Another week, another roundup of the coolest and most interesting hockey news, from me to you. As of right this second, I’m canceling the “3 Stars of the Week” segment. I’m sorry if that was your favorite, but it’s boring to write. That is, of course, unless another Los Angeles King is given a star, at which point the segment will promptly be reintroduced.
Now settle in with some coffee or tea or whatever pairs best with your hockey news, and be regaled on the week’s events. I’ll catch you up on the Canadiens’ latest head coach drama, major point milestones for Sidney Crosby and Jaromir Jagr, the looming Trade Deadline, and Gustav Nyquist’s rogue hockey stick.
Canadiens Fire Therrien and hire Julien in One Fell Swoop
In a move that set the whole of Hockey Twitter alight, the Montreal Canadiens fired head coach Michel Therrien on Tuesday, swapping him out for the recently sacked Boston Bruins ex-coach Claude Julien. The Canadiens didn’t even wait a full day to cry and eat ice cream after leaving Therrien, but moved on immediately to a new man.
According to Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, “I came to the conclusion that our team needed a new energy, a new voice, a new direction.” The Canadiens lead the Atlantic Division in points, causing some to raise an eyebrow at the decision to fire Therrien. But the team was in the throes of a nasty downward spiral (of 13 games played they had lost 10), and all-star goalie Carey Price, often cited as one of the team’s only successful components, can’t win the Stanley Cup on his own.
Now take out your tin hats, everyone, and place them firmly on your heads. It’s time for Canadiens Conspiracy Corner. I’ve taken the liberty of digging deep into Hockey Rumors Twitter so you don’t have to, and I came up with this juicy nugget: As rumor would have it, Carey Price made it very clear to the team’s management that he’d ditch Montreal unless they gave Therrien the boot. Remember that painful night back in December when he was pulled from the net and gave Therrien the stare-down that launched a thousand memes? The incident, while explained away by Price as a simple pissy glare, still hearkens back to the legendary Patrick Roy trade.
While none of this is likely to be true, I will continue to cling to my Carey Price conspiracies until they are pried from my cold dead hands.
Sidney Crosby Notches 1000 NHL Points
You didn’t hear it from me, but Sidney Crosby plays good hockey.
There’s been a whole slew of milestones this season, but none felt as momentous as the breathless lead-up and sigh of relief when Crosby finally hit 1000 points in his NHL career. Crosby, or ol’ Croz as I like to call him, got the point on Thursday when the Pittsburgh Penguins battled the Winnipeg Jets for dominance. The point came as an assist to Chris Kunitz, who scored 6:28 into the first period.
I, a known contrarian, usually roll my eyes whenever ol’ Croz does something exciting, like bank a puck off the back of an unsuspecting goalie and into the net. But even my cold heart melted at the sight of Crosby’s parents, cheering and teary-eyed in the stands, his mom having flown in to watch the game in the hopes that her son would hit 1000 points that night. Even haters must admit: that’s sweet as heck.
When asked about his milestone after the game, Crosby managed both humility and poignancy in his response: “I think the number itself is a nice number, but I think I probably tend to think about all the guys I’ve played with and all the teams I’ve played on. I probably tend to think about that a little bit more.” What a guy.
Unfortunately, despite notching 1000 points in the NHL, Crosby will continue to wear his tattered old cup and that nasty sweat-stained hat he sports in every post-game interview.
Jaromir Jagr Turns 45, Hits 1900 Points
Speaking of milestones, holy heck, Jaromir Jagr of the Florida Panthers hit 1900 NHL points on Wednesday in a game against the San Jose Sharks. The point came from an assist on a goal by Aleksander Barkov in the third period. Jagr is only the second ever player to hit 1900 points, with Wayne Gretzky being the first.
Said Jagr of this momentous moment in his professional career, “I don’t really worry about it.”
Did I mention he hit the milestone on his 45th birthday? He’s practically a senior citizen in the world of hockey; this guy has seen it all. 1900 points? Nothin’. Anyone could do it. I mean, only Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky has ever scored that many points, but it’s no big deal for Jagr. He doesn’t worry about it.
Gustav Nyquist Suspended 6 Games
Gustav Nyquist of the Detroit Red Wings got a bit too feisty with his stick in a game against the Minnesota Wild last weekend, jabbing opponent Jared Spurgeon in the face in an attempt at retaliation. He was suspended six games and fined $158,333 for the infraction, which was described by the Department of Player Safety as what could have been “career-threatening” for Spurgeon.
The attack on Spurgeon’s face came after he cross-checked Nyquist along the boards in the first period of the game. Even though Spurgeon emerged from the kerfuffle relatively unscathed, the high stick could have done significant damage. Spurgeon did leave the game for a bit, but came back with a few stitches, good as new, and kept on playing. As you do in hockey. Broken leg? No big! Stitch it up, get back in in the lineup for the third.
Said Spurgeon of the ordeal, “I’m just happy it didn’t go in my eye or something like that.” Same, Jared.
The Dreaded Trade Deadline Approaches
In a cruel move designed solely to contribute to hockey fans’ anxiety, the NHL released a list of 20 players who are likely to be traded by the March 1 Trade Deadline. The Trade Deadline is exactly what it sounds like – the date by which all NHL teams must make trades before they’re cut off for the rest of the season. The weeks leading up to the Deadline are always lousy with rumors and news of the odd trade, but nothing really exciting tends to happen until the last minute.
So what can long-suffering hockey fans expect to endure in the next week or so? Pain, loss, and more pain. Well, if you’re particularly attached to any of the 20 players named as top targets, that is. Click through to the full article for more deets on each player, but here are your top 20 most eligible NHL Trade Deadline bachelors:
- Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche
- Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis Blues
- Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
- Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
- Shane Doan, Arizona Coyotes
- Jarome Iginla, Colorado Avalanche
- Brian Boyle, Tampa Bay Lightning
- Radim Vrbata, Arizona Coyotes
- Patrick Eaves, Dallas Stars
- Thomas Vanek, Detroit Red Wings
- Patrick Sharp, Dallas Stars
- Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders
- Brian Gionta, Buffalo Sabres
- Alexandre Burrows, Vancouver Canucks
- Patrik Berglund, St. Louis Blues
- Martin Hanzal, Arizona Coyotes
- Scottie Upshall, St. Louis Blues
- Johnny Oduya, Dallas Stars
- Ryan Miller, Vancouver Canucks
- Brandon Pirri, New York Rangers
I’m not in the business of telling NHL teams’ management what to do (unfortunately), but the Avalanche have got to be kidding me with this. Duchene and Landeskog, both up for grabs? Yowza. I’m not sure what general manager Joe Sakic and co expect to accomplish by putting two of the team’s best on the chopping block – winning actual games, somehow? – but I guess anything is better than sitting at dead last.