PHT Morning Skate: Laviolette loses it on referee Kevin Pollock

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette lost it on an official last month during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks. His problem? He claims referee Kevin Pollock was winking at the Blackhawks bench. (Puck Daddy)

Remember the name Denis Godla? He was the goaltender named tournament MVP and the best goaltender while playing for Slovakia at the recent world junior hockey championship. Godla made his professional debut in his native Slovakia this month and made a couple highlight-reel saves in his first game. (The Hockey News)

Editor’s Note: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $25,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Tuesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Eric Staal wants to stick with Hurricanes. (ESPN)

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander is in Toronto now with the AHL’s Marlies and set to make his debut on Friday night. Chris Johnston writes there’s no need for the Leafs to rush the 2014 first-round pick. (Sportsnet)

Bo Didur is a 17-year-old junior hockey goalie with superstitions reminiscent of goaltenders such as Gump Worsley or Turk Broda. (The Vancouver Province)

Mississauga Steelheads owner receivd a note on his car that scared his children. (Steelheads)

Oilers’ Taylor Hall thinks this is the worst stretch of his career. (Jim Matheson)

McDavid: ‘There’s always moments of doubt’

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TORONTO – Connor McDavid has an opportunity to help Team Canada capture a gold medal at a world junior hockey championship for the first time since 2009 when the Canadians meet the Russians on Monday.

However, the top rated prospect for June’s NHL Draft admitted following Sunday’s semifinal victory over Slovakia that this opportunity was in doubt.

McDavid suffered a fractured bone in his right hand during a fight in an Ontario Hockey League game on Nov. 11. The initial diagnosis pegged the 17-year-old to miss 5-6 weeks.

At the time of the injury he had 16 goals and 51 points in 18 games.

“I mean there’s always moments of doubt. Even when the doctor said kind of at the beginning it’s going to be close, there’s a couple weeks where you don’t know and then kind of at the end you realize it’s going to be a possibility,” said McDavid. “It was a long, long recovery, but it feels good to be where we are today.”

McDavid had two goals and five assists through the first five games of the tournament.

He added three assists as Canada defeated Slovakia 5-1 Sunday to advance to Monday’s final.

“I think I’ve been getting better each and every game,” he said. “It’s just natural when you’re missing that much time. I’ve never come back from an injury as a hockey player. It’s really hard to explain and it’s weird when you first get back, but I thought it’s been getting better.”

A visit to the doctors early in the recovery process had McDavid hopeful that he’d return in time for the Boxing Day start of the tournament.

“Kind of around the one week mark of the injury, week and a half. I went back for a check up and the doctor said it was already healing faster than he would’ve expected,” said McDavid. “That’s obviously good news. Long, but not as long as it could’ve been.”

McDavid finally returned to action in an exhibition game for Team Canada on Dec. 21 – 39 days after suffering the injury.

“The game feels different, everything happens really fast especially jumping into a world juniors,” said McDavid of the biggest adjustment. “A lot of stuff happens fast. Just the speed of the game, stuff happens fast.”

Monday will likely be McDavid’s one and only shot at a gold medal at the U-20 tournament. He’s eligible to play at both the 2016 world juniors and the 2017 tournament; however, chances are the NHL club, which selects him in June won’t be releasing him.

Hockey Canada will ‘look at everything’ regarding WJC attendance issues in Montreal

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TORONTO – – Holding the annual Under-20 IIHF Wold Junior Hockey Championship in Canada is supposed to be a success regardless of which city hosts it.

However, Hockey Canada appears to have hit a wall selling the tournament in Montreal.

The Bell Centre, which plays home to the Montreal Canadiens, and Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, home of the Maple Leafs, are the two venues for this year’s tournament.

Though Canada’s quarterfinal match versus Denmark on Friday night drew 18,448 at the ACC, which has a capacity of 18,819, attendance numbers in Montreal were disappointing at this year’s event.

Canada’s four games at the Bell Centre, all wins, drew an average crowd of 15,222 well under the capacity of the arena, which has a capacity of 21,287 for Canadiens games.

“We’ll look at everything for sure, but we’ll do that when the tournament is over,” Hockey Canada’s President and CEO, Tom Renney, told PHT.

According to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, fans at the Canada-U.S. Dec. 31st game were offered the opportunity to move down from the upper bowl, to the lower bowl, to make it appear that seats were full. That game had an announced attendance of 18,295.

