The day John Tortorella criticizes Brad Richards for being a $60-million bust during the 2012-13 season will be the first day he does.
So Thursday night after the New York Rangers’ thrilling Game 4 OT victory to stay alive against the Boston Bruins – a game for which Richards was a healthy scratch, after being benched as a fourth-liner in Game 3 – Tortorella offered a defense of his fallen star:
“Brad Richards is a hell of a hockey player. He has had struggles here. It continues. Me putting him in that role does not help him. So I’d rather have him out and identify how we’re going to run our fourth line.
“So none of ya’s, don’t put words in my mouth, it’s not blaming Brad Richards. I’ve already heard enough of that crap already, as far as this is concerned. He’s a hell of a hockey player that’s having a hell of a time. So I need to make decisions for what I feel is right for this team to win tonight’s game, and that’s why I made that decision.
“This is a Conn Smythe winner. A guy I’ve grown up with. A guy I love as a person and a player, but I have to make that decision regarding this. So kiss my ass if you want to write something different. It’s not about blaming that guy. I don’t want anybody to pile on him. This is my decision and I make it for the hockey club.”
Obviously, you feel for Torts, having to make these decisions on a player with whom he won a Stanley Cup and a player that chose the Rangers as a free agent because Tortorella was there. They have a long relationship as player and coach. Neither imagined this day would come.
But they were the right decisions: Richards had one point in 10 games, was terrible on the power play and clearly didn’t fit on the Rangers’ fourth line. Richards goes out, the Rangers score on the power play and the fourth line played great in limited minutes. This is not a coincidence.
Hearing Tortorella defend Richards as “a hell of a hockey player that’s having a hell of a time” makes you wonder: If he’s still the coach in 2013-14, might Richards get another chance to turn this around before a buy-out, or is he a goner?
Trending Topics is a column that looks at the week in hockey, occasionally according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?
Management positions in the National Hockey League, or any professional sport, boil down to a fairly complex relationship between tools and practitioners.
For instance, an owner gives a general manager the tools of money with which to construct his team, and the surrounding personnel and authority to pursue those ends as he sees fit.
Obviously, this takes place to varying degrees. Some owners, like Charles Wang, are stingy with money and overly involved in the day-to-day operations of the team he owns. That's his right, of course, since he's the one signing checks for everyone from the team president to the assistant equipment managers, but that doesn't make it easy for Garth Snow to do his job.
At the other end of the spectrum, though, are larger-market teams, ones that draw crowds and generate significant revenues and for which the owners have little interest in telling the hockey people they're paying to run a hockey team what they should be doing in the running of it. It leads one to wonder why Wang, or any other meddlesome owner, doesn't just make himself the GM, cut out the middle man and save a million bucks a year.
The point, though, is that from the above relationship springs another, similar one. Just as the GM can only do so much with the tools he's given by his owner, so too can the coach only do the best he can with the tools his boss gives him.
This was the problem Alain Vigneault faced this year, and what ultimately led to his being fired despite the fact that he is far and away the best and most successful coach in franchise history by just about any metric.
The speculation is that the circle logo on the left will be a shoulder patch on the new sweaters, with the ‘D Star’ logo as the new primary one for Dallas. But there's also a chance the Stars will follow in the tradition of the Wild, Blues and Panthers and do a traditional circular crest with the logo inside of it; a.k.a. the logo above ...
Tom Cruise watched top gun and legend Anze Kopitar, far and away their best forward, make it rain, man, and help push the Sharks into oblivion as the Kings won this war of the worlds with their eyes wide shut. [NHL Video]
No. 1 Star: Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings goalie made 28 saves for his second career shutout, as Detroit won Game 4 over the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-0. He was especially good in the third period as the Blackhawks turned on the offense. Detroit leads the series, 3-1.
No. 2 Star: Derek Stepan, New York Rangers
The Rangers needed someone to make a play. Stepan did, twice. He stripped Zdeno Chara of the puck and scored to tie the Boston Bruins in the third period, 2-2. After Tyler Seguin’s goal gave Boston the lead again, Stepan set up Brian Boyle for another tying goal on the power play, where the Rangers were the worst team left in the postseason. New York won Game 4, 4-3 in overtime, on a Chris Kreider goal. Here’s the Stepan strip-and-score, helping the Rangers stay alive in the postseason.
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Henrik Lundqvist called it "the ugliest goal I've ever seen," but to the New York Rangers it was so, so beautiful. Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask's slip in the second period allowed Carl Hagelin to score the easiest goal of his career and turned Game 4 around.
