Category: NHL (page 1 of 11)

Maple Leafs commemorating NHL’s 100-year history in Toronto

Image result for toronto maple leafs logo

By Mike Zeisberger –

With steady sleet coming down Monday afternoon, two poodles were slogging along a slush-covered path at Arena Gardens park, trying to pull their master in opposite directions. Just across the road, construction workers were trudging in ankle-deep muck, carrying materials being used to build yet another Toronto high-rise.

Believe it or not, this is the backdrop to where one of hockey’s most historic buildings once stood.

Here at 78 Mutual Street in Toronto’s Garden District, a plaque signifies that this patch of snow-covered grass, a playground for the puppies, was the onetime location of the rink known as Arena Gardens.

Built in 1912, Arena Gardens became the home five years later for the Arenas, the Toronto entry in the fledgling NHL. Only the third Canadian rink with artificial ice at the time, it would house the League’s Toronto team from 1917-18, the NHL’s first season, to 1931, when Maple Leaf Gardens was built.

Toronto Arena Gardens

On Tuesday, 1.3 miles from Arena Gardens park, the Toronto Maple Leafs will celebrate 100 years of NHL hockey in the city by wearing stylized Arenas uniforms in an afternoon game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Air Canada Centre (2 p.m. ET; SNO, FS-CR, NHL.TV).

On Dec. 19, 1917, the Arenas lost 10-9 to the Montreal Wanderers in the first game in NHL history (it started earlier than the Ottawa Senators-Montreal Canadiens game in Ottawa).

Exactly a century later, the Toronto franchise will open a new chapter in its illustrious history with a contest against the Hurricanes that is being billed as the Next Century Game. Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said the wearing of the Arenas jersey will be a one-time occurrence in honor of the occasion.

The game is part of a celebration of NHL hockey in the city. To that end, Mayor John Tory has declared Tuesday to be Toronto Maple Leafs Day.

“The Maple Leafs are part of the heart and soul of our city, and this 100th birthday event is the perfect moment to come together to celebrate what they mean to us,” Tory said. “Generations of fans, young and old, are all excited for what the future holds for our Leafs and Dec. 19 will be a moment that the team and fans alike are sure to remember for years to come.”


The roots of Toronto’s NHL franchise run deep.

After that loss to the Wanderers at Montreal’s Westmount Arena on the League’s opening night, the Arenas won their home opener at Arena Gardens three days later, 11-4 against the Ottawa Senators.

The Arenas went on to win the Stanley Cup that season, defeating the Vancouver Millionaires in five games. It was the first of 13 Cup championships won by the franchise: one by the Arenas, one by the Toronto St. Patricks and 11 by the Maple Leafs.

The team was called the Arenas until 1919, when the name was switched to the St. Patricks. In 1927, Conn Smythe purchased the team and renamed it the Maple Leafs.

The Maple Leafs have not won the Cup since 1967, an open wound for their long-suffering fans for a half-century. But after qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring for the second time in 12 seasons, Toronto is off to a strong start (20-13-1, 41 points) that has supporters believing it is heading in the right direction.

For Mike Babcock, the 31 months since he was hired as Maple Leafs coach in May 2015 have been an education in their history.

“I know a lot more now than I did then,” Babcock, who grew up a Boston Bruins fan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, said Monday.

“Anytime you are involved with an Original Six franchise, there is tons of history and great players who have gone before you. And you want to represent them well. 

“We want to get this franchise back to its rightful place. We want to get better each and every game. We understand it’s a process. 

“I think we have a product right now our fans can be proud of, and we want to make it better.”

As Babcock spoke after practice on Monday, three Toronto-area natives on the Maple Leafs were shedding their equipment.

Forwards Connor Brown, Mitchell Marner and Zach Hyman, whose cubicles are located beside each other in the dressing room, said they don’t know much about the Arenas. At the same time, they’ve embraced playing for their hometown team and the history that comes along with it.

Toronto Arenas defenseman Harry Cameron in 1918-19, the second uniform of the franchise that started the year before as the Torontos, became the Arenas, then the Toronto St. Pats and, in 1927, the Maple Leafs.

