Monthly Archives: August 2017

Cheap Brandon Dubinsky Jersey Sale

(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.)

Brandon Dubinsky had a little bit to say on Friday about the free agency process for four-year college players.

Specifically, he is against it.
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It’s tough to figure out exactly what his beef is here; he wasn’t more forthcoming than these two tweets. However, there are a few points worth addressing here.

First and foremost: This is a union member saying that the exercising of collectively bargained rights by other union members is “a joke.” Which is troubling in and of itself, but it really highlights a long-standing tendency on the part of NHLPA members to close the door behind them and not express much interest in boosting the rights of players younger than them, such as rookies who are forced to comply to entry-level contract (ELC) rules and have their free-agent rights controlled by the teams that drafted and/or signed them for pretty much the entirety of their prime performing years.

Second, Dubinsky is one of those aforementioned “guys that play[ed] major junior.” Perhaps the beef here is that major junior players who don’t sign after their eligibility runs out are forced to re-enter the draft rather than go through free agency, which doesn’t strike one as being totally fair on its surface. Except to say that most guys who become college free agents after forcing their way to UFA status by refusing to sign with the teams that drafted them (Will Butcher, Jimmy Vesey, Kevin Hayes, recent Columbus signee Doyle Somerby, etc.) are something like 22 or 23, versus being forced to re-enter the draft when junior eligibility runs out at age 20.

No one, of course, forces players to choose major junior over college, but you can see where these decisions are made; and when players make them, they presumably do so with a full understanding of what that means for their future career prospects. Especially in the case of a Dubinsky, who was a relatively high pick and fairly regular WHL player at age 16, the prospects of an NHL career had to be very real, and if he wasn’t prepared for what that would have meant for his future free agency status, that’s on his agent.

(Not that it mattered, since he signed with the Rangers after his draft-year-plus-1 season.)

Third, Dubinsky has been a member of the NHLPA for about a decade at this point, and while he wasn’t in the league when players lost an entire season to a lockout driven by owner greed (and, to some extent, union incompetence) he certainly saw what happened in 2012 first-hand; he was the Rangers’ player representative in the NHLPA the year before the most recent lockout. So he should know full well how difficult it is for the players, who basically got their asses kicked in two straight lockouts — and oh yeah, seem destined for a third one — to wring any kind of rights out of the league in the first place.

Connor McDavid Jersey Cheap For Fans

Connor McDavid

 

TORONTO — Connor McDavid is not taking anything for granted after the Edmonton Oilers ended a decade-long Stanley Cup Playoff drought and went on a surprising run to the 2017 Western Conference Second Round, when they lost in seven games to the Anaheim Ducks.

“It doesn’t really change much. Last year, we were able to find a little success, but we shouldn’t change anything,” the 20-year-old center said at BioSteel Camp on Tuesday. “Every year is a new year, and when you look at the turnover year to year, teams that made the playoffs last year aren’t a guarantee to make the playoffs this year.”

Seven of the 16 teams that qualified for the postseason in 2015-16 did not make the playoffs last season.

McDavid, who won the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP after leading the League in scoring (100 points), said he didn’t realize how much playoff experience mattered before playing in the 2017 postseason, but he now knows how much the game changes after the regular season.

“After going through the playoffs, you definitely get a sense for how important it is to go through it at least once before you win,” McDavid said. “Most teams that have won have lost the previous year or a few years before, so you have to get that experience. This might be a different answer than what we were saying going into the playoffs, but after going through it once, you definitely need that experience to understand how big the games are and how intense they get.”

Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse, who had five goals, six assists and an even rating in 44 games last season, said getting a taste of what it is like to get deep into the playoffs has fueled him throughout the offseason as he prepares for 2017-18.

“The experience was huge for us, but at the same time, it’s a big motivating factor now,” Nurse said. “We’ve been there; I think our expectations are higher now. We just have to continue to work and grow and become a team that competes for a Cup every year.”

The Oilers took a big step in that direction this offseason, securing their future as Cup contenders by signing McDavid and forward Leon Draisaitl to a long-term extension.

