Evander Kane Set For His Career Changing Season


By Ben Chopping

Over his 5 years as an NHL skater, few players have caused as much controversy as Evander Kane. The Canadian left winger has endured team spats, fan fall-outs and too many injuries to count, but he’s only 24 years old and this season, he has a great opportunity to become the star player that he was projected to be way back in ’09.

Born in Vancouver, Kane played his youth hockey with the Vancouver Giants, under Head Coach Don Hay. When the 2009 draft came around, Evander Kane was ranked 3rd overall but was taken at 4th by the Atlanta thrashers.

Blair McDonald, of the NHL Central scouting, spoke of Kane’s strength and desire to attack:

“When he’s got the puck he’s going to the net and defying people to stop him.”

Giants coach Don Hay also expressed Kane’s extraordinary desire to battle for the win:

“He always wants to make a difference on the ice… A lot of players that age don’t want to be on the ice or in that situation when the game is on the line.”

Once he became a Thrasher, Evander showed his advances in development with 26 points in his first season and then 43 in his second. But, the start of 2011 saw him move from his big city living in Atlanta to the more enclosed Winnipeg, when the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to become the Winnipeg Jets.

His first season as a Jet saw him put up his career best points total (57) and plus minus (+11). He was also only penalised for 53 penalty minutes, which is his career low. Blake Wheeler was the only Jet to seal more points than Kane in that 2011/12 season.

It then seems that he almost became arrogant coming off of the back of his great 57 point season. 2012/13 saw the NHL Lockout take place, forcing Kane to find somewhere new to play his hockey for a large chunk of the season.

He decided to become the first ever Canadian NHL player to move to the Russian KHL. After 12 games, and 1 point, with Dinamo Minsk, they mutually cancelled his contract.

Upon his NHL return he managed to acquire 80 penalty minutes in just 48 games (living up to the man he was named after, Evander Holyfield) but, he also managed to secure 33 points.

As it was somewhat of an enigma season, due to the lockout, his foul-happy play was overlooked and his performance in the previous season was used as reasoning to grant him a new 6 year, $31.5 million deal.

He never did regain his 11/12 form, only securing 41 points in 2013/14 and 22 in last years campaign but, that was cut short by his shoulder surgery.

What happened to Evander at the end of the 11/12 season to cause such a decline? There was of course the regular injury problems which resulted in him eventually getting shoulder surgery in February this year but the big issues came from his public relations issues.

After being traded to Buffalo, Evander Kane admitted that he didn’t enjoy the pressure of being in a small die-hard hockey community:

“Sometimes things just don’t work. Winnipeg is a very small town, but it’s a big hockey market.”


“It’s a little tougher than a Vancouver or a Toronto, where you can maybe get away a little bit. It’s a fishbowl.”


Being a Winnipeg Jet was something that everybody knew who you were. They always wanted to talk to you, which is great, and that was definitely one of the things you enjoy. But negative things can take a toll a little bit.”

Kane had many run-ins with the fans. One such time was when a group of them held up a sign asking for him to stop leaving restaurants without paying.

Another, where he offended a huge amount of the hockey community, was when he posted the notorious ‘Money Phone’ picture on Twitter. It was deemed to be very offensive at the time as thousands of people had lost their jobs at the time due to the NHL Lockout.

He was also accused of assault, which was eventually dropped due to “insufficient evidence”, and a homophobic tweet which he later apologised for.

His relationship with his team mates at Winnipeg was never very strong; whether it was down to Kane’s dislike of his new home or that he’s just a difficult character, he had many reported issues with staff and fellow players.

February this year saw the end of the winger’s 14/15 campaign and his time as a Jet. It was heavily reported that, during a workout session, Kane’s team mate Dustin Byfuglien put his clothes in the shower to send a message to the virulent Canadian.

Just two days after the incident with Byfuglien, Kane was put on the Injury Reserve, and a day later he underwent surgery. 5 days after his shoulder surgery, he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres, along with Zach Bogosian and the rights to Jason Kasdorf. In return, Winnipeg received a first round pick, two prospects (Lemieux and Armia), big defenseman Tyler Myers and, Drew Stafford.

Evander Kane has since claimed that “maybe it was overdue”, but now he has a chance to kick start his career that has so much potential.

His new club, the Buffalo Sabres, have undergone a massive overhaul of personnel since their very poor campaign last year, where they only claimed 54 points.

