income you’re think, ‘What am I doing?’ I had some help from family at times. I had side money from camps and just had to pinch pennies. Now, I have no problem getting a massage or going to physical therapy and paying out of pocket to take care of myself.”

The deal with USA Hockey also allows women to collect their training stipends while pregnant , a benefit enjoyed by the Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson.

Pannek acknowledged she didn’t worry too much about the fight for better benefits previously because she was still in college on a scholarship. But just months away from graduating, she is grateful for the path paved by those before her.

”I saw how hard our veterans worked to set this up for all of us coming out of college,” she said. ”I couldn’t imagine how it used to be. Coming out of college this next year is really special because there are options. I can get an education and I know I can use it, but maybe not right now and put that into the future and play hockey for the next few years. I want to keep playing as long as I can and then use my degree.”

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    Sharks name Bob Boughner head coach, finalize coaching staff

    Sharks coach
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    The San Jose Sharks finalized their coaching staff on Tuesday by announcing that Bob Boughner has officially been named the team’s head coach, removing the interim tag that he had in the second half of last season.

    Boughner replaced Peter DeBoer as the team’s head coach in mid-December.

    With Boughner behind the bench the Sharks finished the season with a 14-20-3 record.

    They had been 15-16-2 with DeBoer.

    Along with the official hiring of Boughner, the team also announced that it has added former Rocky Thompson as an associate head coach and long-term NHL forward John Madden as an assistant coach.

    “Bob did a tremendous job last season, getting our group back to playing with an identity and structure that we need in order to be successful,” said general manager Doug Wilson in a statement released by the team. “We saw a marked improvement in our play in several key areas during the second half of the season, before losing some key players to injury.

    “We’re also very pleased to add Rocky and John to our staff. Both come with a wealth of experience, both in playing the game and as teachers and leaders. With a healthy and motivated group of players, we are confident that this staff will do a terrific job leading our group in the coming years.”

    [NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

    The Sharks were one of the most disappointing teams in the league during the 2019-20 season, going from the Western Conference Final a year ago to the bottom of the NHL standings.

    Making matters worse, they did not even have a lottery pick having traded it to the Ottawa Senators two years earlier for defenseman Erik Karlsson.

    Injuries certainly played a role in their decline, but they also struggled to replace forwards Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi after they left in free agency, while also doing nothing to fix their goaltending issue.

    There is still a lot of talent on the roster, but some of their core pieces are getting older. They also still have to address the goalie situation.

    This is Bougher’s second head coaching job in the NHL. He was also the head coach of the Florida Panthers for two seasons.

    He joined the Sharks as an assistant prior to the 2019-20 season.

    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.

    NHL schedule for 2020 Stanley Cup Final

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    The Stanley Cup Playoffs continue on Saturday, Sept. 19 in the hub city of Edmonton. Now that we are through the conference finals, the full 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final schedule has been announced.  

    The top four teams during the regular season in both conferences played a three-game round robin for seeding in the First Round. The eight winners of the best-of-5 Qualifying Round advanced to the First Round.  

    Rogers Place in Edmonton will host 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final.  

    Here is the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final schedule.

    2020 STANLEY CUP FINAL (Rogers Place – Edmonton)

    Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars (Series tied 1-1)

    Game 1: Stars 4, Lightning 1 (recap)
    Game 2: Lightning 3, Stars 2 (recap)
    Game 3: Wednesday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
    Game 4: Friday, Sept. 25, 8 p.m. ET – NBC (livestream)
    Game 5: Saturday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
    *Game 6: Monday, Sept. 28, 8 p.m. ET – NBC
    *Game 7: Wednesday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m. ET – NBC

    *if necessary

    [NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

    CONFERENCE FINAL RESULTS

    EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
    Lightning beat Islanders (4-2)

    WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL
    Stars beat Golden Knights (4-1)

    ***

    SECOND ROUND RESULTS

    EASTERN CONFERENCE
    Lightning beat Bruins (4-1)
    Islanders beat Flyers (4-3)

    WESTERN CONFERENCE
    Golden Knights beat Canucks (4-3)
    Stars beat Avalanche (4-3)

    ***

    NHL QUALIFYING ROUND / ROUND-ROBIN RESULTS

    EASTERN CONFERENCE
    Philadelphia Flyers (3-0-0, 6 points)
    Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1-0, 4 points)
    Washington Capitals (1-1-1, 3 points)
    Boston Bruins (0-3-0, 0 points)

    Canadiens beat Penguins (3-1)
    Hurricanes beat Rangers (3-0)
    Islanders beat Panthers (3-1)
    Blue Jackets beat Maple Leafs (3-2)

    WESTERN CONFERENCE
    Vegas Golden Knights (3-0-0, 6 points)
    Colorado Avalanche (2-1-0, 4 points)
    Dallas Stars (1-2-0, 2 points)
    St. Louis Blues (0-2-1, 1 point)

    Blackhawks beat Oilers (3-1)
    Coyotes beat Predators (3-1)
    Canucks beat Wild (3-1)
    Flames beat Jets (3-1)

