RIP Chris Simon

Canadian former NHL enforcer Chris Simon has passed away at age 52. Simon’s family confirmed the 52-year-old took his own life and believe he was suffering from brain trauma. Simon was a mainstay of the NHL’s bruiser era, playing 15 seasons. Seven of those came with the Washington Capitals, where Simon remains one of the club’s most penalized players, with 666 penalty minutes in 320 games.

Born in Wawa, Ontario, his father, John, is of Ojibwe¬†descent from the¬†Wiikwemkoong First Nation¬† on Manitoulin Island. As a teenager, he struggled with an addiction to¬†alcohol¬†but was helped to sobriety by future¬†Buffalo Sabres¬†and¬†New York Islanders¬†coach¬†Ted Nolan in 1992. Simon grew up in¬†Wawa, Ontario, playing his minor hockey for the Wawa Flyers of the NOHA. As a Bantam, he played Jr.B. hockey for the Sault Ste. Marie Thunderbirds of the NOJHL in 1987‚Äď88. He was selected in the 3rd round (42nd overall) of the 1988 OHL Priority Selection by the¬†Ottawa 67’s. As a teen, he fought addictions and served an eight-game suspension for a stick-swinging incident while on the 67’s. Simon subsequently became sober and counselled indigenous youth on the dangers of alcohol.

Simon was drafted in the 2nd round (25th overall) of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers, but was traded as part of the Eric Lindros trade to the Quebec Nordiques before playing any games for the Flyers. The Nordiques awarded Simon his NHL debut in the subsequent 1992-93 season, with Simon netting two points and 67 penalty minutes in just 16 NHL games. He’d break the 100-penalty minutes mark in 1993-94, a feat he’d achieve in each of the next four seasons and pull off nine total times in his career. His most penalized year in the NHL was 1995-96, when Simon totaled 250 penalty minutes in 64 games, the sixth-most in Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche history. Simon was also a major piece of Colorado’s 1996 Stanley Cup win, providing a physical presence and grit that pushed the Avalanche down the stretch.

He also played for the Calgary Flames,¬†Colorado Avalanche,¬†Washington Capitals,¬†Chicago Blackhawks,¬†New York Rangers¬†(where he split the season as a left wing and right wing),¬†New York Islanders, and¬†Minnesota Wild. Simon was a member of the¬†Washington Capitals¬†when they went to the¬†Stanley Cup¬†finals in 1998. He had been enjoying great offensive success that season until a shoulder injury knocked him out for much of the playoff run. He underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in December 1998. He was the team’s leading goal scorer in the 1999‚Äď2000 season with 29 goals in 75 games. He also made it to the¬†Stanley Cup¬†finals with the¬†Calgary Flames¬†in 2004, and played for the Flames for two seasons before being signed as a free agent in 2006 by the¬†New York Islanders. He was then traded to the¬†Minnesota Wild¬†for a 6th round draft pick.

In 1996, he won the¬†Stanley Cup with the Avalanche. Each player on the winning team is given 24 hours alone with the Cup. Simon took it to his hometown of Wawa, Ontario. After showing it to the townspeople he and his maternal grandfather took the Cup on a fishing trip. Simon was seen as a role model to Native Canadians for his accomplishments in the NHL. Simon’s first wife was Lauri Smith and they had a son. Later they divorced. He and his second wife Valerie had four children and they divorced in 2017. In 2017, Simon filed for¬†bankruptcy¬†and claimed he was unable to work due to his hockey injuries. In the filing, a doctor testified that Simon had symptoms of¬†chronic traumatic encephalopathy¬†which were believed to be attributed to significant brain trauma during his hockey career. The doctor further claimed that Simon suffered from depression, anxiety,¬†post-traumatic stress disorder, and¬†arthritis.

