PHT Morning Skate: Ovi’s signature one-timer; Canadian university brawl

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• The Hockey News gives us a list of five bargain-bin defensemen that could be interesting acquisitions for contending teams. (The Hockey News)

• Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones talks about how expensive hockey can be, the money that comes with being a pro and he also opens up about what it’s like to be a black player in the NHL. (Wealth Simple)

• Sportsnet’s Gare Joyce took a deeper look at how former OHLer Akim Aliu’s refusal to accept being part of a rookie hazing incident affected his hockey career. (Sportsnet)

• ESPN sat down for a Q & A with former Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo, who some may describe as a one-hit wonder. “I didn’t quite get to 60 goals, but I was close. And I got to share (the Rocket Richard Trophy) with the people that were there for me all the way up. My parents. My brother and sister. A few of my uncles that used to take me to hockey school when my parents couldn’t.” (ESPN)

• Find out how Alex Ovechkin‘s signature power-play one-timer became so unstoppable. (NHL.com)

• How will the next expansion draft affect the way the Los Angeles Kings make trades? (Mayors Manor)

• The solution to the Colorado Avalanche’s goalie troubles might be in the AHL. (Denver Post)

• Check out this brawl during a Canadian University Hockey game. 13 players and both head coaches were ejected. (CBC.ca)

• The Flyers would make NHL history if they were to sneak into the playoffs. (Philly.com)

• Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey isn’t exactly on his coach’s good side right now. (New York Post)

• The Montreal Canadiens beat the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, but they lost forward Paul Byron in the process. Byron clearly showed his frustration as he skated off the ice. (Habs Eyes on the Prize)

• ICYMI on Saturday night, there was a touching family moment prior to the game between the Leafs and Penguins:

 

NHL to celebrate Black History Month for first time

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The NHL will celebrate Black History Month for the first time, shifting its focus in February from its wide-ranging ”Hockey Is For Everyone” campaign to emphasize racial diversity in the sport.

The league and NHL Players’ Association will announce the joint initiative Friday morning. It includes a traveling mobile museum devoted to the history of minorities in hockey predating Willie O’Ree breaking the color barrier in 1958 and going up to the present day. The museum will debut outside Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday.

As part of this, ”Hockey Is For Everyone” is expanding to year-round. March will be gender-equality month, and the plan is to add acknowledgement of Hispanic heritage and ”First Nations” next season.

There are roughly 20 black players currently on NHL rosters, though executive vice president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs Kim Davis said there is strong minority representation at youth levels.

”I think a focus like this during Black History Month will affirm those many kids of color that are already playing our game,” Davis said. ”I think we often underestimate the pipeline of talent that is already involved in our game.”

USA Hockey only recently began collecting data on player participation by race, so it will take some time to show if the sport that is predominantly white at its highest levels is making inroads. Davis added that another aim is to educate all fans of the contributions of non-white players during hockey’s history.

O’Ree, who has worked since 1996 as NHL diversity ambassador and director of youth development, says he’s proud the league is celebrating black history and has seen progress in more kids playing hockey over his two decades on the job.

Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, one of several black stars who will be the subject of video specials this month, said ”important conversations and perspectives will be shared as part of the Black History Month celebration.”

Predators defenseman P.K. Subban, Sharks forward Evander Kane and Hall of Famers Grant Fuhr and Angela James will also be among those featured.

NHL All-Star Game 2019: Metro makes final by beating Atlantic

The Metropolitan Division beat the Atlantic 7-4 in their semifinal round of the 2019 NHL All-Star Game, so they’ll face the Central Division in the final round on NBC.

After skipping the All-Star Skills on Friday, Sidney Crosby was productive for the Metro, scoring two goals and one assist.

Seth Jones had an impressive run of his own, with both goals being impressive, with this one being an especially nice display:

The Atlantic Division lost, but they provided some of the best goals of the night so far. Good luck to any player hoping to top Steven Stamkos‘ wicked bit of work:

It will be enjoyable to see other highlight-reel entries, though, including red-hot Jeff Skinner showing some fantastic touch.

Braden Holtby‘s numbers were the best of the four goalies in that game, as he managed to stop 11 out of 13 shots. Considering how many good looks players get during these events, that’s pretty impressive stuff. Here’s Holtby on the Capitals’ struggles heading into the break; maybe this fun weekend might help Holtby and the Caps turn things around?

MORE:
NHL All-Star Skills 2019: Winners, funny moments, Gritty
All-Star MVP adds to Crosby’s ‘great memories’ of San Jose
Sharks soak in the love from fans during NHL All-Star Weekend

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.

WATCH LIVE: 2019 NHL All-Star Game on NBC

The 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game at SAP Center in San Jose on Saturday night on NBC, with four teams vying to share a $1 million prize.