McDavid, who also won the Ted Lindsay Award as most outstanding player in the League as voted by NHL players, signed an eight-year, $100 million contract July 5. Draisaitl, who turns 22 on Oct. 27, signed an eight-year, $68 million contract on Aug. 16. He was eighth in the League in scoring with 77 points (29 goals, 48 assists) in 82 games.

“It’s exciting to get to play with Leon for the next eight years. He’s a fun guy to play with,” said McDavid, who was named Oilers captain Oct. 5, making him the youngest in NHL history (19 years, 266 days). “To have the two of us locked up like that for a long time and have the pieces that we do as well in Edmonton, it is exciting.”

Nurse, who is entering the final season of his three-year, entry-level contract, was happy to see the top young forwards commit to the Oilers. He said their success serves as motivation for Edmonton’s other young players.

“One of the main things management wanted to do was get that core locked up for a long time,” Nurse said. “For us as a team, it’s definitely exciting knowing two of the top players in the League are going to be there for a long time. It motivates everyone to continue to work and try to be a part of it for a long time too.”

After the Oilers took a big step forward last season, the mindset will be very different in Edmonton. It’s no longer a question of whether the Oilers will be good; it’s a queston of how good they can be.

“We’ve grown a lot (in the past year),” Nurse said. “Slowly but surely the young guy reputation is going to go away. As we get more and more experience in the League, we have to grow with each and every step and season. Everyone is excited about the next challenge coming up here and getting back to work in September.”

Avalanche ‘listening to offers’ for Duchene

Matt Duchene

Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene remains available via trade, but general manager Joe Sakic told The Denver Post on Thursday he expects Duchene to be at training camp.

“I will be listening to offers,” Sakic said. “Right now it’s quiet on all fronts. But I’ll listen to offers on how we can get better. I’ll never name names, but I’ll sit there and if something makes sense for the way we want to go with our team, we’ll really look at that.”

Duchene, 26, had 41 points (18 goals, 23 assists) in 77 games last season. He was second on the Avalanche in scoring but it was his worst offensive output since he had 28 points in 2011-12. In 2015-16, he scored an NHL career-high 30 goals and has scored at least 20 goals in five of his eight seasons with the Avalanche.

Colorado had the fewest points in the NHL in 2016-17 and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third straight season.

The No. 3 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, Duchene has 418 points (174 goals, 244 assists) in 572 games. He told NHL.com on Aug. 2 that he’s focused on his training and leaving any team association he has out of his workouts.

“Divorced is a strong word, so I wouldn’t say that, but I think I’ve made it so that [any team association] is not part of my identity,” Duchene said. “My identity will be with a team come training camp. I don’t know what team that is yet, but my identity right now needs to be strong in myself and belief in myself.”

The Avalanche also need to work out a contract with defenseman Nikita Zadorov, a restricted free agent. Zadorov, 22, had 10 assists in 56 games last season. He is considering signing with CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League, according to the newspaper.

“Both sides agreed to a two-year deal and we just have to figure out the numbers,” Sakic said. “We’ve got our NHL comps that we’re going with, and he’s got to make a decision at some point on what he wants to do.”

Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Mark Barberio are the only NHL defensemen the Avalanche have under contract for this season. Sakic said they plan to give long looks to rookie defensemen Chris Bigras, Andrei Mironov and Anton Lindholm during training camp.

Defenseman Will Butcher, the Hobey Baker Award winner who was selected by the Avalanche in the 2013 NHL Draft, did not sign with Colorado and became a free agent on Wednesday.

Former Senators GM Murray dies at 74

Bryan Murray

 

OTTAWA — Former NHL coach and general manager Bryan Murray, who spent time with five teams in his career, died of colon cancer on Saturday. He was 74.

Murray was GM of the Detroit Red Wings (1990-94), Florida Panthers (1994-98), Anaheim Ducks (2001-04) and Ottawa Senators (2007-16), and coached the Washington Capitals (1981-90), Red Wings (1990-93), Panthers (1997-98), Ducks (2001-02) and Senators (2005-08).