Buffalo have brought in 13 new players, many of which will be in the first team next season. They acquired talented keeper Robin Lehner from Ottawa as a stable replacement for the two great keepers that they traded away last season (Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth) or their star man Ryan Miller, who was allowed to depart at the end of the season before last.

Only 7 players left the Sabres roster, some of which were highly rated youngsters by the likes of Zadorov and Grigorenko. But, the quickest way to improve the team is to trade away the currently weaker players, even though the trade may come back to haunt them one day.

Evander Kane will be a core member of the new look Sabres side, but he is familiar with at least one of their star players. He and Tyler Ennis played in the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championship together.

The left winger will be in a similar position to most of the players in the roster; they’re at a new club, where the only way is up. They’ll need time to gel, but there’s much more quality in their ranks this season so should surpass their 54 points of last year.

Despite only being 24, Kane will be considered as one of the more senior players in the side. The side is predicted to be packed with talented prospects like: Reinhart, Girgensons, Larsson and, Ristolainen.

Often having his maturity challenged, Kane will inherit a more grown-up role in the team which will help him stay focused and work on his game.

It could also transpire into more penalty minutes with him standing up for his younger and less physical team mates, as we all know, he loves to put a good hit on, and he’s not afraid of the penalty box.

Another huge boost for Kane is that Buffalo hired a new head coach. Ted Nolan is a good coach but wasn’t quite ready to take on a struggling team in the National League. Their new boss, Dan Bylsma is much better suited to the NHL

In Bylsma’s first 6 years as an NHL head coach, he took the Penguins to the playoffs in all 6 seasons and won the Stanley Cup with them in his first year in charge. Now, he’s not going to be able to do this with Buffalo, but he does have the managerial skills to take them up from the bottom of the table. They’ll definitely exceed the 54 point mark set by last season’s campaign.

After Evander’s successful surgery, to repair a torn labrum, he claims that he is fit and ready for action:

“The surgery was a little bit more complicated in terms of what it was. There was a hole actually in my shoulder as well. But everything’s fixed.”


I’m not concerned. It’s not going to change my game. I’m not going to second-guess going into a corner, taking a hit.”

He’s ready to have a big season, it’s long overdue but he’s fit, and hungry for success. Kane’s new team responsibilities, new team and new city, will all bolster him back to the great player that he was developing into.

Evander Kane, and Buffalo, will most likely have a slow start but, once they’ve found a bit of rhythm good results will come their way; and Mr. Money Phone could easily secure a 50 point season, if he can stay injury free.

The Buffalo Sabres commence the new campaign with three home games. The first sees them host the Ottawa Senators on 8th October. Kane will travel to Winnipeg as a Sabre on the 10th of January.

Follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!


Under the Radar (Eastern Conference Edition)


By Robert Mowatt

With just under a thousand players featuring in the NHL last season, it’s pretty much impossible to keep track of all the truly great talent on display. What might be household names to fans of one franchise, can be relative unknowns to the rest of us.

Below are five Eastern Conference players that may be making a bigger splash than you think come October.

Read more

2015-16 Season Preview: Pacific Division


Since it’s August, which is a dry month in the NHL hockey world other than NHL.com’s 30-in-30 coverage, I’m going to be doing an early preview of the 2015-16 season, which will be divided up into divisions, which means there will be four parts. For this first part, I will be covering the Pacific Division. Disclaimer: Here and there, I’ll be using advanced stats to try and justify my opinions, and since I’m new to this stuff I’m having various friends of mine help me. Therefore if I sound like a total idiot still, I’m sorry but bear with me on that.

It was an interesting offseason to say the least. With players set to return to training camp by about mid-to-late next month in September, let’s preview which NHL teams improved, took a step backward, or stayed put.


Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers’ offseason went as expected, I suppose. After the San Jose Sharks had parted ways with their previous head coach, Todd McLellan, the Oilers took advantage of the opportunity to hire him along with coaches Jim Johnson and Jay Woodcroft, both of whom were also fired from San Jose. Personally, I think this is a great coaching staff. It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t help much in terms of getting the Sharks over the hump. However, I truly believe this is a coaching staff that knows what they’re doing. McLellan, of course, was an assistant to former Detroit head coach Mike Babcock when they won the Stanley Cup back in ’08.

Add the current coaching experience of this new staff along with one of two generational players in Connor McDavid from this past year’s NHL Entry Draft and you’ve got a team that could potentially be trending upwards given they really focus on working on a few key aspects, like defense and goaltending. They have no problem scoring goals.