“I’m aware about how the team was called the Arenas and St. Pats but other than that not much about the specifics,” said Brown, a 23-year-old from the suburb of Etobicoke. “But being from Toronto, the team has such a rich heritage. That’s why it’s going to be so cool to wear that [Arenas] jersey.”

Marner, 20, was born in Markham, Ontario, and grew up in Thornhill, just outside of Toronto. He is a rabid Toronto sports fan and a big supporter of the Canadian Football League’s Argonauts, who won the Grey Cup three weeks ago.

“It’s cool to play for this franchise,” Marner said. “Growing up in this area, you kind of got the feeIing what it would be like to be a Maple Leaf. It’s pretty special.”

So, too, will be the atmosphere Tuesday at Air Canada Centre, where thousands of tickets have been allotted to kids, a new generation of Maple Leaf fans.

“All those youngsters in the arena, it’s going to be nice and loud,” Marner said. “It’s going to be really enjoyable.”

Hyman, born and bred in Toronto, has family roots in the local hockey scene. His dad, Stuart, once the head of dozens of minor hockey teams in the Toronto area, is chairman of the Markham Royals of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

“I’d seen the Arenas jersey before so it will be an honor to celebrate 100 years like that,” said Hyman, 25. “It’s awesome. It shows what this franchise and the city means to hockey.

“I mean, how much more important can a team be than the one that played the first-ever game?”

Less than an hour after Maple Leafs practice had ended, Babcock was on an adjoining sheet of ice at the facility running drills for a bunch of wide-eyed 10-year-olds. These were the AA Atom Don Mills Mustangs, who won a contest allowing them to be coached by Babcock for one practice.

“They’ll never forget this,” one father told another as they watched their sons. “If they weren’t already they’ll be Leafs fans for life after this.”

As Toronto’s NHL franchise enters its second century, this is the young fan base the Maple Leafs hope will prove to be its foundation in the future.

A franchise that first sprouted a century ago at 78 Mutual Street.

Rockets owner wants NHL team in Houston

By Cory Wilkins –

Houston, we want a hockey team.

Tilman Fertitta – the new owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets following a record $2.2-billion sale – is interested in adding another sports franchise to his portfolio.

“I would put an NHL team here tomorrow,” Fertitta told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “This one has got to work. But I’d love to have the other dates in the building.

“Do I want to see Toyota Center filled up 300 nights a year? Definitely. We’ll do whatever we can do, but whatever we do has to make sense … Will we be aggressive? Yes. That’s my nature.”

The NHL recently completed an expansion phase, adding its 31st franchise in Las Vegas, while deferring a bid from Quebec City. No other expansion applications, including Houston, were submitted to the league.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke on expansion as recently as Wednesday on Fox Sports, stating, “Could it happen some point? Yes, but it’s nothing we are focused on right now,” per Sportnset’s John Shannon.

Adding a team in Houston – the fourth-most populous city in the United States – would be a first for the NHL, however hockey itself is not unfamiliar with the area. The city was previously home to the WHA’s Houston Aeros from 1972-78 and a minor-pro team of the same name from 1994-2013.

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Gordie Marty, Mark Howe & Marty Howe Signed Houston Aeros WHA

Houston would also provide some intriguing benefits to the NHL. Not only would the city offer a major television market, but Houston is also a natural Texas rival to the Dallas Stars, and the team could also bring some balance to the Central Division – currently home to seven teams, while the other three divisions carry eight clubs.

The NHL was previously linked to Houston in 2015, when Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who chairs the NHL board of governors, told Nicholas Goss of NESN, “I’d love to see (a team) in Houston, but we can’t get into that building.”

With Rockets’ ownership now changing hands, it could open the door for the NHL’s entry into Houston and the Toyota Center. The 2003-built arena seats 17,800 for hockey and is home to only one major-league tenant.

