NHL Rink Wrap: Blackhawks lose on and off the ice

blackhawks
Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images
1 Comment

Top player from Wednesday in the NHL

Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida Panthers

Bob stopped 30 of 31 shots faced during a 4-1 win over the Bruins. It’s the first time the goaltender has won each of his first five starts of a season. The win pushed the Panthers to 7-0-0 to begin the year, three wins away fro matching the longest win streak in franchise history.

NHL injury, COVID news

Highlights from Wednesday in the NHL

Anthony Duclair with a great goal he was able to squeeze into a tiny window against Linus Ullmark:

Not sure if “highlight” is the right way to describe this strange moment between Evgeny Kuznetsov and the … manager trying to hand Dylan Larkin a stick?

As much as the Maple Leafs have struggled, William Nylander‘s been great. In an important win, Nylander scored a cool and calculated OT goal:

The Flyers-Oilers gave us a wild finish to their opening period during Philadelphia’s 5-3 win. Connor McDavid scored his seventh of the year with 17.8 seconds left to tie the game at two. But Cam Atkinson answered with 0.7 seconds to go to give the Flyers their lead back.

Wednesday’s NHL takeaways

NHL, Blackhawks, Panthers have a lot to learn following Kyle Beach interview

The hockey world is still coming to grips with Kyle Beach’s candid, heartbreaking, and courageous interview.

Among other things, Beach hopes that people learn from this, so it doesn’t happen this way again. His hopes extend beyond the NHL, hockey, and even sports.

Unfortunately, people are failing early tests.

After the Beach interview aired, the Blackhawks put out a press release apologizing for “then-executives” and their “delay taking action” regarding allegations made toward Brad Aldrich. During that interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead, Beach said he believed Joel Quenneville took a position that “winning a Stanley Cup was more important than [addressing] sexual assault.”

The second paragraph also trumpeted “a new leadership team that is committed to winning championships.”

“Tone deaf” is a generous description of the Blackhawks’ statement regarding Beach’s interview.

Also tone deaf: Joel Quenneville appearing behind the Florida Panthers’ bench following the release of the internal investigation, and Beach’s interview. At the absolute minimum, it would seem wise for Quenneville to at least wait until his planned Thursday meeting with Gary Bettman before reappearing as Panthers head coach.

Instead, Quenneville’s work was uninterrupted beyond what was essentially a Wednesday non-statement.

After the Panthers beat the Bruins, Quenneville was not made available to the media. Instead, Panthers GM Bill Zito made this announcement.

NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr released a statement late Wednesday night in response to the Blackhawks report which noted Beach informed union representatives of the abuse:

“Kyle Beach has been through a horrific experience and has shown true courage in telling his story. There is no doubt that the system failed to support him in his time of need, and we are part of that system. 

In his media interview, Mr. Beach stated that several months after the incident he told someone at the NHLPA the details of what happened to him. He is referring to one of the program doctors with the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. While this program is confidential between players and the doctors, the grave nature of this incident should have resulted in further action on our part. The fact that it did not was a serious failure. I am truly sorry, and I am committed to making changes to ensure it does not happen again.”

In other notable situations, the NHL and its teams have been slow to respond to similar challenges. Ideally, the league will make the right decisions in the long run to prevent similar things from happening, and to hold those involved fully accountable.

So far, the results aren’t very promising, though.

Panthers remain undefeated, but not unblemished

Normally, an exciting Panthers team improving to 7-0-0 would be a feel-good story. And, indeed, it’s nice to see Anthony Duclair truly establish himself as a lethal scorer in the NHL.

But Joel Quenneville remaining behind the Panthers’ bench dampens just about all of those sunny feelings. Especially since the Panthers elected to have Bill Zito give the media an elaborate “no comment” after the game.

As a team that’s been irrelevant for ages, the Panthers need to fight that much more for attention. By not putting Quenneville on leave (at minimum), that decision will draw nearly all of the attention.

Thursday’s big story

Beyond Bettman – Quenneville meeting — Bruins clash with Hurricanes

Again, the hockey world fixates on the fallout from the Blackhawks lawsuits. If everyday life doesn’t already put single hockey games in perspective, Kyle Beach bravely sharing his experiences should do the trick.

That’s the biggest story in hockey right now. And it will remain on the tip of tongues, especially if the feeling lingers that those in power aren’t reacting properly.

As far as Thursday’s biggest on-ice NHL story goes, it’s likely the Bruins serving as a barometer for another undefeated team. The Hurricanes are 5-0-0, and have the rest advantage over Boston. On paper, Carolina should then be considerable favorites. We’ll see what happens on the ice, though.

(But, yeah, much of the focus will involve at least one meeting happening off the ice on Thursday.)

Wednesday’s NHL scores

Panthers 4, Bruins 1
Maple Leafs 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT)
Red Wings 3, Capitals 2 (OT)
Golden Knights 3, Stars 2 (OT)
Flyers 5, Oilers 3

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.