Buffalo Sabres fans were disheartened to learn that Patrick Kane had signed an eight-year, $84 million contract extension with the Chicago Blackhawks, a deal that will likely prevent him from coming home, Lebron-style, for the remainder of his NHL career. But while the Buffalo native may not play for the local NHL team any time soon, Kane did swing through town on Monday to play for another local team: the Piranhas, one of the clubs in Buffalo's Performax Hockey League . And while it may be Kaner's offseason, showtime doesn't take summers off. Note the boxscore:
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. • This is a really cool photo of hockey at the 1928 Olympics. [ Reddit Hockey ] • More on the Soo Greyhounds saying goodbye to Kyle Dubas. He'll be helping them install his replacement. [ Buzzing the Net ] • Chris Johnston on the Dubas hire: "To deny the significance of possession stats in hockey is to be on the wrong side of history. Before Tuesday morning, the Toronto Maple Leafs were on the wrong side of history." [ Sportsnet ] • The Dallas Stars have avoided arbitration with Antoine Roussel, signing the feisty winger to a four-year, $8 million contract. [ Defending Big D ] • Everybody's favourite NHL referee Tim Peel (certainly our favourite) may have been on Twitter today. If it was really him, here's what went down: he hopped on, then had to shut it down almost right away because the CBA doesn't allow him to tweet. Once again, we wonder if Tim Peel knows the rules. [ Sporting News ] • Henrik Lundqvist is selling his insane Hell's Kitchen penthouse. It can be yours for about $7 million. [ NY Rangers Blog ] • P.A. Parenteau calls joining the Montreal Canadiens a dream come true, which is what he was supposed to say. [ TSN ] • The Anaheim Ducks have signed Sami Vatanen to a two-year, $2.5 million contract. [ Anaheim Calling ] • Al Montoya hopes to be the next Cory Schneider, in the sense that he steals Roberto Luongo's job: “The coach and the team knows what I’m capable of and when I’m called, I’m going out there to win games. I’m not just there to give Roberto a night off, I’m there to help the team move forward. I’m looking forward to the challenge. I think things are headed in the right direction. I haven’t seen my best yet.” [ Miami Herald ] • Philadelphia laywer Andrew Barroway has reportedly made a huge offer for the New York Islanders. [ The Score ] • The Flames have avoided arbitration with Joe Colborne, signing the big centre to a two-year deal. [ Matchsticks & Gasoline ] • Dale Tallon on Aaron Ekblad: ""I'm really impressed with his hands. I knew he was a well-rounded player, but I'm really happy with his skills … how he handles the biscuit, how he moves it and how he shoots it." [ Sun-Sentinel ] • Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough on the seventh annual Blackhawks convention: "I think one of the missions of the Blackhawks Convention is to humanize these guys. Again, make them have a common man's touch to professional sports. If there is any innocence left in professional sports — and I'm not sure that there is — I truly believe that it's in hockey. [ CSN Chicago ] • Logan Couture hypothesizes that the devastating loss to the Kings will motivate the Sharks. I should hope so. [ PHT ] • In which Mike Modano is informed of Ronald Reagan's untimely passing a decade ago. [ Deadspin ] • Now in its third year, Dominic Moore's smashfest charity continues to grow. [ Canadian Press ] • You may remember this excellent video is from 2010, but it's still amazingly topical. NBC's broadcast schedule remains almost completely Canada-free, with the Leafs and Canadiens making it on national television in the States just twice each, and every other Canadian team completely shut out:
You've got to feel for the San Jose Sharks. Not only did they see a good season wasted with yet another early-season exit, but this one may have been the most heart-breaking of all, with the team squandering a 3-0 lead to the eventual Staney Cup Champion LA Kings. Then, to make matters worse, they'll have to open the season playing those same LA Kings and standing around trying not to look as their in-state rivals raise their second Stanley Cup banner. It's going to be truly uncomfortable for them, which means it's appointment viewing for us, which is likely why NBC was all to happy to lead off their 2014-15 regular season coverage with this game. In a manner of speaking. The game will be the second of an opening night double-header for NBCSN's growing Wednesday Night Rivalry brand, immediately following a tilt between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins. On Tuesday, NBC released their next-season broadcast schedule, which will see them airing a grand total of 103 regular-season games. As with past seasons, they know what the people want: the teams of the Northeast, minus the Islanders. From NBC: Coming off of the most-watched NHL regular season ever on NBC and NBCSN, the most-watched Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2006 and most-watched Stanley Cup Playoffs on cable in 17 years, NBC Sports Group will deliver coverage of 103 NHL regular-season games during the 2014-15 season, featuring 14 games on NBC and 89 games on NBCSN. All games will be streamed live via NBC Sports Live Extra. • NBC will present the 2015 NHL Winter Classic from Washington, D.C., between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals on January 1 at 1 p.m. ET. • Making its return for the first time since 2012, NBCSN will present coverage of the NHL All-Star Game