Puck Daddy - NHL

  • Arbitration is a nasty little process. Teams have to argue why their players aren’t worth what they think they’re worth. Players have to suffer through insulting lowball offers, because that’s how the game is played. 

    P.K. Subban and the Montreal Canadiens are playing that game now, with the star defenseman’s arbitration hearing looming on Friday. According to Elliotte Friedman, Subban is seeking $8.5 million. That would make him the third-highest paid defenseman in the NHL next season in base salary, behind Shea Weber (an offer-sheet inflated $14 million) and Ryan Suter ($11 million) and ahead of Dion Phaneuf ($8 million).

    The Canadiens are seeking $5.25 million, the aforementioned lowball offer. That would slot Subban’s base salary in-between Marc Staal ($5.45 million) and Paul Martin ($5 million), two very good defensemen who still aren’t qualified to shine Subban’s Norris.

    The bigger news is that the Canadiens are asking for a 1-year award, which would mean we all do this dance against next summer, with Subban even closer to UFA status in Summer 2016.

    By all accounts, the sides are going to get something done before Friday. One assumes they meet somewhere in the middle on annual salary: $7 million to $6.5 million, for example.

    But what does Subban want? Does he forego a UFA windfall and sign longer-term? Does he bridge directly to that UFA status with a 2-year deal? Or do the Canadiens get him on consecutive one-year deals before he could go to market?

  • Jake Gardiner gets mentioned more frequently in trade scenarios than conditional draft picks, and that might not end despite his new 5-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    The restricted free-agent defenseman signed a 5-year, $20.25-million deal that’ll give the Leafs $4.05 million against the cap.

    So it’s a very cap-friendly deal for a puck-moving 24-year-old defenseman, which brings us to the most salient point: There’s no trade or move protection in the contract, according to Chris Johnston, which obviously keeps the door open for a potential move down the line if the opportunity presents itself. 

    Or, perhaps, the Leafs have themselves a great price on a burgeoning stud on the blue line, that has two full NHL seasons and one split with the Marlies under his belt. Defenseman take a few years to develop and, as Mirtle notes, the Leafs saw a ton of fulfilled promise in the last 20 games of last season.

    So another good move for the Leafs. We’ve been writing that a lot lately. It leaves us frightened and confused. 

  • Dustin Brown may have brought the Stanley Cup back to his hometown of Ithaca, New York, for the second time in three seasons this summer, but that doesn't mean he's beloved by Empire State residents. Especially not when that second Stanley Cup came at the expense of the Rangers.

    So naturally, if you're a FedEx delivery guy who also happens to be a Rangers fan, delivering a package to Dustin Brown might not be the happiest of occasions. And if your emotions get the better of you, you might decide to write him a little message, to let him know who's boss, who really rules.

    It's not exactly Devils fans chanting "1940!", but that's still a pretty biting response. It's impressive for Brown to be so biting, especially since he doesn't have any teeth.

    Good job, good effort, FedEx delivery guy. While you may feel the Rangers rule, the fact that the New Yorker bringing the Cup around is a member of the LA Kings says otherwise. And when that New Yorker also Tweets otherwise, well, you may have delivered, but you got served.

  • Buffalo Sabres head coach Ted Nolan’s job of hiring assistant coaches this summer will reportedly begin with a Hockey Hall of Famer and seven-time Stanley Cup champion.

    According to Bucky Gleason of The Buffalo News, the Sabres will announce sometime in the next week the hiring of Bryan Trottier as an assistant coach. The team told Gleason nothing is planned at the moment.

    Nolan and Trottier have history together. The two joined the New York Islanders in June 2006 when Nolan was hired as head coach and Trottier was named player development director. Nolan was fired two years later, while the team decided against renewing Trottier's contract after the 2009-10 season.

    Trottier is just the start for the Nolan and the Sabres, who cleaned house behind the bench after the season.

    From the News:

    Rumors had been swirling about Trottier in recent weeks as the summer carried along without a coaching staff being announced. Recent speculation also had former NHL netminder Arturs Irbe taking over as goaltending coach, but the sources were unable to confirm that.

    The last time Trottier was behind an NHL bench it was a disaster. Hired as head coach by the New York Rangers in 2002, his stay with the Blueshirts lasted 54 games, where he compiled a 21-26-6 record before being fired in late January. 

