Deadline Day

By Brad Constant, March 5, 2014

We’re only a couple of hours away from the National Hockey League’s trade deadline, which is today at 3 p.m. Eastern. But NHL teams have been busy over the last week or so, and some big names have already been moved.

St. Louis to Rangers

The latest trade has taken Tampa Bay Lightning star Martin St. Louis to the New York Rangers in exchange for the now former Rangers’ captain Ryan Callahan, a 2014 conditional second-round draft pick and a 2015 first-round pick. It was well known that St. Louis had put in a request to be traded. We aren’t sure of all of the reasons, but it’s safe to say the St. Louis original exclusion from the 2014 Canadian Olympic Team didn’t help. That decision came from Canadian General Manager Steve Yzerman, who just so happens to be the Lightning’s GM.

This decision makes sense for both teams in our opinion. St. Louis will provide scoring for the Rangers while Callahan is a gritty, hard-working forward that can put the puck in the net too. Plus the Lightning are getting Steven Stamkos back from injury, which more than makes up for losing St. Louis’ goal scoring.

Luongo to Panthers

Tuesday’s big deal included Roberto Luongo returning to the Florida Panthers. He was traded from the Vancouver Canucks along with forward Steven Anthony. The Canucks received goalie Jacob Markstrom and forward Shawn Matthais. To be honest, this trade only makes sense for the Panthers and Luongo, who still owns a home and has family in Florida.

The Panthers are looking to become Stanley Cup contenders and now have the financial backing to make that happen. So taking on Luongo’s huge contract was feasible. The trade now gives them a potentially stellar goaltending tandem, depending on whether or not Tim Thomas can keep performing well. We know Luongo will remain consistent as he has year after year.

For Vancouver this could spell the start of a rebuilding era. When we look back to last season, when they had stud goaltenders Luongo and Cory Schnieder, the team had to make a decision on which guy to go with. Luongo’s contract was too big to move at the time, so the team moved Schneider, who is now the main guy for the New Jersey Deveils. Now they’ve gone and moved the guy that they stuck with as their number one. It doesn’t make sense!

The Canucks are now left with the young Eddie Lack, who has potential but hasn’t shown that he can provide the type of consistency that Luongo has, and the young Markstrom, who has had plenty of opportunities in Florida to shine but hasn’t really stepped up. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Canucks moving forward, especially since there are rumors that they are trying to move forward Ryan Kesler.

More goalies moved

More goalies were moved yesterday with Ilya Bryzgalov going to the Minnesota Wild and Viktor Fasth being shipped to the Edmonton Oilers.

Bryzgalov’s move now gives the Wild a veteran goalie to back up young Darcy Kuemper, who has shined since taking over for the injured Niklas Backstrom and the sick Josh Harding. You really can’t go wrong with Bryzgalov and his experience. Just don’t get him talking about the universe.

For Edmonton, the acquiring of Fasth now gives them a major upgrade over what the team started the season with. Especially after the Oilers just signed Ben Scrivens to a contract extension. The Oilers traded a 2013 third-round pick to the Los Angeles Kings for Scrivens in January. The move has turned out to be a smart one now that they’ve added Fasth. Scrivens and Fasth have the potential to be a great goalie pairing going into the future.

Sens get busy

The Ottawa Senators have also been busy today as they make a push for the playoffs. The team has signed defenseman Chris Phillips to a two-year contract extension, they’ve put Cory Conacher on waivers – he has been picked up by the Buffalo Sabres – and they acquired forward Ales Hemsky from the Edmonton Oilers.

Putting Conacher on waivers doesn’t really make sense. But signing Phillips to an extension and adding Hemsky does, especially since the team is fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

Ryan Miller moved

The other really big trade happened last Friday, February 28, when the Sabres traded star-goalie Ryan Miller and forward Steve Ott to the St. Louis Blues. In return the Sabres got goalie Jaroslav Halak, – who may very well be moved again – forward Chris Stewart, forward William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 conditional third-round pick.

Way to go St. Louis! Miller is a stud, arguably one of the best goalies in the NHL, and now he is on one of the better teams in the league. This is a great move by the Blues.

Stay tuned for more trade action. There are two hours left and we can guarantee that there will be some more news.

The NHL is back!

By Brad Constant, Feb. 25, 2014

The Olympics are over and the National Hockey League is back from its break, and so is The Hockey Ref. We are very excited, and here are the reasons why.