Chicago Blackhawks Cut Ties With Corey Perry; Leads To Rumours

Chicago Blackhawks¬†general manager Kyle Davidson said Tuesday the front office was told during a team trip last week about¬†Corey Perry committing possible misconduct, which led to an internal investigation culminating with the organization cutting ties with the veteran winger. Davidson spoke with reporters for 10 minutes to address the team’s decision to move on from Perry after the Blackhawks announced earlier in the day that they placed the 38-year-old on unconditional waivers for the purposes of terminating his contract.

In their initial statement, the Blackhawks alleged Perry engaged in conduct they described as “unacceptable,” saying it was in violation of both the terms of his contract and the team’s internal policies that are “intended to promote professional and safe work environments.” They did not detail what allegedly happened. Upon being asked if the incident itself was criminal or could potentially become criminal, Davidson said: “It was a workplace matter.” Davidson said the NHL and the NHLPA were aware of what’s happening before noting it was “a team incident and so it was a team decision.”

Davidson said the team was first notified of the allegations last week when the Blackhawks were in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday to play the¬†Blue Jackets. Sources told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan that Perry indeed traveled with the team to Columbus last Tuesday, a day before the game, and an incident occurred that day involving a team employee. Davidson said Perry, who did not play in the team’s 7-3 loss, was “immediately pulled” from the game once the Blackhawks were notified, and at that point, the club began an investigation.

Asked for how Perry responded to the team’s decision, Davidson declined to get into the details of his discussion with him. Davidson said he did speak with the team earlier in the day to inform it of the Blackhawks’ decision to place Perry on waivers. He also said the players have no knowledge or any details of the incident. Perry’s status with the Blackhawks had been in question. His most recent game came Nov. 19 in a 3-2 loss to the¬†Buffalo Sabres that saw Perry finish with zero points — the last game the Blackhawks played before Davidson said they first learned about the allegations.

Perry had initially taken a leave of absence from the team, with Davidson telling reporters on Saturday the decision to send him away from the team was made by management. Perry’s agent, Pat Morris, said in a statement that same day that it was Perry’s decision to leave the Blackhawks. The questions around Perry’s absence eventually led to social media speculation over the past few days that the incident itself may have involved the family member of a Blackhawks player. Davidson addressed those rumors in his opening statement. He said the incident did not involve any players or their family members.

Marc-Andre Fleury & The Mask Debate With The NHL

Veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury took a stand against NHL regulations by wearing a custom-designed mask for the Minnesota Wild’s Native American Heritage night on Friday. Despite being informed by the league that such a display was not allowed, Fleury hit the ice against the Colorado Avalanche proudly donning the specially crafted mask. Agent Allan Walsh confirmed earlier reports that the NHL had prohibited Fleury from wearing the mask, even during warmups. The league has a strict policy against players showcasing specialty jerseys, masks, stickers, decals, or tape for theme nights. This stance has drawn criticism in the past, notably during Pride nights when the NHL initially banned rainbow-colored tape, only to backtrack following backlash from the hockey community.

For Marc-Andre Fleury, the motivation behind his defiance was personal and poignant. Wanting to honor his wife, V√©ronique, an Indigenous woman, Fleury aimed to celebrate Native American Heritage Night in a meaningful way. The 38-year-old goaltender from Montreal, Quebec ‚Äď a three-time Stanley Cup champion and the 2021 Vezina Trophy winner for the league’s top goaltender ‚Äď made a powerful statement about recognizing and respecting diverse backgrounds within the hockey community. Marc-Andre Fleury’s actions have reignited discussions about the¬†NHL’s uniform policy and the balance between honoring cultural heritage and adhering to league regulations. His decision to prioritize personal expression and support for his wife adds a compelling chapter to the ongoing conversation about inclusivity in the sport.

Despite the NHL’s strict regulations against players donning specialty items for theme nights, it appears that goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and the¬†Minnesota Wild¬†may avoid fines for the custom-designed mask worn during Native American Heritage night. Fleury, seeking to honor his wife, Veronique, who is of Abenaki and Mi’kmaq descent, offered to pay any potential fine personally. In response, the NHL reportedly threatened the organization with an “additional significant fine.”