Now, of course, I understand any criticisms that that opinion might get. The Oilers have a reputation and tendency to screw up the development of their first-round picks, and I’ll admit I was on board with that notion initially too. However, with some big changes coming out of the front office especially the hiring of Peter Chiarelli as GM from the Boston Bruins, I have a strong feeling that those changes will translate quite well onto the ice. It’s up to the players, now, on how they choose to handle it.

The Oilers also brought in goalie Cam Talbot in a trade with the New York Rangers along with Anders Nilsson from the Chicago Blackhawks to hopefully finally bring stability in net. The 28-year-old, who originally signed with the Rangers via free agency in 2010, spent two seasons (2013-2014, 2014-2015) with the Rangers putting up a .931 save percentage, 2.00 GAA, and 8 shutouts in 57 games of the regular season. In his only two postseason appearances during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he accumulated a .846 save percentage and a 2.61 GAA. He was 33-15-5 in the regular season and 0-2 in the postseason.

Anders Nilsson, a former 3rd rounder for the New York Islanders, spent two seasons with the Isles (2011-12, 2013-14) while being bounced back and forth between the NHL and their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In 23 games played at the NHL level, he totaled his season with the Isles with a .898 save percentage and 3.05 GAA, along with one shut out in the NHL. At the AHL level, he accumulated a .911 save percentage, 2.67 GAA, and 2 shut outs in 46 games, before signing with the KHL’s Ak Bars Kazan last season. His rights were dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Nick Leddy trade in October of 2014. Earlier this offseason, the Blackhawks traded his rights to the Oilers for unsigned prospect Niam Coughlin.

With the acquisitions of both Talbot and Nilsson, look for Ben Scrivens to be the odd-man out later in the season.

In the last of their noteworthy offseason moves, the Oilers acquired defenseman Eric Gryba from the Ottawa Senators to bolster up their defense. In his three seasons with the Senators (2012-2015), he totaled just 4 goals and 25 assists, with 29 points in 165 games in the regular season. In his postseason record, he only played 10 games in two postseasons with the Sens (2012-13, 2014-15) with no points, and was a -2.

Other minor acquisitions include Brad Ross from the Toronto Maple leafs and Lauri Korpikoski from the Arizona Coyotes.

While they still maybe a long shot from the playoffs, they’re certainly taking strides towards it. I think so long as the players themselves commit too, like I said earlier, they’re on the right track.


Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season, and the first time since changing their moniker to “Arizona Coyotes”.

The ‘Yotes haven’t had much of an eventful offseason either in terms of trades, their only trade acquisitions being Boyd Gordon from Edmonton and Nicklas Grossman from Philadelphia.

They signed Antoine Vermette, who returns to Arizona after helping Chicago win their third Cup in six years, and got back-up goalie Anders Lindback — who split last season between the Sabres and Stars — to fill the void left by departing goalie Mark Visentin. They also brought back defenseman Zbynek Michalek and signed former Canuck Brad Richardson, along with former Penguin and agitator Steve Downie. Both Michalek and Grossman (of Philadelphia) join Oliver-Ekman Larsson on the blue line.

A first round pick of the Coyotes in the ’09 Entry Draft, OEL has proven to be a cornerstone piece for the ‘Yotes defensive core. In his five seasons with the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes, he’s amassed a total of 55 goals and 99 assists, totaling 154 points. In his 16 playoff appearances in the postseason of 2012, he had a goal and three assists. Despite his mostly negative plus-minus ratings over the years, he’s a highly skilled defenseman with great hockey sense and is very skilled and mobile with the puck. Give him a few more years and he’ll be one of the Coyotes’ top defensemen.

Speaking of young talent, the ‘Yotes drafted center/left-winger Dylan Strome from the Erie Otters at 3rd overall.

Eliteprospects.com describes the 18-year-old, 185 lbs forward as this:

A competitive offensive dynamo in nature, Dylan Strome possesses the technical skills and the intangible traits that differentiate leaders from followers. He makes his own luck; no number that shows up beside his name on the score sheet is handed to him on a silver platter. He consistently showcases the size and speed to attack and break through the opposition defense, and always knows where his linemates are in relativity to his position. Possesses a hard, accurate release on his shot, which he is never afraid to use. All-in-all, Dylan Strome is a player who wants to win more than anybody else, a person who takes it upon himself to do everything he can to help his team win, and a leader who provides his team with the motivation and will that it takes to win.

I think the kid’s got potential, and along with the rest of the mostly young roster like Max Domi and former Rangers prospect Anthony Duclair, the Arizona Coyotes will be a threat in the years to come.

