A quick mix of the things we learned from Hockey Week, serious and less, and roll the four lines deep. Isiah Thomas refused to shake my hand after reading this week's column.
1. Of all European import signatures that entered the NHL in the past month, Mikko Lehtonen could have the greatest immediate effect.
Let the bidding begin.
Lehtonen and Jokerit agreed to terminate the defender's contract for an early Friday season so that the 26-year-old can sign for North America in the 2020/21 season and pursue a Stanley Cup.
Lehtonen was never drafted and comes from the cultural center of Turku, the oldest city in Finland and the same one that the NHL blessed with Miikka Kiprusoff, the brothers Koivu, Rasmus Ristolainen and Kaapo Kakko.
Lehtonen is an offensive defender with a left-footed shot who can quarter a power game and wears an eyesight wrist from the top. He won gold medals with his country at the 2014 Junior World Championships and the 2019 World Championships. At the 2018 Olympic Games, he played again for Finland. He has prevailed in Europe's top tracks and played in the Finnish and Swedish elite league before dominating in his first season in the KHL.
First 4-point game in the KHL: done
What Mikko Lehtonen can't do? pic.twitter.com/woEi6xrRAX
– KHL (@khl_eng) February 18, 2020
In 2019-20 he scored 17 goals and 32 assists in 52 games for Jokerit. He was the best scorer among all KHL defenders and the sixth highest scorer overall. The four points of the All-Star in six games led Jokerit to victory in the first round playoff series over Lokomotiv. Then the KHL canceled its season.
In a statement, Jokerit thanked GM Jari Kurri Lehtonen and wished him luck in the NHL, "where he has every chance of becoming an important player on his team."
Side note: This week, the KHL Board of Directors introduced a blanket salary cap of 900 million rubles ($ 11.9 million) for 2020-21 when it announced an increase in the cap to 1.3 billion rubles (17, $ 2 million).
#Jokerit and Mikko Lehtonen have mutually agreed to terminate the player's contract.
We all thank Mikko for a great year in Helsinki and wish him all the best in the NHL! #KHL pic.twitter.com/hNbnBHAWcm
– Jokerit Helsinki (@Jokerit_EN) May 1, 2020
The Los Angeles Kings, the New Jersey Devils and the Montreal Canadiens – long on the market for a playful defender with a left-footed shot – are just three teams that are said to be interested in the NHL-enabled import, the existence and confidence of which has increased since this World Cup gold last May.
"It all started with the World Cup," Lehtonen told the KHL website. “After a good summer, I arrived in a good team. It's easier if you have fantastic teammates and they make you a better player. "
2. Super rookie defenders Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes and Adam Fox jumped on a zoom call organized by the NHL and were asked which striker they least liked one on one with that Would defend game on the line. Not surprisingly, Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid topped the list.
Hughes about MacKinnon: "He's got this thing now that he's doing this Spin-o-Rama move. He's doing a Spin-o-Rama almost in front of the crease. He's hit you far and he's still cannon Spin-o-Rama and hit you like this. He did it to me a few times when we played it two months ago, so I was really impressed with him in this game. "
Fox on McDavid: "The way he can change speeds is difficult to play. You saw his goal against Toronto, where he comes in, slows down and then speeds up again. Apparently he has his hands, to keep up with the speed, which is pretty rare. So he's definitely a creepy guy. "
McDavid has recently considered the January goal of dusting Morgan Rielly from man to man.
"To do that in front of a lot of friends and family in my hometown was special, especially because the Oilers and I have had difficulties playing in Toronto in the past few years," said McDavid. "It was special for me and for my family to score and score."
McDavids highlight is a slam dunk contender for the goal of the year – and already has the voice of Mark Scheifele, who has broken it down here this week.
"It is something that I am very proud to be in this category every year," said McDavid. "So it means a lot that the fans reacted so excitedly."
The young defenders were also asked about the most difficult striker to get out of the fold.
