- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports6 hrs ago
It was a few weeks ago when Kyle Dubas was in Mexico – getting married – that he first heard from Brendan Shanahan. The president of the Toronto Maple Leafs wanted to talk to him as Dubas, the GM of the Soo Greyhounds, had been identified as a bright young hockey mind.
On Tuesday afternoon, Dubas and his sharp hockey mind was hired as the Leafs’ new assistant general manager.
A lot of people in the hockey world have written, in print and on social media, about how this 28-year-old wunderkind embraced analytics to quickly turn around the fortunes of the Greyhounds. The team was in trouble when Dubas left his job as a player agent to go home and fix the OHL team his grandfather had once coached.
It’s a nice narrative for July, when there isn’t much in the way of hockey news.
The reality is rebuilding the Greyhounds was arduous and there were missteps for Dubas. It took three seasons just for them to get to the second round of the OHL playoffs. After his first year in Sault Ste. Marie, many fans wanted him fired. The team’s poor performance meant he had to fire head coach Mike Stapleton in 2012. The learning curve was not very forgiving.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports7 days ago
Tom Renney is now the new face of hockey in Canada.
On Tuesday afternoon in Calgary, the former assistant coach of the Detroit Red Wings was named as the new president of Hockey Canada, replacing Bob Nicholson. Nicholson, who held the post since 1998, retired in May and became the new vice-president of the Oilers Entertainment Group.
Renney will have big shoes to fill as Nicholson has left Hockey Canada as one of the most successful and preeminent members of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
The challenges have already started.
“I was challenged just finding the office today,” said Renney, joking with reporters on a conference call.
“Our mandate is to make hockey the experience that it should be and at the end of the day that’s growing outstanding people that contribute to society… that’s a very broad brush, but I want to make sure everybody grows from the experience of hockey and that we do so by doing the right thing.”
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports11 days ago
When news broke on Monday that a second attempt was being made to unionize players in the Canadian Hockey League it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Despite the first failed endeavour back in the summer of 2012, it was only a matter of time before someone tried again.
There is money to be had in the CHL. The business of major junior hockey is now lucrative enough to make it ripe for lawyers and organizers who want a cut and for the team owners who want to keep making bank.
Do players need a formal union? Probably not. But what the CHL does need – and desperately – is a third party to arbitrate issues between agents and players and the leagues to make sure the best interests of these kids are being served.
Players already have people to advocate on their behalf in the form of agents. Like the management groups of the teams they play for – some are very good at their jobs and some aren’t. The idea of some young, timid 16-year-old being coerced into signing a contract in some Faustian bargain is naive.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports15 days ago
It was two summers ago that the initial idea of unionizing players in the Canadian Hockey League was first discussed. The project was mishandled from the start by a group with unclear motives and certification of the roughly 1,400 players never got off the ground.
Jerry Dias is here to change that.
As president of Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, Dias is taking up the fight to create a union for CHLers.
“The facts are we are a reputable Canadian union and we’re determined,” said Dias in an interview with Yahoo Sports on Monday. “We’re not going to allow the high-priced lawyers that are employed by the league to push us around.”
But it's off to a rocky start.
The Canadian Hockey League Players’ Association (CHLPA) was the group that first tried to unionize players in 2012. The idea of a potential union was sound, but the group running it was not. The CHLPA was plagued by miscues and a number of their statements via social media were puzzling. They refused to name anyone behind the scenes involved with their board, until the CHLPA hired former NHLer Georges Laraque as their executive director.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Buzzing The Net24 days ago
PHILADELPHIA— One year ago Daniel Walcott was sitting on his couch at home watching the NHL Draft and dreaming about the possibility that one day that could be him hearing his name called.
At the time, however, reality dictated that the dream was a stretch. The defenceman was playing for Lindenwood University close to St. Louis in the American Collegiate Hockey Association – a small college loop unaffiliated with the NCAA. He was playing against older, more mature players, but his talents went largely unnoticed.
“Playing there last year I watched the draft from my house,” said Walcott. “I thought maybe one day – next year is my last year. I thought maybe, possibly something would work out if I worked really hard and got seen.”
Sometimes all you need is one person to see you and believe in your talents. On Saturday, the New York Rangers called his name from the draft floor in the fifth round.
“Fortunately I was seen and the dream came true,” he said sporting a wide smile.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports25 days ago
PHILADELPHIA - A young girl sat in the stands cheering on her older brother playing junior hockey in Biel, Switzerland. In the final minutes of the intermissions, Caroline Ehlers, a pretty, fair-haired girl with bright-blue eyes, would hover above the tunnel leading on to the ice so she could talk to her brother, Nikolaj.
