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.
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)
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)
Canadian professional ice hockey player, Guy Damien Lafleur, nicknamed “The Flower” and “Le Démon 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 — nicknamed “The Flower” — 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 Béliveau. 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.
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.
Canadian businessman , philanthropist, and owner, governor, and chairman of the National Hockey League (NHL)’s Ottawa Senators and AHL’s 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.
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’s since-departed Memorial Auditorium, home of the NHL’s 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’d been told he would start. It was supposed to have been a rare opportunity for Smith, who’d 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’d established himself as a reliable pro in previous stops in Pittsburgh, Detroit and New England of the World Hockey Association, he’d hit a roadblock in Buffalo. More than 50 games into his second season, he’d 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’d be the guy.
Alas, the team’s 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’d been brought up from the Sabres’ farm team. His chance suddenly vanished, Smith soon did likewise. After the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Smith instructed Buffalo trainer Frank Christie to open the gate to the players’ 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 “exit with flair.”
Even his wife was surprised but Smith didn’t 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’s 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.
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 — 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.
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.
I haven’t been excited for the NHL in a while. Many years ago (Jesus H. Christ, has it it been over 20 years now) I slowly got into ice hockey and watched a few games every month on ESPN. I remember watching a few episodes of a program on the channel in which they would highlight a team each episode and I sat and watched them during the summer. The program ended just before the October NHL season premier and I was excited for watching some games. That was back in the 2000-01 season and I must have watched a handful of games before the playoffs. Watching an emotional Ray Bourque being handed the Stanley Cup straight from Colorado Avalance captain, breaking tradition, sealed it for me. I was emotionally entangled.
Now though my team is the Ottawa Senators, I can get behind any Canadian side winning the toughest team competition/trophy that there is to win. I don’t mind as long as a Canadian side wins. It’s their game and they invented the sport as we know it and the rules and they have the maximum number of players in the league, despite only having 7 teams in the NHL. As the years progressed I started watching less and less games and in the past 10 years I have only watched highlights once in a while but I try to keep up with the playoffs.
This season the most storied franchise in the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens, have finally reached the Stanley Cup finals after 28 years. With an overtime goal in Game 6, the Canadiens sealed a meeting with either the Tampa Bay Lightning or the New York Islanders, who will play their series-deciding Game 7 on Friday. As well, for the first time in Montreal’s 103 year history, the club won the Clarence Campbell Bowl, traditionally given to the winner of the Western Conference champions. This will be the Canadiens’ 35th trip to the Stanley Cup Final, which begins on Monday.
They were seen as a lightweight team before the season began and barely made it to the finals. Dare Montrealers dream to win?
Dale Hawerchuk (April 4, 1963 – August 18, 2020) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player and coach. He was 57 years old. Hawerchuk played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 16 seasons as a member of the Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers. He won the NHL’s Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1982 and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility in 2001. Hawerchuk served as the head coach of the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League from 2010 to 2019.
Over a two-year run, Hawerchuk collected 286 points in 144 regular-season games, two Memorial Cups, CHL Player of the Year, Memorial Cup MVP and QMJHL playoff MVP. The Jets drafted the can’t-miss Toronto native first overall in 1981. Hawerchuk infamously inked his contract at the corner of Portage and Main in downtown Winnipeg after GM John Ferguson had him delivered in a Brinks truck, marking a rebirth of the franchise in the NHL.
Hawerchuk posted 100 or more points in six of his first seven seasons in the NHL, including five straight from 1983-88. From his debut in 1981 until 1993-94, Hawerchuk was second league-wide in points (1,298 ) only to Gretzky (2,157), topping Lemieux (1,211), Paul Coffey (1,246) and Mark Messier (1,220). Hawerchuk was the Jets’ captain for six seasons, then wore the ‘A’ in Buffalo for the following five. Hawerchuk is widely considered one of the best players ever to not win a Stanley Cup. The closest he got – the only time his team ever advanced past the second round – was the 1997 Stanley Cup Final with the Philadelphia Flyers, the last games he played before retiring at the age of 34 due to a degenerative hip problem.
