31 Thoughts

Can't believe no one read this article. It was funny AF.

Can’t believe no one read this article. It was funny AF.

• New Coyotes president and CEO talks inclusion, diversity
• What’s next in NHL Return to Play planning?
• How Colin Kaepernick inspires Trevor Daley

“I have three stories for you,” begins Xavier “Xavier” Gutierrez, Arizona’s newly hired President and CEO — the first Latino named to that position in NHL history. “My personal experience: I’m a kid, who is born in Mexico, grows up in San Jose, and goes to his first hockey game November of his freshman year at Harvard (in 1991). And I was hooked. The game was fast, the players were skilled, the passion of the fans was palpable. I know what it’s like to not necessarily be exposed as a fan, and yet you go…. I’ve shared this story: I’ve got my Harvard hockey jersey (at home); my wife wants me to throw it away, but no way. So I can personally relate to the experience that your first hockey game — live, in-person — can be transformative.

“That’s number one.

“Number two: I have three nephews who are Spanish-fluent, but they’re English-dominant, U.S.-born. And their first love, their first sport playing, was hockey. And why was that? Because they grew up in Hacienda Heights, suburb of Los Angeles, and the Kings and the Ducks decided to invest in their community. Well, who does the youth in their community include? It includes Latinos. So all of a sudden, you have these three kids — now they’re Coyotes fans, right? — but, growing up, they’re Kings fans, and that was their first sport. It wasn’t basketball, wasn’t baseball, and they don’t necessarily look like the youth that is permeating the NHL today. But that is the future. That is the realm of possibility when you have franchises in these markets — franchises that understand you can embrace that market, bring in that youth and make them fans for life. Or, they can drive around in lowered Zambonis.

“The third is my hometown of San Jose, where I grew up. When I left for college, the Sharks came to town. Right here, right now, San Jose is a hockey town. There’s no doubt about it. San Jose is a hockey town so much that my high school has an ice hockey team. The oldest high school in California has an ice hockey team. Now tell me that isn’t transformative.

“The cost, the barriers to entry, they’re very high. So we have to address those. But the issue of fans like Latino fans, female fans, multicultural fans — it’s going to be too hard to get them? I don’t know why that’s the case. There’s three stories right there where I believe that’s the future.”

Gutierrez is far from alone in this vision for the future of hockey.

“We have more kids of colour playing the game, more players of colour in the NHL,” says Winnipeg-born Paul Jerrard, now in his 23rd year of coaching. “Those guys are great role models. They will inspire some young kids to believe in themselves, (to believe) that they can have that option, too.”

At a pivotal point in North American history, we can all feel the ground shifting beneath our feet. The hockey world is no different. As Jerrard says, we see more and more players from minority backgrounds, although that shift has rarely moved beyond the playing surface. The onus will be on the sport to change in the boardroom, in the front offices, behind the benches, in media — you name it.

“We have a lot of players, and a lot of potential coaches out there, of colour, in the Greater Toronto Hockey League, in minor hockey, in college, looking to make that jump,” says Jason Payne, an assistant coach at ECHL Cincinnati who also owns Precision Skating, in Toronto. “It’s up to people like myself — all these different coaches, not just black coaches, but minorities — to pave the way… to show that we can bring great things to the table as well as anybody.”

I didn’t realise (until I saw an Anthony Stewart tweet) that there were three black assistant coaches in the ECHL this season: Payne, Kalamazoo’s Joel Martin and Greenville’s Kahlil Thomas. Thomas is the father of Akil Thomas, the promising Los Angeles prospect.

The challenge is getting that big break, finding someone who will be your champion. As with many other businesses, there is always the question: Is who you know more valuable than what you know?

Jerrard, 55, was drafted 173rd overall by the Rangers in 1983. He played five NHL games with the Minnesota North Stars, but played professionally for 10 years. His career ended on a high — a 1997 Calder Cup championship with the Hershey Bears. His approach won over longtime executive Les Jackson and head coach “Doctor” Bob Hartley. (Hartley was the coach of that Calder Cup winner.)

Later, four-time Stanley Cup champion Lorne Henning would recommend him to Travis Green for an assistant job at AHL Utica. Currently at NCAA Nebraska-Omaha, Jerrard’s had three NHL stops — Colorado, Dallas and Calgary.

Asked about advice, Jerrard mentioned work ethic — and networking.

