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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
O’Ree and others on racism in and around hockey
• Hockey trailblazer Willie O’Ree described George Floyd’s death and the events surrounding it as “very discouraging.” O’Ree added that, on a larger level, racism isn’t going to go away overnight. That said, after witnessing statements from the likes of Blake Wheeler acknowledging their privilege, O’Ree wonders if the truth about racism is finally “sinking in.” Maybe players can show that they’ve learned such lessons once play resumes? [CBC]
• Michael Traikos caught up with Kevin Weekes for his perspective on racism in and around hockey. On one hand, Weekes celebrates players “without a horse in the race” such as Jonathan Toews and Blake Wheeler for speaking up. On the other hand, Weekes emphasizes that there’s still a lot of work to do. [Toronto Sun]
• Jeff Veillette spots the sometimes-rampant racism in the “NHL 20” community. Unfortunately, it seems like EA Sports has a lot of work to do to improve this area. Also unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the company is putting a lot of resources into fixing this problem, either. [Faceoff Circle]
CBA talks intensify, and other hockey bits
• Both TSN’s Darren Dreger and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman report that the NHL and NHLPA are intensifying talks to extend the CBA. Stabilizing escrow is a big factor for the players, as the pandemic pause is likely to hit them hard, and for quite some time. [More detail in 31 Thoughts, in particular]
• Read up on the Sens Foundation ending its relationship with the Ottawa Senators. [Sports Daily]
• Which teams are oddsmakers favoring if action starts up again? [Featurd]
• Emily Kaplan looks at a coronavirus trend for Ducks fans: getting married at the Honda Center. Pretty fun. [ESPN]
• Could the Rangers repair their relationship with Lias Andersson? Such a push could help them as early as the Qualifying Round against the Hurricanes. It certainly beats things only getting bitter and Andersson’s development stalling. [Blue Seat Blogs]
• When you get drafted 34th overall, as Dalton Smith did in 2010, you expect to play in the NHL. You don’t necessarily expect to only do so for one minute and 26 seconds in one game in late 2019 with the Sabres. Smith’s journey is quite the story by Nick Faris. [The Score]
• Grant Fuhr talks about what drove him to become a coach for one of the team’s in the upcoming 3-on-3 hockey league 3ICE. Sounds like it could be pretty wild stuff. [Desert Sun]
Draisaitl picks his all-time Oilers, talks running line without Connor McDavid
The more nuts-and-bolts hockey stuff was pretty straightforward.
Take, for instance, Draisaitl’s all-time Oilers picks. While he didn’t directly say he’d make such a team, Draisaitl admitted it would be fun to line up with Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid. His goalie choice was obvious (Grant Fuhr), but it was amusing to see him try to pick a second defenseman after Paul Coffey.
That more nitty-gritty hockey stuff aside, some of the best fun comes later in the interview.
When a young fan asked Draisaitl what he would do if he wasn’t a hockey player, Draisaitl struggled. He thought that, if he wasn’t an NHL player, Draisaitl would still be involved in the game somehow.
Then, after taking some time to reflect, he stumbled upon a Plan B or C … um, soccer player? Amusingly, Draisaitl explained that he gave up hockey for a year when he was eight or nine to focus on soccer.
Thankfully for Draisaitl and the Oilers, that didn’t stick. Perhaps Draisaitl should have followed that up with “Hey, kids, maybe don’t plan your life as hockey or nothing,” but this remains a fun interview.
Hockey fans have been treated to quite a few one-team legends, including Mario Lemieux saving the Penguins more than once.
Even so, there are plenty of legends who ended spent time in jerseys that just felt wrong. Let’s ponder the hockey answers to Brady leaving the Patriots, Johnny Unitas on the Chargers, Michael Jordan with the Wizards, and Babe Ruth on the Boston Braves.
Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque leave Boston with very different results
At least with Brady, Boston-area fans couldn’t reasonably ask for more. Meanwhile, Bobby Orr’s career concluded with questions of “What could have been?”
Knee injuries ravaged his later career, and after 10 seasons, Orr left the Bruins for the Blackhawks. Between two seasons, Orr could only appear in 26 games for Chicago.
If Orr on the Blackhawks isn’t the Brady comparison you think of for hockey, then it’s probably Brodeur appearing in seven games for the Blues after winning three Stanley Cups, four Vezinas, and setting the all-time wins record over 1,259 games with the Devils.
(That contrast still makes me chuckle, to be honest.)
