|NHL Power Rankings: Remembering which teams are good||01.02.13 at 11:59 am ET|
With hockey back, we present WEEI.com’s Power Rankings …
1. Rangers — They were two wins away from the Stanley Cup finals before they added Rick Nash, and it wasn’t like they were offensively starved anyway (11th in the league in goals last season). Then there’s the defense and that Henrik Lundqvist guy.
2. Penguins — Marc-Andre Fleury had some disappointing performances as Pitttsburgh was eliminated by the Flyers in the first round, but with Evgeni Malkin coming off a Hart-winning season and Sidney Crosby hopefully healthy the whole way, the Penguins should be able to challenge the Rangers for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.
3. Bruins — They won’t be able to learn whether Tuukka Rask can be the No. 1 guy for a full season because of the whole ‘full season’ thing. Will he top his 39 starts from three seasons ago? Probably not.
4. Kings — Offense is the question, but it’s hard to nitpick when it comes to the defending Cup champions. Jonathan Quick won the Conn Smythe, but he also should have gotten more consideration for the Hart trophy after starting 69 games in the regular season.
5. Canucks — Local product Cory Schneider is the No. 1 guy after getting a new deal with an average annual value of $4 million, but there’s another goalie with a bigger contract for whom the Canucks need to find a taker.
|NHL makes new offer, wants to get back on ice ‘as soon as possible’||12.28.12 at 12:54 pm ET|
LeBrun writes that the owners have moved to six years for the term limits on contracts after previously stating that they would not go further than five years. Additionally, the league’s “make whole” provision (money to offset lost hockey-related revenue for players) remains at $300 million whilee allowing each team one compliance buyout before the 2013-14 season.
“In light of media reports this morning, I can confirm that we delivered to the Union a new, comprehensive proposal for a successor CBA late yesterday afternoon,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement Friday. “We are not prepared to discuss the details of our proposal at this time. We are hopeful that once the Union’s staff and negotiating committee have had an opportunity to thoroughly review and consider our new proposal, they will share it with the players. We want to be back on the ice as soon as possible.”
|NHL cancels games through Jan. 14||12.20.12 at 4:16 pm ET|
It appears the blinking contest between the NHL and NHLPA will soon end one way or another, as the league announced Thursday that it has cancelled games through Jan. 14.
Previously, games had been cancelled through Dec. 30 due to the lack of a collective bargaining agreement, and with the schedule now erased through mid-January, it is likely that the league would not be able to make further cancellations without losing the entire season. A total of 625 games have been cancelled thus far.
On paper, it would appear the sides are way too close for them to cancel yet another season. Under the owners’ latest proposal, the financial particulars have essentially been agreed upon, but differences remain regarding the length of the CBA and the length of player contracts. Players are currently in the voting process to file a disclaimer of interest, which would allow the union to disband and facilitate individual lawsuits against the players against owners.
|Ryan Miller denies heated exchange with Jeremy Jacobs||12.07.12 at 4:01 pm ET|
On Friday, Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller denied calling out Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs during this week’s collective bargaining agreement negotiations. It had been reported that Miller and Jacobs had gotten in a heated exchange on Wednesday, but Miller said he was simply asking the owners to not pull what they had discussed off the table.
Miller texted the following to The Buffalo News Friday:
“The owners wanted to leave the room and pull everything we spent a full day on. I asked them to stay and continue pushing through. I may have been passionate but there was no disrespect or calling out one owner by name. I have a lot of respect for any owner because they are a big part of hockey.
“I wanted more than anything to make a deal but we are not professional negotiators. We as players didn’t have the experience or authority to make a final deal. We were trying to responsibly move this process forward as best we could. If anyone thinks that we did wrong by the game or by the fans then they are misinformed. We have a responsibility to about 750 players and we made moves approved by them and thinking about them.”
|If NHLPA wanted a Bruin in the same room as Jeremy Jacobs this week, Shawn Thornton would have gone||12.07.12 at 3:39 pm ET|
When the owners and players set their “rosters,” so to speak, for the players/owners-only meetings this week in New York, the group of owners set to attend was a rather interesting one. Ron Burkle (Penguins), Mark Chipman (Jets), Jeff Vinik (Lightning) and Murray Edwards (Flames) — all of whom figured to have a stronger interest to get back on the ice than some of the hardliners — joined Jeremy Jacobs of the Bruins (perceived as a real hardliner’s hardline) and Larry Tanenbaum of the Maple Leafs.