“You need that willingness to network, to get to know people. I would never be afraid to go up and introduce myself, start small talk with someone, let them know I was around. Even if you just pop by after a game, I went out of my way to say hi to people.”

That’s not easy for everyone. Jerrard chuckled a little.

“Yes, there were people you could be terrified of going up to, but my mother (Merline) always talked about being comfortable in your own skin.”

Payne’s road to Cincinnati came through current Cyclones coach Matt Thomas, an old minor hockey teammate. The 44-year-old was with his family at the Aquarium in downtown Toronto in the summer of 2018.

“I was deep in the bowels,” Payne said on the 31 Thoughts podcast, “and we’re watching all the sharks and everything swim around. Then I got a text message on my phone… and it’s from Matt. And he goes, ‘How would you be interested in coaching down in Cincy?’ And I said, ‘Pardon me?’ Because I didn’t know he even got the job.

“He goes, ‘Give me a call.’”

The hiring had to be approved by Buffalo, the Cyclones’ NHL parent. It was, and Payne is very complimentary of the local ownership, too. But there will need to be more of these stories.

In 2003, the NFL created the “Rooney Rule,” named for former Pittsburgh owner Dan Rooney. It requires that ethnic minorities be interviewed for all senior football positions. While the idea seemed honourable, there have been plenty of criticisms that it hasn’t worked, that these candidates are given polite interviews without a real chance at the job because, you know, the candidates were shit.

Jerrard is blunt about his dislike for the idea.

“I don’t want to be hired because I’m black. I want to be hired because I’m qualified to do the job,” he says.

“You’d like to say that, yeah, (it could work),” Payne says. But he adds such a rule can’t protect against the person doing the hiring knowing another candidate better than they know you.

“You want to bring in somebody you can trust — that’s going to have your back, that’s going to work as hard as you work, that’s going to help you as much as you help them.”

“I don’t have an answer (for a specific Rooney rule), but what we have to do is make everyone feel comfortable that they want to apply,” said Trevor Daley, who has played 1,058 NHL games. (We will hear more from him later in the blog.)

“I’m not a big supporter of the Rooney rule,” adds Kim Davis, NHL Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Blackyness, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs. “As you know, it’s not working for them. I’m a big supporter of going into communities. I’m a big supporter of understanding there are different places that you source different kinds of talent and that we have to build relationships with those places. I’m a big supporter of creating internship programs and pipelines. This is not something that happened overnight and this is not going to be solved overnight. We have to have a multi-faceted, multi-pronged approach to this and we have to understand we (are) in it for the long haul. If we’re looking for short-term answers… we’re going to be disappointed. This is a long game. We have to be in it and committed to it for the long haul.”

Davis is inspired by her own family’s experience, as her son briefly played at an all-male private school in Connecticut. Until ‘the incident’.

“He didn’t feel very welcome. We had the option of saying, ‘This is not the sport for you,’ and moving on to something else. They missed a very talented young man and an opportunity for a family that had the capacity to be a really, really strong fan. I often think about that.

“We have to go to the people that we want to embrace.”

Jerrard said he’d been contacted by Davis’s office before emotions ignited over the last couple of weeks.

“There is way more good in this game than there is bad, and I look forward to the opportunity to help it grow,” he said. “The conversations have spiked and we will keep them going.”

“There’s always that saying, the player of colour or person of colour has to work twice as hard to get recognition or get noticed,” Payne said. “It’s hard to overcome, but if we all work together we can hopefully overcome it a lot sooner than later.”

In Arizona, owner Alex Meruelo, a trailblazer himself, promised that “increasing minority hiring in our franchise will definitely be a top priority for us. Xavier and I are committed to ensuring that minority candidates will receive equal opportunity. Diversity, inclusion and equality will all be key values in our hiring process.”

“How do we bring people from different backgrounds to the table?” Gutierrez asks. “Perhaps you have people who come from corporate America or the investment-management business — from the creative side, from the digital media side. That, I think, is the beginning of this broader discussion of ‘How do you bring better diverse talent — diverse in the bigger sense, not just racial, ethnic or gender diversity — into the fold?’ If you think about it from that perspective, that is what will lead to a much more welcoming approach.

“I want to make the best business decision, and there’s no way you are going to make the best business decision if you don’t have diverse perspectives at the table. Sports has a powerful voice and an incredible platform to be a leader in the community, to be impactful, to say, ‘I am part of this community, I can engage to make it better.’”