Big Joe Thornton Retires From Playing Hockey

Joe Thornton has officially announced his retirement from the NHL following a 24-year career as one of the game’s top playmakers. The 44-year-old Thornton hadn’t played since the 2021-22 season with Florida but hadn’t made an official declaration about his plans until releasing a video Saturday through the¬†San Jose Sharks. Thornton entered the NHL as the No. 1 overall pick by Boston in 1997, had his greatest success in 15 seasons with San Jose following a trade to the Sharks, and then finished his career by playing one season in Toronto and Florida.

He played 1,714 regular-season games, recording 1,109 assists and 430 goals. He was a four-time All-Star, an Olympic gold medalist for Canada in 2010 and won the Hart Trophy as MVP and Art Ross Trophy as scoring leader in 2005-06 after getting traded early that season from Boston to San Jose. Thornton ranks seventh all-time in assists, 12th in points with 1,539 and sixth in games played. About the only thing Thornton didn’t accomplish was winning a Stanley Cup, losing in his only trip to the final round in 2016 with the Sharks against the¬†Pittsburgh Penguins.

But with his pristine playmaking and iconic beard, Thornton became the face of the Sharks franchise after being acquired from Boston on Nov. 30, 2005. San Jose had only intermittent success before his arrival but made the playoffs all but two seasons during Thornton’s time with the Sharks. He helped the team win the Presidents’ Trophy with the best record in 2008-09, make back-to-back conference finals appearances in 2010 and ’11, the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 and another trip to the Western Conference final in 2019. His No. 19 will one day be raised to the rafters at the Shark Tank next to his old running mate Patrick Marleau’s No. 12 that was retired earlier this year.

At the time of his retirement, Thornton was the last active player in any of the major North American professional sports leagues to have played in the 1990s, and the last active NHL player to have played in an NHL game against Wayne Gretzky. Thornton is married to Tabea Pfendsack, whom he met while playing in Switzerland during the¬†2004‚Äď05 NHL lockout. The couple has a daughter and a son. Born in St. Thomas,¬†Ontario, Thornton became a naturalized American citizen in July 2009 at a ceremony in¬†Campbell,¬†California, a suburb of¬†San Jose; he later also received a Swiss passport. Joe and former Sharks teammate¬†Scott Thornton are first cousins.

Las Vegas Golden Knights Win The 2003 Stanley Cup

Vegas Golden Knights Win the Stanley Cup in Just Their Sixth Season. The Western Conference  champion Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Eastern Conference champion Florida Panthers four games to one in the best-of-seven series to one to earn their first championship in their sixth season. The Knights, the top seed in the Western Conference, used a high-speed, sharp-elbowed attack to overwhelm the Panthers, the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, in five games. The Knights were making their second appearance in the finals, the same as the Panthers.

But while the Panthers came within one round of a championship for the first time since 1996, the Knights made the second-fastest trip to a Stanley Cup victory by any team in the expansion era that began in 1967, trailing only the Edmonton Oilers, who won the Cup in their fifth season in the league. (The Oilers played seven seasons in the World Hockey Association before joining the NHL). This was the first Finals series since 2018 in which neither team had previously won the Stanley Cup.

Quebec native Jonathan Marchessault was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs. Vegas became the second fastest team to win the Stanley Cup as an expansion franchise, following the Edmonton Oilers in 1984. The win gave the state of Nevada and the Las Vegas metropolitan area its first ever major (North American ‚ÄúBig Four‚ÄĚ) professional sports championship and the first ever championship for a North American Big Four professional sports team that was founded in the 21st Century.

The 2023 Stanley Cup Final : We Will Have A First Time Winner No Matter What

The Stanley Cup playoffs – I have missed most of it, only following a little bit. I didn’t realize that the final has started. ¬†The¬†Vegas Golden Knights are taking on the Florida Panthers in a battle between the top seed in the West and the lowest seed in the East. That may seem like a lopsided series, but the Panthers have looked like anything but a No. 8 seed in the postseason. Florida took down the¬†Boston Bruins, the Stanley Cup favorites, in the first round before going 8-1 against the¬†Toronto Maple Leafs¬†and¬†Carolina Hurricanes in the next two rounds.