Of the group of owners present, Jacobs was perceived as the toughest negotiator of the bunch, and one who’s been a bit of a target for frustrated fans and players alike. Also the chairman of the board of governors, Jacobs is viewed as a bottom-line guy, while the newcomers on the owners’ side likely encouraged players who wanted more amicable negotiations.
Shawn Thornton, who works for Jacobs, was not among the players present for the meetings, but it wasn’t because he would feel uncomfortable in the negotiating room with his boss.
Thornton said Thursday that he “definitely thought about going to New York” for the negotiations, but said previous engagements with the Boston Pops (Wednesday) and Kevin Youkilis‘ “Youk’s Kids” foundation (Thursday) prevented him from going.
However, Thornton said that if the NHLPA decided it would be best to have a Bruin in the room with Jacobs, he would do it.
“Yeah,” he said. “It’s a business, right? It’s a negation. I don’t think they take it personally, or they shouldn’t. I don’t think the players should either. If I got a text saying that it would have been important for me to be there, or for someone on our team to be there, I definitely would have made the effort and would maybe not be [working with the Pops and and attending the ‘Youk’s Kids’ event]. But I talked to them about it and they feel like we had some pretty good representation there. If Sidney [Crobsy]’s there, I don’t think they need me.”
Eighteen players ended up attending the meetings: Crosby, Craig Adams, David Backes, Michael Cammalleri, B.J. Crombeen, Mathieu Darche, Shane Doan, Ron Hainsey, Shawn Horcoff, Jamal Mayers, Manny Malhotra, Andy McDonald, Ryan Miller, George Parros, Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Jonathan Toews and Kevin Westgarth.
|Catching up with Tuukka Rask||12.07.12 at 4:05 am ET|
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask is back from the Czech Republic and feeling good. After playing spending the first two months of the NHL lockout playing for HC Plzen of the Czech Extraliga, Rask returned to Boston late last month with the belief that the NHL and NHLPA would resolve their difference and get the ball rolling for a season. Until that happens, he’s just keeping himself ready.
“I thought it was going to get settled — I hope it’s going to get settled soon,” Rask said Thursday at Kevin Youkilis‘ “Youk’s Kids” Not Your Average Idol event. “I figured it would be a good time to get a break before the season starts because I’ve already played 15 or so games, so I figured I might as well come here and let the body rest before the season starts.”
Rask estimates the aforementioned 15 games played in the Czech Republic, though HockeyDB lists him as having played in eight games (those numbers could very easily be incomplete), posting a 6-2 record with a 1.85 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.
Regardless of how many games he played, the fact that he played is the best news of all for Rask. The 25-year-old didn’t play again last season after suffering an abdomen strain/groin strain on March 3. He said Thursday that getting back into games was his primary motivation for playing elsewhere during the lockout, adding that his groin feels good despite what he described as an overblown injury scare.
Rask left HC Plzen’s Oct. 23 game after the first period due. When Czech play-by-play man Roman Jedlicka tweeted about the injury scare, confusion as to whether Rask had reinjured the groin spread, but Rask insisted that he was simply playing it safe when he felt a little tightness.
“The truth was I just tight from games, and if it were to have happened here, there would have been no problem,” Rask said. “I probably would have stayed in the game, but I didn’t want to risk anything. I just left the game, took a couple periods off and an extra day off. I played the next game, so there was never really a worry anywhere. I know people were kind of worried here, but it’s all good.”
“We beat them both, which was good,” Rask said. “Krej scored a goal on me, but we won in a shootout and he didn’t score in the shootout, which was great.”
Rask got everything he wanted out of his time in the Czech Republic. He likes the area, as he’d been there a couple of times before (including the team’s season-opening trip in 2010), but now he wants to get back to playing in NHL games. There’s certainly reason for him to want to, as he’s got both the starting job to himself and a contract to play for. Rask is on a one-year, $3.5 million deal and will be a restricted free agent after the next season, whenever that may be.
|There is a horse named ‘ThankyouKessel’||12.06.12 at 12:39 pm ET|
As hockey fans await whether the news with CBA negotiations is good or bad, here’s something that will at least make Bruins fans grin.
Bruins fan Joe MacIsaac owns and trained a harness racing horse that runs frequently in Toronto. The name of the horse? “ThankyouKessel.”
“ThankyouKessel” is of course the chant that fills TD Garden whenever the Leafs are in town, as the trade of Phil Kessel to Toronto in 2009 netted the B’s three draft picks that ended up becoming Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight and Dougie Hamilton.
Here’s video of the horse and the owner, from Greg Wyshynski and the fantastic folks at Yahoo! Sports’ Puck Daddy blog.