“Bryan Murray’s strength and character were reflected in the teams he coached and the teams he built over decades of front office excellence,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “While his warmth and dry sense of humor were always evident, they were accompanied by the fiery competitiveness and determination that were his trademarks. As we mourn Bryan’s passing, we celebrate his many contributions to the game — as well as his courage. The National Hockey League family sends our deepest condolences, comfort and support to Bryan’s family, his many friends and all whose lives he influenced.”

Murray, who was born Dec. 5, 1942 in Shawville, Quebec, was 620-465-23 with 131 ties in 17 NHL seasons as a coach. He most recently served as a special adviser to Senators GM Pierre Dorion after stepping down as Ottawa GM in April 2016 to focus on his health and to spend time with his family. Murray was inducted into the Senators Ring of Honour on Jan. 24.

“Bryan was one of the greatest men that the game of hockey has ever known and also a great father, mentor and teacher,” Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said. “We extend our sincere condolences to his wife Geri, daughters Heide and Brittany, and the entire Murray family on their loss.”

Tim Murray was mentored by his uncle and was the Senators’ assistant general manager until leaving to become general manager of the Buffalo Sabres from 2014-17.

“He is a top 10 coach, a top 10 GM, and he could have been a top 10 talent evaluator if that’s the role he had have wanted to take, except that he loved coaching so much,” Tim Murray said. “The GM part of it just came out of coaching. Coaching was his first love. There are a lot of really good GMs. There are a lot of really good coaches and there are a lot of really good scouts.

“But there are very, very few that could combine all three. From a hockey end of it, that’s his legacy that he was great at all aspects of the game, not just one aspect of the game.”

Among the NHL executives Murray mentored is Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher. When Murray was honored by his peers at the general managers meeting in 2015, Fletcher spoke about Murray’s ability as a scout.

“To this day, he is the best hockey scout I have ever seen. He has that uncanny ability to go into a rink and just recognize hockey players right away. A tremendous judge of talent,” Fletcher said.

When Fletcher worked for Murray in 2003 with the Ducks, along with Tim Murray, they disagreed about a player.

“We had a debate amongst our scouts about a guy named Corey Perry. He wasn’t a very good skater,” Fletcher said. “Tim, to his credit, liked Corey Perry. He couldn’t really get up and down the ice that well. We were playing Detroit that year in the first round and we took a side trip to Plymouth to go watch Corey Perry play.

“We watch London play Plymouth in the (Ontario Hockey League) playoffs, and (Bryan Murray) watches Corey Perry. He watches about three shifts and he says, ‘I’m not sure what you guys are worried about. This guy is going to be a star.’ He just had that ability to see players right away. He loves talent. He’s been a part of some tougher teams, but I’ve never seen a guy who loves skill like Bryan. He could see it. He could appreciate hockey sense.”

Murray coached the Senators to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Ducks in five games. He was also the GM of the Ducks when they made the 2003 Final, losing to the New Jersey Devils in seven games, and the Panthers when they lost to the Colorado Avalanche in four games in the 1996 Final.

Murray won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year with the Capitals in 1983-84, when they were 48-27-5.

“He seemed like a coaching natural,” said Nashville Predators GM David Poile, who was Capitals GM when Murray was their coach. “Very comfortable all the time around the players in the room, behind the bench. Bryan had the ability to put an arm around a player, but he had the ability to be firm with the players. He was a fiery competitor.

“All the players of all the teams he ever coached really knew that he was probably one of the best coaches they’ve ever had. I would think almost every player thinks he made a difference in their careers.”

After the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, GM Brian Burke repeatedly credited Murray with creating their blueprint, including drafting forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Perry in 2003.

“Sad, sad day,” said Burke, now Calgary Flames president of hockey operations. “Old-school, pure hockey guy. Tremendous wry sense of humor, could always find something to joke about. Great coach and manager. He will be missed.”

