AHL

Bruins place David Backes on waivers

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David Backes has played only 16 games for the Bruins this season and spent many a night as a healthy scratch. On Friday the 35-year-old forward was placed on waivers.

“At the end of the day, you do what’s best for the team,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy on Friday.

Should he clear, which he will, Backes will report to Providence of the American Hockey League.

This season Backes has only one goal and three points while playing a career low 8:33 per night.

“We’re going to look at younger guys and just felt at the end of the day, you do what’s best for your team, what makes you the best team,” Cassidy said. “Ultimately [general manager Don Sweeney] put him on waivers, feeling that was the best thing. I know David doesn’t agree with the situation, but that’s the decision we made [was] for the good of the team. I respect David as a person, as a player. We just felt we had better options, and that’s how we’re going to go forward and see how it plays out.”

It’s been downhill for Backes in Boston since signing a five-year, $30 million deal in 2016. His offensive output has declined and he’s dealt with numerous injuries. Under Cassidy he’s found it difficult to carve out a role in the Bruins’ lineup and be a consistent face among their 12 forwards.

“It’s gymnastics, there’s no question about it,” said Backes last week. “But that’s where we’re at right now, that’s a sign of a good team. If I’m not cracking the lineup, I think we’ve got a pretty good team. That’s kind of my perspective on it and I’m going to be called on at some point, kind of same way I was in the playoffs where didn’t start in there but was able to I feel like make an impact on a few games and help our team win. That’s what we’re about here is team first, and I’m trying to exemplify that when I’m in, when I’m out and be ready whenever I get called.”

Backes has one year left on a contract that carries a $6 million cap hit and $4 million salary through the end of the 2020-21 season. A buyout this summer would put $4 million on the Bruins’ salary cap in 2020-21 and $1 million on it for 2021-22, per Cap Friendly. That could be an option for GM Don Sweeney, but it’s going to be another offseason with a tight salary cap picture. The salary cap ceiling may rise only a few million dollars and extensions will be due this summer for restricted free agent Jake DeBrusk and unrestricted free agents Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Jaroslav Halak.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Islanders on Ho-Sang returning to organization: ‘It’s in his hands’

Joshua Ho-Sang AHL
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The New York Islanders confirmed what Joshua Ho-Sang announced via, um, Eminem: Ho-Sang is back with the organization.

Granted, a return to the Islanders isn’t guaranteed, if Ho-Sang manages it at all in 2019-20. Instead, Ho-Sang is reporting to the Islanders’ lowly AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Regardless, Ho-Sang announced his hockey return with style:

View this post on Instagram

Time to play hockey 🙊

A post shared by josh ho-sang (@66jhosang) on

 

Mutual benefits

While the Islanders boast a mighty 22-7-2 record, Bridgeport ranks as one of the worst teams in the AHL and its lowest-scoring squad.

This sets up a situation where all parties could gain if things go well, as The Athletic’s Arthur Staples explains (sub required). Bridgeport could use the scoring and the parent club might benefit from some injury insulation. Meanwhile, Ho-Sang must prove himself to revive his professional hockey career.

“It’s in his hands”

The Islanders make it sound like the world is Ho-Sang’s oyster, although some might read a bit of a … parental tone into GM Lou Lamoriello’s remarks.

“He just has to go there and do what he has to do as a player and conform to the environment and they’ll be no issues,” Lamoriello said Tuesday, via the team website.

“He was the last cut going down to the American league, so he did have a good training camp. Where he’s at right now physically and mentally, we’ll just have to wait and see. But from our end of it, he’ll have a clean slate. It’s in his hands.”

Barry Trotz implies that it might take some time before Ho-Sang changes minds.

“Right now, he’s got to get back and get back playing before he’s even an option for me,” Trotz said.

So, it’s good that the Islanders are saying the right things. Don’t blame Ho-Sang and others for remaining frustrated, though.

The case for Ho-Sang as an NHL player

Certainly, from here, it’s maddening to see the 23-year-old fail to make a full-time NHL impact.

Seemingly from the moment he was drafted 28th overall by the Islanders in 2014, Ho-Sang became a polarizing presence. While Ho-Sang made missteps along the way, particularly being late to training camp in 2015, he’s argued for his presence with blinding skill.

