|NHL free agency roundup: Ryan Miller reportedly signs with Canucks; Dan Boyle to Rangers; Paul Stastny to Blues||07.01.14 at 1:44 pm ET|
The opening hours of NHL free agency have been busy, with some big names making quick moves.
— Ryan Miller is on the move again.
The veteran goalie, who was traded from the Sabres to the Blues during the 2013-14 season, signed a three-year, $18 million deal with the Canucks on Tuesday, the first day of free agency, according to multiple reports.
Miller, 33 , had a 2.64 goals-against average and .918 save percentage last season while posting a league-high 30 losses.
— Center Paul Stastny left the Avalanche to sign a four-year deal worth $28 million, according to a CBS Sports report.
Stastny, 28, had 25 goals and 60 assists last regular season, followed by five goals and five assists in 10 playoff games. Stastny, the son of Hall of Fame center Peter Stastny, grew up in the St. Louis area.
— Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who was bought out of the remaining seven years of his 10-year, $40 million deal with the Sabres, agreed to a one-year, $4 million pact with the Penguins, according to TSN.
The 31-year-old Ehrhoff had 33 points in 79 games last season.
— Defenseman Dan Boyle left the Sharks to sign a two-year, $9 million deal with the Rangers, according to ESPN.com.
Boyle, 37, had 36 points in 75 games for the Sharks, his team for the last six seasons. He’s also played for the Panthers (1998-02) and Lightning (2001-08).
— Veteran winger Mike Cammalleri agreed to a five-year, $25 million contract with the Devils, according to multiple reports.
Cammalleri, 32, had 26 goals and 19 assists for the Flames last season. He has 236 goals and 502 points in 669 career games with the Flames, Canadiens and Kings.
— The Oilers made two early signings, agreeing with onetime Bruins winger Benoit Pouliot on a five-year deal and defenseman Mark Fayne on a four-year pact, according to multiple reports.
Pouliot, 27, scored 15 goals for the Rangers last season, then had five goals and five assists during New York’s run to the Stanley Cup finals. He previously played for the Wild (2006-10), Canadiens (’10-11), Bruins (’11-12) and Lightning (’12-13).
Fayne, 27, had 11 points in 72 games for the Devils, with whom he played the last four seasons.
— The Senators traded disgruntled center Jason Spezza and a prospect to the Stars for forward Alex Chiasson, two prospects and a 2015 second-round draft pick, according to TSN.
Spezza, a former captain, asked out of Ottawa after recording 23 goals and 43 assists in 2013-14. The 31-year-old tallied at least 30 goals in four of his 11 seasons with the Sens.
Spezza, who has a no-trade clause, previously vetoed a trade to the Predators.
— The Senators also retained winger Milan Michalek with a three-year deal worth $12 million, according to NHL.com.
Michalek, 29, had 17 goals and 12 assists for the Sens last season.
— The Canadiens on Monday cleared some room on their roster when they traded defenseman Josh Gorges to the Sabres for a second-round pick and shipped center Daniel Briere to the Avalanche for winger P.A. Parenteau and a fifth-round pick in 2015.
|Canucks announce hiring of Bruins exec Jim Benning as GM||05.22.14 at 10:00 am ET|
The Canucks confirmed Wednesday that they have hired Jim Benning away from the Bruins to serve as their general manager. He will be introduced at a Friday press conference.
Benning, 51, was the assistant general manager for the Bruins. The Edmonton native joined the B’s as director of player personnel in 2006 after spending 12 years in the Sabres organization.
Benning replaces Mike Gillis (a former Bruins forward), who was fired last month by new Canucks president Trevor Linden after the team finished 12th in the Western Conference with a 36-35-11 record. Coach John Tortorella also was fired.
Benning, a defenseman, and Linden were teammates on the Canucks in the late 1980s, although Linden said they had not been in touch since then.
“There were moments of clarity for me in speaking with Jim that we just really connected on a hockey level,” Linden said in a story on the team website. “Our beliefs on how success is built in the National Hockey League were very aligned.”
Added Linden: “Jim is an extremely hard worker, he recognizes how much commitment it takes to build a championship team. He’s a guy that doesn’t have an ego, I think he’s looking forward to rolling up his sleeves and getting to work, and he’s a very down to earth dedicated person, so he’s going to fit great in the structure with the organizational values that we want to create here. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘My teammates always are with me’||05.13.14 at 10:43 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning, after Monday’s disappointing 4-0 loss to the Canadiens in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Canadiens grabbed the lead when the Bruins misplayed a puck near the net and Lars Eller made them pay just 2:11 into the game.