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    Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

    • Good question. Let's ask Hayden Panettiere

    • The Winnipeg Jets have avoided arbitration with Michael Frolik, signing the winger to a one-year, $3.3 million deal. [Jets]

    • The Minnesota Wild and Justin Fontaine done the same and signed a two-year, $2 million deal. [PHT]

    • Sean McIndoe looks at the five biggest Forrest Gumps in hockey history -- the otherwise ordinary guys who stumbled into the sport's biggest moments. [Grantland]

    • The San Jose Sharks have had a troubling offseason, but even more troubling is that they've been unable to massage it for fans so it seems less troubling, which makes it double-troubling. [Fear the Fin]

    • Three on-ice situations where players need to change the way they think. [The Score]

    • Classic summer hockey story: The Ottawa Senators goaltending coach's neighbour's house burnt down. [Ottawa Sun]

    • How Mike Vernon set the stage for Patrick Roy's exit from Montreal. [Habs EOTP]

    • The first line of the 2014 All Good Contracts Team is basically just the first line of the Dallas Stars. Jim Nill is so good. [Defending Big D]

    • Seven rules the NHL needs to change right away. And here's a bonus eighth: there's currently nothing in the rulebook that says a giraffe can't play hockey. The league needs to close that loophole before the NHL is full of giraffes as teams try to get a leg up on the Boston Bruins. [Puck Drunk Love]

    • Former NHL blueliner Todd Gill has been hired as an assistant coach for the AHL's Adirondack Flames. [Calgary Sun]

    • The Leafs' offseason signings should give them a leg-up in the penalty-drawing department. [Leafs Nation]

    • James Reimer talks about his decision to come back, and battling for the no. 1 job a year after thinking things were through in Toronto. [Toronto Star]

    • Will the new backups in Dallas be able to give Kari Lehtonen a breather every now and then? [Defending Big D]  

    • Is Jimmy Hayes worth seven figures yet? Nah. [Panther Parkway]  

    • Have the Islanders done enough this summer to get back into the playoffs? [The Checking Line]

    • Which members of the Chicago Blackhawks are destined for the Hall of Fame? [NBC Chicago]

    • Wherein a Bruins fan has her office redecorated by Leafs fans. Clearly she's in Toronto, since she walks in with a Tim Hortons coffee, so this probably happens all the time. Video would have been better if she'd flown into a rage and started shouting "It was 4-1!" and throwing things.

  • Peter Mueller signed a 1-year, two-way contract with the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, getting another chance to revive an NHL career that was devastated by concussions. 

    Mueller spent last season with the Kloten Flyers of the Swiss-A League, notching 46 points in 49 games, good for second in the league in scoring. (Matthew Lombardi, who led the League, earned a 2-year contract with the New York Rangers earlier this summer.)

    His journey in the NHL has been fraught with frustration.

    He was a No. 8 overall pick for the Phoenix Coyotes in 2006, scoring 54 points in 81 games in his rookie season and then never hitting that total again.

    He was traded with Kevin Porter to Colorado Avalanche for Wojtek Wolski in 2010, and then entered concussion hell. A hit by Rob Blake concussed him late in the season, and then he had another one in the following preseason. Post-concussion syndrome plagued him during his last season with the Avs. and they chose not to re-sign him.

    Mueller bounced to the NHL’s Island of Misfit Toys, a.k.a. the Florida Panthers, before the lockout and had 17 points in 43 games before heading overseas last season.

    So the good news is that Mueller has been healthy for the last two seasons, although neither are the 82-game grind of a full NHL regular-season. Thus, the Blues are taking a worthy gamble, especially on a two-year contract.

    If Mueller latches on, he’s an improvement on their bottom six, which is lean and mean but not laden with proven offensive talent outside of Patrik Berglund. This move also means that Magnus Paajarvi is going to have some competition in camp for an offensive role on the team’s third line. Assuming, of course, he makes it through camp without a trade.

    Nice signing for the Blues, a nice reclamation project for Ken Hitchcock and a nice landing spot for Mueller in his return to the League.

  • NBC Sports released its 2014-15 NHL schedule last week, and the reaction was that annual combination of celebration and befuddlement.

