Nicholas J. Cotsonika
Three Periods: Little rookie breaks out big-time in Boston; ex-Isles star Bob Bourne joins NHL concussion lawsuitNicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
Nicholas J. Cotsonika’s weekly Three Periods column appears on Thursdays. This week’s topics include Torey Krug’s rookie breakout for the structured Bruins; more former players joining the brain-trauma lawsuit against the NHL; how Jonathan Ericsson went from last in the draft to a “lifetime” deal with Detroit; what Clarke MacArthur, Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan have in common as they click for the Senators; plus notes on the Ducks, Blues, Penguins and more.
FIRST PERIOD: Why is little Torey Krug scoring big for the Bruins?
Torey Krug is 22. He is 5-foot-9. He has played only 43 NHL games – 28 in the regular season, 15 in the playoffs. So how has he become an offensive dynamo on the blue line for a team known for its experience, toughness and structure?
Talent, of course. Confidence, of course. But it’s coaching and context, too.
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports7 days ago
When the prospective owners of the Phoenix Coyotes recruited investors earlier this year, this was part of their pitch: We’re not buying the team. We’re buying 1/30th of the National Hockey League.
The NHL had just gone through another lockout. But now it had a new labor agreement that reduced the players’ share of hockey-related revenue from 57 percent to 50 percent, at a time when league revenues were poised to pop.
Total HRR had grown from $2.2 billion to $3.3 billion in the seven years between lockouts. The league expected to generate $1 billion more in national revenue over the next three years, with things like outdoor games and, oh, let’s see, a new Canadian TV contract. The owners would split that 30 ways.
“I like to say that the NHL is where the NFL was 20 years ago,” said Anthony LeBlanc, the Coyotes’ president and CEO, in an interview last month. “If you see what is driving television advertising these days, it’s sports. It’s 100-percent sports. It’s the only thing that is DVR-proof. It really is. That’s how television networks make their money, and look at what they’re paying the NFL. The NFL, every team is profitable.
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports8 days ago
Three years ago, Hockey Canada held a concussion seminar in Montreal. The participants received a packet that included a welcome letter from Ken Dryden, the Hall of Fame goalie and member of parliament.
Dryden wrote about how we think back on the past and wonder why we could have been so wrong. He went from slavery to smoking to sports. Why did football and hockey players go so long without helmets? Why did hockey goalies go so long without masks? He wondered what people would think in 50 years about how we have handled head injuries.
“Knowing what they know then, some hints of which we know now, these people of the future will wonder, ‘What could they have been thinking? Why didn’t they do more?’ ” Dryden said.
Well, forget 50 years. The future came Monday, when a class-action lawsuit was filed against the NHL alleging the league knew or should have known the dangers of brain trauma, promoted and profited from on-ice violence, did too little too late to address the problem, and caused harm to former players.
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports11 days ago
Tie game. Third period. Carolina took two penalties on the same shift, and out came Manny Malhotra to kill the 5-on-3. This is what the Hurricanes had signed him to do. This is what he had fought back to do. He won a faceoff. He blocked a shot, and then another, and then …
In a split-second, the puck rose off the stick of the Detroit Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg and struck Malhotra somewhere scary. In the visor? In the helmet? You could hear puck on plastic all the way up in the press box, but it happened so fast and so far away that you didn’t know which piece of plastic. After all Malhotra had been through, you held your breath.
On March 16, 2011, Malhotra was playing for the Vancouver Canucks. He was not wearing a visor. A deflected puck struck him in the left eye and altered the course of his life and career. After undergoing surgeries to repair the damage, he returned in the Stanley Cup Final that year. He played the 2011-12 season and began the 2012-13 season, and then the Canucks shut him down against his will because they feared for his safety. He didn’t return to the NHL until Nov. 1, and only after he proved he could still play in the minors.
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports12 days ago
Nicholas J. Cotsonika’s weekly Three Periods column appears on Thursdays. This week’s topics include theories about the West’s domination of the East; an update on the NHL and NHLPA’s plans for a World Cup; how Seth Jones has come back to earth a bit; the Flyers are back in playoff contention; and which rookie Mike Babcock put in the same class with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
FIRST PERIOD: Why are the standings so lopsided toward the West?
Mike Babcock couldn’t believe it. When a reporter said 28 points ranked eighth in the West but first in the East, the coach walked away and checked the back wall of the dressing room, where the Detroit Red Wings post the standings on an eraserboard.
“Thank god we’re in the East,” Babcock said.
That was Tuesday morning. It was even crazier Thursday morning. Thirty points ranked eighth in the West but no one had 30 points yet in the East. The top eight teams in the NHL standings were all in the West.