“That first goal, two minutes in, we’re down by one with a very gratuitous bounce to them, then you’re battling back again,” Thornton said. “I felt like we were ready to go. I thought our first three shifts, we applied a lot of pressure, then that goal happens, they kind of picked the momentum up from there.
“I don’t know how many chances we had last night, but I felt like we had a lot of offensive-zone time, I felt like we had a lot of chances. Like [Milan Lucic] said, nine times out of 10 he buries that [shot he missed on an open net], and it’s 1-1 instead of being 2-0. Some things like that contributed to them winning last night. We’ve got to fight through that and bring it tomorrow.”
The teams will meet in Game 7 on Wednesday night in Boston.
“We’ve been there a lot in the last seven years that I’ve been here,” Thornton said. “You have to get your mindset in a place where you’re not squeezing your stick, but you know that every shift could be the deciding factor in whether you’re playing next week or sitting at home.
“I like that we have a group that’s been there a bunch now. That’s no guarantee, but I think we have a good, core group of guys that knows how to approach these games, and the coaching staff knows how to approach these games.”
|Don Cherry on D&C: Bruins ‘just don’t seem to be ready’||05.07.14 at 9:25 am ET|
Legendary Hockey Night in Canada analyst Don Cherry checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss the Bruins’ disappointing 4-2 loss to the Canadiens in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“That was not one of their better games. I don’t understand it,” the former Bruins coach said. “They spot teams a 3-0 lead and think they’re going to come back in the third period. It’s a dumb way to play.”
The Bruins were hurt by a couple of defensive breakdowns that led to early Canadiens goals, and Cherry said their failure to be prepared to play hard and focused from the opening faceoff is an issue that continues to haunt them.
“It’s funny, you can sit here and dissect it. You have to be behind the bench to realize that Montreal is going to come out flying,” Cherry said. “They have their favorite singer. You have to be ready for something like that. It’s easy to say. I’ve been there many times before.
“There’s so many mistakes made, even down to the one where [Tuukka] Rask doesn’t bang his stick on the breakaway. You’re taught in junior, in bantams, when you see a penalty near the end, you bang your stick to warn the guys. Here’s a guy that’s not ready. They just don’t seem to be ready. They think that they can come back all the time in the third period. They seem to be relying on that third period all the time. They don’t play desperate right now. I’m telling you, they better start, because they’re sky high, Montreal is sky high.”
Added Cherry: “You’ve got to play like [Brad] Marchand. Believe it or not, he was plus-2 last night. He is a guy that they’ve got to look to. He plays like that all the time, and that’s the way they’ve got to play. They were fast asleep the first two periods.”
The Bruins’ problems start in goal, where Rask has continued his career-long struggles against the Canadiens, while Carey Price has come up with some big saves at the other end.
“Rask is not playing the way Rask can play. … Price is outplaying him, that’s for sure,” Cherry said. “Rask is not playing like he did in the season for some reason. Montreal’s got — I don’t know if they’ve got his number or what. But he’s not the Rask that I know.
“But here’s the thing that bothers me, is the Bruins were out-hit last night. Imagine the Bruins being out-hit by those little midgets with Montreal. They’re just not ready. And if they’re not ready, it’s going to be a short series.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘The Bruins know it’s going to be a long series’||05.02.14 at 12:48 pm ET|
Pierre McGuire of NBC Sports joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Bruins’ 4-3 double-overtime loss to the Canadiens in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“I was really surprised at the caliber of play, and that speaks well to a fantastic seven-game series, hopefully, because the caliber of play was good as any I’ve seen in this playoff season,” said McGuire, who noted that Friday night he will work his 18th game in 18 nights in 18 cities when he covers the Rangers-Penguins game in Pittsburgh.
The Bruins had 51 shots on goal but missed the net on a number of other opportunities and appeared to overplay the puck on others, leading to turnovers. From his perch between the benches, McGuire heard the Bruins coaches telling the players to be more aggressive in getting the puck to the net.
“I kept hearing them say, ‘Just shoot the puck. Shoot the puck. Don’t be too cute. Shoot the puck,’ ” McGuire said, adding: “One of the big agendas I think for the Bruins going into Game 2 tomorrow afternoon is to shoot the puck from anywhere and just get to the net.”
Meanwhile, the Canadiens pounced on some Bruins turnovers to create chances on the Boston goal.
