Reagan Carey, ex-USA Hockey women’s director, named PHF commissioner

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Reagan Carey is bringing her Olympic gold medal-winning resume to lead the Premier Hockey Federation through a critical offseason of expansion and the looming threat of competing for talent with a second North American pro women’s hockey league.

The PHF announced Tuesday that the former head of USA Hockey’s women’s programs is its new commissioner heading into its eighth season. Carey replaces Tyler Tumminia, who stepped down in March after two seasons in which the former National Women’s Hockey League rebranded itself and revamped its ownership model.

Carey is well-versed in the challenges women’s hockey has faced in finding its footing in North America. Her eight-year stint at USA Hockey ended with the women’s national team winning gold at the 2018 Winter Games.

“My area of experience and developed expertise is really growing things and doing it quickly and taking things that might need some structure and organization and focus to really drive things forward and capture some wins,” Carey told The Associated Press.

“So I’m excited to know we’ve got a lot of things moving around here and a lot of opportunities to really continue the positive momentum the PHF put forward last season,” she added. “And that’s to demonstrate what we’re here to do, which is to be the best league we can be.”

Carey’s arrival comes with the six-team PHF preparing to add two expansion franchises, one in Montreal and another in a yet-to-be announced U.S. location. The league’s board of governors is also committed to increasing each team’s salary cap from $300,000 to $750,000 as part of a three-year, $25 million cash influx.

The challenge involves the PHF’s ongoing rift with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association, which has intensified talks with NHL teams and its corporate sponsors to launch its own league within the next year. The PWHPA, formed in 2019, is made up of American and Canadian national team members who have balked at playing for the PHF.

The two sides’ latest bid to join forces ended abruptly two weeks ago when the PWHPA’s board of governors voted to end discussions after holding just one meeting at the NHL’s request.

Carey was diplomatic regarding the PWHPA, saying she considers anyone seeking to advance the women’s game as being “a teammate” and that she will have “an open-door policy” of collaboration.

“Regardless of the entity you represent, I’m a big believer in one candle doesn’t lose its flame by lighting another,” Carey said.

“And I think that’s where we are with the situation that creating options for players is great for everyone. It only betters the sport,” she said. “I support all the people that are doing a lot of work to advance professional women’s ice hockey, including the players that are working with the PW.”

Carey was selected by a six-person search committee, which included Susie Piotrkowski, head of women’s team sports at Octagon sports agency, a PHF partner.

“Hiring the right fit for the long-term growth of the league was imperative,” Piotrkowski said in a news release. “Reagan Carey differentiated herself not only as a result of her hockey experience but through her deep understanding of the women’s sports landscape.”

During her tenure at USA Hockey, Carey oversaw a women’s program that won six world championships and four Under-18 women’s championships. She was also involved in negotiations to end the U.S. national team’s threat to boycott the 2017 world championship on home soil, which led to players getting better pay and more equitable treatment.

“I think, ultimately, it was a great pivotal moment for women’s hockey, and glad to be a part of that experience,” Carey said. “USA Hockey certainly had the opportunity to listen and create a better structure for women’s hockey, better resources. And ultimately those players that led that charge and everybody ended up the better for it.”

While at USA Hockey, Carey was keenly aware of the startup troubles the NWHL endured, including the league slashing player salaries by more than 50% during its second season.

“The PHF was imperfect, certainly. It had its misfires, and its obstacles, but at the same time, it really filled the need that was existing,” Carey said.

“But I also like to look at where we’re advancing and how far we’ve come,” she added. “We’re not going to get everything perfect moving forward either. I’ll be the first to recognize that. But I think it’s about how we continue to evolve and how we handle those situations and making sure players are very clear of what we’re able to deliver and that we deliver on that.”

Carey previously worked for the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers and NBA’s Atlanta Hawks in sports development, performance and marketing roles. Upon leaving USA Hockey, she returned to her native Maine, where she was a member of the Maine Girls & Women in Sports Committee, while also spending time as a sports and business consultant.

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    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.

    Capitals sign Dylan Strome to five-year, $25 million extension

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    FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Washington Capitals signed forward Dylan Strome to a five-year extension worth $25 million.

    The team announced the contract during NHL All-Star Weekend, which is taking place in South Florida – the place Strome was drafted third in 2015.

    Strome will count $5 million against the salary cap through the 2027-28 season. He was set to be a restricted free agent this summer.

    “Dylan is an intelligent and skilled center and has been a great addition to our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract. We feel his skill set is a great fit for our team as he enters the prime years of his career at an important position.”

    Strome is getting a raise from the $3.5 million deal he signed with the Capitals after the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to tender him a qualifying offer and made him a free agent. Strome has 11 goals and 25 assists in 36 games this season and ranks third on Washington’s roster with 14 power-play points.

    The Mississauga, Ontario, native who played his junior hockey alongside Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters has 206 points in 325 regular-season NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, Blackhawks and Capitals.

    Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

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    LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

    The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

    But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

    Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.

    Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette charged with DUI

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    DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — New Jersey Devils associate coach and former Florida Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette was arrested in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart, authorities said.

    Brunette, 49, was pulled over just blocks from the ocean in the Deerfield Beach area, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was charged with one count of driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500 bond.

    The Devils said in a statement that the team was aware of Brunette’s arrest and gathering additional information.

    According to the arrest report, a deputy was in the process of giving Brunette’s illegally parked golf cart a ticket around midnight when Brunette walked out of a nearby bar and told the deputy he was about to leave. The deputy said Brunette seemed unsteady on his feet and slurred his speech, and when he was joined by his wife, the deputy said he overheard the wife tell Brunette not to drive while the deputy was there.

    The deputy remained in the area and reported watching the couple drive away about 17 minutes later, according to the report. The deputy said he watched the golf cart run two stop signs before pulling Brunette over on a residential street about a mile away from his home. According to the report, Brunette had difficulty following instructions during a field sobriety test before eventually quitting and asking for an attorney. He also declined to take a breathe test to measure his blood-alcohol level, officials said.

    Online jail and court records didn’t list an attorney for Brunette.

    Brunette is in his first season as associate coach of the Devils. He was interim coach of the Florida Panthers last season after taking over when Joel Quenneville resigned for his connection to a 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal.

    The Panthers fired Brunette after they lost in the second round of the playoffs last spring despite him leading them to the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team during the regular season.

    The Sudbury, Ontario, native played 1,159 NHL games for Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Colorado and Chicago from 1995-2012. He was a Wild assistant in 2015-16 and worked on Florida’s staff from 2019-2022.