By Joe Haggerty
Looking forward to the four-day Milan Lucic homecoming set for Vancouver at the end of this week that will include his second career game against his hometown Canucks in the city he grew up in, thousands of bobble heads handed out at Milan Lucic Night on the Friday before the game and close to 10,000 fans crowded into the Pacific Coliseum to fete one of their favorite suns in scenic Vancouver.Lucic is trying to maintain a business-like atmosphere through a very important road trip for team-building and locking their team into place in the standings, but thats a challenge when so many once-in-a-lifetime type things are on tap for big No. 17.Its going to be a lot of fun, obviously, but more importantly we have a job to take care of while were out there, said Lucic. Thats what Im focusing on. Ive been here for four years and its only my second time going out West in Canada, so it doesnt happen that often. On to the links:
SportsNets Ian Mendes always shows off a pretty good sense of humor in his blog posts, and this week he creates the trades hed like to see made in the NHL purely for the comedic value. Interesting take from Vancouver Sunwriter Cam Cole after the Canucks shut it down for a day on their most recent road trip, and didnt allow any media access. I dont see things ever getting as dire as Cole does, but I guess Im just an optimist. Good piece by Friend of Haggs (FOH) Mike McMahon on Jordan Heywood and his amazing comeback this season at Merrimack College after playing through blood clots in his lungs during junior hockey. The Carolina Hurricanes retired Rod BrindAmours number last weekend, and the heart and soul of the Hurricanes deserved every second of the praise. A good look by ESPNs Pierre Lebrun at the future of outdoor hockey in the NHL, and what could be ahead for both the Winter Classic and the Heritage Classic after Sunday nights one-sided win for the Calgary Flames. Puck Daddy contributor Ryan Lambert learned that the Heritage Classic was a poor mans Winter Classic, and doesnt have the brightest of futures. It appears that Colorado coach Joe Sacco and GMGreg Sherman will survive whats becoming a pretty rocky collapse for the Avalanche, no pun intended, and a remaking of the team following the Erik Johnson deal. Former Northeastern University standout goalie Brad Thiessen is putting up big numbers between the pipes at the AHL level, and has become one of the top goalie prospects knocking on the NHLs door. A great if overly colorful -- piece outlining etiquette and the proper way to act in the press box when its your first time. Everybody in the business has had their first day covering a pro sporting event at the highest levels, and this might just help you survive it in fine fashion.
Joe Haggerty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs
It was assumed that Patrice Bergeron will be finalist for the Selke Trophy again this season, and it became official on Thursday when it was announced that Bergeron, Ryan Kesler and Anze Kopitar were the three finalists for the award given to the best defensive forward.
It would be the third straight Selke Trophy and fourth overall for Bergeron if he can take the hardware home again during the NHL Awards in June, and the ever-humble No. 37 said he was just honored to once again be nominated.
“Being named a finalist for the Selke Trophy is a tremendous honor and one I am very grateful for,” said Bergeron in a press release. “While it is an individual award, my teammates and coaches deserve a lot of credit as well. Ryan and Anze are two elite players who both had great seasons and it is a privilege to be a finalist alongside them. Thanks to all of those who voted and I look forward to the NHL Awards Show on June 22.”
The Bruins center has won the Selke Trophy three times (2012, 2014 and 2015) and has now been a Selke finalist in each of the last five seasons. His three wins are tied for the second-most in NHL history, one behind Hall of Fame Canadiens forward Bob Gainey, who is the all-time leader with four Selke Trophies. Bergeron was the Bruins’ lone representative at the All-Star Game this winter for the second straight season, and was a no-brainer as a finalist given all of his defensive qualifications.
Bergeron finished the 2015-16 regular season leading the NHL in faceoffs taken (1,978) and for the second straight season led the league in faceoffs won (1,130) while finishing a solid seventh overall with a 57.1% faceoff win rate among players taking a minimum of 500 draws.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while giving a thumbs up to “The Good Dinosaur” as quality family viewing.
*TSN Hockey Buddha Bob McKenzie breaks down the players available in the NHL draft lottery and what kind of names teams like the Boston Bruins should expect to be available with the first 14 picks.
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynski talks about the World of Cup ads with the ESPN creative people that made them happen. They used the word jarring in something of a positive fashion to describe them. I would use the word “not funny” for Reg Carling, the fictional character created for the ads. If they were trying to feature the personality of NHL players in those ads, I think they missed the mark. It’s not really a big deal in the final scheme of things, but it doesn’t make for a good first step in drawing hockey fans back to the four letter network.
*Good luck to Cam Tucker, a hockey writer based out of Vancouver that appears to have been one of the latest to be downsized in our industry.
*Dennis Bernstein has some thoughts, facts, analysis and theories surrounding the Los Angeles Kings, who have a long time to think about their first-round exit from the playoffs.
*Bruce Garrioch has some info on Ottawa’s long range plan to move to a needed downtown arena and that being the blueprint for most other Canadian cities.
*Tracey Myers has a dilemma for the Blackhawks: Andrew Shaw wants to stay, but the question is whether the Blackhawks can afford him?
*PHT writer James O’Brien has Bruce Boudreau lamenting the tough Game 7 loss for the Anaheim Ducks to the Nashville Predators. The loss may cost Boudreau his job, and will see a lot of new blood in the West with Chicago, Los Angeles and Anaheim now all out of the postseason.
*For something completely different: how can you say “no” to a tour of the world’s most magnificent treehouses.
The Bruins will know a great deal more in a couple of days about their prospects for NHL Draft weekend in Buffalo this June.
The NHL will hold its annual draft lottery in Toronto on Saturday night for those teams outside the playoffs that hold first-round picks or those shrewd enough to have secured a first-rounder and still have reached the playoffs.
The Bruins will have two first-round picks regardless of what happens: they hold their own lottery-eligible selection along with the first-round pick from the San Jose Sharks sent to Boston last summer in the trade for goaltender Martin Jones. The Sharks are still alive in the postseason, so the B’s second selection will be a late first-rounder.
The Bruins were the last NHL team eliminated from playoff contention, so they hold the slimmest odds of securing the first overall pick with a 1 percent chance in the Auston Matthews sweepstakes.
It’s too bad because the kind of game-breaking talent available at the top of the draft is exactly what the Black and Gold franchise needs after trading away top-10 first-round picks in Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton the past three years.
The Bruins will have roughly the same odds for the second (1.1 percent chance) and third overall picks (1.3 percent chance) should they miss out on No. 1, but the chances are still slim at they will pick anywhere but the same exact 14th overall pick where they selected Jake DeBrusk last season. Should they get a selection in the top three, the Bruins would be looking at big-time center Matthews, and a pair of Finnish wingers in Patrick Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, along with Matthew Tkachuk (son of Keith Tkachuk and cousin to Jimmy Hayes).
The highest rated D-man on the board is Sarnia Sting blueliner Jakob Chycrun, who is a player the Bruins would need to trade up for, a la their attempt at Noah Hanifin last year. The Bruins will have assets to potentially make that happen, but we all know how that worked out last season for Don Sweeney when a big part of “the plan” was moving up to nab one of last year’s blue chip D-men in the draft.
Hopeful Bruins fans can try their luck with the NHL Draft Lottery Simulator online, but fair warning that you won’t see the Spoked ‘B’ come up very much while hashing out the order of the top three overall picks for late June at the First Niagara Center.