“It gave us some life," said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. "It’s funny how it works, huh?”
From that moment on, the Rangers played inspired hockey and woke up a Madison Square Garden crowd who grew restless after the Bruins took a 2-0 lead 7:41 into the second period. The energized arena reached its peak 7:03 into overtime when Chris Kreider redirected a Rick Nash pass to give the Rangers a 4-3 win, staving off elimination yet again:
The Rangers fought off elimination for a third time this postseason and will attempt to do so again on Saturday in Boston facing a 3-1 deficit.
Boston Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask was humming along in the second period toward what was looking like his first shutout of the playoffs during Game 4 against the New York Rangers. But just 58 seconds after Torey Krug gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead, Rask tripped over himself after a Carl Hagelin shot was blocked by Johnny Boychuk's stick. The rest is for the blooper reel:
That must have been some lonely feeling for Rask as he watched that puck glide by him in the crease and into the net.
Afteward, Rask explained: "I just took a step to the side in what I think probably was a skate mark or something. My skate dug in, that's what it felt like. I lost my balance and the rest is history.
"It happens to me twice a year in practice, maybe. [I've] got to me more focused, I think. Just a tough mistake, it looks pretty bad on TV, I guess."
The final 11:21 of the second period went uneventful for Rask, despite the goal inspiring the Rangers' play a bit. With Rask being known as a guy with a bit of a temper, it was nice to see nothing was harmed in the aftermath of that blunder. Though, with the Rangers coming out on top 4-3 in overtime thanks to a Chris Kreider goal, we don't know what kind of damage was done in the locker room.
(Ed. Note: We're proud to welcome back two of our favorite bloggers, Chuck and Pants from What's Up, Ya Sieve?, to the Puck Daddy fold as they author our weekly NHL Playoff Beard Watch every Thursday.)
Never in considering playoff beards or writing this informative and newsworthy weekly feature did we expect to find that so many people share our affinity for ginger beards. You’re all into hockey, that’s enough to make us friends. This common captivation with facial hair takes our relationship to the next level.
Since we’ve made ginger beards a thing, it’s time to give them their due. Last week, we mentioned Daniel Alfredsson and Brian Bickell’s impressive contributions. Here are the rest of The Best 2013 Ginger Beards, from rusty to rosy and everything in between.
Dougie Hamilton, Boston Bruins - GBR (Ginger Beard Rookie)
Sure, Dougie is a rookie, and he looks a bit like Beaker from “The Muppet Show,” but his ginger beard is not to be ignored. The 19-year-old Bruins defenseman comes to his first playoff run with the beginning of a epic, day-glo scruff. Somewhere on a golf course, Claude Giroux is wicked jealous.
We’re counting on Dougie to represent the Animal/Elmo beard that few true redheads last long enough in the playoffs to achieve. Should the Bruins make it to the Finals, this beard might require us to invest in new sunglasses. We wouldn’t want to burn out our corneas.
P.S. Imagine if he had the beard PLUS this haircut? Just a suggestion, DH. There’s a BeardWatch Award for this.
Martin Havlat, San Jose Sharks - AYB (All-Year Beard)
Who says that the Irish do ginger best? This Czech winger is not only an originator of the MGB (Mysteriously Ginger Beard), but his copper-colored facial accoutrement has a brogue so thick we have absolutely no idea what it’s saying. This beard has a pint of Guinness and a full Irish Breakfast, complete with blood pudding, before hitting the ice.
This beard’s favorite band? U2.
This beard’s favorite actor? Liam Neeson. This beard has 11 brothers - Patty, Marky, Nicky, Andy, Danny, Joey, Timmy, Tommy, Matty, Scotty...and Brent.
Sure he wears this beard year-round, but Havlat’s been in and out of the lineup with a recurring injury, so we’ll give him a pass.
Dan Cleary, Detroit Red Wings - Red Storm Rising
Red and orange fall next to each other in the rainbow, and Dan Cleary is sporting every shade in between to demonstrate the true nature of ginger. A little bit orange, a little bit rock and roll, this beard has not backed down in the face of the #1 seed. It’s gunning for an upset in the Western Conference.
For once we can see when Pierre wants to stand so close - look at all the pretty colors.
