Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

(Graig Abel, Getty Images)

P.K. Subban has a lot he could be worrying about right now. Still a restricted free agent, his contract negotiations with the Montreal Canadiens have stretched into September with seemingly no resolution in sight. The two sides are reportedly at odds over contract length, with Subban seeking a long-term deal similar to those signed recently by young stars like Jeff Skinner, Taylor Hall, and Jordan Eberle and the Canadiens aiming for a two-year deal similar to the second contracts signed by Carey Price and Max Pacioretty.

Adding to that stress is the potential of the new CBA changing the rules on restricted free agency, which might make it even more imperative that he get a long-term deal done now before those new rules kick in. Of course, that might be some time given the state of the ongoing CBA negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA. Subban might not need to sit out training camp like Drew Doughty did last season while awaiting a contract extension, as training camp might end up cancelled.

Instead of worrying about all of that, however, Subban is focusing his attention on a much more worthwhile endeavour: lending his time and support to a new initiative to equip and pay registration fees for over 1000 young hockey players who might otherwise face difficult financial barriers to playing the game they love.

“I haven’t been worried about it [negotiations] all summer,” said Subban when I spoke to him yesteday. “I’ve been focusing on this program launching and I’m just happy that it’s here now. We can talk about the lockout all we want, but this program really is about the kids that are being locked out of opportunities to participate in hockey because of their financial situation.”

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A little under a week ago, James van Riemsdyk spoke with the Toronto media about playing centre.

He spent all of his time in Philadelphia on the wing, and the adjustment to playing the middle isn’t exactly the easiest position switch in hockey (wingers have the least to think about, centres the most). That’s not to say it can’t be done, but there will certainly be a little transition period.

Here’s what he had to say about his history as a forward, and the change in general: Read the rest of this entry »

The majority of this year’s NHL draft class were born in…gulp…1994. As in, Friends was kicking ass, The Offspring was pumping in a ton of hockey dressing rooms, and Ed Jovonovski had that new car smell.

We decided to test the knowledge of this year’s draft class on ’94 to see what these kids know about what was important to so many of us, way back when.

Here it is – with Rob Pizzo as your host, the Backhand Shelf Trivia Challenge: Class of ’94:

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Brian Burke has never been shy about the fact that he prefers bigger, more “truculent” players. His team, however, is certainly not amongst the biggest out there, so it was no surprise to see his latest forward acquisition come in at all of 6’3″.

Often, expectations on big guys are that they bring that truculence, whether it’s natural or not, and sometimes…it just isn’t (see: Joe Thornton). You can’t fake it and you shouldn’t force it. So, before the media could get to ripping JVR for his “soft” play, Burke got out ahead of things.

Here’s van Riemsdyk’s thoughts on being traded to “the Yankees of the NHL,” and Burke keeping everyone on track about what his new player really brings.

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For those of you hockey fans who live under rocks, the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers started their game with a line brawl yesterday…for the second time this year.

This was Devils’ coach Peter DeBoer’s revenge for John Tortorella starting his heavies in New Jersey earlier in the season. When Tortorella saw who DeBoer was starting, he promoted tough guy D-man Stu Bickel to center for the opening draw. Frankly, I can’t believe these two coaches didn’t get suspended for this debacle, but that’s a whole other ball of wax.

Here were the tilts:

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It’s no secret that it’s been a very rough season for the Edmonton Oilers. After two seasons at last overall in the NHL, it looks like the once-proud franchise is headed for a third consecutive lottery pick. Luckily for fans of the team, they can keep a close eye on the perpetual rebuild process of the franchise in ways no fanbase has ever had the luxury of doing: for instance, the ‘Oil Change’ documentary series is in its second season, and the team can connect with its stars Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle via social media.

While the frivolities of NHL life are chronicled one mundane tweet at a time by 99% of NHLers who use Twitter, the Oilers’ S. Horcov, a Soviet ex-pat who captains the team, has a very eye-opening feed which takes his followers behind the scenes. Horcov, under long-term employ of the Oilers, can be quite critical of management, although in his biography he states “in Russia if you tweet wrong, it is gulag for you. Here I am free man“.

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When you’ve been named the NHL’s Coach of the Year twice, won an Olympic gold medal, the World Cup of Hockey, two gold medals with Canada’s junior program, and guided multiple NHL clubs to their best seasons in modern history, having your team finish dead last in the NHL during the final season of your coaching career doesn’t seem to add up. Yet, this is what happened the last time Pat Quinn was seen behind the bench as the Edmonton Oilers’ head coach.

“We had some young kids that that were first round picks, but quite frankly I wasn’t sure that they were first round picks,” said Quinn of the Oilers. “I knew it wasn’t a good team when I took the job, but I took it with a plan to help them be better. That’s what I do. I’ve taken over teams that weren’t very good, and after a few years you get them better. I thought that was going to be what happened in Edmonton, but after the first year they decided to make a change. I’m not sure why, you’d have to ask them. I wasn’t ready for it. I wanted to complete the job that I was hired to do there. Unfortunately it didn’t happen.”

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