First, we need as much hockey as possible to get over the disappointment of the Team USA losses. It helps that the women came home with the silver medal, but the men were embarrassed by losing two vital games and missed out completely on a medal. Thankfully our friends to the north claimed both gold medals and secured North America as the land of hockey dominance for another four years.

Second, the push for the playoffs is in full swing. This is when regular season hockey is the most exciting. Every game can make or break season for any team fighting to get in. Aside from the playoffs, this is the best time of year.

Last, a lot of players come back well rested, so we should see some high energy games. The big hits will definitely be back too. We can hardly wait!

Welcome back NHL, we hope you enjoyed your vacation.

Which nation will the 2014 Winter Olympic gold medal?

By Brad Constant; Jan. 8, 2014

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are right around the corner and we are gearing up to see nations collide on the ice. Our plan was to give you a breakdown of each National Hockey League player going to Sochi, but Bleacher Report beat us to it. And much like Thomas Holmstrom around the crease, we are ever the opportunist and are kind enough to provide you with a link to the bleacherreport.com story.

Instead, we’ve decide to try and pick the medal winners, but we can’t decide and are on the verge of a donnybrook. So we want you, our readers, to weigh in and give us your opinion. Write a comment below telling us which nation will win and why.

Latest NHL news: Monday, January 6

By Brad Constant, Jan. 6, 2014

It’s a new year and The Hockey Ref is dialing up the coverage. This piece is just the beginning as we strive to bring our readers stories on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. So you can expect a round-up from around the web every Monday covering the latest news and such from the previous weekend.

So to kick things off we have a story from Bleacher Report on the teams that could surprise us during the second half of the season. Check it out here.

The Winter Olympics are just around the corner and many nations have already announced the players that will represent them. But we’re still waiting to hear from the Canadians, thankfully there will be a press conference tomorrow to announce the Canadian roster. In the meantime NHL.com has taken stock on who may be in, and who may be out. Read the story here.

It’s safe to say that the 2014 Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs was a big success. But thankfully ProHockeyTalk.com has a video to give those who weren’t lucky enough to be at the Big House for the game an idea of what it was like. Thanks PHT! Watch the video here.

Lastly, the National Hockey League has suspended Buffalo Sabres’ defender Tyler Myers for three games for a hit to the head of New Jersey Devils forward Dainius Zubrus. Watch the NHL’s explanation of the suspension below.

NHL suspends Neal for 5 games, how many will Thornton get?

By Brad Constant, Dec. 10, 2013

People can go round and round about whether they think James Neal or Shawn Thornton was the dirtier player in Boston last Saturday night, Dec. 7. In fact, there is such a debate on Twitter that can be read on BleacherReport.com. But when it comes down to it, both players showed the uglier side of hockey and deserve to be suspended.

All of this got started when Pittsburgh Penguins’ defenseman Bruce Orpik hit Boston Bruins’ forward Loui Eriksson. At first it looked like another hard hit that happened to leave Eriksson woozy and slow to get up. But the replays show that Orpik did catch Eriksson on the chin, although it doesn’t look intentional, in our opinion. Either way, there is concern for Eriksson since he has already missed five games this season with a concussion after being the victim of another dirty hit. Watch the video below and see the hit that sparked everything.

Now enter our main villains, starting with the Thornton of the Bruins. As expected, the Boston tough guy went after Orpik during their first shift on the ice together. Thornton tried to like heck to get Orpik to fight but the Penguins’ defender wouldn’t drop the gloves and Thornton ended up getting a minor penalty.

However, things would escalate again later in the first period when our other villain, and Penguins’ forward, Neal kneed Boston’s Brad Marchand in the head as the Bruin forward was on the ice. As usual a gathering of players occurred, including Orpik and Thornton. But things got nasty when Thornton slew footed Orpik and punched the Pittsburgh defenseman in the head while he was on the ice. Watch the video below of both incidents.

As you can see, Orpik leaves the ice on a stretcher and was taken to a local hospital. Marchand got up and escaped major injury.

The National Hockey League has already comeback and issued Neal a five-game suspension. We say well done Brandon Shanahan and the NHL Department of Player Safety.

But that leaves us wondering what type of suspension Thornton will get. He is currently suspended indefinitely as he awaits an in-person hearing schedule for Friday, Dec. 13. We believe that a suspension of at least 10 games can be expected, and here is why.

Although, Thornton has no previous disciplinary history with the NHL, the League takes whether or not the victim of any infraction was injured. So while people may think that the headaches and neck stiffness that Orpik is experiencing are not that severe, the memory loss that has occurred is. In fact, Orpik cannot remember anything from after Saturday night’s national anthem. Memory loss is a brain injury, and brain injuries are as severe as injuries get.

