13. The AHL announced Monday that Hayley Moore will leave the NWHL’s Boston Pride at the conclusion of their season to become its Vice President of Hockey Operations. In asking around about Moore, the word most often mentioned was “passion.” It’s such a critical trait. Seasons are long, things go badly, and the planet’s a bit of a hellscape right now. You need people who can keep their passion in tough times.
Moore has a reputation for doing things “beyond the job description.” When you’re building something, like the NWHL is trying to, are you willing to pitch in when necessary when it’s not technically your responsibility? In her case, the answer was yes. Good lesson for young people trying to get ahead.
14. The NBA has a rule that there must be eight players in uniform, or a team must forfeit. (Last Saturday, an injured Philadelphia 76er had to dress so they wouldn’t forfeit to Denver.) The NHL doesn’t have anything that specific, but Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Monday on a media Zoom call they don’t want teams playing “significantly shorthanded.” The AHL is contemplating a “14-and-2 rule,” 14 skaters and two goalies or no go. But the numbers could change before its season begins.
15. The AHL is also considering what to do if officials have to be quarantined. As it stands, as long as one referee is available, games will be a go.
16. There may be no bubble, which was tough on everyone’s mental health, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. Dallas had to shut down, Pittsburgh and Vancouver cancelled a day of practice, and Colorado, Columbus and Nashville have had larger groups “unfit to play.” The stress is real.
You talk to people around these teams, and it’s a scramble. You’re making sure there are no false positives. You’re contact tracing. You’re worried about your families. You’re wondering how much exposure there is. You’re trying to figure out the best course of action. The league may have a short window to reschedule games before the playoffs, and “all options will be on the table” to get as many in as possible. If two teams lose games, and it makes more sense to re-schedule in the other’s building (for travel reasons), that could potentially happen.
17. Commissioner Gary Bettman made headlines on Monday by saying, “The magnitude of the (financial losses for this season) when you add it all up starts with a ‘B.’ We’re out of the ‘M’ range and into the ‘B’ range.”
One story I heard: There were some owners who thought the only sensible plan for 2020–21 was to play 82 games starting Feb. 1. They wanted to go right through the Olympics (but would consider taking a break for them). Reasoning: There was a better chance of getting fans in the buildings by the playoffs and felt it made no sense to play 48 to 56 games if there was no proration of salaries. The pushback was that summer hockey wasn’t well received on television and next season needs to be on a normal schedule.
18. Changes to the CBA played out in two high-profile situations last week: Mathew Barzal and Corey Crawford. Barzal’s qualifying offer after this deal will not be $10 million, as it would have been under the previous document. It’s $8.4 million. The new figure is determined by the lesser of the salary of the final season of the deal ($10 million in Barzal’s case) or 120 per cent of the average annual value.
As for Crawford, there was a change in over-35 contracts. Under previous rules, the Devils could not have escaped his cap hit. However, they structured his deal in a way that they could. Now, multi-year 35-plus contracts where a) compensation is the same or goes up and b) there is no signing bonus after year one are no longer subject to a cap hit in case of retirement.
19. I will always remember the aftermath of 2013 Stanley Cup Final Game 4 with Crawford. He had a horrible night with his glove hand, but the Blackhawks overcame it to beat Boston 6–5 in overtime, tying the series 2–2. He stood at his stall for almost an hour, answering the same questions over and over again. The next day, I had an early flight to Chicago and went right to the rink for practice. Crawford was on the ice well before everyone else with then-goalie coach Stephane Waite. That’s what it takes.
20. Still lurking: Michael Grabner. He is not signed, and not retired. He’ll see how things play out.
21. The Rangers signed 2020 first-rounder Braden Schneider to an AHL-only deal, and that’s going to be a trend. Schneider plays for WHL Brandon, but until that league plays, he can go to the AHL. The WHL is going to try, though. One possibility: a 24-game schedule starting late February, weekend games only.
From province to province, there could be differences in who plays where. Some teams in their own building, some teams in hubs (Kelowna could be one, for example). American teams might have to move into Canada, because there are questions about how many want to play. It’s an enormous challenge. This will determine where Schneider — and others — compete.
22. Sportlogiq’s had a good (or bad) summer, depending on your point of view. Chris Boucher left for an NHL job, and now, Matt Perri, its director of hockey operations, is going to Arizona.
23. Six years after retirement, Olli Jokinen is ready for the next phase of his life: coaching. Jokinen has enormous respect for Paul Maurice, who he played for in Winnipeg, and the two talked about the position created when Todd Woodcroft went to NCAA Vermont. (It went to Dave Lowry.) There was also the possibility of a KHL job, but it fell through.
Since retirement, he’s run the South Florida Hockey Academy, “and since day one, I’ve loved coaching,” he said. “My goal is to be a head coach in the NHL. I understand it’s even a harder grind than as a player. I understand there are limited spots, and it might be a few years for things to get back to normal.”
