Ekman-Larsson - how's that for head up? Holy crap.

Ekman-Larsson – how’s that for head up? Holy crap.

Day two of NHL training camp is under way for some, and even more get going today. Right on.

I think my favourite story from pre-season so far is that Tim Thomas and Ilya Bryzgalov have both been invited to Florida Panthers camp. Can you imagine if they ended up as the goaltending duo there? My god, let’s mic their stalls up and never miss a second of their conversations.

The only problem with this: unlike a Scooby Doo villain, these two would actually get away with their antics (not that they do anything illegal) because of the lack of coverage out of Florida. They’d have to talk to like, three reporters, and even they can hold it together with that little coverage. (By the way, I’m teasing Tim Thomas. Bryz, welllll, not so much.)

Florida would be a really great state for those two. Like, the best one.


NHL GM’s wanted to kill the spin-o-rama in shootouts, but the NHLPA shot that down

So great, now players can still do that thing where they skate in, change direction, finish a cronut (topical!), let the goalie slide into the corner then shoot the puck into the open net. Great.

I think the spin-o-rama sucks. Like everyone else, I stood up and clapped like a seal begging for fish the first time I saw it, but after some time to see it used more frequently I’m seriously turned off by it. It’s borderline unfair to goalies, it seems to circumnavigate the idea of a shootout attempt (it’s a rush, not an in-zone possession), and it really takes the “gimmicky” factor of the shootout to the next level. It’s legitimately not even that hard to execute. Seriously. Check the success rate.

Ah well, it is what it is: still a thing.


Paul Ranger’s story is extremely compelling (National Post)

It’s funny, I knew who Paul Ranger was from his Tampa Bay days, but I didn’t know exactly what happened with him when I heard he was playing with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL last year. I just assumed he fell off at the NHL level.

Turns out it’s an amazing story that I’d kill to know more about.

He just walked away from the game. Made the NHL, had some success, then decided he needed some “time to himself” during his prime. Took a couple years off, coached some 13-14 year olds… that was it.

I don’t know if “time to himself” means mental struggles, or relationship ones or what, but his quotes in this piece by Bruce Arthur are amazing.

“…There’s all kinds of aspects to the game, and it’s interesting, because the mental side of the game is something that’s never really been talked about a lot, or trained. Self-esteem, just mental strength, courage … Some guys develop without even knowing it; superstitions, rituals, stuff like that. It’s not talked about a lot. But it’s a skill.”


“It was … I want to say it was a great journey last year. It was up and down, a lot of challenges, and the best part about it is I overcame every challenge. And oh my God, I feel so strong inside. I don’t know, I almost feel like nothing can stop me.”

…stood out for me. Read Arthur’s piece for the rest.


Oliver Ekman-Larsson isn’t in Phoenix Coyotes camp

A big part of being a pro hockey player in the off-season is dealing with immigration. A ton of Canadians and Europeans play in the US and other places around the world each year, so you hear about I-20s and visas (and all the other annoying forms that come with being legal to play) in the dressing room throughout the year.

Unless, of course, you don’t get the paperwork done (or filled out properly), and you find yourself unable to enter said dressing room, like Oliver Ekman-Larsson. From NHL.com:

“I’m not happy about it,” Maloney said. “It’s something that players are required to take care of and (his actions) shows a lack of getting after it. He’s always in great shape and he’s an important guy. But we have 57 players here and we’re supposed to have 58 and there’s no excuse for it.”

Teams usually have someone to help the players, but in the end, it’s on them.

They’re talking about fining him, which would be fair. Someone gives you a $33 million contract, you best be doing all you can to get to work.


Cody Hodgson signed a six-year extension

That’s going to pay him $4.25 million per year, if Nick Kypreos’ latest ugly math tweet is accurate.

That number’s going to surprise a few people, given how many players in his situation (Subban, Kadri etc.) were forced to take cheap “bridge deals.” But frankly, this makes sense to me. If you truly believe Cody Hodgson is going to be a high quality top-6 guy, then maybe you’re worried a bridge contract allows him to post some ridiculous numbers and come at you for eight years at seven million each in just a year from now when he’s extension-hunting. With the cap going up, the idea of that happening is not all that unlikely, so hey, six years at $4.25 for Buffalo? Sure, why not?

I saw Thomas Drance tweet about this earlier – it’s interesting to see what Hodgson was able to demand given that the Canucks wouldn’t have been able to afford to keep him anyway, so Zack Kassian is making more and more sense for them. Everyone is coming out just fine from that trade.


Joni Pitkanen is out for the season for the Hurricanes

Terrible news for Carolina. Pitkanen broke his heel bone (ugh) last season and missed some hockey, and that’s not an injury that just reassembles itself overnight – he’s going to miss all of this season too.

Since Pitkanen came into the league in 2003, he’s averaged over a half point per game from the back end, which is pretty impressive. With the Canes hoping to take that next step, this really hurts them. Ron Hainsey, the rumoured replacement, isn’t quite on Pitkanen’s level.


Kyle Wellwood signed a month deal in Switzerland

He’ll find a place in the NHL again at some point. At least I hope he does. That is one entertaining hockey player.