So as we wait the NHL’s ruling, we leave with a video from the Department of Player Safety telling us why Neal received a five-game suspension. We also ask that you let us know who you think is the dirtier player by answering our poll below (there is a bet riding on this with the winner getting a free lunch so your participation is very important).

The dirtiest NHL hits of the season, courtesy of Bleacher Report

Here is a good, clean hip check courtesy of the NHL and Phoenix Coyotes. Photo by Norm Hall/NHL via Getty Images.

Here is a good, clean hip check courtesy of the NHL and Phoenix Coyotes. Photo by Norm Hall/NHL via Getty Images.

By Brad Constant, Dec. 6, 2013

On occasion we like to show some love to our fellow hockey writers and share some of their work with you. Our latest example of awesome work comes from bleacherreport.com, one of our favorite sites here at The Hockey Ref. The piece is a list of the dirtiest hits of the 2013-2014 season so far, and it includes videos.

We wanted to share this with you for a few of reasons. First, we agree with the Bleacher Report list. Second, they are awesome sports writers that we love to read. Third, and most importantly, the more people that jump on the bandwagon to eliminate dirty hits from the game of hockey the better.

The National Hockey League and NHL Players’ Association are working to eliminate dirty hits. There are stricter penalties and suspension for players that directly target an opponent’s head.

USA Hockey is doing its part at the youth and amateur levels with rule changes giving harsher penalties for contact to the head, boarding and charging. USA Hockey even raised the level in which checking is allowed – kids used to be able to hit when they reached the Pee Wee level, 10-12, but now checking isn’t allowed until the Bantam level, 12-14.

But rule changes, penalties and suspensions are not enough when youth hockey players watch their heroes in the NHL make dirty hits. So maybe we, the fans, can make a difference if we get behind the NHL and show our displeasure for these dirty hits. It could result in a much better game of hockey for everyone involved.

So check out the bleacherreport.com list here and if you agree, show some support. Maybe you can boo the next time you see a dirty hit, even if it’s a guy on your favorite team.

But before you jump over to the Bleacher Report, watch the video below of the top 10 hits of from the season so far courtesy of the NHL, which only shows off hard and clean checks. And if you want, we also added a video below of Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s senior vice president of player safety, explaining what makes a good, clean body check.

 

NHL rightly defends Shark-Sabres no-goal call

intent to blow the whistle call

Referee Mike Leggo makes a controversial no-goal call during the San Jose Sharks vs. Buffalo Sabres game on Nov. 5.

By: Brad Constant, Nov. 8, 2013

There has been some talk around the local rink about the controversial no-goal call during the San Jose Sharks vs. Buffalo Sabres game on Nov. 5. Many believe that referee Mike Leggo and the National Hockey League officials in the Toronto-based war room blew the call by waiving off what looked like a clear goal. However, the NHL has defended the call under the ‘intent to blow the whistle’ rule, and rightly so – you can read the CBSSports.com story and watch the video here.

Whether you agree or disagree, we support Leggo’s on-ice decision as well as the League’s support of the call. The puck obviously crossed the goal line, but only after Leggo clearly lost sight of the puck under Sabres’ goalie Ryan Miller. In fact, the only person on the ice who seems to have had eyes on the puck was Sharks’ forward Tommy Wingels. Therefore, the play should have been whistled dead.

But here is where the controversy arises, and Leggo can be called out for making a mistake. To the untrained eye it appears the Leggo does everything right except blowing the whistle at the right time. So what is Leggo’s mistake? Showmanship. He correctly washed out the attempt that hit the goal post so that everyone in the arena knew it wasn’t a goal. But he also held his arms out for far too long in a great impression of Jay Jay the Jet Plane.

We believe there would have been no issues with the call if Leggo correctly washed out the goal in the quick fashion officials are taught. He would have had his whistle in the correct position in time to blow the play dead when the puck was under Miller. Instead he held the signal and put himself in a tough situation in which he obviously had to think about the call. Thankfully he ended up making the right one and did so with conviction.

It was made worse thanks to the NHL’s mistake of not having Leggo put on the headset to talk with the officials in Toronto and discuss the call. As noted in the CBS Sports story, the NHL acknowledges that it messed up here. The pushback and claims of a blown call could have been far less if they got this right.

Either way, the right call was made in the end, and we’re sure that lessons have been learned too.