Jokinen made it clear he’s willing to work his way up the ladder, knowing nothing will be handed to him. He’s spoken with Alex Tanguay, who took a job with AHL Iowa, about that path. “There’s not one coach (I played for) I didn’t learn anything from, and there are lots of coaches I didn’t understand how good they were until I was done.” Jokinen had a great line, saying, that late in his career he didn’t understand why he wasn’t playing much, but looking back on it, recognises “I wouldn’t have played myself, either.”
24. Jokinen, who said he’s been watching games in Finland, shouted out Florida’s Eetu Luostarinen as someone who looked good to him. “Plus, he’s playing in my hometown (Kuopio).”
25. From 31 Thoughts: The Podcast: Dallas’s Tyler Seguin explained the labrum injury that hobbled him during Return to Play. It stemmed from a blocked shot just before the pause last March.
“I blocked a shot outside my knee… and didn’t think much,” he said. “Once we started quarantining, my knee was giving me issues, and it turned out I had two tears. So because of that, I couldn’t do any lower body workouts. I could only do upper body and core. If I went on the ice, it was just kind of shooting around, but I couldn’t skate hard. When training camp came, I skated a little bit the week before…. When we got to Edmonton, I was in a practice the day before out first game against Nashville, and something went wrong with my hip. I felt it right away and knew it wasn’t good.”
Seguin dealt with it through rehab and injections, but, after considering an MRI, decided to avoid it.
“I honestly said I didn’t want to know… because I wanted to play.”
After the Stars lost in the final, he returned to Dallas and “found out the labrum was completely torn off.”
That injury can derail a career, but Seguin said he and the doctors are optimistic.
26. When asked about the reaction to his Instagram post about his “favourite cologne,” Sexual Noir Pour Homme, Seguin laughed and said the instructions were to “lay on the couch and look sexy.” As you can imagine, he got clobbered on the Stars’ group chat.
27. Anthony Duclair, on the experience of being his own agent: “I wanted ownership of my own life and career.” He liked hearing unfiltered commentary of his play: “Hearing it from GMs themselves was eye-opening. I enjoyed the experience.”
Was there anything in particular that stood out to him?
Duclair demurred, saying, “I’ll have to get back to you on that one.”
Florida’s Bill Zito was the first GM he talked to, and the one “I spoke to the most.” (They have a history from Columbus.) What did he tell Zito?
“I wanted them to believe in me.”
Duclair was complimentary of Ottawa, saying he was “as shocked as anyone” that things didn’t work out there. He denied there was a three-year deal at $4.25 million on the table — “I’m not an idiot. That’s not true.” — and said there were one- or two-year options available. Nashville was also a serious consideration for him.
28. Duclair on the Auston Matthews/Connor McDavid skates in Arizona: “Those were the best skates I’ve ever had in my life. That just elevates your training to a different level. Guys are going hard… playing like it’s a Game 7. It kinds of sucks there were no cameras there, because there were some highlight-reel goals people will never get to see.”
What was the most impressive thing you saw?
“A backhand one-hander by McDavid…. Perfect, sauce, bar-down on one hand going full-speed, guy on his back. I’ve never seen that before. And we all paused and looked at each other — ‘What just happened?’ kind of thing.”
After Jeff Marek finished asking Duclair 36 questions about minor/junior hockey, Duclair revealed his favourite memory of being coached by Patrick Roy: “Him doing a video session, screaming at the boys in his boxer shorts, once.”
Just boxers, nothing else?
29. Jordan Subban still wants to play. Like many in the AHL or overseas (he spent last season in Austria), he’s been squeezed by the realities of COVID. So he’s keeping himself in shape, ready for the next opportunity. In the meantime, he’s launched Ujimaa, a marketplace for BIPOC and female-owned businesses.
While playing at AHL Utica, Subban took online courses in computer programming and app development. What’s the most eye-opening thing about running a business?
“It’s not even one thing. It’s almost a combination of all the things,” he answered. “Incorporating the business, building the website and all the details that have to go into it. Maybe (I was) a little bit naïve, and I don’t know if it’s common for entrepreneurs who are starting their first business, but you think there’s going to be a time where things settle down. You have the website built or the business built… but no, it’s every day, it’s something new, it’s constant, it’s updating things, just making sure it’s running smooth.”
30. Subban, as you know, comes from an extremely competitive family. So here was the question: It’s dinner time, everyone is hungry (parents Karl and Maria, sisters Nastassia and Natasha, brothers PK and Malcolm), and there is one extra steak. Who gets it?
“I do,” he answered without hesitation.
“I don’t ask questions. My dad, he’s said it a lot, my mom has said it — I’m just willing to do whatever to get what I want, I guess.”
31. I will miss Kevin Quinn’s “Ooooooovvvvvvverrrrrrrrrtimmmmmmmmmmme winner!” The goal horn in Edmonton, an ecstatic home crowd and that call always made me smile. Every time I disagreed with Drew Remenda, he gave me a look like, “We’ll settle this in the dojo.” I imagined I’d end up like one of Royce Gracie’s opponents, gasping for breath on the mat. You welcome new co-workers, but hate to lose long-time partners.