Perhaps there’s a place for Philadelphia Flyers mascot Gritty in a Joe Biden cabinet.
The U.S. presidential hopeful and his wife, Jill, are huge Broad St. Bullies fans and he could be the first hockey-friendly chief exec to occupy the White House — if he prevails in overtime against Donald Trump.
Biden, born in Scranton, Pa., and a senator from Delaware, down the river of the same name from the old Spectrum, married New Jersey-born and Philly-raised Jill in 1977. He admits his loyalty to the orange and black pales to his partner’s.
“Philadelphia fans are the most persistent fans in the world,” Joe told the Chicago Tribune in an interview when the Flyers and Blackhawks clashed in the Stanley Cup final. “My wife is counted among them. It’s a simple proposition. I root fervently for the Flyers, or I sleep alone on the couch.”
To be fair, Trump has been to see the Rangers at Madison Square Garden and he and former president Barack Obama both hosted the Cup champs in the Oval Office. Trump also had Team USA women’s star Angela Ruggiero as a guest on his reality show The Apprentice a few years ago.
At the 1982 NHL all-star game in Washington, the late Ronald Reagan hosted a luncheon for the players and shook hands with all of them. During the Bill Clinton era, his FBI and Secret Service teams were huge hockey fans. In the 1998 Cup final between the Capitals and Red Wings, they gave an exclusive White House tour to a delegation of NHL execs and media.
PULOCK LOCKED UP
The long-term outlook for Lou Lamoriello’s Islanders is a little better today after they avoided a Friday arbitration date with defenceman Ryan Pulock.
The leading scorer in the regular season and playoffs among New York’s blueliners signed for two years at $5 million US a season on Wednesday. Though Pulock can become a free agent when the contract expires, general manager Lamoriello now has some savings to put toward re-signing star forward Mathew Barzal, a restricted free agent, and make formal offers to UFA forward Matt Martin and defenceman Andy Greene.
Expect to hear a lot about Jake Oettinger next season where the Cup finalist Dallas Stars are concerned. The first goalie chosen in the 2017 draft was projected as the No. 3 netminder, before Ben Bishop was laid up for the next five months with a second knee operation. Now Oettinger should be Anton Khudobin’s back-up, with more understudies around the circuit getting a larger share of the crease with a condensed NHL schedule.
Bishop just underwent a second procedure after initial May surgery to repair a torn meniscus. GM Jim Nill figured Bishop’s age (he turns 34 this month) factored into needing the second surgery, but expects he’ll return by late March. The Stars are also without No. 1 centre Tyler Seguin until April after he required right hip arthroscopy and surgery for the torn labrum he played through the playoffs with. The Stars can move up Joe Pavelski or Roope Hintz to Seguin’s spot or investigate help via free agency.
There’s tough news for the Columbus Blue Jackets after forward Gustav Nyquist underwent surgery on Wednesday for a labral tear in his left shoulder and will be out five to six months. “This was a chronic issue that Gus has been dealing with for a number of seasons,” said GM Jarmo Kekalainen. “He has been able to perform at a high level, but a cyst in the area developed over time that has inhibited his ability to continue” … Some NHL arbitration cases are ongoing with forward Ryan Strome of the Rangers due for a hearing on Thursday. The Rangers have offered a reported $3.6 million per year, Strome is asking $5.7 million. Part of the case, if it goes ahead without a last-minute settlement, is how much playing with Hart Trophy nominee Artemi Panarin helped Strome’s numbers. The Rangers also have forward Brendan Lemieux up for arbitration on Friday … Daniel and Henrik Sedin will have to wait another year for their Hockey Hall of Fame induction. The Vancouver Canucks’ terrific twins were considered the headline candidates for 2021, until the Hall’s recent announcement that no players or builders will be named this coming June because of the ongoing COVID-19 situation. The usual November celebration will in turn honour this year’s inductees, whose event was postponed … While the Jackets have had a Finn in charge a few years with Kekalainen, the Pittsburgh Penguins have promoted Swedish-born amateur scouting expert Patrik Allvin to assistant GM under Jim Rutherford. Sam Ventura, co-founder of the hockey analytics website war-on-ice.com before being interim assistant, moves to their director of hockey operations and research … The Sabres have signed veteran goalie Dustin Tokarski to a two-year deal at an AAV of $725,00. The likely plan is having him at AHL Rochester to guide the up-and-coming Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Jonas Johansson, while serving as No. 3 behind NHLers Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark … Wednesday was the 97th birthday of Hockey Night In Canada icon Howie Meeker, who is also the oldest living Maple Leaf.