    The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks getting on 13 times each? Bravo. The Columbus Blue Jackets getting one game, and John Tavares getting a goose egg? The aforementioned befuddlement ...

    One interesting aspect of the schedule: The lack of Monday night games on NBC Sports Network. There are three of them scheduled before the end of the calendar year; contrast that with 10 games before Dec. 31 in the 2013-14 season. 

    What gives?

    Steve Lepore of Awful Announcing spoke with Jon Miller, NBC Sports’ President of programming, and found out that “Monday Night Football” still has some sway over the sports landscape on ESPN:

    SL: Your NHL schedule was just released, you’ve kind of moved away from Monday nights this year in favor of a lot of west coast games on Wednesdays.

    JM: Quite honestly, you don’t tug on Superman’s cape and you don’t spit into the wind. Monday Night Football on ESPN is a strong franchise and we’d rather use our exposures where we don’t have that kind of really strong competition on Monday nights. We worked with the league, and they agreed, and we’ve been able to move some of the games off those nights, or move them later.

    Wednesday Night Rivalry has become a great franchise for us, so we’re continuing to build and improve on that, and that’s where our focus is.

    The move might come at the right time, as "Monday Night Football" saw a significant ratings spike last season, posting its best numbers since 2010.

    Rivalry Night has taken some criticism from fans for NBC forcing it at times – the Blackhawks and Rangers are rivals? – but the inspiration for it is solid hockey marketing.

    Said Miller:

    SL: That did kind of come out of nowhere, at least out of the lockout, what do you think was key into launching a marquee cable hockey night, which hadn’t really been done before?

    JM: That’s the brainchild of Sam Flood, and he always kids me that “hate sells.” When the Flyers are playing the Rangers, those teams don’t like each other. When the Bruins are playing the Canadiens, they’re going at each other, and that’s real serious stuff.

    The other thing is that in hockey, which has been so local or regional for so long unlike the NFL, you need to watch the other teams in your division and your conference. I’m a Giant fan, and when the Giants aren’t playing and the Cowboys and Eagles are playing, I’m gonna root for the teams that are playing those teams. We’re trying to build that kind of storyline up with hockey, and I think we’re doing a pretty good job of that.

    Watching a team you hate, in the hopes that they’d lose?

    In a related story, the Penguins, Flyers, Bruins and Blackhawks are on NBCSN a combined 72 times next season …

  • Justin Abdelkader had already been suspended one game for a knee-on-knee hit at the 2014 IIHF World Championships when he launched himself into Vladimir Sobotka’s head during the medal round. 

    The U.S. forward was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for the blow. The Czech Republic would end up scoring twice on the ensuing power play and knock out the Americans with a 4-3 victory.

    The decision on Abdelkader finally arrived on Tuesday when the IIHF’s Disciplinary Board met and announced that he would be suspended for the first three games of the 2015 tournament.

    From the IIHF:

    Abdelkader was originally assessed a major penalty and game misconduct penalty for charging. The panel is of the opinion that because of the potential for injury to the brain, checks to the head always must be considered a gross infringement of the playing rules that require additional sanctions, especially in the case at hand where the injured player was not able to return to the game. Considering the extreme unfairness of the action as well as the high risk of brain injuries connected with blows to the head and neck area, the Deciding Panel is of the opinion that a suspension of the player for three games is appropriate and adequate.

    One thing to note here is that the suspension is soley for the 2015 World Championships. Should Abdelkader be unable to participate in the tournament next year for whatever reason the ban would not carry over into 2016.

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    Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Eric Staal has a lot to prove next season. 

    The Carolina Hurricanes captain already had his news coach, Bill Peters, call him out this summer for an “unacceptable” one goal on the power play in 2013-14. He’s coming off his worst points-per-game season (0.77) since 2003-04.

    So he’s working hard this summer. He’s been like a human training montage, complete with generic 1980s rock soundtrack. He’s pushing it to the limit! He’s got the burning heart! He’s got the touch, he’s got the power!

    Annnnd he injured himself.

    Hurricanes GM Ron Francis revealed on Tuesday that Staal underwent surgery to “repair a core muscle suffered during off-season training,” a procedure performed by the venerable Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia.