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports14 days ago
Minutes after the Pittsburgh Penguins’ game Monday night, NBCSN began hyping their next game – against the Washington Capitals, on “Wednesday Night Rivalry,” the latest episode of Sidney Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin.
“Who’s better?” the host asked the analysts.
The answer meant less than the question itself.
Just two years ago, we were wondering whether Crosby could come back from concussion symptoms. Just nine months ago, we were wondering if Ovechkin could recapture his form. And now, for the first time in a long time, the rivalry or the debate or whatever you want to call it has some legitimacy, and it has the potential to become big again.
Crosby was the runaway favorite to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player last season. But he suffered a broken jaw with a quarter of the lockout-shortened schedule to go, and he settled for the Ted Lindsay Award, which goes to the most outstanding player as voted by the NHL Players’ Association.
To whom did the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association give the Hart instead? Ovechkin.
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports19 days ago
Nicholas J. Cotsonika’s weekly Three Periods column appears on Thursdays. This week’s topics include why P.K. Subban appears to be on the bubble for Team Canada; how the Coyotes’ start has left an owner “speechless;” why hybrid icing might be one of the NHL’s great changes; how the referee was worried about the worst-case scenario in the Ray Emery-Braden Holtby incident; plus, notes on fighting, Ted Nolan and Nail Yakupov.
FIRST PERIOD: Could Team Canada not include the Norris Trophy winner?
Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman made an interesting comment the other day about scouting players for the Sochi Olympics.
“The majority of the players we’re talking about – all of them, really – they all play a lot,” Yzerman said. “Generally they’re all around the puck a lot. So you can watch them on TV more so than, say, a third-line checker or a fourth-line player or whatnot. But I think it’s important to see players live because you see them away from the puck. We pretty much know these players very well. It’s coming down to decisions between very good players and who’s going to fit and how are they in certain situations.”
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports20 days ago
If anyone should know not to be seduced by a press conference, it’s the fans of the Buffalo Sabres. In February 2011, billionaire Terry Pegula bought his favorite team and talked about winning Stanley Cups. On Wednesday, the Sabres ranked last in the NHL.
The Sabres fired their general manager and coach. They brought back two blasts from the past: Pat LaFontaine and Ted Nolan, even though LaFontaine has virtually no resume as an executive and Nolan has been out of the NHL since 2008.
As Pegula introduced LaFontaine as someone “you may know” and said his goals had not changed – “we all know what they are” – at worst it seemed like a PR stunt. At best it seemed like Pegula was playing fantasy hockey again, moving the Sabres backward instead of forward despite his best intentions.
But in about 40 minutes, the farce faded. LaFontaine will not be the GM; he will be the president of hockey operations and will search for the next GM. Nolan will not be the coach; he will be an interim coach who will try to spark change in the short term. This is the first step of a long-term plan – hire a GM, hire a coach, build through the draft, stick with it, do it right.
- Nicholas J Cotsonika at Puck Daddy21 days ago
TORONTO – As the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steve Yzerman left the building Tuesday, he was asked if he liked anything in the general managers’ meeting.
“Lunch,” he deadpanned.
If you’re hungry for big news, the November meeting is usually unsatisfying. The GMs talk over ideas for one day and essentially decide what they will discuss more seriously at their three-day March meeting.
But there were a few morsels to chew on this time, including extended overtime, goalie fights, the playoff format, hybrid icing and bullying. The highlights:
For years, the Detroit Red Wings’ Ken Holland has pushed for a way to de-emphasize the shootout. He said there is more support than ever before to do something – more 4-on-4, maybe some 3-on-3 – though the GMs have not settled on exactly what yet.
Though 262 games this season, 14.89 percent of games have ended in shootouts, the second-highest percentage since the shootout was introduced in 2005-06.
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika at Yahoo Sports22 days ago
TORONTO — Every year, it’s like hockey Hollywood. Before the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the superstars stroll the red carpet under the bright lights as the reporters beg for interviews and the paparazzi click their cameras.
This year, it was like … well, Hollywood. Here came Scotty Bowman and Ted Lindsay and the rest of the hockey royalty Monday night, and here came John C. McGinley and D.B. Sweeney and Tony Danza and John Cusack and Cuba Gooding Jr., too. In the crowd sat Kid Rock and Cindy Crawford.
“Why are you here?” a reporter asked John McEnroe.
“My buddy,” McEnroe said. “Chris Chelios.”
Cheli. Of course. With all due respect to the other inductees – Geraldine Heaney, Scotty Niedermayer, Brendan Shanahan and the late Fred Shero – who else could have drawn a crowd of celebrities like that to a night of highlights and speeches?
Wayne Gretzky? Maybe. But consider that Gretzky and his wife, Janet Jones, were there not because Gretzky was, is and always will be The Great One. They were there because Chelios had asked them to come.