By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON The commemoration of Wayne Gretzkys 50th birthday should have been a celebration of everything that marked the career of The Great One and his brilliance in the 1980s, when the NHL was making a surge forward in terms of popularity and scope.
But instead it was more of a Where is Wayne? game filled with disagreements over his departure from the Phoenix Coyotes and his current estrangement from the NHL, which needs him so badly. Not sure if it will take another coaching gig I think Gretzky might have fallen into that category of great player that might not have been perfect for the coaching job but Gretzky should be involved as a general manager, owner or simply an ambassador to the game.Mario Lemieux has performed that role to a tee in Pittsburgh, and now Gretzky needs to simply find a home where he can put his own imprint as the personality behind the organization a setting that Phoenix was never ideal for.Gretzky was simply too great for that team, but its time he found something suitable for stature and returned to the game he loved and the game that loved him right back. A great account by SI.coms Stu Hackel of whats happened between the NHL and Wayne Gretzky since he left his post with the Phoenix Coyotes. The NHL All-Star game is here to stay, but hopefully the Olympics is as well as its a much better advertisement for how good the game of hockey can be. Anybody want Sergei Samsonovs four tickets to NHL All-Star weekend? Celebrities for Charity is raffling them off for a good cause. Brad Marchand is scared to score, writes the Days of Y'Orr. Perhaps some of his teammates should fine a way to turn that kind of fear into production. A brief pictorial history of the Anaheim Ducks as All-Stars, some of them were even Mighty: who could forget Guy Hebert? Well, okay so maybe I did. The All-Star break came at the wrong time for the New Jersey Devils and Brian Rolston, who were on their longest hot streak of the season after sucking the life out of hockey for the first three months. Apparently the Hockey News twitter account has decided that the victimization of Matt Cooke is a cause they need to take up. Some people just don't get it.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season.
Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate.
Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode.
Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break.
"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."
Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."
Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while really enjoying what the CW does season in and season out with the Flash.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Don Brennan says that the Senators fans not showing up for Game 6 is their way of sticking it to Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.
*The talk is turning to the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres, and what they can do to help open up communication up and down the roster.
*A guy that wore a Habs toque on his twitter avatar writes a glowing, praise-filled article about the performance of PK Subban during these Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s undoubtedly been good, but he just might have been wearing his Montreal Canadiens footie pajamas when he wrote this one, and rattling his fist at Habs management all the while.
*Interesting piece by Jason Gregor about the “window to win” for the Edmonton Oilers, and an odd notion that the window will close when Connor McDavid has moved out of his entry level contract. I’d say that’s kind of ludicrous.
*The Colorado Avalanche coaching staff has been let go after last year’s dreadful season, and that’s too bad for a really good guy in former Providence College head coach Tim Army. I’m sure he won’t be out of work long.
*Colin White made his Stanley Cup playoff and NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators in Game 6, and helped push Ottawa to a Game 7. It will be interesting to watch the Massachusetts native and former Boston College standout develop with the Senators as White was one of the players that the Bruins skipped over to instead draft Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. The others, Mathew Barzal, Travis Konecny and Kyle Connor, are all either in the NHL or knocking on the door as well, and it’s going to be a challenging road for both of Boston’s forward prospects to live up the justification of the B’s drafting them first. Granted DeBrusk and Senyshyn are also both doing their thing for the P-Bruins as they push into the conference finals of the Calder Cup playoffs, and they’re both bright prospects in their own right. It’s going to take years to determine the rights and wrongs of that first round, but White getting into the lineup for the Senators is proof of just how high that organization is on him.
*Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan says that Sidney Crosby handled the targeted abuse well from the Senators in a Game 6 loss that will push to a Game 7 between the Penguins and the Senators.
*For something completely different: A great message from Brookline homey and former Sox GM wonder boy Theo Epstein in his commencement address to Yale University.