One player to definitely keep an eye on over the course of the season is starter Mike Smith. Smith, whom the ‘Yotes seem to feed off whenever he has a good game, had his worst season last year. He had a record of 14-42-5. His GAA rose to 3.16, and recorded no shutouts for the first time in his nine-year career. It didn’t help that the defense in front of him allowed 267 goals either, which ranked third in the League. According to stats.hockeyanalysis.com, Arizona ranked 28th among all teams in terms of shots against over a 60-minute span, with a rate of 32.9 shots fired on their goalie.

As of now, I think the ‘Yotes miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season. Their defense has to be better, and the team as a whole needs more work. However, somewhere down the line depending on how things go, they could be in the mix for a playoff position.


Calgary Flames

The Calgary Flames had a hell of a playoff run before losing in 5 games to Anaheim in the second round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

They also made a hell of an impressive move in the offseason, acquiring Dougie Hamilton from the Boston Bruins for a 2015 first rounder and a pair of 2nd round picks from the same draft, a steal for the Flames.

Hamilton adds to what already looks like a pretty solid defensive core for Calgary, with Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman, and Deryk Engelland, along with Ladislav Smid. According to NHL.com, the Flames’ defense had the most productive season accumulating a total of 195 points. With Hamilton’s point productions, he could easily mesh into Calgary’s defense.

One minor transaction for Calgary was giving up Max Reinhart to the Nashville Predators. Reinhart, a third round selection for Calgary in the 2010 Entry Draft, posted 235 points (94 goals, 141 assists in 266 games for the Kootenay Ice of the WHL (Western Hockey League) from 2008-2012.

Can the Calgary Flames do it again this season? I’m going to say yes. Although the Flames largely remain the same, with Vancouver having downgraded this year — in my opinion — and the Edmonton Oilers and Arizona Coyotes having been where they are, the Flames have a shot at making the playoffs again.


Vancouver Canucks

Having mentioned the Canucks talking about the Calgary Flames, it’s only appropriate I talk about Vancouver now.

The Canucks did not have much of a successful offseason. Yes, they still have Radim Vrbata and the Sedin twins. However, they did lose a few key players, like Eddie Lack (whom I’ll talk about later on in this four part series when I cover the Metro division), Kevin Bieksa, Adam Clendening, Nick Bonino, and Zack Kassian.

Bieksa, who spent 10 seasons with the Canucks, reunites with team mate Ryan Kesler in Anaheim. The Canucks received a 2016 pick in return. The 34-year-old had to waive his no-trade clause.

In 597 games with Vancouver, Bieksa had 56 goals, 185 assists, and 241 points.

Adam Clendening and Nick Bonino went to Pittsburgh along with a 2016 2nd-round pick in return for Brandon Sutter and a conditional 3rd rounder.

Originally a 6th round pick of SJ in the ’07 draft, Bonino was traded to Anaheim after the 2013-14 season. In Vancouver, he was one of their more lethal weapons, scoring 15 goals and tallying 24 assists totaling 39 points in 75 games.

Per NHL.com, Brandon Sutter is expected to be “a big piece of their foundation”. A former Carolina Hurricanes draft pick in ’07, the 26-year-old center/RW scored 45 goals and tallied 33 assists in 209 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

According to Canucks General Manager Jim Benning, acquiring Sutter will allow for young Bo Horvat to naturally develop into the system. The first round, ninth overall selection in 2013 had 13 goals and 25 points in 68 games in his rookie campaign.

The Canucks also acquired Brandon Prust from the Montreal Canadiens and gave up Zack Kassian.

Given all these moves, I don’t see the Vancouver Canucks going back to the playoffs this year, and even if they do it’ll be a first round ouster again. Could they be trying to rebuild? Maybe. Who knows? One thing’s for sure. They’re a team full of question marks this year and years to come.


San Jose Sharks

After the debacle season that was 2014-15 in which the Sharks ended up missing the playoffs for the first time in 10 years, the front office in San Jose hopes to turn things around again especially in time for the 25th anniversary of Sharks hockey (I mean, you’ve got to think they’re going to really want to gain their fan’s support for this). The first major move in the offseason was to part ways with Todd McLellan and let go the rest of the coaching staff. Former associate coach Larry Robinson was bumped up to Director of Player Development.

With all the words being tossed around by General Manager Doug Wilson and us hockey and Sharks fans like “rebuild”, “retool”, whatever you want to call it, it all finally became clear to us that this wasn’t going to be a rebuild. It was a retool.