Fox named Jordan Staal: "He is an elk in front of the net."
Makar emphasized Ryan Getzlaf: "He has a few centimeters on me, so that was a job there."
And Hughes nodded to friends Matthew and Brady Tkachuk: "I'm trying to get them out and we both laugh. It's pretty funny, but they're both really big, strong guys and they can tip anything, so they're there really dangerous. "
3. I called Dave Andreychuk, Hall of Fame player and Lightning vice president of corporate and community affairs, for an upcoming interview on the 1993 Maple Leafs playoff. We also talked about his current team. In particular the young two-way center Anthony Cirelli, who will strive for a new contract after a breakout campaign.
Apart from Tampa, Cirelli, 22, and Andreychuk have something in common. Both spent their youth collecting points for the Oshawa generals. For this reason, Cirelli was on Andreychuk's radar early.
Although Andreychuk is not directly involved in the hockey side of Bolts operations, he played a role in Cirelli's drafting to Tampa (72nd overall) in 2015.
"I had spoken to some of the Oshawa believers there that he got it and they informed me of many things that came to light," said Andreychuk. "There is no doubt that his hockey IQ is not in the charts. He is very tough. He is the overall player. I think he is proud of his game. It is not necessarily about goals and templates. He could be evolve into a 20 goal scorer, but I think he's proud of everything else – the little things in the game.
"He has come a long way. He is a big part of this team. He will be here for a while. You will try to lock him up as best you can because this kid is the real deal – and he will only get better. "
4. I asked Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper to join Lightning arch-enemy Brad Marchand's comments that older teams like Marchy & # 39; s Bruins would have a tougher time after the break, gaining momentum: “I honestly think the teams that will come back and look good are the really young teams. Teams like Toronto, Tampa, just really high-end skill teams. Because they will only have legs. Older teams will really fight. "
Cooper giggled and shook his head at the Marchand quote. He clearly enjoyed the art of playing.
"He's the best. All I know is that the Bruins are currently in almost every statistical category, including points that are number 1 in the league," Cooper replied. "If anything, I think the rest will probably help the teams, especially if you have a bit more miles on them. I don't think it's important. I think every team has skill; Every team is talented.
“What this break really did mean that so many outstanding players in this league, who were on the shelf due to injuries, got well. And I think when teams come back you will really get a real clue of what the team is about, just in the sense that everyone should be pretty healthy for the most part.
"Mindset will be a big part of it when you come back because you just don't know how it will affect certain individuals or as a team – as a group. But I don't think anyone has a leg on the other will. "
I asked Andreychuk the same question: Will age matter?
“The older you get, the longer the rebound takes. And I think (Marchand) is right – some of these older teams can find it difficult for boys to get back on track the way they did, ”said Andreychuk. "I don't know if someone is as ready as they want, but we'll see what happens. Most of this group has stayed here (in Tampa0. This group has a good chance of doing a good run here."
5. I didn't enjoy Cooper's concept of a meaningful hockey game in front of any live fans.
“Usually you practice in an empty arena. There are times of the year when you have open training, fans show up and then practice in front of fans. It's really weird. Conversely, you play games in front of fans, so it would be really weird to play without the fans, ”said the coach.
But Cooper believes the strangeness will go away after a few shifts – and he has a real example to fall back on.
“In the first five minutes everyone gets their shift and there are no fans in the stands. There will likely be a bit of sarcasm from the bank – like every single NHL bank – about what's going on. But I tell you, as soon as the beating starts and the competitive juices start, the boys will probably not even notice it, ”Cooper estimates.
He remembers his run to the 2012 Calder Cup with the Norfolk Admirals. In round 2, both the Norfolk and Connecticut home arena were booked, so the clubs in Bridgeport had to play the fifth game.
Cooper remembers that Mark Messier and Ray Bourque showed up to watch, but the actual fans were rare. There was no cheering and ridicule.