The Golden Knights were one of the favorites to win the West, and they’ve played like one. Vegas rolled through Winnipeg in the first round and defeated the¬†Edmonton Oilers¬†in the second round. The Golden Knights took a 3-0 lead on the¬†Dallas Stars in the conference final, but the Stars clawed their way back for a couple wins before Vegas slammed the door with an emphatic Game 6 win. Both teams have looked worthy of the Stanley Cup through the first three rounds, but only one of them can win it all now. No matter who wins, we will have a first time Cup winner.

RIP Gino Odkick

Wayne Gino Odjick, (September 7, 1970 ‚Äď January 15, 2023) a Canadian professional¬†ice hockey¬†left winger¬†who played twelve seasons in the¬†National Hockey League¬†(NHL) from 1990 to 2002 for the¬†Vancouver Canucks,¬†New York Islanders,¬†Philadelphia Flyers¬†and¬†Montreal Canadiens has passed away at the age of 52. A fan favourite who played eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, he death was announced live during the broadcast of the Sunday’s Canucks game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Odjick was born in the Algonquin¬† reserve¬† of Kitigan Zibi just outside the town of¬† Maniwaki,¬† Quebec. Odjick was the fourth child and only son of six children for Joe and Giselle, after Debbie, Shelley, Judy and ahead of Janique and Dina; the Odjicks also raised at least 32¬†foster children. Originally named Wayne, Odjick was soon given a new name, Gino, as the family found out there was another Wayne on the reserve. He played in the 1983¬†Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament¬†with a¬†minor ice hockey team from Maniwaki. While at the Hawkesbury Hawks, a Tier II junior team from Ontario, Odjick was given the nickname “the Algonquin Assassin,” a reference to his heritage and skills as a fighter.

As a youth Odjick played two seasons with the¬†Laval Titan¬†of the¬†Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, playing for the¬†Memorial Cup both seasons. Odjick was drafted by the¬†Vancouver Canucks¬†in the fifth round (86th overall) in the¬†1990 NHL Entry Draft. He played 17 games for the Canucks’ minor league affiliate, the¬†Milwaukee Admirals¬†of the¬†International Hockey League before joining the Canucks full-time in 1990. His primary role with the Canucks was as an¬†enforcer. For part of his time in¬†Vancouver, he played on a line with the high scoring¬†Pavel Bure. For the¬†1993‚Äď94 NHL season, Odjick had a career high of 16 goals and 13 assists for 29 points. He played in a total of 8 seasons for the Canucks from 1990‚Äď91 to¬†1997‚Äď98. During six of those seasons, he had over 200¬†penalty¬†minutes and twice he had over 300.

His sixth season (1997‚Äď98) with over 200 penalty minutes was split between the Canucks (181 penalty minutes in 35 games) and New York Islanders (31 in 13 games). In the 1997‚Äď98 season, Odjick was traded to the¬†New York Islanders¬†and played there until¬†1999‚Äď2000¬†when he was traded to the¬†Philadelphia Flyers. He left¬†Philadelphia¬†during the¬†2000‚Äď01¬†for the¬†Montreal Canadiens. His last NHL season was with¬†Montreal¬†in¬†2001‚Äď02 as he had to sit out the next season due to concussion. In 2003, Odjick moved back to Vancouver and partnered with the¬†Musqueam First Nation to manage the Musqueam Golf & Learning Academy. On June 26, 2014, Odjick revealed that he was diagnosed with the rare terminal disease¬†AL amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder and whose exact cause is often unknown.

