On Avs, Alfie and St. Nick
Various blips in need of a blast in this week’s special National Hockey League roundup.
Lots to cover off as hockey melts the ice on another season and has already fired up a jump-start towards the next.
Avs Trump a Dynasty
It was bound to happen. In fact, I thought the New York Rangers were going to turn the trick and send the dynastic Tampa Bay Lightning to the showers a couple of weeks back.
The stubborn Bolts though hung tough, and around long enough to make the Stanley Cup final a toss-up that really, came within a couple of goals of a threepeat.
Credit Colorado for going ‘all-in’ at the trade deadline and collecting valuable and somewhat pricey add-ons like Josh Manson and Artturi Lehkonen. Both made a significant difference.
We don’t expect a dynasty in the Rockies though as the Avs currently carry 10 unrestricted free agents into the summer.
Alfredsson to the HHOF
Vigorous lobbying from the nation’s capital (#AlfieToTheHall) paid off as former Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson had his name called on Monday (joining the Sedin twins, Roberto Luongo, Finnish star Riikka Sallinen and builder Herb Carnegie as inductees).
Alfredsson never won a Cup with Ottawa but remember this isn’t the ‘NHL’ hall of fame, it’s the Hockey Hall of Fame and Alfredsson shone on the international stage, winning a gold with Sweden in the 2006 Olympics. He lead the tournament in scoring to boot.
Finally: Lucky Luke
Well, it’s about time.
Ottawa native Luke Richardson lands a head coaching gig in Chicago with the Blackhawks.
This type of move has been whistling in the winds for years. After spending four seasons behind the bench in Montreal as an assistant, serving in that same role with the Islanders and the Senators, and head-coaching the AHL’s Binghamton Senators, the now-53-year-old former bruising defenceman has his first kick at being the boss.
Luke’s served his time and is by all reports one of hockey’s bright minds. Just not too sure why it took so long.
Senators Hold Top-10 Pick
Moving on . . .
Paul, Pageau moves prove similar
You can’t teach clutch, you’re either born with the temperament or not. Former Senators Nick Paul and J-G Pageau have plenty, which is why it was incredibly unfortunate for Ottawa Fan to watch the two clutchies moved.
Pageau’s been a team leader and stalwart with the NY Islanders since arriving in an early 2020 deal, Paul – even more so – in his short stay with Tampa. His superb playoff performance will see the doors on his bank account swing wide open this summer when Paul enters free agency. The Lightning are hard to the cap but I’m pretty sure they’ll do everything they can to bring the 27-year-old back into the fold.
THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: When I think Tampa, from here on in, I think: Resilient, defiant, warriors . . . My favourite quote from the past few months of warfare: "Everyone that thought I was a liability in the playoffs can kiss my ass." Gotcha there Nazem Kadri . . . Playoff MVPs for broadcasting – Chris Cuthbert, Ray Ferraro, Kevin Bieksa . . . How much would the playoff hopes of Ottawa ramp up for next season if the Senators still had Mika Zibanejad and Nick Paul? . . . Speaking of do-overs, how you handling the Mikhail Sergachev trade now, Montreal? . . . And wouldn’t have made more sense to hang onto the underrated Artturi Lehkonen? . . . Can’t remember a Cup final having more chatter about too-many-men-on-the-ice. Must have made the players and (particularly) the coaches a little jumpy . . . If you really wanted to pound nails on that one, referees could likely call it 20 times per game . . . Speaking of the stripes, did it not look like good ol’ 1980s playoff hockey out there during the finale? Everything and anything goes . . . Date to remember could be a date to remember: July 13th, when a slew of high quality NHL free agents go to market . . . No more big-boy hockey until September. After slurping up the past playoffs, that fact stings a bit. This post-season was ripe with exceptional hockey featuring exceptional storylines and talent.