Mark Messier

Marian Hossa 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame debates Lowe hockey links PHT Morning Skate
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PHT Morning Skate: Hossa, other 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame debates

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

2020 Hockey Hall of Fame debates, links, information

• A compelling argument for why Marian Hossa should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. For what it’s worth, Hossa made my imaginary one, so there are definitely pro-Hossa sides to those Hockey Hall of Fame debates. [NBC Sports Chicago]

• Speaking of Hall of Fame arguments, Jim Matheson lays out the case for Kevin Lowe. “Not being able to fit your Stanley Cup rings on just one hand” isn’t a bad argument. Then again, how many Lowe-like defensemen might have achieved similar team accomplishments on the same rosters as Wayne Gretzky and/or Mark Messier? How many of those Oilers (and in many cases, brief-Rangers) should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame? Either way, it’s one of those prototypical HHOF debates. [Edmonton Journal]

• Oh, in case you missed it, PHT’s Sean Leahy broke down who might make up the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame class. Good stuff, especially if you want to brush up for the announcements. (Or, maybe get ready to be angry? Do people still get angry about this stuff if it’s not about their own candidacy?) [PHT]

COVID-19 and NHL hub city talk, other hockey links

• Five questions with NBC’s Mike “Doc” Emrick. Emrick answers questions about his upcoming book, the possible return to play, and … announcing a windshield wiper replacement? [NHL.com]

• As you likely know, the NHL announced that 11 players tested positive for COVID-19, with reports indicating that Auston Matthews was one of them. Just about any hopeful hub city must recognize that. Interesting stuff on how Vancouver’s desire could be tested. [The Province]

• Golden Knights GM George McPhee talks up the strengths Vegas presents as a potential hub city. The expansive hotels certainly bump things up for players who might feel a little bottled up living in a “bubble” setup. [Sportsnet]

• Again and again, it’s worth noting that Kevyn Adams faces serious challenges as Sabres GM. Adams will need to show that inexperience isn’t an issue. That could really be tough when it comes to rebuilding a scouting department after it was absolutely gutted. [The Hockey News]

• While discussing Seth Jones likely being healthy for the Columbus Blue Jackets, I also wondered about his actual value vs. his perceived value. “J Fresh” takes a deep dive and backs up some of my doubts. Neither of us are arguing that Jones is “bad.” Instead, the question is whether or not Jones is truly elite. [J Fresh]

• Jets players talk to Scott Billeck about how weird it might be to play in arenas without fans. [Winnipeg Sun]

• Why the Flyers should feel good about their goalies heading into the return. [Pucker Up Sports]

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.

NBCSN’s Hockey Happy Hour: Mark Messier’s guarantee

AP Photo / Ron Frehm

This week’s Hockey Happy Hour on NBCSN will feature four notable milestone and record performances.

Despite trailing the series 3-2, Rangers captain Mark Messier publicly guaranteed that New York would win Game 6 on the road. Trailing by a goal after two periods, Messier scored a natural hat trick in the third period to rally the Rangers to a 4-2 victory and force a decisive Game 7. New York would go on to win the series and claim the Stanley Cup title.

Throughout the broadcast, NBC Sports’ Eddie Olczyk will provide commentary with his 1994 Rangers teammates Messier and Mike Richter, as well as former Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko.

Monday, May 25 on NBCSN
• Rangers vs. Devils (1994 Eastern Conference Final, Game 6) – 4 p.m. ET
NHL Hat Trick Trivia Hosted by P.K. Subban (Episode 7) – 5 p.m. ET
Men in Blazers On Ice – 5:30 p.m. ET

Tuesday, May 26 on NBCSN
NHL’s Who Wore It Best? (Episode 2) – 5 p.m. ET
• Kings vs. Coyotes (2012 Western Conference Final, Game 5) – 5:30 p.m. ET

Wednesday, May 27 on NBCSN
#HockeyAtHome: Meet & Greet – 4 p.m. ET
Men in Blazers On Ice – 4:30 p.m. ET
• Flames vs. Avalanche (2019 Western Conference Round 1, Game 3) – 5 p.m. ET

Thursday, May 28 on NBCSN
• Blackhawks vs. Ducks (2015 Western Conference Final, Game 5) – 5 p.m. ET

NHL HAT TRICK TRIVIA HOSTED BY P.K. SUBBAN – MON. 5 P.M. ET
Hockey Hall of Famer Bernie Parent will join the seventh episode of NHL Hat Trick Trivia Hosted by P.K. Subban. Hosted by the New Jersey Devils defenseman, the show features fans answering a trio of hockey trivia questions from their homes, along with appearances from NHL players and celebrities, for the chance to win NHL prizes. Additional guests on the episode include Carolina Hurricanes forward Jordan Martinook, singer and songwriter Robin Thicke and NHL referee Wes McCauley.

