Hockey Hearsay compiles stories from around the hockey world and runs weekdays, 12 months a year.
HABS’ PITCH WOWED BRIERE
The Montreal Gazette lays out how with more than a dozen other teams intrigued at various levels, 35-year-old Gatineau native Daniel Brière opted for the Canadiens with a two-year, $8 million contract last week, leaving longer terms and bigger dollars on other tables.
“We’d talked to 16 different teams and it was very flattering. But at the end of the day, it always came back to Montreal and having the chance to wear that jersey,” he said. “There was nowhere else I could get the same kind of feeling.
“I think we spoke first with the Canadiens (on July 3). I remember hanging up and thinking, ‘Wow, whoever I’m going to talk to next, it’s going to be tough to match what (GM) Marc Bergevin and (coach) Michel Therrien said.
“They did a fantastic job of explaining where they were going and what they thought of their team. I was very impressed with both of them, how they view their team and where they’re going with it. There was no turning back after that — especially starting with the fact that I wanted to be there in the first place.”
Brière told me he feels he has a lot to prove to #Habs, fans & himself; can't wait to tackle that & huge challenge of playing in Montreal
On playing in front of these fans: “Montreal is one of the most passionate fan (bases) in the NHL. To have the chance to play in front of them, on their side, is something I’m really looking forward to.”
FLAMES’ BACKLUND PUSHING FOR TOP LINE DUTIES
Mikael Backlund and the Calgary Flames agreed to a two-year contract Wednesday, which will pay the centre $1.5 million each season.
The Herald offered up GM Jay Feaster’s released statement on the signing, which included this: “We need Mikael to be one of our go-to players this year, and we are excited about watching him continue to evolve and take that step to the next level as a player.”
Next level? What exactly does that mean to Backlund?
“I want to be an even better two-way player, be a plus-player,” replied the native of Vasteras, Sweden. “I want to keep pushing to be a more consistent player. I think I took some big steps last year, but I want to be even more consistent. If I play my good game more consistently, I think it will help my career to take the next step.”
“I’m going to try and push for the top line,” Backlund said. “I want to be a big contributor.”
CANUCKS’ SUBBAN PLAYS HIS OWN GAME
The Vancouver Sun points out that as a defenceman like his big brother P.K., Jordan Subban – now a prospect in the Canucks system after having been drafted last week – knows people will look for comparisons. But he doesn’t feel any pressure to be like his brother.
“I don’t think I have to try and differentiate myself,” he said. “If you watch us both play you will see the differences in our games, but it never hurts to be compared to a Norris Trophy winner and although he is my brother I am still grateful for the comparisons because of the success that he’s had in the league. I mean, I’ll take it, but obviously we are different players.
“I think there are some similarities and some differences there. We are both competitive and we both love the game. I realize my role and I try to stay focused out there and not interact with players maybe as much as he does, just stay focused and do what I need to do to be successful.” Subban said he and P.K talk almost every day.
“He just continues to give me advice and wants to know what is happening and how everything is going. He is a great player, really supportive and I am really happy to have him there whenever I need to talk to him. . .I think some people get P.K.‘s confidence confused with cockiness sometimes. We are all confident and we all love the game and we just play hard.”
In all likelihood Subban will spend at least a couple of seasons in Providence developing his goaltending craft and refining his technique, undergoing the same development path experienced by Tuukka Rask over the last five years.
“I still have a lot of work to do before I get to the NHL level, so I’m just working really hard so I can get to that level. That’s not even entering my mind right now,” said Subban, who had one of the biggest crowds around him in the Bruins dressing room following the camp. “I’m just really focused on getting better and improving.
“I watched [Rask] a lot in the playoffs and he played really well. He really covered the net, and was centered and always under control. He has really good balance. I’ve never really talked to him because of the lockout, but hopefully I get to work up close with him during training camp.”
Rich Peverley last season was 58.5 percent on 361 draws and won 63 percent of his faceoffs in the playoffs. Shawn Horcoff is a 50 percent career guy and won 49.0 percent last season. Tyler Seguin said he was a good faceoff man in junior hockey, but he hasn’t taken many NHL draws. The Bruins needed him in the circle just 45 times last season, and he won 48.9 percent.
Seguin believes he will improve once he starts logging a lot of faceoffs again.