This condition had slowly been hardening his heart by coating it in abnormal protein deposits, which eventually led Odjick to suffer a heart attack. He received the Indspire Award¬†in the sports category in 2015. Given just months to live, Odjick turned to an experimental new treatment for his illness. Odjick began recovering, and three years later, his heart was working at 60% of its capacity. Odjick died from a heart attack on January 15, 2023, at the age of 52. Odjick’s parents, Joe and Marie-Antoinette, predeceased him. He had eight children and five sisters.

Colorado Avalanche Win The 2022 Stanley Cup

Colorado dethroned the two-time defending champions 2-1 in Game 6 en route to winning the 2022 Stanley Cup on Sunday night. Nathan MacKinnon paced the Avalanche to victory with two points (1G, 1A), while Artturi Lehkonen sealed the victory with his fourth game-winning goal of the postseason. Darcy Kuemper made 22 saves on 23 shots in the championship victory. With 29 points (8G, 21A) in 20 postseason games, Cale Makar was named the 2022 Conn Smythe Trophy winner, awarded annually to the annually to the most valuable player. For Tampa Bay, Steven Stamkos scored the lone goal, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves on 30 shots.

2022 NHL PLAYOFFs – Second Round Lineups

With the first round having ended, we now have the lineups for the Eastern & Western conferences. In the West while Edmonton beat of the strong LA Kings, they will now face their Provincial rivals in the Calgary Flames who also got the better of the Dallas Stars in 7 games. The winner of this series will faceoff in the Western Conference Finals against the winner of the Colorado Avalanche vs the St.Louis Blues. Colorado has seen off Nashville while the Blues had defeated the Minnesota Wild.

In the East we have a Florida matchup of the defending champions Tampa Bay Lightning face off against the Florida Panthers. While Tampa won 4-3 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Panthers had won their series against the Washington Capitals. The final 2 sides are Carolina Hurricanes who saw off the Boston Bruins and who will now face the New York Rangers who had beaten the Pittsburgh Penguins.

2022 NHL Playoff Lineups In The East & The West

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Florida Panthers (A1) vs. Washington Capitals (WC2)

Toronto Maple Leafs (A2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (A3)

Carolina Hurricanes (M1) vs. Boston Bruins (WC1)

New York Rangers (M2) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (M3)

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Colorado Avalanche (C1) vs. Nashville Predators (WC2)

Minnesota Wild (C2) vs. St. Louis Blues (C3)

Calgary Flames (P1) vs. Dallas Stars (WC1)

Edmonton Oilers (P2) vs. Los Angeles Kings (P3)

RIP Guy LaFleur

Canadian professional ice hockey player, Guy Damien Lafleur OC CQ, nicknamed “The Flower” and “Le D√©mon Blond”, has passed away at the age of 70 . He was the first player in National Hockey League (NHL) history to score 50 goals in six consecutive seasons as well as 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons. Between 1971 and 1991, Lafleur played right wing for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Quebec Nordiques in an NHL career spanning 17 seasons, and five Stanley Cup championships in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979 (all with the Canadiens). In 2017 Lafleur was named one of the ‘100 Greatest NHL Players’ in history.

For decades, Lafleur ‚ÄĒ nicknamed “The Flower” ‚ÄĒ scored seemingly with ease at all levels of hockey and grew into the role of one of the game’s flashiest superstars. He often mesmerized fans with his signature long blond hair flowing behind him as he rushed up the ice before unleashing one of his patented booming slapshots. Lafleur played junior hockey for the Quebec Jr. Aces and Quebec Remparts. He amassed a staggering 465 points in two seasons and two playoffs with the Remparts, leading the team to the Memorial Cup title in 1971. His scoring prowess was so dominating in the late ’70s that legendary Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Dick Irvin Jr. called him the greatest player in the world.

Lafleur transcended the sport despite his known habit of smoking cigarettes. Former coach Scotty Bowman said he would even smoke between periods. At only 33 years old, he abruptly announced his retirement weeks into the 1984 season. For the next three years, Lafleur generally only played publicly in charity hockey events, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988. That same year, New York Rangers general manager Phil Esposito convinced him to come out of retirement and return to the NHL. Lafleur played a season in New York, highlighted by a two-goal performance at the fabled Montreal Forum, resulting in a rare standing ovation for an opposing player. He then played two more years with his hometown Quebec Nordiques before calling it a career for a second and final time following the 1991 season.