For quite some time, the answer seemed to be that maybe Ho-Sang should simply be playing for a different NHL team. Instead, the situation’s dragged on and on. Honestly, you could argue we’ve been waiting for some closure since Garth Snow was Islanders GM.

The rest of the NHL absorbs some of the blame, mind you. Ho-Sang passing through waivers right before the season began still leaves me scratching my head, honestly.

No, Ho-Sang isn’t perfect, but it’s hard to believe that he isn’t good enough to land a spot as one of 12 starting forwards on one of the NHL’s 31 teams.

Just about every objective sign, including this heat map from Hockey Viz, argues that Ho-Sang could benefit plenty of teams. Frankly, his defensive flaws might also be exaggerated:

Ho-Sang ultimately asked for a trade after barely failing to make the team out of training camp. The Islanders failed to “consummate” a trade, and Ho-Sang left the Islanders organization altogether since Oct. 1 … until now.

The Sound Tigers play their next game on Wednesday, but it’s unclear if Ho-Sang will be ready. Eventually, we’ll see if Ho-Sang runs with this opportunity, though — assuming the slate is truly clean.

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.

Fur was a-flyin’ as Teddy Bear Toss season gets under way

Hershey Bears
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December has arrived and that means it is Teddy Bear Toss season.

Truly the greatest time of year where hockey teams and their fans from all levels and all parts of the globe participate in a great charity effort. Once the home team scores, the fur starts flying down to the ice with numerous local organizations benefiting.

This past weekend we saw a trio of strong Teddy Bear Tosses.

First up, the the AHL’s Hershey Bears, who beat the Hartford Wolf Pack in overtime 4-3, but not before a world-record total of 45,650 stuffed animals were collected following Christian Djoos’ goal.

Bears fans delivered and surpassed the previous record total of 34,798 collected during the 2018 event. Over 40 charities will receive the stuffed animals, including schools, food banks, churches, lions clubs, as well as the Milton Hershey School, Children’s Miracle Network, and the American Cancer Society.

Heading out west and staying in the AHL, the Bakersfield Condors held their event on Saturday night and it was Josh Currie getting the party started late in the first period of a 3-1 victory in front of the fourth-largest crowd in team history.

Here’s the great Ryan Holt to take us through the Condors’ 21st Teddy Bear Toss goal:

The Condors announced on Monday that they collected 8,380 stuffed animals, which will be benefiting local children through the United Way of Kern County.

Staying out west, Carson Focht may have scored the most memorable goal of his career for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen on Sunday afternoon. He only needed 94 seconds to open the scoring to allow the fans inside the Saddledome to toss their stuffed animals from everywhere.

The 25,025 teddy bears that were picked up will benefit 70 local charities with players distributing them on Monday, including a stop at Alberta Children’s Hospital. The Hitmen have been holding the annual event since 1995 and have now collected 402,608 stuffed animals in the last 24 years.

Finally, the WHL’s Vancouver Giants will be holding their Teddy Bear Toss this weekend, but they did release the jersey they’ll be wearing for two games and boy, are they in the holiday spirit.

Vancouver Giants

That’s one way to get festive, and a nice departure from he “ugly sweater” jerseys that have cropped up over the last few years.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Bill Peters out as Calgary Flames head coach

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Bill Peters has resigned as head coach of the Calgary Flames.

“Effective immediately, Bill Peters is no longer a member of the Calgary Flames organization,” Flames general manager Brad Treliving announced Friday. Assistant Geoff Ward, who coached the team Wednesday night in Buffalo, has been named interim head coach.

The news comes days after former players came forward with accusations of racial slurs and physical abuse against Peters.

Akim Aliu played for Peters with the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs in 2008-09 and 2009-10. On Twitter Monday night Aliu, who spent last season with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears, alleged that the head coach used a racial slur “several times” because he did not like the choice of music being played in the dressing room.

Speaking to TSN’s Frank Seravalli on Tuesday, Aliu expanded on his Tweets:

“He walked in before a morning pre-game skate and said ‘Hey Akim, I’m sick of you playing that n—– s—.’ He said ‘I’m sick of hearing this n—–s f—— other n—–s in the ass stuff.’