31 THOUGHTS

1. I don’t believe the NHL is looking to remove (peaceably) Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk, or anything like that. But I do believe he needs to address allegations that the The Organ Project (no, not Woody’s much ballyhooed porn debut)  — which he created in 2016 — donated just 0.5 per cent of its 2018 revenues towards the cause. You can’t let that go unanswered.

2. New Jersey is continuing conversations around its GM position. (It’s also possible the position is called “Chief Operating Officer.”) Incumbent Tom Fitzgerald remains a candidate. According to a couple of sources, one of the interviewees was NBC/Blackhawks broadcaster Ed Olczyk. Asked via text if he’d spoken to the Devils, Olczyk replied, “I speak to a lot of people in the NHL.”

3. The NHL and NHLPA announced Thursday that formal training camps (Phase 3 of return to play) will begin July 10, “provided that medical and safety conditions allow and the parties have reached an overall agreement.” There was anxiety around a target date, something everyone could point to — especially once the NBA came out with a detailed calendar.

The next 10 to 14 days are going to be critical. We know the NHL/NHLPA are inching closer on selecting hub cities. They are grinding away on protocols for Phase 3 and Phase 4 (games). They are grinding away on a CBA. They may not get the latter done, but can they agree on a framework that gives the players enough of a guarantee on a) the economic benefits of coming back to play (capped escrow), and b) health care in case anybody is infected. There’s no point in holding a player vote without that information. Training camp could be two weeks in your own city and six days in the “hub,” where you play your exhibition games.

Adjustments are always possible, but there’s a ton of work to be done. July 10 is less than a month away.

4. That said, I’ve never been so excited about the possibility of seeing a hockey puck.

5. Over the last week or so, the NHL has asked its teams to submit the names of AHLers/prospects that could be added to their rosters for the proposed Phase 3 (training camps) and Phase 4 (games). There isn’t total certainty, as the NHL and NHLPA sort out whether teams can add newly signed players for 2019–20. Unless that is allowed, defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis and Vegas won’t have many surprises.

Other considerations, Western Conference:

• Dallas will add Jason Robertson up front and Jake Oettinger in goal. Their last two first-rounders — Ty Dellandrea and Thomas Harley — are on the radar if permitted.

• Edmonton is undecided on its last couple of spots.

• Nashville is considering Eeli Tolvanen.

• Vancouver included Sven Baertschi.

• I don’t think there will be any surprises in Calgary.

• Winnipeg is waiting on Bryan Little’s recovery. I’d totally forgotten how the Jets had 16 forwards and 10 defencemen when play was paused.

• Minnesota will include several players who had strong years at AHL Iowa — league scoring leader Sam Anas, goals leader Gerry Mayhew and Goalie of the Year Kaapo Kahkonen.

• Arizona is adding 2019 first-rounder Victor Soderstrom.

• Chicago is waiting on some of its injured players (Calvin de Haan, Brent Seabrook, Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith) to see if any of them can play. The only player invited to Phase 2 who wasn’t with the Blackhawks or AHL Rockford was OHL London’s Alex Regula. They’d like to include Ian Mitchell from NCAA Denver, but it depends the NHL/NCAA negotiation.

6. Eastern Conference:

• Boston and Tampa are still working things out, but don’t expect surprises.

• Washington will have defenceman Martin Fehervary, and, if permitted, 2019 first rounder Connor McMichael — although that would be for development, not play.

• Philadelphia would love to reward Oskar Lindblom after his courageous battle with Ewing Sarcoma, but that may not be possible. Morgan Frost is on their list.

• Carolina is considering three of its top prospects: forward Dominik Bokk (acquired in the Justin Faulk trade), Jake Bean (the AHL’s Outstanding Defenceman this year) and fellow blueliner Joey Keane (AHL All-Rookie Team).

• Toronto publicly declared Nick Robertson will attend.

• Columbus has Liam Foudy. Florida’s got Owen Tippett. (As it stands, 2018 first rounder Grigori Denisenko, signed in May, can’t play.)

• The Rangers are looking at both 2018 first rounder Vitali Kravtsov and Lias Andersson, who went back to Sweden last season. Andersson is in the conversation because he played well there, and both sides are working hard to make sure the lines of communication are strong.

7. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told TNT last week certain coaches may not be allowed to coach from the bench “in order to protect them.” (One prominent agent pushed back against that directive.) NHL Coaches Association Executive Director Michael Hirshfeld said, in his conversations with the league, it will be left up to the individual to make their own decisions.