“The closing speed of the Canadiens is vastly underrated. People that don’t see them a lot don’t understand,” McGuire said. “Everybody knows about Carey Price. Two things people don’t know about the Canadiens that are really important: One, they’re extremely quick. Two, they have a huge amount of character. Much greater than ever before. You saw it with Dale Weise, you saw it with Brandon Prust, you saw it with Travis Moen last night. Their character quotient is a lot higher than people give them credit for. And that’s why I think this will be a long series. And I know the Bruins know it’s going to be a long series and a hard series. They’re aware of it as a team.”
“I think Tuukka said it best. I don’t have to jump on and pile on. I’m sure people are piling on,” McGuire said. “But then again, I remember after Game 1in the Detroit series, everyone was ripping him for the [Pavel] Datsyuk goal, which was a thing of beauty. And he said, ‘Well, maybe I should have had it.’ Tuukka’s harder on himself than any fan could ever be or any newspaper reporter could ever be. He knows he needs to be better. He wasn’t good enough last night. And I think he’ll have a huge bounceback. I’m not surprised that he’s as honest and open as he is, because he doesn’t doubt his abilities at all. And when you don’t doubt your ability, you’re not afraid to say when you make a mistake or you’re not on top of your game. He wasn’t on top of his game last night.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘Pucks just wouldn’t go in’||05.02.14 at 9:51 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning, following Thursday’s double-overtime loss to the Canadiens in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Bruins suffered a 4-3 loss despite dominating play for much of the night, outshooting the Habs 51-33.
“I think everyone was happy with the way we played, pucks just wouldn’t go in,” Thornton said. “There were a lot of bounces that just rolled across the line or inside a post, inside of crossbars. Carey Price played unbelievable, but I thought for the most part we played a really, really good game.”
In looking at this series, analysts have noted that Montreal’s speed is likely to give the Bruins problems. However, in Game 1 Boston didn’t seem to have an issue — at least during five-on-five play.
“You look at the positives, we controlled most of it,” Thornton said. “A lot of people said we couldn’t keep up with their pace of play. In think for the most part, again, we did a really good job of that last night.”
Added Thornton: “I think that we controlled the pace of play. That’s something that people said we wouldn’t be able to do. I thought we played good enough to win. We didn’t, though, so we’re going to have to do better next game.”
The Canadiens scored the game-winner on a power play, after Matt Bartkowski was called for holding after he took down Dale Weise in front of the Boston goal. Thornton expressed his displeasure with the officials after the game ended.
“I think that that stuff happens a lot, at both ends of the ice,” Thornton said. “I kind of feel bad for Bart. I’m not going to say anything about the officiating, but I think it’s a call that probably could go either way in overtime, double overtime.”
Added Thornton: “I’m kind of old school. I kind of like when they put the whistles away in overtime. But that’s just me. You want consistency so you know on any given night where the line is. I thought they did a good job for the most part last night. I thought that was maybe a little bit of a — it could have went either way.”
|Montreal sports radio host Mitch Melnick on M&M: ‘Every player dives and embellishes a little,’ including Bruins’ Shawn Thornton||05.01.14 at 12:04 pm ET|
Montreal sports radio host Mitch Melnick of TSN 690 joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the Bruins-Canadiens playoff series and accusations that the Habs sell out in an effort to get penalty calls. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Canadiens often are criticized — at least in Boston — for embellishing physical contact in an effort to draw penalties.
“When the Bruins talk into microphones and cameras and are talking about stuff like, ‘We don’t do stuff like that. We don’t dive. We don’t embellish. We don’t do this, we don’t do that.’ Everybody does it. Everybody does it. Shawn Thornton, stand-up guy, he does it. Every player dives and embellishes a little,” Melnick said.
“The fact of the matter is, if you polled players around the league, who’s the most disliked guy on the ice, Brad Marchand probably wins that poll by a mile since Sean Avery was kicked out of the league. And do they respect Brad Marchand? Absolutely. It’s kind of like Boston toward [P.K.] Subban. The bigger the moment, the more P.K. Subban wants that spotlight. Those guys are winning hockey players. On the ice, in the heat of battle, they do things that drive you absolutely up the wall, and you want to strangle them. But there’s a respect factor. As long as they don’t cross the line and do stuff that ends up in a serious injury. These are winning hockey players.”
Subban has become the poster child for Bruins fans’ distaste for the Canadiens’ style. Melnick said Subban “takes a lot of abuse ‘¦ behind the play” and it’s not always visible to fans.
“I’m not trying to defend him. He’s still learning. He’s still a kid,” Melnick said of the 24-year defenseman. “He’s doing things that he won’t do a year from now, or two years from now. But it’s a growing process. And he feels that he gets so much abuse that once in a while he’s got to put some mustard on it.”