James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins - #Gingerbeard
Our favorite (and oft-cited) beard, we’ve been referring to Neal simply as #Gingerbeard since the playoffs started. We were hoping that saying it three times in the mirror could make it magically appear on the scoresheet (instead of in the penalty box). Last night, we got our wish. Neal had two goals - and zero penalties.
We also uncovered a conspiracy between Neal’s interviews on Root Sports (US) and CBC (Canada). Look at this beard:
WHAT?! It’s ginger either way, but Canada’s RGB - I mean the color model, but this could also stand for Ridiculously Ginger Beard - is cranked all the way up. American TV lighting dims the #Gingerbeard while Canada shines it so brightly you could stick a maple leaf on it and wave it with pride. Are our neighbors to the north intentionally making ginger beards appear even more ginger?
Canada, you’re doing it right.
Matt Greene, Los Angeles Kings - The Once and Future Beard
An honorable mention of sorts, Matt Greene returned to the Kings lineup in Game 4 after missing almost a month of play due to injury. He didn’t spend that hiatus cheating on his beard either. Last year, his red-blond beard was a glorious Game of Thrones tribute by the Final. If LA can bounce back against the Sharks, it shouldn’t take Matt too long to return to his ruddy form. Like an iron heating up, the farther the Kings go, the redder this beard gets.
Turns out Stephane Roy knew what he was talking about after all. Two days after telling the Denver Post that his brother, Patrick Roy would be the next head coach of the Colorado Avalanche -- and then back-pedaling when someone told him brothers are supposed to give noogies and share Oreos, not break major personnel decisions -- the Avalanche have officially announced the move.
Patrick Roy is the next head coach of the Colorado Avalanche.
But that's not all! He's also been named a vice president of hockey operations, just like Joe Sakic! They'll be leading the hockey team together! (Also Greg Sherman will be there, hanging around, occasionally saying things, apparently.)
“This is a very exciting day for our fans and a significant moment in our organization’s history,” said Avalanche President Josh Kroenke. “Patrick’s passion for the game of hockey both as a player and as a coach defines who he is as a person. He is a winner and is coming back to Denver where he created numerous special moments on and off the ice while helping lead us to two Stanley Cup championships.”
“All along Patrick was our top candidate and we are thrilled that he has decided to accept this offer,” said Sakic. “Patrick has a great hockey mind, is a tremendous coach and there is no one more passionate about this game. He will bring that winning attitude to our dressing room to help this young team grow.”
“This is an unbelievable day for me,” said Roy. “It’s a new and exciting challenge that I am really looking forward to. I would like to thank Stan and Josh Kroenke for this opportunity as well as Joe Sakic for the trust they are putting in me. Almost 10 years to the day that I announced my retirement as a player I am back in Denver and hope the fans are as excited as I am.”
The jury's still out on whether Sakic and Roy can do what they did for the Avalanche a decade ago from the front office. There's a nostalgia element that's very cool, but may not necessarily turn the franchise around. That said, it would be tough for the Avalanche to take a step backwards, and Roy's junior resume speaks for itself. This isn't a hire based on what he did during his days as a player. It's based on what he's done since.
Plus, if it's a personality transplant the Avalanche needed, and they did, boy oh boy, did they just get one.
Back in Round 1, Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks took a moment to suggest that the San Jose Sharks occasionally dabbled in embellishment. It was a fairly transparent bit of gamesmanship, and even moreso after he gave a second performance of the monologue, this time with props.
It didn't work, either. Thereafter, the Canucks won zero games.
But that didn't discourage San Jose Sharks' winger T.J. Galiardi from trying out the tactic himself. On Thursday, Galiardi had a few words to say about LA Kings' goaltender Jonathan Quick.
"What kind of bugs me about him, I don't know if I should say it, but a little embellishment every now and then," Galiardi said before the team left for Los Angeles for Game 5 on Thursday at Staples Center. "You skate by and you don't even touch him or you barely even touch him and he's throwing his hands in the air. So that's one of those things.
Galiardi is speaking, as you'd expect, from experience. He was sent to the box for goaltender interference in the second period of Game 4, and he was almost sent again for the same infraction before he could even get back to the bench. After the Sharks killed off his penalty, he chased Slava Voynov into the LA end on the San Jose's final zone clear, and as he skated by the goal, he clipped Quick's skate.
The goaltender dropped.
But, just like on the ice, the Kings stand up for their goaltender. It was Drew Doughty who rushed to Quick's defense this time around, and he took about the same approach to dismissing Galiardi's observations that the Sharks took in dismissing Kevin Bieksa's: no, you are.