Today his statue stands outside Montreal’s Bell Centre arena alongside Canadiens all-time greats Howie Morenz, Maurice Richard and B√©liveau. His No. 10 hangs in the rafters of the arena after being retired on Feb. 16, 1985. At the time it was the sixth number retired by the Canadiens franchise. The cause of death was not immediately known. However, Lafleur suffered through health issues in the latter stages of his life. In September 2019, he underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery, which was followed by lung surgery two months later. Then, in October of 2020, he endured a recurrence of lung cancer. Lafleur is survived by his two sons, Mark and Martin, and his wife, Lise.

RIP Mike Bossy

Former Canadian professional ice hockey player, Mike Bossy, passed away on April 14th. He spent his entire NHL career, which lasted from 1977 to 1987, with the Islanders, and was a crucial part of their four consecutive¬†Stanley Cup championships in the early 1980s. Bossy won the¬†Calder Memorial Trophy¬†in 1978 as NHL rookie of the year when he set the then-record for most goals by a rookie with 53. He won the¬†Conn Smythe Trophy¬†in the¬†1982 Stanley Cup playoffs¬†as the most valuable player and the¬†Lady Byng Trophy¬†for combining high quality play with sportsmanship three times. He led the NHL in goals twice and was second three further times. Bossy was voted to the league’s first all-star team as right wing five times, with three further selections to the second all-star team.

He is one of two players to score consecutive Stanley Cup-winning goals (1982 and 1983) and the only player to record four game-winning goals in one playoff series (1983 Conference Final). Bossy is the NHL’s all-time leader in average goals scored per regular season game, holds the NHL’s third-highest all-time average points scored per regular season game, and is one of only five players to score¬†50 goals in 50 games, although three others did it faster than 50 games. He tied for the record for most 50-goal seasons with¬†Wayne Gretzky¬†with nine, though his were consecutive as opposed to Gretzky’s being non-consecutive; he thus is the sole record-holder for most consecutive 50-goal seasons.

Bossy was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991. In 2017, he was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history. He grew up in a family of Detroit Red Wings in the Ahuntsic-Cartierville area of Montreal. As a youth, Bossy played in the 1969 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament with a minor ice hockey team from Montreal. He started his junior career with the Laval National of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at the age of 15. After his playing career he joined the broadcaster roll and radio. Bossy met his future wife Lucie Creamer when he was 14, and she was working the snack bar at a rink where he was playing; they were married July 23, 1977.

Bossy and his wife had two daughters, Josiane and Tanya, and two grandchildren. On October 19, 2021, Bossy announced that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and died in Montreal at the age of 65.

RIP Eugene Melnyk

Canadian businessman , philanthropist, and owner, governor, and chairman of the¬†National Hockey League¬†(NHL)’s¬†Ottawa Senators¬†and AHL‚Äôs¬†Belleville Senators Eugene Melnyk passed away on the 28th of March. He was the founder,¬†chairman, and¬†CEO¬†of¬†Biovail Corporation, once Canada’s largest publicly traded pharmaceutical company with more than C$1-billion in annual revenue. He sold almost all of his holdings of the company by 2010.¬†Canadian Business¬†magazine ranked Melnyk 79th on its 2017 list of Canada’s 100 wealthiest people, with a net worth of $1.21 billion.

Melnyk was born in¬†Toronto,¬†Ontario, on May 27, 1959, the son of Ferdinand and Verna Melnyk, who were both born in¬†Ukraine. He was a Canadian citizen and also a long time resident of Barbados, where he sent up residence to avoid the heavy taxes in his home country. In 1982, Melnyk founded medical publishing company Trimel Corporation, which was sold to Thomson Publications (part of the¬†Thomson Corporation) in 1989. In 1989, Melnyk founded¬†Biovail Corporation, a specialty pharmaceutical company. During his time as chairman and CEO of¬†Biovail, revenues grew from $19 million in 1995 to $1.067 billion in 2006. One of Biovail’s strategies was to look for drugs with expired patents, then reinvent them with the company’s proprietary technologies.