“I was good at faceoffs,” he said of his junior career. “I haven’t done it too much since then, but obviously that’s something I’ll be focused on for the summer. When I was growing up, I was always more of a quick guy, I was always beating players with more quickness than actual strength. It’s going to be an adjustment. I still worked on draws every year for the few years in Boston with the other centermen, so it’s not going to be exactly brand new to me.”
“Yeah, at the end of the day people don’t forget easily,” Cooke said. “I’ve learned that throughout this process. I’ll never let my guard down. I wasn’t taught to play the game that way. I was taught that when you’re skating around the middle of the ice, you keep your head up. When someone is coming to get you, get them first. That’s the way that I’ve played the game.”
He added: “I’ve played in a lot of playoff games. I’ve got a lot of experience. I pride myself on there being no easy ice out there. I’m a guy that needs to win. I’m a team-first type of guy. I don’t think I’d do so well in a situation where the team isn’t primed to win and win often. I feel like this team is right on the cusp of doing some great things.”
The tragedy Moore has endured is heartbreaking. Before finally finding the strength to continue playing the game he loves – he signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Rangers – he had to endure a year that is difficult still for him to describe.
“That’s a question that could probably take a lifetime to answer,” Moore said. “Obviously, in a way, the ups and downs throughout the course of dealing with the disease and what we went through there, it’s a lot to try and describe in one simple answer. But the one thing is I’m grateful for the time we had. You know, in a way, those months were the most special months we had with each other that anyone could possibly ask for, despite its being the most difficult and painful months that anyone could expect or deal with.”
LIGHTNING’S VASILEVSKIY ‘LOOKS PROMISING’
The Tampa Bay Times passes along that Andrey Vasilevskiy, 18, the No. 19 overall pick of the 2012 draft for the Lightning, likely will play his final season for Ufa of Europe’s Kontinental Hockey League before coming to North America for 2014-15. He is considered the top goaltending prospect not on an NHL roster.
“There’s been improvement,” goaltenders coach Frantz Jean said, comparing Vasilevskiy to last year’s prospect camp. “He’s an excellent puck tracker. You can see his experience this year after playing some KHL games. There has been growth. It looks promising, for sure.”
His priorities are to “get stronger and to play at a higher level and get up to speed a little bit. Those are two things I really focus on.”
The Predators see Forsberg and just-drafted Seth Jones as a possible offense/defense duo and future members of the team core.
“Both of them have a little bit of that ‘it’ factor and whatever ‘it’ is, I really can’t explain it,” coach Barry Trotz said. “They’re polished, they understand what they want to do, and I think they have an inner confidence. And all athletes who are successful have an inner confidence.”
Thornton said there haven’t been any negotiations on Henrique’s new deal yet beyond the Devils making the qualifying offer required to maintain the club’s right to match any offer the 2012 Calder Trophy finalist receives. For Henrique, the one-year qualifying offer carries an NHL salary of $577,500 (10 percent raise from 2012-13). Thornton said accepting the qualifying offer is “not an option.”
Restricted free agent center Jacob Josefson’s agent, Peter Wallen said via email today that there hasn’t been any progress in contract negotiations.
Asked whether he was pain-free, Helm said: “Yeah, nothing really bothered me. Like I said, it’s been two months since I skated so, pretty happy with the way things went today.”
Helm, 26, injured his back doing weight training before last season’s training camp and was limited to one game last season.
A week of skating drills will help build Helm’s confidence heading into training camp in September.
“Absolutely, it gives you confidence … to skate more and push harder, working out with heavier weights,” Helm said. “That’s what I wanted to do when I came here, see where I’m at and see if I could make the next step.”
“Obviously he’s really excited; it’s a huge honor. It’s probably one of the best things you can do in sports,” Jake said. “To wait for (three) years after you’re done playing and get all this excitement back, it’s so good for him.”
Jake Chelios was very young when his father played for the Blackhawks, but he still remembers some things about those days.
“Just going to the rink; best part for a kid was playing mini sticks in the wives room. It was just being in that environment and seeing all those players,” he said. “Now when you see them, it’s just nice having all those memories and relationships from when you were younger.”
WHAT THEY’RE TWEETING ABOUT
The jays know how to keep me entertain. Just toy with the emotions a little. I dig it