His Jets just never had enough to sneak past the Smythe Division stalwarts in Edmonton and Calgary. On the international stage, Hawerchuk wrote a different story. Tasked with coaching Canada in the 1987 Canada Cup, Keenan learned his lesson from betting against Hawerchuk in the 1980 Memorial Cup. He was named head coach of the OHL’s Barrie Colts in 2010, where he posted five 40-plus win campaigns over nine seasons. In 2019, Hawerchuk announced he would be taking a leave of absence from the Colts for health reasons, which was later revealed to be stomach cancer. Hawerchuk completed a course of chemotherapy in April 2020, but died on August 18, 2020. Hawerchuk is survived by his wife, Crystal, and children Eric, Ben and Alexis.
The St. Louis Blues are the 2019 Stanley Cup champions after besting the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 at TD Garden in Boston Wednesday night.
The Stanley Cup playoffs are set to begin play Wednesday.
In the East, the Tampa Bay Lightning have to be the favorites after tying the Detroit Red Wings’ regular-season wins record set during the 1995-96 season. But seven really good hockey clubs are aiming for the Bolts.
In the West, Calgary has been at the top of the standings for the final third of the season, but the Flames aren’t a must-bet favorite like Tampa in the East. Winnipeg, Nashville and Vegas have been up and down but could all tear apart the West with a month of stellar play.
Former NHL goaltender Ray Emery drowned while swimming in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, on Sunday. He was 35. According to the Hamilton Police Department, Emery was reported missing just after 6 a.m. Sunday in Hamilton Harbour, which is on the western tip of Lake Ontario. His body was recovered in proximity to where he was last seen later in the afternoon, police said. The cause of death will be confirmed following an examination.
“They went out for a swim, and unfortunately, he did not emerge after diving in,” police Inspector Marty Schulenberg told The Hamilton Spectator. “We responded along with Hamilton Fire and EMS. Unfortunately, our efforts on the water and in the area just around the piers were met with negative results.”
Emery was an Ottawa Senators fourth-round draft pick in 2001. Over 11 NHL seasons, he played for the Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks. Nicknamed “Razor” for his aggressive style, Emery helped the Senators to the Stanley Cup Final in 2007 and won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013 as a backup to Corey Crawford. Emery last played in the NHL in the 2014-15 season for the Flyers, though he played one more professional season in the American Hockey League and in Germany’s DEL. He had a career NHL record of 145-86-28 with 16 shutouts and a 2.70 goals-against average.
Emery battled avascular necrosis, the same serious hip ailment that ended two-sport star Bo Jackson’s career. Emery played in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game Saturday night in Hamilton. Emery dealt with off-ice problems throughout his career, including an incident of road rage, assault of a trainer in Russia and behavior that led to him being sent home from Ottawa’s training camp. Emery spent a total of seven seasons in the Senators organization. With Ottawa, he sometimes found himself in hot water, including the day he missed a team flight. Another time he fought his pal, Brian McGrattan, during practice.
Fifteen people are dead after a collision on Friday between a Saskatchewan junior hockey team’s bus and a tractor-trailer in rural Saskatchewan. On Friday afternoon, the Broncos junior hockey team of Humboldt, Sask., were en route to a playoff game in Nipawin. Twenty-nine people were on board the team bus. At the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335, about 300 kilometres north of Regina, the bus collided with a tractor-trailer hauling peat moss. Both vehicles were obliterated by the impact. A 16-year-old player was among the dead, which included the coach, assistant coach, bus driver and a team announcer. The tractor-trailer driver survived. A dozen survivors are still in a Saskatoon hospital and four remain in critical condition.
The 15 people killed in the crash included many young players, their coach, a play-by-play radio announcer, an 18-year-old stats-keeper and a bus driver. The Saskatchewan Health Authority says four others are in serious condition and four patients are stable. Goalie Parker Tobin was killed and defenceman Xavier Labelle is alive, not the other way around, as originally reported. A fundraising campaign for the survivors and victims’ families has become GoFundMe’s most successful Canadian fundraiser ever, raising more than $6-million by Monday evening.
Congrats to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2016 Stanley Cup Champions!!!