Although he hinted at potentially making a blockbuster deal at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the only real moves that were made were trading former starter Antti Niemi’s rights to Dallas, which they got a 2015 7th rounder in return and trading for former LA back-up Martin Jones, in turn giving up their first rounder for next year and unsigned prospect Sean Kuraly.

Afterwards, DW — though usually not the type to dive into free agency — did just that as he signed former Pittsburgh defenseman Paul Martin (17 goals, 92 assists) and former Washington Capital Joel Ward (57 goals, 64 assists).

First, let’s talk Jones. Yes, Martin Jones is an unproven goalie, with a save percentage of .923 and 1.99 GAA. While he does have his flashes of brilliance, he’s got a shaky track record at best. After coming off a great rookie season with the Kings, going 12-6-0 with 4 shutouts in 29 games, he had a less than stellar 2014-15 campaign, with only 4 wins and 5 losses. Of those 4 wins, 3 of them were shutouts.

The question is, can Jones prove himself to the Sharks to replace Nemo as the number one starter? Well, that’s a question that will be answered probably soon enough during the season as he battles for number one position with Alex Stalock, who also didn’t have a very good second full year coming off his rookie campaign. Now remember, before you people start crying inexperienced goalie tandem, the coaching staff and front office were going for potential, not experience. Niemi did have experience, but he was inconsistent as was the rest of the team.

Paul Martin gives San Jose a little more depth on the blue line, and could possibly pair up with Brent Burns. As for the rest of the defensive pairings, Vlasic and Braun will most likely stay the same. While both didn’t exactly have a great season last year (then again, neither did any of the other guys on that roster, other than Pavelski really), they’re still the Sharks’ best defensive shutdown pair. The departure of both veteran D-man Scott Hannan and young defenseman Matt Irwin also leave holes on the blue line, which will be filled by Mirco Mueller and, possibly, Matt Tennyson interchangeably throughout the season, both being young defensemen.

One last looming issue, one that’s been in question since Joe Thornton was stripped of his captaincy last offseason and since DeBoer said himself that the Sharks will indeed have a Captain prior to the home opener, is who’s going to be the next captain of the San Jose Sharks? Judging from last season and his overall attitude and work ethic, it could be a no-brainer that Joe Pavelski is named Captain of the Sharks. Other viable candidates are Logan Couture and Marc-Eduoard Vlasic. Last season, the Sharks stuck with four alternate captains: Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Vlasic, and Pavelski.

All in all, did team Teal make enough changes in the offseason to get themselves back in the playoff picture? I think yes. Paul Martin is a veteran D-man, and according to Wilson, is versatile and can move the puck well. Joel Ward spent the last four seasons of his NHL career playing with the League’s best offensive goal scorers in Alex Ovechkin. Based on the way he plays, Ward could either slot in on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski — Pavelski being the other right winger on that line, or be a third liner with Tommy Wingels and Chris Tierney.

However, the question will inevitably be, will the players and coaches do enough to get them back into the postseason? If the Sharks can adapt to DeBoer’s “pressure hockey” system, and their defense along with their goaltending holds up — Jones and Stalock being key to bailing their team out, they might have a shot at third in the Pacific at the most or a Wild Card spot at the least. Otherwise, it’ll be another early offseason.


Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks are coming off reaching the Western Conference Finals for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup back in ’07, only to lose to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.

In way of offseason moves, they improved themselves a little, trading forward Kyle Palmieri away to the New Jersey Devils. They got Carl Hagelin from the New York Rangers in a deal that sent Emerson Etem to the Broadway state. In other words, they trade a bit of their speed for size, which should be an interesting and nice fit for the Ducks.

Etem, the Ducks’ 2010 1st round draft pick, spent three seasons with Anaheim, scoring a total of 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points in 112 regular season games.

In 23 appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he had 6 goals and 2 assists.

Hagelin, a slightly more experienced player and the Rangers’ 6th round draft pick from the 2007 Entry Draft, spent all four seasons with the New York Rangers racking up 58 goals and 130 points in 266 games played. I think Hagelin will very well fit with the Ducks’ system. According to Eliteprospects.com, he possesses a great two-way ability, and a willingness to forecheck and work for the puck.

The Ducks also acquired back-up goalie Anton Khudobin from the Carolina Hurricanes and gave up James Wisniewski. Anton Khudobin could be challenging for back-up position with Ducks’ 2011 2nd round pick, John Gibson, as Frederik Andersen seems to be the undisputed number one starter.

