Are you ready for some fresh, distilled hockey news? We were treated to yet more All-Star Game news this week, most of it upsetting.
On the bright side, Brad Marchand continues to speak out against homophobia, and we’re still being treated to 15-goal games in 2017!
3 Stars of the Week
Your biggest and brightest stars this week are Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals, Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins, and Brock McGinn of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Backstrom was the master playmaker, leading the league in assists and points with an impressive 3-7-10, propelling the Capitals to four wins last week. Marchand closed out the week ranked second in scoring for the League, racking up five points in his 500th career game against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Don’t forget McGinn, whose deft hands tied him for third in League scoring. He notched the game-winning goal against the Buffalo Sabres, and recorded a career high of four points against the New York Islanders.
Raise a glass to these hard-working fellas!
Blue Jays Visit the Oilers
Apparently the Toronto Blue Jays annually engage in an off-season publicity tour called the “winter caravan,” which I like to imagine involves them slowly trekking across the frozen tundra of Canada in covered wagons, selling their wares to villages as they pass. It definitely involves visits to places like Edmonton, Alberta, home of the Oilers. Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, Kevin Pillar, and Devon Travis of the Blue Jays graced the Rogers Place with their presence, where they exchanged jerseys with four lucky Oilers, including captain Connor McDavid.
The visit’s highlight, according to Estrada and Sanchez, was meeting Wayne Gretzky. As Sanchez sagely put it, “When you’re around greatness like that, it’s mouth closed and ears open. Anything you can learn from an athlete like that and take with you is a huge experience for us.”
It was nice of the Jays to pretend to be Oilers fans for a day despite being a Toronto team, especially since every Canadian hockey player is required by law to be a Blue Jays fan. It’s all about giving back to the fans.
Penguins vs. Capitals Million-Goal Game
Hockey fans lost their minds on Monday night during an emotionally harrowing 15-goal game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals. Who knew one game could take us all on a trip back to yesteryear, when such wild high-scoring productions were commonplace? Nine goals were scored in the second period alone, which is quite frankly ridiculous, as the Los Angeles Kings have yet to score that many goals in the entire season so far.
And because hockey twitter wasn’t stressed enough already, the game went to 3-on-3 overtime. In the end, the Penguins went home with two points.
Said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan in the bloody aftermath, “That second period is one of the craziest periods I’ve been associated with. I don’t even know how to assess it.” Hard same, Sully.
New York Islanders Fire Head Coach
Not a stellar season so far for the New York Islanders, who shook things up this week by firing head coach Jack Capuano. Doug Weight, who had been serving as assistant coach and assistant general manager for the Islanders, will take the helm for now until a replacement is found.
The hapless Islanders reached for the stars but have fallen short this season, seated firmly at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. But the fight isn’t over, and there’s still time for the Islanders to make big changes. Well, maybe not too big, according to general manager Garth Snow, who said, “I don’t imagine system-wise we will change too much.” How are you gonna win games then, Garth? “Sometimes a new voice in the room can be a difference, a little bit of a spark for a team.” Okay, sure, seems like a solid strategy. In the meantime, everybody light a candle for the New York Islanders; they’re gonna need it.
Fun Officially Removed from All-Star Game
In a soul-crushing turn of events, the NHL announced last Saturday that the Breakaway Challenge, part of the All-Star Game Skills Competition in years past, would not be included in the festivities this year. The Breakaway Challenge was always a rousing good time, an excuse for super serious hockey players to act like idiots, don stupid costumes and props, and showcase their shooting abilities in the process. Highlights from 2016 include Brent Burns in a Chewbacca mask, P.K. Subban cosplaying as Jaromir Jagr, and Matt Duchene doing fancy moves in a cowboy hat. But that was just too much madcap joy for one league to handle, presumably because the NHL hates enthusiasm and players who exhibit even the faintest signs of personality.
Cynical folk might argue that the All-Star Game is an over-hyped cash grab anyway, so who cares. Fair point, but who doesn’t love a cash grab – or anything, really – that leads directly to Brent Burns wearing a Chewbacca mask? Fans of all ages love the All-Star Game for its goofy hijinks. So why take away one more bright light in this, the darkest year? Maybe we’ll never know. At least we’ll always have the YouTube videos from Nashville.
Brad Marchand, Fighting For Good
Everyone’s new hockey fave Brad Marchand is at it again. We were all still reeling (in a good way) from Marchand’s public Twitter shaming of a fan who attacked him with a homophobic slur, but Marchy isn’t done.
A Boston Bruin since 2006 and notoriously feisty on the ice, Marchand recently spoke to ESPN and stood by his Twitter call-out, saying, “I want to stand up for what I believe in, and I don’t think it’s right when people say things or bash people because of their sexual orientation.” He was also confident that an openly gay NHL player would be welcomed and supported by his teammates, “no question.”
What a tall glass of pure, unadulterated optimism. It’s heartening to see professional athletes using their platforms to speak out in support of the LGBTQ+ community, and we can only hope that others will take a leaf from the page of Marchy in the days and years to come.
Sharks Beards Continue to Charm
Fact: It’s literally impossible to hate Brent Burns and Joe Thornton. No matter how hard I try, I can’t muster a single iota of dislike. Just watch this brand spankin’ new San Jose Sharks commercial to see what I mean. The whole Sharks beard schtick was starting to feel overdone – how many times do we need to learn what kind of product Burnzie uses in his chin mane? – but this commercial melted my cold heart and taught me to love again.
Now please do yourself a serious solid and watch the outtakes. You’re welcome.
‘Hockey News of the Week’ is written by the talented Meg Smitherman. Check out more of her work on Twitter.