from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. All-Star weekend will take place Saturday, January 24 and Sunday, January 25 and will include the NHL All-Star Skills Competition™ and the NHL All-Star Game. • This year’s regular-season coverage features 31 games spanning 14 of the 15 series from the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, including back-to-back rematches of the 2014 Western and Eastern Conference Finals on NBCSN (Blackhawks-Kings on Jan. 28, Canadiens-Rangers on Jan. 29), and a rematch of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final between the Rangers and Kings on March 24. Bruins-Red Wings, Blackhawks-Blues, • Penguins-Flyers and Kings-Sharks are the most featured matchups, each appearing four times on NBC and NBCSN. • 56 of NBC and NBCSN’s 103 telecasts feature at least one Western Conference team. And as we often do, here's a breakdown of how often each team will appear on the NBC Sports Group properties: PACIFIC DIVISION Anaheim Ducks: 7 Arizona Coyotes: 1 Calgary Flames: 0 Edmonton Oilers: 0 Los Angeles Kings: 13 San Jose Sharks: 13 Vancouver Canucks: 0 CENTRAL DIVISION Chicago Blackhawks: 20 Colorado Avalanche: 7 Dallas Stars: 4 Minnesota Wild: 11 Nashville Predators: 1 St. Louis Blues: 11 Winnipeg Jets: 0 ATLANTIC DIVISION Boston Bruins: 17 Buffalo Sabres: 11 Detroit Red Wings: 15 Florida Panthers: 0 Montreal Canadiens: 2 Ottawa Senators: 0 Tampa Bay Lightning: 5 Toronto Maple Leafs: 2 METROPOLITAN DIVISION Carolina Hurricanes: 3 Columbus Blue Jackets: 1 New Jersey Devils: 2 New York Islanders: 0 New York Rangers: 14 Philadelphia Flyers: 16 Pittsburgh Penguins: 19 Washington Capitals: 13 And finally, a look at some of the winners and losers: WINNER: The Buffalo Sabres. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to predict that the Sabres are going to be bad, and yet, somehow, they'll appear on an NBC property 11 freaking times . If the goal is rivalries, one wonders what the hapless Sabres are going to be able to contribute. It seems reasonable to assume, more often than not, they're going to get blown out on national television. That said, maybe NBC is counting on that and wants a lot of goals? But if that's the case, they should have opted for more than zero Oilers game. LOSER: And speaking of teams shut out, how did the Islanders get zero appearances? It's clear NBC cares very little for Western Canada, as evidenced by the Oilers, Flames, and Canucks being shut out here, but the Islanders are right in the thick of the Northeast. All the teams within bussing distance have at least one appearance, and most have more than 10. But the Islanders don't even get a sniff. Clearly, NBC doesn't see much in them. In this way they're like every free agent Garth Snow tried to sign early. WINNER: The Western Conference. It became very clear last season that the better hockey is being played in the West right now, which might explain why NBC seems more willing than ever to give the teams out west some dap. As they pointed out, more than half of the broadcasts feature a Western Conference club. (It probably also helps that that's where the Cup is right now. The Blackhawks, last year's champion and a massively popular brand still on the rise, have the most appearances, at 20.) LOSER: The New Jersey Devils. Like the Islanders, NBC clearly doesn't have much faith in them to be compelling or competitive, as they have only two measly appearances. It's a shame, in a way. Their non-playoff year is the issue here, but a look at their underlying numbers from last season suggests they're going to be much better than most expect. WINNER: California. The Pacific Division is ruled right now by the three California teams, and unsurprisingly, NBC wants to showcase a lot of that hockey. The trio will appear a combined 33 times. Plus, not only are the Sharks and Kings arguably the big draw on opening night, but NBC is going to that well four times over the season, as many as the Battle of Pennsylvania, Red Wings-Bruins and Blackhawks-Blues. LOSER: Canada. Just two appearances for the Leafs, two for the Canadiens, and none for anybody else. But the country probably doesn't care too much. They'll be watching all their games elsewhere anyhow. Still, you'd think Canada would get a few more national showcases if their teams were any good. WINNER: The Blues. Between a growing rivalry with the Blackhawks and their continued employment of American hero T.J. Oshie, they get a lot of play. As mentioned, four games versus Chicago, and eleven overall. LOSER: The Arizona Coyotes. New name, new lease on life, no exposure. While plenty of Western Conference teams get their fair share of TV time, the Coyotes, who could probably use a boost, almost get Canada'd, with just one game to their name. It probably doesn't help that they're sharing a Division with the California three, nor that they're known for playing some pretty bland hockey.
|Puck Daddy||Chicagoin 7||Great, gritty battle between two teams loaded with big names and quality grunts. The Hossa Hex ends, much to our chagrin.|
|Sam McCaig||Chicagoin 6||Chicago's depth, skill and speed will prove to be too much for Philadelphia to overcome, and the 'Hawks can keep pace physically with the Flyers.|
|Ross McKeon||Chicagoin 6||The 'Hawks are poised to win their first Cup since 1961, but if we’ve learned anything from these playoffs it’s to expect the unexpected.|
|Matt Romig||Chicagoin 6||Give the 'Hawks the edge in skill, speed and special teams. Philly brings enough intangibles to extend an otherwise one-sided series.|