Crosby came back to Rimouski with the Stanley Cup

Sidney Crosby

 

RIMOUSKI, Quebec — By the time a 16-year-old Sidney Crosby arrived in the city of Rimouski, he had already become accustomed to dealing with high expectations.

Selected with the first pick in the 2003 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Draft by the Rimouski Oceanic, the center from Nova Scotia was already being compared to some of the greatest players of all time.

Almost exactly 14 years to the day after he first stepped onto the ice at Colisée Financière Sun Life in Rimouski, Crosby personally requested to revisit the city where he had spent two years of development on Monday with the Stanley Cup, which he won for the third time in his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.

“It worked out. It’s something I couldn’t work in years past,” said Crosby, who was also celebrating his 30th birthday. “There hasn’t been a lot of time. Today there was a window of time and I happen to be surrounded by some people that I met here in Rimouski. Thought it would be great to spend a couple hours here and come back to a place that is pretty special to me. It’s nice to share with everyone here.”

The Penguins captain was honored during a parade down René-Lepage Boulevard, along the St-Lawrence River, in the bed of a truck sporting his name and No. 87.

The parade ended in the parking lot of the Colisée Financière Sun Life, where Crosby drew thousands of fans on a nightly basis during his short stint with the Oceanic.

Among the hundreds gathered there were numerous children who probably never had the chance to see Crosby play, but their parents were there to salute the player who helped Rimouski win the QMJHL championship before reaching the Memorial Cup Final in 2005, his second and last season with the Oceanic.

That season, he had 168 points (66 goals, 102 assists) in 62 games.

“That second year was pretty fun, just the run we had,” Crosby said. “We had such a great team, we came up short at the Memorial Cup but just because of the support we got, that second year probably sticks out the most. Just the atmosphere here playing in such a great hockey town.”

Those memories were shared by Doris Labonté, who was Oceanic general manager when Crosby entered the QMJHL, and also became coach of the team for that second season in 2004-05.

“When we drafted him, people were telling me that he was going to be our superstar, and that we had to use him in every situation,” Labonté said. “I had a discussion with him and his agent, Pat Brisson, and I told him that he would have to go through each step to earn his spot.

“In our first preseason game, he got eight points. In our first regular season game, we were trailing after two periods, but he scored three goals in the third and we won the game. Sidney did nothing to put out the flames, he fed them. And the fire kept getting bigger and bigger.”

It’s true that Crosby had all the talent necessary to achieve everything when he first arrived in Rimouski. But when he speaks about his QMJHL debut, it becomes evident that the Oceanic played a large role in his development, not just as a player, but also as a person.

“You think about those years in junior, that is what prepares you for the NHL,” Crosby said. “So I think on and off the ice, [you need to take all the] lessons that you can get, and being around the people here, I mean, it was such a great environment, a great place to play. The people that I met here are still my friends today, so you can see the impact that way.”

After scoring 303 points (120 goals, 183 assists) in 121 QMJHL games, Crosby was selected by the Penguins with the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NHL Draft. He immediately made the jump to the NHL the next season, and scored 102 points (39 goals, 63 assists) in 81 games.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Buffalo Sabres avoid arbitration by signing Nathan Beaulieu for two years, $ 4.8 million in transactions

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Newly acquired Buffalo Sabres defenseman Nathan Beaulieu has agreed to a two-year, $4.8 million deal in foregoing the opportunity to have his contract determined at an arbitration hearing.

The Sabres announced the agreement on Monday, five days before both sides were scheduled to present their case before an NHL arbitrator. Beaulieu was a restricted free agent.

Buffalo gave up a third-round draft pick to acquire Beaulieu in a trade with Montreal on June 17 after the Canadiens were prepared to expose the player in the expansion draft.

The 24-year-old Beaulieu had a career-best four goals and 24 points in 74 games in his third full NHL season. Overall, he has seven goals and 53 assists in 225 career games.

Beaulieu is a puck-moving defenseman who is regarded to be a good fit under newly hired head coach Phil Housley.