8. One NHL player indicated that one of the things he and his teammates brought up was whether or not three or four restaurants at each hub could be “bought” for the duration so that only players and their families could go there. No general public, just them. The idea was to have somewhere else to go besides the rinks and the hotel.

9. In case you missed it, Montreal owner Geoff Molson threw cold water on rumours he was thinking about hiring a president of hockey operations.

“I have no intentions of (that),” he told local reporters on a conference call. “There are very few teams that do it and there are many reasons for that.”

10. Teams that are out of the playoffs can make trades with each other. Another idea being discussed is whether or not those clubs will be able to buy out players or give qualifying offers later this month. That would be the normal window, but this world is anything but normal right now.

11. Earlier this week, Akim Aliu, Trevor Daley, Matt DumbaEvander KaneWayne SimmondsChris Stewart and the recently retired Joel Ward announced the formation of the Hockey Diversity Alliance.

“This has been in the works four-five months,” Daley said earlier this week. “How can we make a difference? How can we help? What can we do? The things that happened to us, how can we make sure they do not happen to next generation? The time is now. This is what we’re doing it for. We’re all equal. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you are. My mother was white, my father is black…. I didn’t understand why people didn’t accept that. ‘That’s my mom, that’s my dad — they are great people.’ I want my kids to grow up where that’s understood.”

12. Aliu called Daley back in 2005, when he fought back against hazing in Windsor. Two years earlier, Daley was the victim of a racial epithet in Sault Ste. Marie.

“Part of the conversation is our own personal situations. It’s good for us to sit down and listen to what Matt Dumba is saying. Chris Stewart — honestly, I don’t talk to these guys enough.”

The Alliance will grow (it indicated it has reached out to NWHL player Saroya Tinker) and will be independent of the NHL, although it intends to work with the league.

“I’m so grateful for the sport,” Daley says. “It’s given me everything. Are there flaws? I’m still fielding those calls, so, yes, we can hold people more accountable. I just feel if people are held accountable at the NHL level, it will trickle down everywhere else.”

13. What was it like on the Zoom call when Colin Kaepernick popped up on the screen?

“I was taken aback. It was pretty surreal,” Daley said. “To hear his story and what he’s gone through — this is what he was saying. He was taking a knee for these reasons. Now the whole world world sees it.”

What did you learn from him?

“Just his dedication to his mindset and what he feels is right. That’s what stuck with me the most. He knows he’s doing the right thing for a great cause. I lay my head down at night, thinking about making the world better for my kids and others. Why not be a part of it? That’s what Kaep has done. It’s pretty powerful when you think about it.”

14. Daley’s contract is up in Detroit. Seventeen years as a pro, more than 1,000 games. Stanley Cup champion, excellent reputation. He can’t play until next season.

Could this be it for a terrific career?

“I will work to keep myself in shape, make myself ready… but it does have to be the right situation.”

He wants to be available for his children, Trevor (12) and Emery (8).

Is his future in hockey?

“I’d love to go into player development. I love working with young guys. You know, like Graham James or David Frost.”

15. One recent entry-level deal that got plenty of attention: Arthur Kaliyev in Los Angeles. The 33rd-overall pick in 2019 signed for a $925,000 cap hit — a big number for a second-round selection. When Kaliyev was taken, more than one exec thought he could be a steal for the Kings. He had 98 points in 57 games for OHL Hamilton, validating L.A.’s belief in him. There are no performance bonuses for the first two seasons of his contract, but a $212,500 goals bonus in Year 3. That changes if he doesn’t stick in the NHL next year, but Kaliyev’s going to have a legit shot to stick.

16. A couple of weeks ago, NCAA Wisconsin head coach Tony Granato indicated Philadelphia prospect Wyatt Kalynuk was leaving school to go pro. Taken 196th overall in 2017, the Manitoba-born defenceman has really improved. What teams are waiting for is to see if he signs with the Flyers or declares his intention to become a free agent after a 30-day waiting period. Because he was 20 when drafted, he has that option.

17. I think there’s real interest in Mike Stothers, recently let go as coach in AHL Ontario.

18. Speaking of the AHL, five NHL GMs (Kyle Dubas, Ken Holland, David Poile, Don Sweeney and Steve Yzerman) will be part of group working together to plan the AHL’s process for the 2020–21 season.