As awkward as Brodeur’s brief Blues stint was, it lacked the angst of how Orr’s career ended. That might make it closer to a 1:1 hockey comparison for Brady, although the QB could easily prove that his tank isn’t empty.
Much of this list shows examples of players trying to prove that they could still play, with most sputtering out after running on fumes.
Hull of a change, and Howe
Bobby Hull already experienced quite a journey going from the Blackhawks to the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets (scoring 303 goals in the WHA alone). Hull’s final hockey and NHL season was especially odd, though, starting with 18 NHL games for the Jets before being traded to the Hartford Whalers, playing nine games for The Whale. Gordie Howe ended up being a Whalers teammate of Hull, which is … yeah, pretty mind-blowing. Bobby Hull also attempted a comeback with the Rangers.
(Howe’s legendary career featured quite the second [and maybe third?] acts after his Red Wings days, including playing with his sons, and somehow managing 15 goals and 41 points with the Hartford Whalers at age 51.)
Bobby’s son Brett Hull experienced a journeyman career of his own. Brett convinced the Coyotes to unretire Bobby’s number 9, but that story ended with a whimper (five games) as Brett realized he couldn’t adjust to the post-lockout style of play in 2005-06.
Random Red Wings
If you’re playing trivia and “This player finished his career/briefly played for this team …” comes up, blurting out Detroit Red Wings isn’t the worst bet.
Mats Sundin stunned Maple Leafs fans by joining the Canucks. There was some Alfredsson-like logic of linking Sundin with fellow Swedes Henrik and Daniel Sedin, yet the experiment lasted just 41 games.
Brian Leetch playing for the Maple Leafs was a little strange, but Leetch in a Bruins sweater will never look right.
Guy Lafleur, Montreal Canadiens legend, as a Quebec Nordique? Yes, that happened. Jacques Plante bounced around quite about post-Habs, too, including eight games with the (gasp) Bruins.
Like Plante, Grant Fuhr pinballed around the NHL quite a bit after parting ways with the Oilers, but joining the Flames? Wow. Fuhr didn’t just play for the Calgary Flames, either, as he suited up twice for the Saint John Flames.
File Ed Belfour and Igor Larionov under “people you might not have known played for the Panthers.”
Olaf Kolzig was persistent in Washington as Godzilla could be in Tokyo, playing 711 of his 719 games for the Capitals. The eight other games came with the Lightning. (Vincent Lecavalier playing for the Kings was strange, but softened by his years with the Flyers.)
Feel free to mention other fish-out-of-water memories in the comments. Also, if you had to guess, which hockey legend will Brady mirror the most?
We know there hasn’t been much success in Edmonton the past eight seasons now, but during the 1980s they were the team.
Back in 1984, the Oilers started their dynastic run by ending the New York Islanders’ dynasty beating them in five games. Now, 30 years later, they’re getting the band back together again on Oct. 10 to celebrate the first of what ultimately became five Stanley Cup titles in Edmonton.
“I think everybody, which Wayne (Gretzky) alluded to, and him being the architect of getting this idea, wanted to see the guys and get together,” Oilers President and member of that ’84 team Kevin Lowe said. “We’ve never celebrated the team in any capacity, we did have the Heritage Classic in 2003, which was a bit of a celebration. This is a real fitting event and it looks like everybody is going to be here.”
By “everybody” Lowe means just about everyone involved with the Oilers’ success. Players, coaches, scouts, equipment staff, and executives will all be part of the celebration. We’ll see if former owner Peter Pocklington is welcome since he’s the guy who traded Gretzky and all.
That ’84 Oilers team was one of the most talented teams ever assembled. With Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, and Glenn Anderson along with coach Glen Sather they scored 446 goals that season, 86 more than the second-best scoring team, the Quebec Nordiques.
It’s hard not to feel like we’re in the looking back at better times/”smelling the roses” phase of Martin Brodeur’s career, but he sure has a lot to reminisce about. Worst case scenario, the 2012 playoffs allowed the future Hall of Famer to accomplish at least one rare feat: he can cross “100th career playoff win” off his dwindling hockey bucket list as the Devils edgedthe Panthers 3-2.
This win strengthens Brodeur’s hold on second place all-time in playoff wins with Grant Fuhr in third at 92. (Marc-Andre Fleury is the closest active goalie at 41, to give you some added perspective.)
Unfortunately for Brodeur, it’s borderline unthinkable for him to pass his former contemporary rival Patrick Roy, who towers over all competitors at No. 1 with 151 playoff wins. (Marty would max out at 115 if the Devils won the 16 games to win a Stanley Cup this year, for what it’s worth.)