MEN IN BLAZERS ON ICE – MON., 5:30 P.M. ET
Roger Bennett, co-host of “Men in Blazers,” hosts an interview series featuring stars from around the NHL. St. Louis Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie headline this episode.

NHL’S WHO WORE IT BEST? – TUES., 5 P.M. ET
NHL’s Who Wore It Best? will feature hockey writers, broadcasters and insiders debating the best players to wear each jersey number in NHL history. The five-week series will air on NBCSN every Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET. The second episode features NBC Sports’ Keith Jones who takes part in debating the following jersey numbers: 55, 40, 34, 32 and 31.

#HOCKEYATHOME: MEET & GREET – WEDS., 4 P.M. ET
NBC Sports’ Kathryn Tappen co-hosts a 30-minute program that features Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel and Matt Duchene of the Nashville Predators meeting fans and answering their questions virtually during the league’s hiatus.

MEN IN BLAZERS ON ICE – WEDS., 4:30 P.M. ET
Roger Bennett, co-host of “Men in Blazers,” hosts an interview series featuring stars from around the NHL. Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews headline this episode.

Programming will also stream on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

More information about NBC Sports’ Hockey Happy Hour can be found here.

Roundtable: What is your favorite hockey photo of all-time?

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What is your favorite hockey photo of all-time?

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: There are so many iconic hockey moments that have been captured by the game’s best photographers. We’ve seen Stanley Cup winners, amazing celebrations, and emotional scenes. We’ve also have been gifted the shot of Gary Bettman getting choked out by Gene Simmons of KISS.

What makes a great hockey photo? Passion, timing, lightning, and sometimes the people in  the picture. Or sometimes just the setting of the shot.

Which brings us to my favorite hockey photo. There were many candidates. Daniel Briere’s Winter Classic penalty shot. SJ Sharkie about to surprise the Capitals. Gary Coleman meeting Mark Messier and his tiny towel.

I first saw this photo walking through the Air Canada Centre press box years ago. The Stanley Cup caught my attention and then I noticed the rest of the shot, and it’s very, very good.

Hockey Hall of Fame

This is Maple Leafs coach/GM Punch Imlach after the team won the Cup in 1963 — their second of three straight championships. The photo is the perfect encapsulation of a season ending with a title: time to sit back, relax with a glass of champagne and, of course, not have to worry about practice tomorrow.

James O’Brien, NHL writer:

My first instinct was to go with a Bobby Orr Stanley Cup-winning shot that was iconic enough to get its own statue. That seems kind of boring, though, right? Maybe?

So, instead, consider a piece of hockey history that was transformative — literally, in some ways. On the fateful night of Nov. 1, 1959, Jacques Plante was bloodied after a puck struck his face. Despite the protestations of coach Toe Blake, Plante refused to return to action unless he could wear a mask he often used in practice.

Plante is remembered as much for that innovation as for anything he did on the ice as a Hall of Fame goalie. Really, though, how can you shake an image like this?

Getty Images

You don’t get much more “hockey” than that, unless you sprinkle in wild hair, robust beards, and missing teeth.

Speaking of robust beards …

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: Without a doubt, Lanny McDonald lifting the Stanley Cup in 1989. Aesthetically, this photo is iconic; it shows a grizzled captain with an epic ginger beard, experiencing Lord Stanley ecstasy. But the circumstances behind this moment add even more depth to the story.

Getty Images

McDonald was born and raised a couple hours outside of Calgary and was drafted 4th overall by the Maple Leafs in 1973. He spent the rest of that decade blossoming into one of the league’s top goal scorers for Toronto. After two trades, he ended up back in Alberta playing for the Flames. In 1982-83 he scored 66 goals – still a team record, and more than anyone that season aside from Wayne Gretzky. He became a team captain.

But as his career progressed, team success was harder to come by. He had never reached the Stanley Cup Final until 1986, when at age 33, he and the Flames lost to the Montreal Canadiens, and their star rookie Patrick Roy. The Habs won the Cup at the Saddledome.