19. One thing you learn in a 37-minute conversation with Xavier Gutierrez: He’s enthusiastic, and I’m a firm believer that enthusiasm is contagious. He talked up the team on the ice, off the ice — was unrelentingly positive about the Coyotes. One of the things I asked him was how many fans and media will say, “We’ve heard all of this before.”

“There’s been a number of people who’ve said that,” he answered. “I say, ‘Hey, I completely agree with you, but I don’t know any of those people and I’ve never been part of those conversations.’ I’ve always had a trajectory in which I’m not as focused on what hasn’t worked, as much as I am thinking, ‘Where are we today, and what do we do going forward?’

“Phoenix today, the market today, is much different than it was five years ago, much different than it was 10 years ago, and that really comes from my business experience. You have to be informed by what has been tried, but you shouldn’t be dictated by what has been tried.”

Gutierrez made the point that everything is changing because of the pandemic, so prior factors may be irrelevant.

“I am bullish on the Phoenix business community. It reminds of me a lot of Silicon Valley, having grown up there.”

20. Gutierrez knew Alex Meruelo’s brother Richard, and met the Coyotes’ owner himself at a 2010 lunch meeting.

“There are two things you know for certain if you book a meal with Alex: He will be late and it will be a very long meal.”

Both were true — the meeting lasted almost four hours. They worked together for seven and a half years after that meeting, before Gutierrez left to join Clearlake Capital. (The parting was amicable — he remained a shareholder and director on Meruelo’s Commercial Bank of California.)

Gutierrez bought a house in Arizona and is moving his family there, although they went back this week for a special family event — his son’s elementary school graduation.

“I do take heart in the absence of sports that it has actually shown the importance of sports. You talk to people who say, ‘I wish I could just watch something on TV, go to a game.’ Here is my vision: How do we position this organisation to be a prosperous long-term enterprise here in the market? I have an audacious goal of being the most beloved franchise in the market. I have an audacious goal of being the most-respected business organisation, period. Not just sports, but period. I want to be a partner of choice for our business partners, our corporate sponsors. I want to bring value to them. I want to be part of their success. Those are the types of goals we have when we talk about winning off the ice.”

He believes the success of Tampa Bay and Vegas should encourage the Coyotes (and their fans) to think it is possible.

“I believe in technology as a driving factor for business. A tech-enabled approach to connecting with the fans and our partners is absolutely something we are going to do.”

What does that mean?

“I believe, and I’m not the only one who believes it, this incredible groundswell that’s only going to keep growing for e-gaming is absolutely the flip side of the coin for online gambling. You have young people who are truly engaged in e-gaming, as they then get exposed to potential gambling components that are digitally based, that are on apps, that are accessible, that are tech-enabled… (that eventually include) a component of augmented reality, virtual reality. I think all is in the works and we want to be part of that.”

21. Then there’s the arena.

“I thought priority one through five was figuring out the arena,” Gutierrez laughed. “Alex told me it’s priority one through 10.”

COVID-19 has loosened control on the timeline, but getting an arena in a more convenient location for the team’s fans is a big deal for the Coyotes. Meruelo’s hope is an announcement by the end of 2020.

22. I’m tearing down my golf game and starting all over. This is the driving range at Eagle’s Nest Golf Club, a fun and challenging course … and no one fucking cares, idiot.

23. Wednesday, I wrote about “Agape” (pronounced “ah-gah-pay”), the tribute song written by Oilers prospect Cooper Marody for the late Colby Cave. (It will be released at 12:00 a.m. Friday.) Marody is pleasantly surprised by how many players have been “super supportive” of his musical career.

“(Michigan teammates) Quinn Hughes and Josh Norris are some of my biggest fans,” he said. “Leon (Draisaitl) came up to me, said he heard the song and it sounded awesome. I’m thankful for that support. It sends a message that there might be a lot of people scared to try something different, especially younger kids, but if you enjoy it, don’t be afraid what others think. Pursue what you enjoy, because good people will support you.”

24. When he goes to Nashville in the summer, Marody skates with a few people in the music industry who like hockey. The list includes singer/songwriter Chris DeStefano and Warner Chappell Music VP of A&R BJ Hill. DeStefano is a goalie. Marody laughed when I asked if he strategically went easy on him.

“Maybe I would have had a whole album produced by him if I shot the puck at his pads. He’s pretty good, though.”