“We have to make sure hockey fans in Houston, Texas and Houstonians will come out and support an NHL team,” Fertitta added. “When the Aeros left they were drawing 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 a game. If we have an NHL team, we have to put 16,000 in that stadium every night, 17,000, 18,000.

“If I go out and get an NHL team, I’m going to ask the citizens of Houston to make sure they commit to help me do it. None of this is successful without the fans out there.”

Nathan Walker makes Washington Capitals’ opening 2017/18 roster, set to become first Australian to play in NHL


NATHAN Walker is set to realize his dream of becoming the first Australian to play in the NHL after making the Washington Capitals’ opening roster for 2017/18.

Walker was named as the Capitals released their squad on Wednesday, ahead of their season opener against the Ottawa Senators on Friday.

The 23-year-old is no guarantee to feature in that game — and the roster is still subject to change — but his long-awaited debut now appears only a matter of time. He’s already made history in becoming the first Australian to make an NHL team’s roster.

Walker impressed for the Capitals in pre-season, fighting off stiff competition from other forwards to earn a place in the squad. It’s a culmination of years of perseverance and hard work for Wales-born, Sydney-raised Walker, who played in the Czech Republic before moving to the US and getting drafted by the Capitals in 2014.

Walker has spent much of his time since playing for Washington’s feeder team, the Hershey Bears in the AHL (American Hockey League). He scored 11 goals and 12 assists in 58 games last season and looked on the verge of a mid-season NHL call-up before an untimely wrist injury.

At just 173cm, Walker is often one of the smallest players on the ice but has impressed with his energy, pace and penalty-killing ability.

“He has an effect on the game,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.

“He may not be the most natural goal scorer, but he has (an) effect on pace of play, the zone play. He wears people out. He’s in your face and gets people off their game, so there’s a lot of good things about Nathan that you like.”

Olympics could be hot topic in next round of NHL CBA talks

The Associated Press

Going to the Olympics was a life-changing experience for T.J. Oshie, a shootout star for the United States against Russia in Sochi.

Oshie and dozens, if not hundreds, of NHL stars are disappointed they won’t get a chance to do it again at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. He would like to ensure Olympic participation in the future – but not at any cost.

”To what end, like what we would have to give up?” Oshie said. ”Now you’re talking about an entire league of players and families potentially losing out on whatever it would be. … What we’d be giving up would affect everybody. It’s a tough talk.”

Because Olympic participation wasn’t written into the collective bargaining agreement signed in 2013, the decision rested with NHL owners, who decided against going to Pyeongchang after the league participated in the previous five Games. With the first chance for players or owners to opt out of the CBA now two years away, the Olympics, escrow payments and the draft age look like they are bound to be among the hot topics.

NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr said owners choosing to skip the 2018 Olympics ”is a thorn, is a sore” for players and is ”not going to be forgotten.”

”I think it is clearly something the players are going to want to think long and hard about when they get to the point of formulating their positions,” Fehr said. ”I would not be at all surprised if they wanted to make this an issue around which they felt very strongly in terms of the overall agreement because you have to remember that while it’s true that roughly a fifth of the players play in any particular set of Games, everyone would like the opportunity to go.”

Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin said not going to the Olympics ”kind of makes you angry.” Seguin added: ”We’re going to have to figure something out for future players and for our future in general as a game.”

The future of the game likely will involve increased international events that help grow revenue and spread hockey’s influence around the world. The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks recently played in Shanghai and Beijing, site of the 2022 Olympics, with the NHL attempting to make inroads in China.

The NHL and NHLPA staged the return of the World Cup of Hockey last year in Toronto, and the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators will play two games in Sweden in November.

Fehr said the NHL has ”for some time now indicated a lot more interest in China” than in Korea. But Commissioner Gary Bettman said in several meetings with Chinese businesses and government entities ”not one of them asked about the Olympics because what we’re doing isn’t about two weeks.”

The NHL is interested in China, and it wouldn’t hurt the players’ Olympic chances if Salt Lake City or Calgary lands the 2026 Winter Games, but the topic of ensuring participation is not an easy one for upcoming negotiations.

