Quick programming note: I’ll be hosting a chat this afternoon at noon ET here on sportsnet.ca. Topics wide open as always: anything you want to talk about, any hockey chat you want to have, please drop on by. Last time was a lot of fun with some great topics and convos. I look forward to more of the same this afternoon.
TMZ.com reported Friday morning that New York Ranger Sean Avery had been arrested overnight after allegedly shoving a police officer who showed up at his Hollywood Hills home to look into noise complaints during a party.
We still don’t know all the particulars in the case but from an optics point of view it doesn’t look good. He still remains a fascinating player and person. On the ice there are few who agitate at the level that he does where there seem to be very few sacred cows.
Yet off the ice he’s thoughtful, progressive and breaks the stereotype that many have of hockey players. As Greg Wyshynski pointed out on Puck Daddy: “This will bring out the haters.”
I’ll tell you this though, when his career is all wrapped up and finished will there be a more sought-after hockey autobiography than Avery’s?
Interesting to see the Canucks sign Owen Nolan and Todd Fedoruk to PTOs. Nolan played last year in the Swiss League for Zurich, scoring seven goals and 26 points in 24 games. With Ryan Kesler probably going to miss the start of the season due to his surgery, it’s a smart move by Vancouver to see if there’s anything left with Nolan.
Two seasons ago he scored 16 goals for the Minnesota Wild but nobody’s expecting the old Nolan with the heavy, hard shot and bulldog mentality. However, it’s a safe gamble. And from Nolan’s POV, as much as this is a tryout for the Canucks, it’s also an audition for the rest of the league. Not unlike what Brendan Morrison went through with the Canucks at last year’s training camp, where after Vancouver cut him, Calgary snapped him up.
One thing’s for sure about Nolan: while in Switzerland he didn’t forget the finer points of both spearing and elbowing. Couldn’t find any video of him biting though but maybe that’s what training camp is for.
Chicago Blackhawks second-round pick Ludvig Rensfeldt signed a deal to play with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL adding to what is already a stacked roster that could feature teammates going 1-2 in next year’s draft (Nail Yakupov and Alexander Galchenyuk). I still think the Saint John Sea Dogs are the favourites for the Memorial Cup next year but Sarnia is making noise. And should the two meet in the Memorial Cup final it’ll be father against son as Sarnia’s coach Jacques Beaulieu is the father of Saint John stud blueliner (and Habs first-round pick) Nathan Beaulieu.
Former Leaf pick Robbie Earl has signed a deal to play with Dinamo Riga in the KHL. Great wheels but could never quite put it all together at the pro level. Was excellent at the University of Wisconsin but his talents as a Badger couldn’t help him take the next step. Hope he has a good experience in the KHL, not all ex-NHL/AHLers do.
On this day in hockey history
1918: Gord Davidson born in Stratton, Ont. Davidson played with the New York Rangers from ’42-’44 and was the classic “war-time hockey player.” There were a number of these players who played in the NHL while many were fighting overseas. One day I’ll gather together stories about some of the players who kept the league going during WWII (and interestingly, whose stats were inflated in the NHL during those years).
1935: Jack McCartan born in St Paul, Minn. Before there was Jim Craig and the Miracle on Ice there was McCartan, who backstopped Team USA to their first hockey gold medal in Squaw Valley, 1960. McCartan and the upstart Americans beat Canada, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union to capture the gold. After very brief stints in the NHL and WHA, McCartan retired and became Harry Neale’s assistant coach with the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA. He later worked as a scout for the Vancouver Canucks.
1977: Philadelphia trades Mark Suzor to Colorado for Barry Dean. Suzor was a big defenceman playing with Kingston of the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League (now called the OHL) drafted by the Flyers after winning back-to back Cups. He lasted all of four games before getting shipped. And now that I think about it, the Flyers have always traded or used free agency to acquire their top blue-liners. Can you think of one top-level blueliner the Flyers drafted and developed?
1991: Detroit signs free agent Ray Sheppard from the New York Rangers. This marriage did not end well (but Detroit ended up with a pretty good player at the end of it). Sheppard took the Wings to arbitration in the summer of ’95. He was looking for $1.95 million, Detroit countered with $1.35 million and the arbitrator ruled at $1.55 million. Upset at the ruling and feeling the Wings wouldn’t play him enough (and by Wings, I mean Scotty Bowman) he demanded a trade. Detroit shipped him to San Jose for some guy named Igor Larionov.
“The Sheet” reader profile
Name: Steve May
Earliest hockey memory: Watching Team Canada ’74, made up of WHA players against the Soviet Union. Not as memorable as the Summit Series, but some good hockey and intrigue. Drawing pictures in Kindergarten with me as Ken Dryden and my Dad as Phil Esposito.
Favourite YouTube hockey moment: Canucks vs. Rangers Game 6 – Goal/Not a goal/Goal
Pretty much the gamut of emotions on this one. First. Great play by Nathan Lafayette to get the puck to Geoff Courtnall (he should be remembered for more than just that post in Game 7). Then – as play continues – Pavel Bure picks up a Rangers giveaway, winds up for an eternity for a free shot but misses the net. Then Messier “scores” – making it 3-2 – until it goes to review. Then the comments from Bob Cole, Harry Neale and Dick Irvin. “This is what we’ve feared forever.” “I don’t think it went in.” “Oh, yes it did.” Then the relief, the celebration, and Emily Griffiths, widow of the owner who died that April, doing a little dance in the owners box. What a moment.
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