As mentioned earlier in the Vancouver Canucks section, the Ducks acquired Kevin Bieksa. Though on the decline now as a defenseman and player, he could help mentor the Ducks’ youth.

Now, the remaining task at hand is for the leadership group of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf to get the Ducks over the hump and back into the Stanley Cup Final. After eight years of postseason failure, however, can they accomplish that? While Getzlaf and Perry have had great regular seasons, during the 2015 postseason they only amassed a total of 38 points (12 goals, 26 assists). Against the Blackhawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, both Getzaf and Perry were a -1. Unless they get it together in the playoffs, they’ll be looking at another postseason disappointment.


Los Angeles Kings

After coming off a 2014 postseason campaign which saw them win their second Stanley Cup and three years, they failed to make the playoffs for the first time since the ’08-’09 season.

Including some off-ice drama with two former Kings, Mike Richards and Jarret Stoll (who had planned to opt for free agency prior to his arrest), L.A. lost Justin Williams (otherwise known as Mr. Game 7) to FA. Martin Jones was traded to the Boston Bruins, who then subsequently traded him to the San Jose Sharks.

In the Martin Jones trade, their only one of the offseason, they acquired forward Milan Lucic. Lucic, drafted 50th overall by the Bruins in the ’06 Entry Draft, amassed a total of 139 goals and 342 points in 566 games. Standing at 6 foot 3, 235 lbs, he would easily fit into L.A.’s style of play, as they are physical and relentless on the forecheck.

In place of Martin Jones, the Kings signed Jhonas Enroth to a one-year contract via free agency. Originally a 2nd round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2006, Enroth spent six seasons with the Sabres and was traded midseason to the Stars in 2014-15. During his time with the Stars, he was 5-5-0 in 13 games played, with a .906 save percentage, 2.38 GAA, and one shutout.

Last season, according to NHL.com/Stats, the L.A. Kings were among the top 5 in goals against, and 18th in the League in goals for, tied with Chicago with 155 goals. They are also 19th in the League in wins (3) when trailing after the 2nd period — all while 5-on-5.

Overall, the Los Angeles Kings might have another rocky season and miss the playoffs again, unless their leaders and role players step up. However, on a positive note, 2010 second round draft pick Tyler Tiffoli had a nice season with 26 goals, 49 points, and a +25 rating. Look for him to try to build on his career highs in his fourth season in the NHL.

One player they’ll definitely miss is Williams, who had a huge impact in the line-up. The 33-year-old right-winger, known for thriving in big game situations, had 18 goals and 23 assists last season, and 9 goals and 16 assists during the Kings’ second Cup run in 2014, scoring two games winning goals.


Follow Felix Chow on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!


Report: Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane Under Investigation


The Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is reportedly under police investigation in Hamburg, Buffalo, where he owns a home. Although not much is known as of now, according to sources, the Blackhawks star is the subject of an alleged rape case. So far, no charges have been filed against him.

The Buffalo News’ Tim Graham broke the news with these tweets:

The 26-year-old three-time Stanley Cup Champion, unfortunately, is no stranger to breaking the law. According to the report, he and his cousin, James M. Kane were arrested for assaulting a cab driver following a fare dispute in August of ’09. They pleaded guilty to a noncriminal charge of a disorderly conduct and were forced to write an apology letter to the driver.

The NHL has confirmed to Time Warner Cable News in Buffalo that it is aware of the investigation. It’ll be interesting to see how the League handles this. This latest reported incident is one of a few for NHL players recently. Early last month, LA Kings’ defenseman Slava Voynov was charged in a domestic violence incident with his wife and pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count. The League and Kings organization, of course, suspended him before the trial began.

Kings’ forward Jarret Stoll had a run-in with the law as well with a felony drug possession charge (you can read the updated story here), and the most recent one prior to this latest alleged incident with Kane involved former Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O’ Reilly, who was traded during the 2015 NHL Draft. Not long after that, he drunkenly crashed his vintage van into a Tim Horton’s near London, Ontario and fled the scene. O’ Reilly is scheduled to appear in court on August 20th for DUI charges.

If these rape allegations against Patrick Kane are true, that won’t bode well for him and his reputation. Keep checking back here at Ice Nation UK for updates on this case.

UPDATE: As I’m just about to post this, Buffalo News is reporting that a local woman has accused Kane of sexual assault. Law enforcement sources have said that the woman went to a hospital and tests using a rape kit were performed. At least one other local police agency has asked to assist with the investigation.