Coverage gets underway at 8 p.m ET, with puck drop between the Central Division all-stars and the Pacific Division all-stars set for 8:15 p.m. ET. That game will be followed by the Metropolitan Division all-stars battling the Atlantic Division all-stars.

The winners of both games will square off for a deciding third game, with a cool $1 million on the line.

[WATCH LIVE – NHL ALL-STAR GAME 8 P.M. ET – NBC]

Atlantic Division

F Jack Eichel, BUF
F Nikita Kucherov, TBL
F Auston Matthews, TOR
F Jeff Skinner, BUF
F David Pastrnak, BOS
F Steven Stamkos, TBL
F John Tavares, TOR
D Thomas Chabot, OTT
D Keith Yandle, FLA
G Jimmy Howard, DET
G Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL
Coach: Jon Cooper, TBL

Metropolitan Division

F Sebastian Aho, CAR
F Cam Atkinson, CBJ
F Mathew Barzal, NYI
F Sidney Crosby, PIT
F Claude Giroux, PHI
F Kyle Palmieri, NJD
D John Carlson, WSH
D Seth Jones, CBJ
D Kris Letang, PIT
G Braden Holtby, WSH
G Henrik Lundqvist, NYR
Coach: Todd Reirden, WSH

Central Division

F Patrick Kane, CHI
F Nathan MacKinnon, COL
F Ryan O'Reilly, STL
F Mikko Rantanen, COL
F Mark Scheifele, WPG
F Blake Wheeler, WPG
F Gabriel Landeskog, COL
D Miro Heiskanen, DAL
D Roman Josi, NSH
G Devan Dubnyk, MIN
G Pekka Rinne, NSH
Coach: Paul Maurice, WPG

Pacific Division

F Johnny Gaudreau, CGY
F Clayton Keller, ARI
F Connor McDavid, EDM
F Joe Pavelski, SJS
F Elias Pettersson, VAN
F Leon Draisaitl, EDM
D Brent Burns, SJS
D Drew Doughty, LAK
D Erik Karlsson, SJS
G Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK
G John Gibson, ANA
Coach: Bill Peters, CGY

The NHL All-Star Skills event took place on Friday.

McDavid was one against crowned the winner of the fastest skater, clocking a time of 13.378 seconds for his third consecutive triumph in the event.

Gaudreau retained his title in the puck control contest, finishing with a time of 27.045 seconds to edge out Kane.

Lundqvist is the oldest all-star among this year’s cast, but the “King” would take his throne, recording 12 straight saves in the Save Streak contest.

Draisaitl showed his peers how it was done in the Premier Passer event with a time of 1:09:088.

Carlson took home the hardest shot, blasting a puck 102.8 MPH.

Pastrnak was first up in the Accuracy Shooting event and his time of 11.309 seconds went unmatched.

[RELATED: 2019 NHL All-Star Skills: Winners, funny moments, Gritty]

If you haven’t yet, take some time today to watch P.K. Subban’s excellent All-Star Special that air after Friday’s All-Star Skills. Subban had several guests appear on his show, including 13-year-old Ty Cornett, who reached out to Subban earlier this month after experiencing racism while playing youth hockey.

And if you’re looking for more ASG coverage, don’t forget to read these stories from PHT’s Sean Leahy, who is on the ground in San Jose and has been providing top-notch coverage from the event.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

NHL All-Star Skills 2019: Capitals’ Carlson wins hardest shot

The Washington Capitals don’t know if they’ll repeat as Stanley Cup champions, yet even with Alex Ovechkin taking a break for All-Star weekend, the team still employs the winner of the hardest shot competition.

In the 2019 edition, John Carlson took it. He actually topped Ovechkin, as Carlson rifled a shot at 102.8 mph, while Ovechkin’s 2018 winner was at 101.3.

The highlight of the event was probably hometown favorite Brent Burns missing the net altogether by a hair. Would you have expected any other All-Star to miss the net in that situation? Too perfect.

Carlson might not come to mind as the hardest shooter in the NHL, but his shot is part of what makes the Capitals power play so dangerous. As much as you want to key on Alex Ovechkin, can you really cheat too much when that unit also has Carlson’s shot among their many other weapons?

As you can see from the full results, Carlson actually won both rounds:

ROUND 1

Player | Shot 1 (mph)

1. Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets | 99.4

2. John Carlson, Washington Capitals | 102.8

3. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning | 96.2

4. Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks | Miss

ROUND 2

Player | Shot 2 (mph)

1. Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks | 100.6

2. Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning | 93.1

3. Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets | 95.1

4. John Carlson, Washington Capitals | 100.8

Winner: Carlson (102.8)

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.