"The game had to be played in a neutral place and didn't change anything. The boys fought and played," Cooper said. "It was still a hell of a hockey game.
"The boys would get over it pretty quickly and know what was at the end of the rainbow."
6. David Krejci, the highest paid member of the Bruins, made it clear that he had no intention of calling it a career at the end of the 2020/21 season if his six-year contract was over 43.5 Million dollars expires.
The center of the second line will be 36 when the puck falls in the 2021-22 season.
"I'm not going to retire, that's for sure. I want to play afterwards. I don't know how long or what will happen. I think we'll see what happens next year. But me definitely have no intention of going into the next season than my last one, ”Krejci said on Monday.
The 2021 off-season will be another fascinating one in Boston. 21-year-old Jack Studnicka could push Krejci's role. Stud goalie Tuukka Rask's $ 7 million cap hit is expected to disappear from the books. And a group of younger freelance agents (Sean Kuraly, Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie and Brandon Carlo) will hunt raises.
Time has deepened Krejci's view of his young family and his sport.
“I watch YouTube highlights almost every day. We were in a pretty good position with 10 games remaining, ”said Krejci. "The older you get, the more you appreciate everything. Your life changes at home – you get married, you have children. So you appreciate all the little things, just being with the boys, being on the go.
"I really enjoy coming to the ice rink every day and being out with the boys. I also love being at home, being a father, a husband. I was just living the dream before this whole situation happened .
“You want to play spiritually again. I miss hockey. "
7. "I'll always be connected," said Andrew Raycroft. "I am one of the few people in the NHL that have followed trades."
Refreshing to hear how the former Maple Leafs goalkeeper and the current Bruins analysis reflect the one-sided trade that sent him to Toronto and the 2011 Stanley Cup winner, Rask, to Boston after 14 years of review. It's a notorious deal that, depending on the team you choose, is considered one of the best or worst in franchise history.
Raycroft told Lead Off how proud he is of his first season in Toronto and these 37 wins. In the second year of 2007/08 neither Raycroft nor the Leafs were very good and the relationship ended.
"You look five, six, seven years ahead and Tuukka has the success he has here in Boston, and then, ah, it is inevitable that if Toronto had Tuukka then (Toronto0 would have won the Stanley Cup in 2011 "Raycroft said." But I can see it differently and say if I could have stayed in Boston I would have had Zdeno Chara and a defensive coach like Claude Julian behind me for 10 years and that's pretty good for a goalkeeper too . "
Raycroft, 39, lives just a mile from Rask in Boston. They meet often and laugh about it. Nevertheless, there is of course regret.
"I just wish Toronto had done a lot better than Toronto and I wish everyone in Toronto had gone better for the past 15 years," he said. "It can be frustrating for me at times, but at the end of the day I know that I haven't done enough to be the guy in Toronto. And I have to live with that forever."
Run with Ziggy and Scotty Mac
Andrew Raycroft reflects his lack of success with the Maple Leafs
May 01, 2020
Your browser does not support the audio element.
8. In a series of reflective player interviews on the seven games of the opening round of Maple Leafs and Red Wings from 1993 (broadcast on Sportsnet!) I tried several times to get players from Detroit’s side Bring phone. No dice.
"It was shit and I have nothing to say," wrote a star.
This is how losing feels 27 years later. This is from a man who could very well write with fingers banded from his Stanley Cup rings from other seasons. (Remember: The Wings prevailed against Toronto with 30 to 24 points in this series.)
And I love that about real competitors. The sting of defeat does not resolve over time. (They saw it with Michael Jordan and the Detroit Pistons at The Last Dance this week.)
Talking to a reporter about a bitter memory you'd rather forget – why bother?
9. Boredom creates creativity…
10. The more you know!
During the second episode of Alex Killorn's "Dock Talk" – Instagram interview show for Lightning Forward – he flew on the river bank of the recently retired Dan Girardi.