”For us to say that there’s a change of heart, there’s obviously going to have to be a change in circumstance, including how the (International Olympic Committee) and the (International Ice Hockey Federation) view our participation,” said Bettman, who noted that neither side is currently focused on reopening CBA talks.

”I have no idea what the Players’ Association will raise in that regard. But we were clear in the last round of bargaining that we needed the ability not to go to the Olympics because we understood how disruptive they are to the season.”

After 147 NHL players participated in Sochi, much of the reaction inside locker rooms to the NHL’s decision on Korea wasn’t positive. At the very least, a handful of players said they’d like to know in advance about the Olympics so it doesn’t come down to the wire like it did last time.

”I think it’s important that we address it so that it’s a done issue, whether it be that we’re not going or we’re going,” Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf said. ”I don’t think we want to leave it open to interpretation every year that it goes on.”

One thing that hasn’t been open to interpretation since 2013 is players having some of their pay held in escrow to compensate for the 50/50 split of revenue with owners. Last season, players had 15.5 percent of their pay withheld and many have expressed displeasure with the system.

Fehr said changes could be made to the escrow system, but added that it has always been his view that salary caps ”cause all kinds of problems.” The NHL and NHLPA instituted the salary cap coming out of the 2004-05 lockout that wiped out a season, and Bettman is proud of the competitive balance it has created.

”That’s why we fought so hard and we were committed to getting a system that would enable all of our teams to be competitive,” Bettman said.

Another topic that is likely to spark conversation is raising the draft age from 18 to 19. Former player and current NHLPA special assistant to the executive director Mathieu Schneider said it can be a positive but knows there are challenges to changing it like the NBA did several years ago.

Fehr, who was executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1985-2009 and has headed the NHLPA for the past seven years, said preparations for the next round of bargaining will ramp up after the executive board meeting next summer. With plenty of conversations left to have, he thinks it’s too early to tell what will be the central issues when push comes to shove.

”You can make guesses, you can sometimes make educated guesses and every so often you’re going to be right,” Fehr said. ”But it’s a chancy prospect.”

New Generation of Asian-American Hockey Players Go Pro After Historic NHL Draft

Image: Nick Suzuki puts on the Vegas Golden Knights jersey during the 2017 NHL draft

Nick Suzuki puts on the Vegas Golden Knights jersey after being selected
13th overall during the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago on June 23, 2017.

By Sheng Peng

Suzuki and Yamamoto are not names that show up often on the back of National Hockey League (NHL) jerseys.

But teenagers Nick Suzuki and Kailer Yamamoto — both picked in the first round of June’s 2017 NHL draft in Chicago — may be the start of a new trend.

This year’s draft was historic, with Suzuki, Yamamoto, and Jason Robertson plucked in the first two rounds, the most Asian Americans to ever go that high in a single NHL draft according to William Douglas, a journalist from The Color of Hockey, which tracks diversity in the sport.

“Asian-American players have gone high in the NHL draft before,” Douglas told NBC News. “But this is a first time that you’ve had such a cluster of players drafted in the early rounds.”

Sooner than later, this might become the norm. As the Asian population has grown in United States and Canada, more and more Asian kids have taken up ice hockey, according to a team executive.

During the 2015-2016 season, 983 players appeared in a regular season NHL game, according to statistics from Just four of them — Matt Dumba, Devin Setoguchi, Jujhar Khaira, and Joshua Ho-Sang — appear to be of Asian descent.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of players who have Asian heritage,” Mike Oke — general manager of the Peterborough Petes, which play in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) — said. The OHL is one of the NHL’s primary feeder leagues.

“It’s definitely kind of a big step for the community,” Suzuki, who was selected 13th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights and scored a goal in the new franchise’s first pre-season game in September, told NBC News.

Suzuki grew up in London, Ontario, a city halfway between Toronto and Detroit.

According to his father, Suzuki’s great-grandparents immigrated to Canada in 1909 and were incarcerated along with Suzuki’s grandfather in Kaslo, British Columbia, during World War II.