The game that followed at 8 p.m. ET had just 3,991 fans to see Finland blank Germany 2-0.

When asked if he had an idea of why attendance was lacking in Montreal, Renney responded: “I do, but I’ll share that at a later date. It’s not really necessary to talk about that just yet. I think as much as we all have to work to be a solution to what might happen in Montreal moving forward. We’ll concern ourselves with that when the competition is over.”

Montreal and Toronto will split the U-20 tournament again 2017.

Lightning prospect Brayden Point’s patience pays off at world juniors

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No one wants to be the extra forward.

However, when Canada named Brayden Point its’ 13th forward for the world junior hockey championship, they used the Martin St. Louis’ example. St. Louis was part of a group of forwards, who rotated as the extra forward for Canada at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

“The coaching staff told me about Martin St. Louis (at the Olympics),” said Point. “That’s a guy that’s making $6 million a year. It’s part of the team.”

The 18-year-old, who has 17 goals and 44 points with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League, was in unfamiliar territory when the Under-20 tournament began Boxing Day.

“It’s a little different for sure, but I don’t think it’s tough. It’s awesome when we’re winning games,” he said. “The goal is the gold medal so it’s definitely not tough to watch other guys compete.”

Being patient and waiting for an opportunity has paid off for Point, who was selected in the third round (79th overall) by Tampa Bay at last June’s draft.

During the first period of Canada’s 8-0 quarterfinal win over Denmark Friday, St. Louis Blues’ prospect Robbi Fabbri was sidelined with a high ankle sprain. Fabbri, the Blues’ first round pick (21st overall) in 2014, will miss the remainder of the tournament. In Fabbri’s absence, Point was promoted.

“I’m disappointed obviously for Robby cause it is a huge loss for our team,” said Canadian coach, Benoit Groulx. “But I think Pointer has been very good with us since camp opened.”

Point netted his second of the tournament giving Canada a 7-0 lead during the third period Friday.

I thought I played pretty well going into a bigger role,” said Point. “You never like to see anyone go down.”

With Fabbri out, Groulx juggled his lines moving Point up to join Ottawa Senators prospect Curtis Lazar and top prospect Connor McDavid.

“I just think Connor needs that a little bit with them, a guy that can play with him, that can make plays with him,” explained Groulx. “We like to balance our lines with speed, with size, with skill.”

Added Lazar, Canada’s captain: “Brayden Point did a great job of stepping in. He fit in nicely with me and Connor, we were happy to get him a goal. He’s been a competitor and a player, for something to happen like that, it is the game of hockey and the way she goes sometimes but now there’s extra more motivation to win it for him.”

Canada plays Slovakia in Sunday’s semifinal. The Canadians have not won gold at the tournament since 2009.

Coyotes’ prospect Max Domi in a familiar place

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As Team Canada moves to Toronto for the quarterfinals at the 2015 world junior hockey championship, Max Domi is in a familiar place.

The Arizona Coyotes’ prospect grew up watching his father Tie Domi play for the Leafs at Air Canada Centre and is quite familiar with his way around Toronto’s dressing room now occupied by Canada’s Under-20 team.

With the Canadians starting the tournament in Montreal the team used the Canadiens dressing room, a place his father was likely never welcome in.

“They’re unbelievable,” said Max Domi, comparing the two rooms. “They’re very different and a lot of history in both of them.”

The 19-year-old, who was selected 12th overall in 2013, admitted it was weird getting dressed in the Leafs’ room for practice Thursday.

“I’ve been in this one a few times so it’s a little weird walking around it and actually getting dressed in it for an actual team,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Domi didn’t get his dad’s stall, which is now occupied by the Leafs’ Joffrey Lupul.

“I don’t know whose stall I have, but (Madison) Bowey’s sitting in my dad’s old stall. I told him that. He just laughed,” said Domi.

Domi was asked if he’d be seeking a trade of stalls with the Capitals’ prospect.

“No, I’m not sitting in that one, I don’t know what went on in that stall,” he joked.

Team Canada won’t care where he’s sitting so long as he continues his solid play into the quarterfinals against Denmark Friday.

Domi is behind only Sabres’ prospect, and teammate, Sam Reinhart and Red Wings’ draft pick, Dylan Larkin in the tournament scoring race with four goals and three assists in four games.