Kraken and Beyond
1) Heavy rain showers in Breclav, Czechia created fog inside the Fosfa Arena on Saturday, with the condensation water that dripped from the ceiling creating a brief delay to the start of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup Gold Medal game. Once things got cranking, Team Canada came away with yet another dramatic victory, 3-2 in overtime over the host country. The game winner occurred with seven seconds remaining in the extra session.
Spokane Chiefs captain Berkly Catton played a big part for his team yet again, scoring Canada’s second goal of the game at 9:17 of the 2nd period to give them a 2-1 lead. Malcolm Spence of the OHL Erie Otters scored the golden goal.
In January, with captain and Seattle Kraken prospect Shane Wright leading the way, Team Canada won the 2023 World Junior Championship by the same score, against the same country, in overtime.
TSN TV play-by-play man and occasional cohort Gord Miller listed Hockey Canada’s recent accomplishments.
Team USA took the bronze medal with a 5-3 win over Finland in a game played in Trencin, Slovakia. Californian Trevor Connelly and Minnesotan Will Zellers each had two points in the victory.
2) Saturday we profiled Kraken shift disturber extraordinaire Yanni Gourde. Washington right winger Tom Wilson would be the 45-pounds heavier, seven-inches taller version of the same thing for the Capitals. The often nasty, sometimes controversial power forward signed a seven-year extension on Saturday for $6.5-million per season.
Wilson is coming off a campaign that saw him play just 33 games and tally 13 goals after having off-season knee surgery. The 29-year-old Toronto native is under contract through the 2030-’31 season.
3) Bob Murdoch came into the NHL as a young defenseman at the right time and in the right place. He joined the consistently powerful Montreal Canadiens in 1970 and assisted in them winning the Stanley Cup in 1971 and again in 1973. Murdoch went on to play with the Los Angeles Kings and then the Flames in Atlanta and Calgary.
Murdoch also served as an assistant, associate, and head coach in the NHL for ten seasons, winning the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year with the Winnipeg Jets in 1990. He’d go on to coach in Germany for seven seasons, winning a championship with the Cologne Sharks in 1995.
Murdoch passed away at age 76 on Friday after battling Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s.
For whatever reason, I instantly thought of one of his hockey cards being part of my collection, so why not dig it out in remembrance. Topps card # 91 from 1978.
Murdoch had a career high in everything as a 27-year-old in 1974-’75; 13 goals, 29 assists, 42 points and 116 penalty minutes in 80 games.
4) In case you missed it Thursday, Kyle Dubas added General Manager to his title with the Pittsburgh Penguins to go with President of Hockey Operations, hired as such in June after not being re-signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Yep, I don’t get it either. Somehow he’s failed upwards.
The Toronto Maple Leafs shed Hockey Hall of Fame executive Lou Lamoriello back in 2018 and handed the reins to Dubas. Apparently favoring statistics over character, his Leafs clubs consistently lacked the physicality and the grit required to perform in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
He celebrated like his team won the Stanley Cup when the Leafs won their one and only playoff round of his tenure this past spring.
With all-time greats Sidney Crosby and Geno Malkin soon winding down their careers, Dubas will have a clean slate to work with in Pittsburgh. Should be interesting.
— Last season’s leading goal scorer for the Penguins, Jake Guentzel, will be out to start the season after having right ankle surgery. He’ll be re-evaluated about five or six weeks into the schedule.
— Announced Sunday morning, a deal that’s been rumoured for weeks: The Penguins acquire Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks in a three-team trade with the Montreal Canadiens. Big splash – does it make Pittsburgh a guaranteed playoff team?
5) I don’t have an overwhelming feeling yet as to whether the Leafs will win the Stanley Cup with Brad Treliving as general manager, but they will get a lot closer.
I do sense that at some point down the road, Treliving will eventually be the general manager of the Vancouver Canucks in his native province. That would be a highly desirable position for him as he later winds down his career. He’s 53 now.
I’m relatively confident in that prediction, seeing that I told him six years ago and more than once that he would someday be the GM of the Maple Leafs. If you don’t believe me, just ask him.
We go back to the days when he was president of the Central Hockey League and yes, he’s as great a dude as everyone says. Oddly enough, I was working for Leafs TV at the time when we met.
6) Fifty-two days until the Seattle Kraken’s first preseason games, split squad, against Treliving’s former club, the Calgary Flames. No definite word just yet on the start date for Kraken rookie camp, but it’s looking like September 16th or 17th. Big Kraken training camp would start immediately after.
7) Pretty much par for the course; of the 22 restricted free agents (RFA) who filed for salary arbitration this summer, only three of them, a forward and two goalies, actually made it to a hearing.
Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman was awarded a one-year, $3.475-million deal, Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Ilya Samsonov was given a one-year contract for $3.55-million, while Chicago Blackhawks forward Philipp Kurashev picked up a two-year deal worth @2.25-million per season.
The Seattle Kraken took care of all of their RFA’s in advance, including Vince Dunn’s hearty new contract. Will Borgen and Cale Fleury also signed ahead of a hearing.
8) By the way, hockey season is starting much sooner than you think. As in, right now.
Preseason games have already begun in Finland for SM Liiga. Thursday night, SaiPa beat Vassan Sport 3-1. Friday night featured nine split squad matches.
The top European leagues will start playing regular season hockey on September 1st. That would be the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) in Russia, with SM Liiga firing up its regular season on September 12th and the Swedish SHL the next night.
That’s right, pucks are being dropped.
9) The “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” refers to an NHL player picking up a goal, an assist and a fight all in the same game, but “Mr. Hockey” only turned the trick twice in his entire 1,767 game regular season career. Those came on October 10th, 1953 and March 21st, 1954 during his 8th NHL season.
There’s a reason for the limited number of fights. Aside from being the league’s top scorer, Howe was big, nasty and intimidating and didn’t see a whole lot of dance partners, particularly after he did this (see photo) to New York Rangers tough guy Lou Fontinato in November of 1959.
A Vintage Detroit article from 2014 concluded with:
Howe’s demolition of the NHL’s top enforcer was all in a night’s work for someone who clearly was in a league all by himself. “There are only four teams in the league,” a rival player said at the time. “Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, and Howe.”
Boston and the Rangers were left off the list by the player, considered the doormats of the Original Six at the time.
Recent Hockey Joy Joy:
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Yanni Gourde
— Kraken Weekend: WJC Hosts? Happy Spokane
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Jaden Schwartz
— Kraken NHL: Surprise AM Announcement, Deals Signed
— Seattle Kraken Roll Call: Will Borgen
— Kraken Tuesday: Winter Classic Logos Revealed