    “Eric notified us of the injury late last week, and flew to Raleigh and then Philadelphia to be evaluated,” said Francis. “By having this procedure now, Dr. Meyers believes Eric will be able to return to action for training camp and be at full health for the start of the regular season.”

    Well that’s good news. But no word when Staal will be able to restart his P90X, er, “offseason training” this summer. 

  • It's no secret that John Tortorella's tenure in Vancouver was a disaster, but here's one story you may not have heard.

    Tortorella never actually lived in Vancouver. Instead, he lived in nearby Point Roberts, which is across the American border, but only about a 45-minute drive from Rogers Arena on a good day. For practice days (which were so rare the players complained) Tortorella would drive in for a brief appearance, and then head home, leaving his assistants to handle everything else.

    Mike Gillis got so frustrated with his quick turnarounds that the team eventually built a bed into Tortorella's office so he could take naps there instead of driving home. You can watch Willie Desjardins react with bemusement to the fold-out bed in this video of the Canucks showing their new coach into his office.

    But despite Tortorella's one-and-done turn in Vancouver, which is destined for infamy and seems like a pretty logical endpoint to his NHL head coaching career, former GM Jay Feaster is confident that Tortorella's not done.

    "I think time heals all wounds," he said in an exclusive interview with the Fischler Report:

    I believe that John will get back. General managers in the league know he’s a good coach, and you take the good with the bad. Part of what makes him a good coach is that he does not have the political correctness gene. He is not worried about what you or me or what anybody else thinks about him – he’s going to do what he thinks is right. I think some time away, so time to decompress, I think that’ll be good for him.

    I don’t have any doubt that at some point in time, a team is going to be struggling and a team is going to need some discipline, some structure, and a general manager is going to say, “This is a guy that can provide it.”

    Feaster's probably right. It won't be too long before some team decides they need discipline, and then makes the puzzling leap that the famously difficult Tortorella is the man to provide it. 

    It will be insane, especially when you consider a story Feaster told just prior to vouching for Tortorella, about one of the legendary run-ins between Torts and Larry Brooks of the New York Post.

    After a heated game versus the Devils, Feaster was worried Tortorella would blow up if he went out for his postgame presser before calming down:

    We were literally nose to nose in each other’s faces. I was between he and the door. He said, “Jay, I’m telling you, I’m fine.” We go back and forth with this song and dance, so off he goes to do the media. It wasn’t three minutes later that somebody came walking by and said, “Guess what your head coach just told [NY Post reporter] Larry Brooks to do on live television?” Of course he dropped another F-bomb and he came back in and I looked at him and I said, “I thought you were fine!” He hanged his head and looked at me and said, “Did I put you in a bad spot?” If I had a dollar for every time I heard him say, “Did I put you in a bad spot?” We had a lot of fun together.

    "Did I put you in a bad spot?" is the new "Did I do that?" One assumes he also said this to Mike Gillis after trying to punch his way through the Calgary Flames' hallway like that one scene in Oldboy.

    And yet, Tortorella's next opportunity -- to be a paragon of discipline, ironically enough -- will undoubtedly come. I can hardly fathom it. Back in March, I asked aloud if we were living in the end times of Tortorella's coaching career:

    If John Tortorella is let go after this season, he may never coach in the NHL again. There were few that wanted him last season before the Canucks surprised everyone and decided to take a chance, and they were burned for it. Who else is going to look at what's happened here in Vancouver, and how clearly at fault the coach has been for much of it -- how out of control he was that night in the hallway versus Calgary, how badly he mismanaged his goalies at the Winter Classic, how thoroughly he destroyed the Sedinery that made Vancouver so special, how, by the end of one season, nothing worked, and he looked completely out of ideas -- and say, 'he's our guy'?

    Nobody is, I suggested, foolishly, but Feaster's words are a reminder that I wasn't being nearly cynical enough about the NHL's front-office recycling program.

    Still, as crazy as it seems to me, I'm looking forward to Tortorella's return. Hockey needs personalities like him -- guys who can't help but be themselves, regardless of how difficult that is.  

    And let me tell you, it is difficult. In the interview, Feaster tells of players coming to his office to complain about Tortorella's in-your-face approach.

    "The guy would come in and say, 'He hates me.' I would always tell him, 'Don’t flatter yourself, he hates all of us.'"

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