Follow Felix Chow on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!


Inside the CHL: The Past, Present and Future of European Hockey’s Top League


On August 21st, 2014, a new era of European hockey was born when the Champions Hockey League dropped the puck on its inaugural season. What followed was five months of intense competition, thrilling playoff games, and a fantastic final between Lulea Hockey and Frolunda HC that was only fitting for the first iteration of the premier pan-European hockey league.

Now, the second CHL season is about to begin, and the league is set to improve even more, and evolve to meet the needs of their clubs, and fans.

Szymon Szemberg, COO and Communication Director of the CHL, spoke exclusively with INUK, and gave some insights into the way the league thinks, how they are approaching this season, and what the future could hold for the CHL.

For this season, the league added four new teams, and changed the group format from 11 groups of four teams to 16 groups of three teams. Szemberg said that this change was made to make the group stage games more meaningful, and get to the playoffs faster, further adding:

We got pretty quick feedback from our clubs than in the four-team groups we had last season, the last two game days, five and six, were a difficult sell, because most of the playoff spots were already decided. With this change to groups of three, we think that the excitement will remain to the end, because two teams out of three will qualify for the playoffs, so the last games will probably be of consequence no matter what. We think this will be better for the clubs and fans.

Aside from the group stage changes, a behind-the-scenes change that could make every game more exciting is a “prize money per point” incentive for teams. Each team will receive 1000 euro for every standings point they earn. So, if a team wins in regulation, they will receive 3000 euro for the three points they earned. This incentive could push teams to battle hard, even if they are mathematically eliminated. Even just stretching a game to overtime earns teams more money. Szemberg said this change will especially benefit the “Wild Card teams,” the ones from smaller leagues like in the U.K, France, and Denmark, who will likely be hungry just to get a victory.

When it comes to television coverage, not much will likely change from last year. Szemberg praised Premier Sports’ coverage of the CHL in the United Kingdom, as well as noting that the CHL is televised in every single country with participating teams. They are also adding the Polish state television network, Telewizja Polska (TVP), even though Poland doesn’t yet have a CHL team.

Poland is an incredibly important market in Europe nowadays. Even though their hockey is not at top quality yet, the interest in hockey in Poland is enormous. For example, with the IIHF World Championship, Poland is always among the countries with the best viewership, even though they don’t have a team in the top flight.

– Szemberg on the hockey market in Poland

The biggest European market that is not currently involved in the CHL is Russia. Szemberg spoke candidly about the CHL’s frustration with not having Kontinental Hockey League participation in the pan-European league.

Unfortunately, as long as Russian clubs do not participate in the CHL, hockey is the only European club sport where you don’t have all of the top leagues competing together, unlike sports like football. It’s a pity. In the UEFA Champions League, if you didn’t have Spain, Germany, or England, people would ask, ‘Why’s that?’ Obviously, we are hurting because we do not have Russian teams, and everybody who knows hockey knows that Russia is one of the prime nations in the game. The prestige and the quality of CHL would increase with Russian teams.

– Szemberg on the KHL not particpating in the pan-European League

Szemberg said that in the initial planning of the CHL, Russian representatives were an integral part of the process. However, when it came down to final planning and club participation, the KHL bowed out. Since then, the CHL has met with KHL representatives about participation, but nothing has happened. Szemberg believes that the KHL will eventually join the CHL, but he just doesn’t know when that will happen. He also explained their reluctance to join the CHL by explaining their self-image.

When they founded the KHL, they copied the NHL template in everything they do. They modeled this league after the NHL, including their vision of themselves as the top professional hockey league in Europe, like the NHL is the top flight in North America. If their teams participated in the Champions Hockey League, they would have to give up that position as the best league in Europe. They are not quite ready to do so.

– Szemberg on the KHL’s reluctance to join the CHL

He also noted that Russian participation in the CHL would help young European players, and maybe convince them to spend their time developing in Europe, rather than North America.

If we were to have a CHL that includes all the top countries, including Russia, it would mean a lot for young players. The added prestige of the Champions Hockey League that includes Russia might convince them not to leave for the NHL so early as many players do. We never want to stop any player from leaving for the NHL. It is a dream that many European players have, but they are leaving at 18 or 19 years old when they are not NHL-ready. If they saw a great CHL, they would maybe postpone their NHL signing for a few more years to continue developing until they are ready.