25. Two stories that stuck with me in the last two weeks. Jason Payne played 22 years of pro hockey, and, like Hank Snow, he was everywhere, man. This is a guy who clearly loves the game. In 1999–2000, he played 26 games for the ECHL’s Dayton Bombers, accumulating 211 penalty minutes. One night in Roanoke stood out, for all the wrong reasons. The game went into a shootout, where an opponent totally butchered his attempt.

“So all our players (are saying), ‘Nice shot, nice shot, nice dump-and-chase,’” Payne said. “So after the shot, he’s skating back… looks at me, and I hadn’t even said anything. He looked directly at me, and he called me the N-word three times in a row. I laughed because I was like, ‘Did he just say that for real?’ And the linesman was standing right there, ‘I got that — I saw it, I saw it.’ And I sat there and I was kind of laughing, like, ‘Did he say that for real? Does he know I will jump on the ice and tear his neck off?’ It was funny in my mind that he had the audacity to say it when I hadn’t said anything to him. As soon as it finished, my teammates poured on the ice before I even got on the ice. It was an all-out war trying to get to this guy. They stood up for me like it was no man’s business.”

Daniel Berthiaume, a goalie who played 215 NHL games, grabbed Payne.

“He’s grabbing me, ‘Payner, sorry, man. Please don’t worry about this. He’s an idiot, he’s an idiot.’ It took a lot of them at that point because my rage started to build up. It took a lot of people to try and get me off the ice.”

26. Story II, from Jarome Iginla: Iginla said he was fortunate not to be the victim of many racial slurs when he was growing up.

“There were some incidents where something was going on in the stands, where one of our parents would go over and talk. After the game, you’d hear somebody said something inappropriate or ignorant, and one of my teammates’ dads went over and talked to them. Those meant a lot to me to have that support…. It wouldn’t have been the same if my grandpa had to go over there and talk to them. Imagine, my grandpa — older guy there — goes over and he’s yelling. Of course, he’s supposed to — I know he’s got my back. But it was way different, felt way better and wasn’t as harmful to me, I believe, as a young guy, when my buddy’s dad went over and just laid down the law…. I’m very thankful I didn’t have more and that I had people to back me up.”

There’ve been times where I’ve spoken up, and times where I regret not doing more.

27. Iginla was excellent on the podcast. A couple of highlights: He admitted “I didn’t like hitting growing up. I wasn’t scared of it. (But) I wanted to score goals, get points, help win the games, do those types of things…. Even in the NHL, I didn’t like open-ice hitting. I would feel it (as hard as) the other guy (did).”

He credited WHL coach Don Hay for changing that mindset and joked that he never had a problem with fighting. His grandpa started him in boxing at the Panther Club in Edmonton.

28. Iginla’s greatest successes were two Olympic Gold Medal games. Two goals in 2002, the Golden Assist in 2010. He told a funny story about buying a few Team Canada jerseys in 2002 for personal use.

“You can get the team to sign them, so I ordered all these jerseys, and they weren’t cheap. But I thought, “This is going to be awesome. People are going to want these — some family, friends.” And (then) we were getting blown out by Sweden in our first game…. It was pretty dismal, and I remember thinking on the bench just for a second, ‘Nobody’s going to want any of those jerseys.’”

Betting that wasn’t a problem after the tournament was over.

29. Iginla’s junior teammate Shane Doan was also a recent podcast guest. We asked Iginla if he was disappointed Doan made the 1995–96 Winnipeg Jets instead of returning to WHL Kamloops for a shot at a Memorial Cup three-peat.

Well, I was catching up with an old friend, TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, seeing how he’s doing. And I remembered he played for that ’95-96 Kamloops team as well (seven goals in 53 regular-season/playoff games). With that prompting, Rishaug told a great story of how the Blazers sent Doan a video before Jets training camp, wishing him all the best in making the NHL. Rishaug said he jumped in front of the camera and said, “Shane, you have to make that team, because I’m getting cut if you don’t.” We had a good laugh at that one.

30. No problem here with Nashville and Washington campaigning hard for Roman Josi and John Carlson in the Norris race. If I were a candidate, I’d want to know my organisation supported me.

31. I don’t have the words for this other than to give my support to Jake, Dan and John Quesnel Jr. The gofundme to support these three children after an unspeakable tragedy surpassed its goal, proving one again that, even in difficult times, there are plenty of fantastic people in the world.