Morning Skate: Thursday, April 26

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Morning Skate: Thursday, April 26

Elliotte Friedman has some thoughts on the Roberto Luongo trade rumors among other things.

The Pro Hockey Talk boys have George McPhee saying that the Washington Capitals absolutely had to win this kind of playoff series.

Nick Cotsonika has the story of the Capitals taking down the Bruins with grit over glitz in the first round of the playoffs.

Kerry Fraser says in his TSN blog that Joel Wards game-winning goal in overtime on Wednesday night shouldnt have counted and the game should have played on.

Joel Wards agent denounces the racial slurs that disgusting Bruins fans have tossed his way via Twitter.

The Maple Leafs are among the teams in the Roberto Luongo derby, according to the Toronto Star.

Braden Holtby has been a find for the Washington Capitals and is one of the biggest reasons theyre moving on in the series.

Nicklas Lidstrom wants to keep the band together in Detroit with the Red Wings, but it remains to be seen if thats possible.

OFFSEASON

Blakely: Boston becoming a favored destination for free agents

Blakely: Boston becoming a favored destination for free agents

BOSTON -- In some circles the pursuit of Dwight Howard by the Boston Celtics is just as perplexing as Boston being one of the six teams getting an audience with Kevin Durant and, with that, a shot at the Durant sweepstakes this summer. 
 
Both serve as examples of how the Celts are no longer at the back of the line when it comes to being a potential destination for the best free agents. 
 
Of course it’s about sealing the deal, and getting the best free agents on the market under contract, and all that good stuff.
 
But before that can happen, Boston has to be seen as a place to even be seriously considered by free agents. That's exactly what we’re starting to see happen right now.
 
It’s easy to point to the Celtics having a ton of salary cap space, which in itself makes them a possible landing spot for players who we all know will be hauling in max to near-max salaries this offseason.
 
But there’s just one problem with that line of thought. More than half the league enters free agency with enough money to sign one max player.

The fact that Boston is on the short list for the summer’s top free agent (Durant) and have already secured a sit-down with one of the top centers (Howard) says a lot in terms of how far Boston has come in the eyes of players. 
 
And several factors point towards the Celtics getting an audience with other top-shelf free agents this summer if they fail to secure one or two of their top choices.
 
But let’s not kid ourselves. How others view this franchise is the reality of what the Celtics have to deal with when it comes to adding elite, upper-echelon talent like Durant. 
 
The fact that Durant is willing to include Boston in his short-list of teams is a bit of a head-scratcher when you see that the Celtics are the farthest away from the group in terms of competing for an NBA title (although an argument can be made that they are neck-and-neck with the Miami Heat along those lines). Durant has said in the past that would be something he would be looking for in whatever team he signed with.
 
The biggest selling point the Celtics have to offer Durant or any other free agent (besides money) is that they are a franchise on the rise, they have stability on the floor with Brad Stevens as the head coach, and they have stability in the front office with Danny Ainge. Both Stevens and Ainge signed long-term extensions earlier this month. 
 
And one of the perks that players who come to Boston quickly discover is the fan base, which is about as rabid a group as you'll find in the NBA.
 
There’s no mistaking they wear their emotions on their sleeves, whether it’s cheering the team on following a season-ending playoff loss, or booing the owner after the team makes a draft pick they don’t particularly care for. 
 
They bleed green!
 
Add all those things up and it’s clear that Boston has the kind of environment, the kind of culture, where a star can come and thrive. 
 
The Celtics and their fans have known this for a while.
 
Now it seems some of the game’s best players are starting to catch on, as well.

Wednesday, June 29: B's not in Stamkos sweepstakes?

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Wednesday, June 29: B's not in Stamkos sweepstakes?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while laughing out loud at the mental image of Bill Lee rolling joints for Peter Gammons.

-- Dion Phaneuf says he’ll be at the Stanley Cup Day for Phil Kessel even though he’s still waiting for his own playoff glory.

-- Former NHL player Bryan Berard, who was defrauded out of much of his hockey earnings by his former financial advisors, is speaking out so other players don't make the same mistake.

-- Bob McKenzie appears on Vancouver radio and never mentions the Bruins as one of the teams that might be in the running for Steven Stamkos.

-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) James Mirtle sits down with Brendan Shanahan to discuss Shanahan's plan to fix the Maple Leafs.

-- In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my hit with Toucher and Rich this morning about a possible Bruins' offer sheet for Jacob Trouba.

-- Player agent Allan Walsh thinks that the interview period prior to July 1 is a terrible thing.

-- The Florida Panthers hire Roberto Luongo’s younger brother Leo to be their AHL team’s goalie coach.

-- Kudos to the NHL and their Hockey is for Everyone campaign for bringing the beautiful game of hockey to inner-city youth.

-- You may need Google Translate for this, but it looks like Dale Weise has played his last game for the Montreal Canadiens.

-- For something completely different: As mentioned above, this Bill Lee interview with Toucher and Rich is a phantasmagorical experience.

Wilfork embracing modeling, tells Brady to put him in touch with Gisele's people

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Wilfork embracing modeling, tells Brady to put him in touch with Gisele's people

Vince Wilfork will be one of many well-known athletes to strip down and pose nude for photographs in ESPN The Magazine's's Body issue, joining a group that includes Cubs pitcher Jake Arrietta, Broncos defensive end Von Miller and Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

Judging by his latest tweet, the former Patriots defensive lineman -- who is listed at 325 pounds -- is getting pretty comfortable with the idea of becoming a model.

Now it's up to Tom Brady to play match-maker, it seems. Gisele retired from the runway last year so maybe her people are on the lookout for some new talent.