Three seasons later, McDonald had a reduced role on a 117-point, Presidents’ Trophy-winning juggernaut. He only scored 11 goals that year, but his 11th in late March gave him 500 for his career. He wasn’t done.

The Flames advanced to the final, and once again they were matched up against Roy and the Canadiens. McDonald had been a healthy scratch for Games 3, 4 and 5, but with a 3-2 series lead, Calgary coach Terry Crisp put him back in the lineup for Game 6 at the Montreal Forum. It paid off, as the 36-year-old McDonald scored his only goal of that postseason – a glove-side snipe, no less – to give the Flames a 2-1 lead that they would never relinquish.

They held on to win 4-2, and are still the only visiting team to clinch the Cup in Montreal.

When McDonald announced his retirement that summer, he also revealed he had made up his mind prior to the start of the 1988-89 season that it would be his last.

The perfect way to conclude a Hall of Fame career, and the perfect image to sum it all up.

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Alex Ovechkin passes Mark Messier for eighth all-time with 695th goal

via the NHL
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If it weren’t for winning a Stanley Cup, this might have stood as the most memorable week* of Alex Ovechkin‘s career. Ovechkin tied and then passed Mark Messier for eighth all-time in goal-scoring on Friday. Ovechkin scored two goals to reach 695 for his career as the Capitals beat the Senators 5-3.

Ovechkin ties Messier with goal 694

Ovechkin extended his current goal streak to five games during the second period. Rather than being the Ovechkin goal you can picture in your sleep, he scored this from the opposite faceoff circle.

Ovechkin passes Messier, stands alone at eighth with goal 695

The Ovechkin didn’t need long to break that tie with Messier. He iced Washington’s win with an empty-netter. Watch both goals below:

Again, this caps quite a week for Ovechkin. Ovechkin mourned Kobe Bryant’s passing on Wednesday by wearing number 24 during warm-ups. During that same game, Ovechkin tied then passed Steve Yzerman for ninth all-time in scoring.

Yzerman provided some fun fodder following Ovechkin pushing him down the ranks, asking to be invited to the party if Ovechkin breaks the all-time goals record (894 by Wayne Gretzky, of course).

Messier praised Ovechkin’s skill in spirit in congratulating “The Great 8” on moving to eighth.

People get tempted to only look in the past when a player piles up milestone like Ovechkin is right now. Yet, Ovechkin’s sniping remains relevant in the present. His two goals push him to 37 on the season. Being that David Pastrnak came into Friday with the league lead at 37, Ovechkin also eyes another possible Maurice Richard Trophy. When you consider the past and present, is there any sense in doubting Ovechkin?

Beyond that race, Ovechkin also eyes 700 goals and Mike Gartner at seventh (708). The Capitals have 30 regular-season games remaining in 2019-20, so don’t be shocked if he reaches both of those marks this season.

* – Then again, Ovechkin might not remember much from that time, considering how hard he partied.

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.

Hat trick helps Ovechkin pass Lemieux, tie Yzerman for ninth on NHL goals list

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An historic week for Alex Ovechkin was capped off with a hat trick Saturday afternoon during a 6-4 win over the Islanders. His three goals pushes him past Mario Lemieux and into ninth place with 692, tying him with Steve Yzerman.

Ovechkin opened the scoring and then passed Mario Lemieux for 10th all-time in the third period as the Capitals mounted their comeback. He ended his day with an empty-netter to seal the win and tie Yzerman. The Islanders led 4-1 entering the third period.

Powered by two consecutive hat tricks, Ovechkin has eight goals in his last three games and 10 in his previous six.

That’s now three consecutive multi-goal games for Ovechkin, the first time he’s done that in his career. Earlier this week he not only passed Teemu Selanne for 11th on the all-time goals list but also hit the 30-goal mark for the 15th time in his career. He, along with Jaromir Jagr and Mike Gartner, are the only players to ever record 15 consecutive 30-goal seasons.

With three goals Saturday — the third time he’s recorded hat tricks in consecutive games — Ovechkin now has 34 on the season as he eyes a ninth 50-goal season. His hat trick was the 26th of his NHL career, tying him with Maurice Richard for eighth all-time.

Next in Ovechkin’s sights? Mark Messier, who finished with 694 goals in his career.

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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.