Melnyk’s first foray into sports franchise ownership came in 2001 with the purchase of the St. Michael’s Majors of the Ontario Hockey League. At the time, the club played at the St. Michael’s College School’s Arena in Toronto, but Melnyk aimed to move the team to nearby Mississauga.¬† As there was already an OHL team in Mississauga, the Mississauga IceDogs, Melnyk subsequently purchased the IceDogs franchise in 2006 and resold them in 2007 in order to facilitate the move of the Majors from Toronto to Mississauga. Per the deal arranged by Melnyk, the IceDogs’ new ownership relocated the team to St. Catharines, Ontario and the team became known as the Niagara IceDogs. On May 10, 2012, Melnyk sold the St. Michael’s Majors (now called the Mississauga Steelheads) to Elliott Kerr for an undisclosed price.

On August 26, 2003, Melnyk purchased the¬†Ottawa Senators¬†NHL¬†franchise along with their arena, then known as the¬†Corel Centre. At that time the team was facing bankruptcy and an uncertain future in Ottawa, and was purchased for the sum of US$92 million. In December, 2020, the Ottawa Senators were listed by¬†Forbes magazine as the NHL’s twenty-sixth highest valued franchise at US$450 million. His realationship with the Senators fanbase has been testy of late as some fans in Ottawa had gradually become disillusioned with Melnyk’s management style and perceived unwillingness to spend the money needed to build a championship-caliber team. This came after the Senators fell just one overtime goal shy of reaching the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals.

Melnyk was hospitalized for end-stage liver failure and had a liver transplant in May 2015 after a public appeal for a live liver donor found an anonymous donor. He died on March 28, 2022, due to an undisclosed illness at the age of 62.

An NHL Goalie Who Quit His Team Just Before The Whistle

There’s been some news around an NFL player who quit midgame by removing his jersey and throwing it into stand before leaving the field. The game was still going on but post game the coach said that the player was no long part of the organization. Now, I don’t care about American football so I looked around and found an NHL player who did something similar and saw a video and article about it.

The setting was Buffalo‚Äôs since-departed Memorial Auditorium, home of the NHL‚Äôs Sabres circa 1977. The anti-hero of the moment was Al Smith, the Mimico-raised goaltender, who had just finished warming up for a game he‚Äôd been told he would start. It was supposed to have been a rare opportunity for Smith, who‚Äôd come up in the Toronto pipeline and played a handful of games for the Maple Leafs at the tail end of their Original Six heyday. Smith, at the time, was 32. And though he‚Äôd established himself as a reliable pro in previous stops in Pittsburgh, Detroit and New England of the World Hockey Association, he‚Äôd hit a roadblock in Buffalo. More than 50 games into his second season, he‚Äôd been granted two starts. But with Sabres No. 1 Gerry Desjardins out with an eye injury, Smith had been told by coach Floyd Smith (no relation) that he‚Äôd be the guy.

Alas, the team‚Äôs plans changed. Just before the game Al Smith was informed that general manager Punch Imlach was insisting the Sabres cede the net to rookie Don Edwards, who‚Äôd been brought up from the Sabres‚Äô farm team. His chance suddenly vanished, Smith soon did likewise. After the playing of ‚ÄúThe Star-Spangled Banner,‚ÄĚ Smith instructed Buffalo trainer Frank Christie to open the gate to the players‚Äô bench. Skating onto the ice as the opening faceoff loomed, Smith partook in a farewell twirl, waving theatrically toward Sabres owner Seymour Knox, who was sitting behind the bench. And with that, the goalie headed to the dressing room, removed his gear and announced his retirement. Frank Orr, the Star hockey writer, called it an ‚Äúexit with flair.‚ÄĚ