“He then walked out like nothing ever happened. You could hear a pin drop in the room, everything went dead silent. I just sat down in my stall, didn’t say a word.”

The allegations were independently corroborated by Simon Pepin and Peter MacArthur, two of Aliu’s teammates with the Ice Hogs.

Aliu said that when he was called into Peters’ office later, there was no apology and the head coach continued to express his displeasure with the music. Weeks later, Aliu, who told TSN he did not tell the Blackhawks organization about what Peters had said, was sent down to the ECHL after the two had a confrontation during practice.

“The alleged actions by a former coach toward Akim Aliu while with the Rockford IceHogs are something we take seriously,” the Blackhawks said in a statement on Tuesday. “The purported incident had not been reported or brought to our attention prior to yesterday and had no effect on any player personnel decision regarding Mr. Aliu.”

[RELATED: Flames’ GM discusses Peters’ resignation, due diligence on hiring]

More allegations against Peters surfaced following Aliu’s speaking out.

Michal Jordan, who played under Peters with the Hurricanes for parts of two seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16, Tweeted, “Never wish anything bad to the person but you get what you deserve Bill. After years making it to the NHL had experience with the worst coach ever by far. Kicking me and punching other player to the head during the game.”

When asked about the accusation Wednesday morning, Rod Brind’Amour, who was an assistant coach with the team from 2011-2018, confirmed the allegations. “It definitely happened,” he told reporters Wednesday.

Sean McMorrow played for Peters in 2008-09 with the Ice Hogs Tweeted, “Worst human being to ever coach me … treated me terrible on a AHL team (IceHogs) where I won a League Award for Community Service. #badguy.”

“We knew nothing of any nature of what we’ve been dealing with the last couple of days,” Treliving said.

Peters issued a statement on Wednesday night apologizing to Treliving and the organization “for offensive language I used in a professional setting a decade ago.” None of the players who brought allegations forward were named in the letter.

Aliu responded on Twitter with a statement reading, “I have read the statement of Bill Peters, which I found to be misleading, insincere and concerning. I have accepted an invitation from the NHL to meet and discuss this situation. Out of respect for that process I will not respond publicly to the statement or discuss the racism and discrimination that I have endured until after my meeting.”

The Flames hired Peters in April 2018 after he spent four seasons with the Hurricanes. He led Calgary to a division title in 2018-19 and the second-most points in franchise history. The team is currently off to a 12-12-4 start and out of the Western Conference playoff picture.

MORE: Karmanos criticizes how Francis handled allegations against Peters

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Devils place struggling Cory Schneider on waivers

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One of the main reasons why the New Jersey Devils are off to a 7-8-4 start and have failed to meet high expectations so far has been lackluster goaltending. On Monday, general manager Ray Shero didn’t make a trade, but instead chose to waive Cory Schneider, who has not won in nine starts dating back to last season.

Called up from AHL Binghamton to man the nets with Mackenzie Blackwood was Louis Domingue, who was acquired earlier this month after a strong season with the Lightning in 2018-19.

This season, the 33-year-old Schneider is winless in six starts with an .864 even strength save percentage. Once he clears waivers on Tuesday at noon, he’ll be reassigned to Binghamton in hopes of getting his game back. Schneider, who owns a no-trade clause, is signed through the 2021-22 season and carries a $6 million salary cap hit.

“The way the schedule comes now, we didn’t see him getting into a lot of games in the next few weeks,” said Devils head coach John Hynes. “If you’re not going to have an opportunity to play, it’s hard to get the game reps you need.”

Schneider has not been himself the last two seasons as he’s battled hip injuries. In 32 appearances since last season, he has only six wins and a .897 ESSV%, third-worst among goaltenders who have played at least 30 games over that stretch.

After being traded from the Canucks to the Devils at the 2013 NHL Draft, Schneider filled a hole as Martin Brodeur’s career wound down. In his first five seasons in New Jersey Schneider sported a .925 ESSV% and helped them end a five-season playoff drought in 2017-18.

Allowing Schneider to play games in the AHL will take the spotlight off him a little bit on the NHL level as he tries to get back to the level he played at earlier on in his Devils tenure.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.