After a whirlwind Trade Deadline and several mumps outbreaks, we’re back to hockey news as usual this week.
In this week’s roundup, Vegas Golden Knights make history by signing their first ever real life hockey player, Joe Thornton hits the 1000 mark in assists, and the NHL general managers hold a fancy Florida meeting to discuss the future of the League.
Vegas Golden Knights Sign Reid Duke
Vegas, baby! It’s all happening.
On Monday, Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee announced that the club had signed its very first player, Reid Duke. A free agent for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, Duke signed a three-year entry level contract with Vegas, marking the first player transaction the Golden Knights have made as a brand spankin’ new hockey team. The NHL action starts for Duke this summer, when he’ll take part in the first ever Golden Knights development camp.
The best part of this announcement came when a mass of hockey fans rushed to Google Reid Duke, only to be confused when the first result was a professional Magic: The Gathering player by the same name. Non-hockey Reid Duke of Sugar Loaf, New York, was inundated with “fifty million” notifications on Twitter due to the mix-up, and claimed he’d be taking a break from the social media site as a result.
When asked whether he had ever “dabbled” in Magic: The Gathering, Hockey Reid Duke said, “I have not played.” Now this is the part where Reid Duke and Reid Duke team up to educate each other about hockey and magical card games in a madcap comedy feature film! You can have that one for free, Hollywood.
Joe Thornton Records 1,000 Assists
Finally, Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks is getting recognized for something other than his beard. He’s more than just his facial hair, people. On Monday, Thornton scored his 1,000th career assist against the Winnipeg Jets, cementing his spot as the 13th player in the NHL to reach the milestone. The assist was on Joe Pavelski’s game-winning empty net goal.
“It was a good win,” Thornton said. “It’s always nice to get these things when you get the two points and you can have some fun on the plane on the way home.” Joe Thornton’s Mid-Flight Fun also happens to be the name of his new three-hour special airing next month, only on TLC.
I guess we’ll probably be seeing more of this Joe Thornton guy. As of Monday, the 37-year-old had played in 1,432 NHL games, scoring a total of 382 goals. Not too shabby for sentient facial hair.
Josh Ho-Sang Scores First NHL Goal
Rookie forward Josh Ho-Sang of the New York Islanders scored his first ever NHL goal on Tuesday, slapping a zinger of a one-timer past Edmonton Oilers goalie Cam Talbot. Not every rookie’s first NHL goal is newsworthy, but Ho-Sang has been the subject of debate since his call-up to the big leagues.
What’s the issue? Ho-Sang wears number 66, the same number as retired legend Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins. What I’ll refer to colloquially as “haters” have voiced objection to Ho-Sang’s choice to wear 66, asserting that it’s a sign of disrespect for Lemieux. On the contrary, Ho-Sang insists that he chose 66 out of admiration for Lemieux, a hero and inspiration to the 21-year-old rookie.
Here’s my lukewarm take: if the NHL doesn’t want players to wear certain numbers, then they gotta retire the number. And since 66 is fair game, then props to Ho-Sang for wearing it proudly. Go get ’em, tiger! Here’s to many more goals for No. 66.
General Managers Meet in Florida
NHL general managers all gathered this week in Boca Raton to discuss the future of the NHL in a three-day meeting. It’s a real shocker that hockey fans had a lot of loud opinions in response to the news coming out of Boca Raton, and guess what? So do I! Here are my thoughts on three of the items discussed:
Probably not gonna happen. Why does commissioner Gary Bettman hate the Olympics, and by extension, joy? I can’t answer that, but I can say that he seems to be pretty dead set against the NHL taking part in the Olympics in 2018. I guess it’s too expensive to completely disrupt hockey for a couple of weeks and send all the best players to compete on behalf of their beloved home countries, or whatever.
Ugh, why can’t you let us have fun, Bettman? Beijing 2022 is still on the table, though, so hope isn’t dead yet.
The introduction of a mandatory vacation week in the middle of hockey season was a good idea in theory, but in actuality was a very bad one. Too many teams are coming out of the break with abysmal records, and you bet the GMs have noticed. Sitting on a beach for five days is cool and all, but so is winning, which is why a new schedule for next season’s bye weeks has been proposed.
The new schedule would see two bye weeks, one for 15 teams and the next for the remaining 16 teams.Only teams fresh out of the break would play against each other.
Wow, this is a great idea that should have occurred to the GMs a year ago! I say we should scrap bye weeks right now, this very second, before they have a chance to mess up yet another season.
Expansion Draft Secrets
In a disturbing turn of events, the GMs have stated that they may not reveal the lists of their protected players in advance of this summer’s expansion draft, set to take place in June. Each team is required to protect a certain number of players, meaning that those remaining are up for grabs in the draft. This opinion piece by Jonathan Willis at Oilers Nation is stellar, and explains why not disclosing the protected lists is a terrible idea.
Because it sucks the fun out of the event for fans. Wild speculation is one of a sports fan’s lifeblood, and the GMs want to steal that away from us, like candy from an infant. What did we ever do to them but pour money unabated into their bank accounts? Throw us a bone, NHL, and give us some protected lists to play with during the off-season. It’s the least you can do for your fans.
Nick Schmaltz, Stumbling Baby Giraffe
Because it’s a harsh world out there, please watch Chicago Blackhawks forward Nick Schmaltz struggling off the ice after losing a skate blade, teammate Artemi Panarin swooping in to offer assistance. Only in hockey are we blessed with moments such as these: grown men floundering on ice like baby giraffes, and other grown men poking them with sticks in an effort to help.
A truly majestic sport.
Nick Schmaltz loses a skate blade, Panarin helps him off the ice. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/D0lyjMzAWS
— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) March 10, 2017
‘Hockey news of the week’ is written by the talented Meg Smitherman. Check out more of her work on Twitter.