In their conversation, Girardi mentioned that his name appears in Guinness World Records 2020 for most career-blocked recordings: 1,954.
"No big deal," said Girardi.
The puck-eating defender then took the time to show what is probably the most deformed and bulging ankle you are likely to see (see episode below).
Girardi has noticed that Bent Seabrook from Chicago has overtaken him in the number of shot blocks since then (with 1,998, although Seabrook has played almost 200 more games), but he will always have this book for 2020.
Killorn's "Dock Talk" took up so much steam that Pepsi jumped up as a sponsor (or maybe he just enjoys Pepsi).
Coach Cooper, whose house is located in the interior, is very well aware of the series.
"If I end up in Killer's Dock Talk, it means that this pandemic has been going on for a long time," Cooper quipped.
11. Eminem is all of us.
"The fact that there is currently no sport is really disturbing. Apart from the Jordan documentary, there isn't even anything that gives you a feeling of normalcy," said the Detroit rapper, bored on Radio Shade 45. " If you are at home and cannot even watch sports … there is no boxing, no baseball, nothing. You can see the news or bury yourself in Netflix. I just buried myself in the block. "
Marshall Mathers finds the news stressful and finds The Last Dance a refreshing break.
"It's like a nostalgia city," he said, noting a parallel between court success and microphone success. "It's probably three (or) four times the work ethic as a talent."
Mathers said he never met Jordan in person, but the two living legends once spoke on the phone to discuss their sneaker collaboration.
"Everything was fine until we got to the end of the phone call and I said," Yo man, when are you coming to Detroit so I can get involved with you? "Em remembered." And it was crickets. I don't remember exactly what he said, but I think he was just a little … (chuckling softly) I remember hanging up: "Oh my god, i think i just screwed it up. "For me it was a total joke in my head.
"It's one of the things you think will be funnier in your head than when you actually say it."
"My father is 5 & # 39; 10, my mother is 5 & # 39; 5. The milkman is about 6 "- Michael Jordan pic.twitter.com/8oq4nhguOQ
– NBA retweet (@RTNBA) April 23, 2020
12. Giant call to Joel Ward, who played his last game in 2018 but retired this week.
Just an incredible example of persistence and persistent dream hunting. The uncovered Ward did the show five and a half years after his four OHL seasons in Owen Sound. Then he stayed for 726 games. He thought about his trip in an excellent players' tribune play.
Ward's longest playoff run was with the Sharks in 16, but my personal favorite ward moment came in the first round of the 2012 playoffs when its capitals went into the Lion's Den, which is TD Garden.
My wife surprised me with our first trip to Boston in April. Tickets to Fenway. But the night before the baseball game, I said, "Let's see how many used tickets for Caps-Bruins there could be. If they're too many, we can just watch the game on The Fours on TV."
Probably because Boston is so spoiled by playoff sports tickets and it's not a big deal in this city to get through the first round, we got into the building at a shockingly low price. And experienced an electric overtime thriller.
Ward ended Game 7 in the 63rd minute.
"There is Ovi with the biggest smile on his face who flies at full speed after striking Boston in extra time," Ward wrote.
The hero. The rogue. The classmate who turned his other cheek and rose above hatred when some racists then became ignorant of him.
Anthony Stewart asked Ward at Hockey Central at 12 noon on Thursday if he had a message for colored kids who may feel disadvantaged if they try to do a predominantly white sport.
“Be proud of who you are. Dream big. That's what i did. I come from two parents who come from Barbados, ”said Ward. "I am very proud of my West Indian Caribbean culture. I loved every minute of my origins.
“My mother raised me to work, to work, to work. My mother did that. She was a nurse – two jobs, full time. She blew her ass up every day so we could get to the hockey rink. I took a stick and fell in love with it. I haven't looked at color or anything. "
Good luck to Joel Ward, a beauty wherever he goes from here.