To hear him tell it now, their conversations were always one-way and Caroline, in those moments, was more drill sergeant than his 14-year-old sister.
“Get your ass in front of the net,” he said, mimicking his sibling. “You need to score here! You need to keep cycling and moving your feet.”
At the scouting combine at the end of May, Ehlers had some NHL teams laughing when he admitted that Caroline was his main coaching inspiration and the one person who knew his game the best.
“They didn’t believe me,” said Ehlers. “They were laughing, but it’s the truth. It’s kind of funny, but not a lot of people know that my sister has probably had the biggest impact on my career.”
For Christmas, Ehler’s aunt gave Caroline a small blanket. It was white and had the outline of a hockey player in gold and the words “Hockey Coach” written on it.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports26 days ago
PHILADELPHIA — There was only one thing that could bring Sami Kapanen out of retirement. It took something much more than money and fame. Those things he already had after playing more than 800 games in the NHL.
The lure to continue in hockey was something that he could not even quantify in either English or his native Finnish. More than his love of the game, it was the love of his son, Kasperi, that brought his aging body out of retirement for another year of the grind.
“It was the reason I kept pushing myself to give it one more year to have a chance to play with him,” said the 41-year-old. “It’s special and it’s hard to put into exact words. You feel so proud that your son is on the ice at the age of 16, 17 and that he’s capable of playing with men on a professional level of hockey.
“It probably means more to a dad than to a son.”
The Kapanens made their father-son debut together in 2013, playing on the same line with KalPa in Finland’s SM-Liiga. The elder Kapanen was also part-owner and general manager of the team, which made the pressure greater.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports27 days ago
PHILADELPHIA – It was only a matter of time before Mike Johnston was back in the NHL. The Pittsburgh Penguins presented the opportunity to return to the league as a head coach and it was an offer too good to refuse.
Johnston, who has been the head coach and general manager of the Portland Winterhawks since 2008, had previously been an associate coach with the L.A. Kings before heading to the Western Hockey League.
Johnston, 57, is a career coach, having taken a position as head coach at Camrose Lutheran College in Alberta as his first job out of school. Unable to find a job after graduating with a degree in education, he was able to parlay his love of teaching to hockey. Now, coaching hockey is the only vocation he’s ever known.
Like many of his teams – in Camrose, at the University of New Brunswick and in Portland – Johnston is adept at turning around the fortunes of struggling franchises.
“I coached for five years at UNB and they had won one game in the year before I was hired there and two games before that so it seems like those types of jobs are the ones I step into at times,” said Johnston during an interview in May. “I’ve enjoyed it. It’s nice to set the stage for a program.”
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports29 days ago
The NHL draft is only days away and it looks like Aaron Ekblad is the favourite as the No. 1 overall pick among scouts.
Yahoo Sports polled five different amateur scouts from different NHL teams to pick their brains prior to the 2014 entry draft on Friday in Philadelphia. The scouts all cover different territories – including Western Canada, the U.S., Ontario and Quebec-Maritimes.
Ekblad, a defenceman with the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts, was the player the majority would select if they held the first pick – like the Florida Panthers. If that comes to fruition, Ekblad would become the first defenceman since Erik Johnson in 2006 to go first-overall.
“He's the one player who is most ready to step in and contribute next season,” said one scout of the 6-foot-3, 213-pound defender. “Also (he’s) simply the best player available.”
“It’s hard to ignore the size on the back end, leadership experience both in (the OHL and) in national team events,” said another scout. “He has the intangibles that teams look for and there’s still room to improve.”
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports1 mth ago
LONDON, Ont. — Mitchell Moroz is one of the toughest, most feared players in the Western Hockey League. On Sunday evening, standing on the ice after his Edmonton Oil Kings won the Memorial Cup, he wept openly while hugging his mom, Leigh-Ann.
“I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve,” said the forward collecting himself before meeting the media. “That’s my personality and that’s the way I play, I guess.
“These moments are really special.”
It’s been an emotional ride.
In June, the Oil Kings mourned the loss of former teammate Kristians Pelss, who drowned accidentally. He had been close to a number of players on the roster – particularly Moroz. During the tournament it was not uncommon to hear the players talk about the 20-year-old forward saying a small prayer to Pelss when the team needed it most.
After the 6-3 victory over the Guelph Storm, Pelss’ jersey was carried out onto the ice and prominently displayed in the team photo. It was a gesture – much like their season- to honour their fallen teammate’s memory.
It was also fitting that Moroz scored the game-winning goal.