– Szemberg on Russian participation in CHL helping player development in Europe

On British participation in the CHL, Szemberg said he is incredibly happy with the way Britons have embraced pan-European hockey.

The model of the CHL is ‘Where Europe Comes To Play’. We always say that we are an elite league, but we are not elitist, meaning, we fully understand that the quality of British club hockey is not yet on the level of the Swedes and Finns, but we see enormous potential in hockey in the UK. People rally around the British teams and appreciate the fact that their teams will be playing in Europe. Obviously, we are very happy to include Britain.

However, Szemberg said that further expanding British participation in the CHL is unlikely, as the league, as well as the British Elite League, are satisfied with the two teams in the league now. For this season, the league added one more British spot, as well as another French spot.

The next league that the CHL is looking to see more from is Poland. Szemberg said that league officials are prepared to add a Polish club in the coming years, and have extended a provisional wild-card offer to the Polska Liga Hokejowa, the top hockey league in the country. If the CHL sees significant progress in the development of the league and Polish hockey as a whole, they will add the top Polish club to the league.

Another European hockey league that is not in the CHL is the Italian Serie A. Szemberg made it clear that the league is open to adding Italian clubs, and praised the enthusiasm and dedication of those involved in Italian hockey, but was concerned with the fact that the Serie A is concentrated in the Northern alpine areas of Italy, mostly in the Trentino-South Tyrol autonomous region. He was also concerned with the infrastructure and arena quality of the Serie A cities.

As the league continues to grow from its infant stage into the premier European hockey league, they will continue to evolve and improve the quality of the competition. One change that clubs requested at their latest general meetings, according to Szemberg, is an upgraded qualification system, similar to that of the UEFA Champions League in football.

In this proposal, just like in UEFA, every team in the league needs to accomplish something at home in their domestic leagues in order to qualify for European play. We have 26 owning, founding clubs, and they are ‘permanent members.’ We see a future change where you could remain as an owner, but you still need somehow to qualify in order to play in the CHL. So, participation would not come as a ‘gimme’ for anyone.

– Szemberg on the proposal to improve the CHL.

The CHL has nowhere to go but up, and the people involved are not afraid to take a few losses in the early going to be more successful later on.

Our goal isn’t necessarily to make a profit at first. It is to create a demand for the Champions Hockey League.

Follow Cutler Klein on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!


NHL Officially Announces 2016 Bridgestone Winter Classic


It’s official. The National Hockey League announced on Wednesday the match-up for the 2016 Bridgestone Winter Classic. The annual New Years Day game day will feature two of the oldest rivals in the League in the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium, the home of the NFL’s New England Patriots. The NHL debuted the annual event in the ’07-’08 season in a game that saw the host team, the Buffalo Sabres, lose against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a shootout at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.

Representatives from the NHL, Bruins, Canadiens, the New England Patriots, as well as the NHL Players’ Association and Bridgestone gathered together in a press conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts to discuss and detail plans for the 2016 Winter Classic. The event will be televised live on NBC, Sportsnet, and TVA Sports at 1 pm ET.

The Bruins will become the first team to host the NHL Winter Classic twice, having already done so once in at the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime. The Montreal Canadiens will also become just the second Canadian team to play in a Winter Classic since the Toronto Maple Leafs did so in 2014.

In addition, a special alumni game will be held by legends from both Boston and Montreal clubs on New Years’ Eve.

Canadiens’ owner and CEO, Geoff Molson had this to say:

“The Boston Bruins are one of our oldest rivals and the history between our two clubs is unparalleled. They were our logical opponent for our Centennial game in December 2009, and to make history together once more by returning to hockey’s roots in an outdoor setting is something everyone throughout our organization is greatly anticipating. That the setting for the game will be Gillette Stadium, home to an iconic franchise like the New England Patriots, only adds to what we’re certain will be an incredible and memorable atmosphere for players and fans alike.”

The Bruins and Canadiens have faced off 729 times during the regular season, tied for the most head-to-head meetings by any two teams in NHL history. Their 177 head-to-head playoff games and 34 postseason series also are the most in League history, while their nine head-to-head Game 7’s lead all teams in North American major professional sports, including the MLB, NBA, and NHL.


Follow Felix on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!


2015 DRAFT DAY THREAD: 1st Round Draft Board


The biggest day of the off-season is here at long last!  For fans of teams not in the playoffs (and particularly so for us Edmonton Oiler fans), we have been waiting for two months to reach this point: the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Read more

« Older Entries