Even his wife was surprised but Smith didn‚Äôt stay retired for long. In the rival-league era, goaltenders were in demand. And Smith, it ought to be noted, was no slouch. The following season, after he landed back in New England with the Whalers, he was named the WHA‚Äôs top goaltender. Before his career was over, he would play in both the NHL and WHA all-star games. In 1981, Smith played 37 games for the Colorado Rockies and retired. He became a car salesman in Vancouver, and later headed to the British Columbia interior to pick fruit. Before returning to Toronto, Smith also was a salesman for Reuters. Once he returned to Toronto, Smith engaged in his love of writing. Subjects would include sports, such as in his 1997 novel The Parade has Passed, featuring a WHA forward who hitchhikes to the funeral of his former coach, who had died in a brawl.

Smith later wrote the play Confessions to Anne Sexton and the beginnings of a novel entitled, The Tragedy of Lake Tuscarora. To make ends meet, Smith became a taxi driver for Beck Taxi. It was not uncommon for Smith to pick up old friends and former teammates. In 1998, Smith used the $34,000 of pension benefits he’d received as part of the NHL’s settlement with former players to produce Confessions to Anne Sexton at the Alumnae Theatre on Berkeley Street in downtown Toronto. The play was about a former goalie who goes to New York City to attend an Impressionist art exhibit. He died in 2002 as a result of pancreatic cancer.

RIP Tony Esposito

Tony Esposito, the pioneering Hall of Fame goaltender who played almost his entire 16-year career with the Chicago Blackhawks, has died following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer, the team announced Tuesday. He was 78. Esposito debuted with Montreal during the 1968-69 season and appeared in 13 games. He was then left unprotected with the Canadiens deep in goalies and taken by the Blackhawks in an intraleague draft for $25,000, an investment that paid immediate dividends for a team that finished last in its division. Esposito helped lead the Blackhawks to first place, showcasing his butterfly style to post a 2.17 goals-against average and 15 shutouts, still a modern record for an NHL goalie. He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year as well as the Vezina Trophy given to the top goaltender. He also won the Vezina in 1972 and 1974.

Esposito was from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, just across the St. Mary’s River from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and he helped Michigan Tech to an NCAA championship in 1965. His older brother, Phil, was a star in his own right, a Hall of Fame center who played 18 seasons in the NHL. The younger Esposito’s first NHL start was Dec. 5, 1958, against Boston ‚ÄĒ and his brother. Phil Esposito scored twice on his younger brother, but Tony made 33 saves and the game ended 2-2.

Esposito helped lead Chicago to the playoffs in 14 seasons. The Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1971 and 1973, losing each time to his former team, Montreal. He is Chicago’s career leader with 418 wins and 74 shutouts. His overall record of 423-306-151 ranks 10th in league history. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988, joining his brother. The Blackhawks retired Esposito’s No. 35 on Nov. 20, 1988, and paid tribute to him again on March 19, 2008. He was named a team ambassador in a pregame ceremony attended by franchise icons and former teammates Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita. In 2017, he was selected by the league as one of the “100 Greatest Players in NHL History.”

Esposito is survived by his wife Marilyn, sons Mark and Jason, and grandchildren Lauren and Kamryn. His brother, Phil, is 79 and does radio work for the Tampa Bay Lightning, which he helped found.

Tampa Bay Lightning Win 2021 Stanley Cup

The Tampa Bay Lightning are back-to-back Stanley Cup champions after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 in Game 5 on Wednesday night.  They are the second team of the salary cap era to repeat, joining the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins, though salary cap issues could make some parts of the team look different next season. Still, the Lightning will have top scorers in Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos, a top defenseman in Victor Hedman and a great goaltender in Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning won their 2020 championship in a bubble environment in Edmonton last fall, but this time, they got to celebrate in front of their fans at Amalie Arena. The Lightning are the first NHL team to clinch a Stanley Cup title at home since the Chicago Blackhawks did it in 2015 against Tampa Bay.