    ***

    FIRST ROUND RESULTS

    EASTERN CONFERENCE
    Flyers beat Canadiens (4-2)
    Lightning beat Blue Jackets (4-1)
    Islanders beat Capitals (4-1)
    Bruins beat Hurricanes (4-1)

    WESTERN CONFERENCE
    Golden Knights beat Blackhawks (4-1)
    Avalanche beat Coyotes (4-1)
    Stars beat Flames (4-2)
    Canucks beat Blues (4-2)

    Hockey Culture: Gary Bettman, Kim Davis on plans for diversity in the sport

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    Welcome to Hockey Culture, the NBC Sports multi-platform content offering dedicated to bringing equality and inclusion to hockey. Led by NBC Sports’ Anson Carter, Hockey Culture addresses contemporary topics within the sport, aim to promote diversity around the game , and increase community engagement.

    This week, Anson talks with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Kim Davis, the league’s senior executive vice-president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs. They discuss why the players and league agreed to take a two-day pause in August to stand in solidarity with the fight against racial injustice, the importance of zero tolerance at hockey’s youth level, and the approach the expansion Seattle Kraken have taken to create a diverse organization.

    Bettman and Davis also give their vision of what progress in these areas looks like in five years.

    Be sure to also check out Anson’s piece in the virtual Stanley Cup Final program, “All Aboard: Making Hockey Truly For Everyone.”

    Subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/nbcsports

    You can watch previous episodes featuring Ryan Reaves, Darnell Nurse, Kelsey Koelzer, Harnarayan Singh, and more by clicking here.

    Parade to penalty box could prevent Stars Stanley Cup parade

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    EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — There is no telling what a championship parade might look like in a pandemic. If the Dallas Stars don’t stop taking so many penalties, they won’t have to worry about that.

    It’s hard to win a hockey game taking three penalties in the first 13 minutes, especially against a dangerous power play that can snap the puck around with ease.

    That is exactly what the Stars did to open Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, digging themselves a hole too deep to climb out of and allowing the Tampa Bay Lightning to tie the series with two crucial power-play goals in a 3-2 win.

    ”That’s where we lost the game,” said Stars forward Mattias Janmark, who took the first penalty of the game. ”We don’t want to take penalties. We have taken way too many throughout the playoffs. But then, I think, when we get them, we’ve just got to go out and kill them and we didn’t manage to do that today and I think that’s where they won the game.”

    At 5-on-5, Dallas is outplaying Tampa Bay and may only have its lack of discipline to blame for not being up 2-0. Penalty trouble is finally hurting the Stars, who have taken by far the most minors this postseason and must fix the problem to keep their title hopes alive.

    ”We need to stay out of the box. It helps,” veteran forward Joe Pavelski said. ”When we stay out of the box, we’ve showed it so far that we’re a good team.”

    Dallas has defied convention by committing so many penalties and reaching the final. The penalty kill led by goaltender Anton Khudobin deserves credit for that.

    Forward Jason Dickinson conceded Sunday the Stars ”take a lot of penalties in the playoffs.” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer in the last round pointed out his team was facing the most penalized team in the playoffs, so he expected a lot of calls against Dallas.

    It’s now 106 to be exact, 104 of them minors compared with 86 for Tampa Bay. The Stars got away with three penalties in quick succession in the third period of Game 1 because of Khudobin, but they didn’t in Game 2.

    Just 25 seconds after Pavelski was whistled for tripping, Brayden Point scored on a perfect one-timer. When Jamie Oleksiak was called for holding, Ondrej Palat finished a perfect passing play and scored a goal Khudobin had almost no chance of stopping.

    ”The penalties got us in trouble,” interim coach Rick Bowness said. ”It was an even game until we started taking penalties.”

    Tampa Bay’s power play had been ice cold with a drought of 14 in a row and just one goal in its last 18. But from Victor Hedman up top to top-liners Point, Palat and Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn in front, there is too much talent on the Lightning power play to stay off the board for long.

    ”I think just scoring that first goal is big,” Point said. ”I don’t know if it’s a sense of relief – just happy to get a goal.”

    There might be more goals in the future for a power play coach Jon Cooper called ”streaky.”

    Consider that injured captain Steven Stamkos seems on the verge of returning. He hasn’t played since February because of core muscle surgery and various setbacks, but if his main purpose is simply to stand in the faceoff circle and fire one-timers, that makes the Lightning power play all the more dangerous.

    ”Immediately you’re concerned with the impact he’ll have on their power play,” Bowness said. ”He changes the whole look on the power play. So that’s a big factor. We take three penalties like we did one period (Saturday) night, they’re going to do some damage with Steven out there and his ability to one-time the puck.”

    And this series is building up some dislike quickly, which will only increase the penalty numbers in Game 3 on Wednesday night and beyond. After a heated scrum late in the second period Monday, there was no room for all three Lightning players to sit in the penalty box.

    The box is a place the Stars want to avoid as much as possible the rest of the series. If they succeed and win it, they can take the Stanley Cup there to celebrate.