“From a Canadian perspective, some of the hockey players today, their parents immigrated to Canada, either as young teens or as adults, and therefore, weren’t exposed to the game of hockey at a young age,” Oke, the hockey executive, said. “Whereas now, the second and third generation of individuals who immigrated have been born and raised and inundated with the game of hockey.”

“I’m glad we’re getting our culture out,” Yamamoto, whose name was called by the Edmonton Oilers with the 22nd pick, said.

According to Yamamoto’s father, three generations of Yamamotos were born and raised in Spokane, Washington, including Kailer and himself. Before the Yamamotos settled in the Pacific Northwest, Saichi Yamamoto immigrated from Okinawa to Hawaii, meeting his wife Momoyo. Both Saichi and Momoyo Yamamoto were incarcerated during World War II.

Image: Kailer Yamamoto puts on his jersey after being selected 22nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers during the NHL draft

Kailer Yamamoto puts on his jersey after being selected 22nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers
during Round One of the 2017 NHL draft in Chicago on June 23, 2017.

Unlike Nick Suzuki and Kailer Yamamoto, Jason Robertson, whose mother is of Filipino descent, did not grow up in a hockey hotbed. He was born and raised in the city of Arcadia in Southern California.

“I love hockey, I want everybody to be part of it,” Robertson, who went 39th overall to the Dallas Stars, said.

“From an American perspective, the sport has really outgrown what used to be the traditional pockets. In the past, hockey was typically played in some of the colder climate states,” Oke noted. “But now, with the expansion of the NHL into the southern climes such as California and Nevada and Arizona and Texas and Florida — you have people in those particular areas, for the first time, able to participate from a young age.”

Combined, those states have an Asian-American population of more than six million people, according to data from the 2010 U.S. Census, nearly a third of the country’s Asian-American population.

Image: Jason Robertson  talks with representatives from the Dallas Stars after being selected by the team during the second round of the 2017 NHL hockey draft

Jason Robertson, left, talks with representatives from the Dallas Stars after being selected by the
team during the second round of the 2017 NHL hockey draft, in Chicago on June 24, 2017.

For each prospect, the prejudice that trailblazing Asian NHL’ers like Larry “King” Kwong and Jim Paek suffered was not something they dealt with.

“It’s been a coast for me,” Yamamoto said, smiling. “Everywhere I’ve gone, people have treated me with utmost respect.”

“Whoever you are, whatever you are, it all comes down to hard work and dedication,” Robertson said.

But at least one aspect of their careers is similar to Kwong and Paek. Each is proud of being an example for Asian-American kids who don’t have a lot of role models in the sport.

“It’s definitely a big opportunity,” acknowledged Suzuki. “I want to show everybody you can do it, no matter what.”

They’re already influencing their siblings: 16-year-old Ryan Suzuki and 15-year-old Nick Robertson were both selected in the first round of the most recent OHL Priority Selection, held on April 8. This junior-level draft is often a precursor to the NHL edition.

So it’s possible there will be more Suzukis, Yamamotos, and Robertsons banging down the door of the NHL soon.

“This isn’t a one-shot deal,” Douglas, the journalist, said.

Suzuki concurs, “There’s definitely a lot [of Asians] coming up.

Kings defeat Canucks in shootout to sweep China Games

By Lisa Dillman –

BEIJING  Jonny Brodzinski scored the only goal of the shootout and goalie Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves to give the Los Angeles Kings a 4-3 victory against the Vancouver Canucks in the second leg of the 2017 NHL China Games Presented by O.R.G. Packaging at Wukesong Arena. 

The win, in front of a crowd of 12,759, gave the Kings a sweep of the historic two-game preseason series. The Kings defeated the Canucks 5-2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai on Thursday in the first NHL game played in China. 

“The crowd got a little bit of everything tonight,” Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler said. “Hopefully it was fun and exciting for them.”

Brodzinski, going second for the Kings in the shootout, beat Canucks goalie Anders Nilsson with a backhand shot. Kuemper ended the game when he stopped forward Sven Baertschi in the third round.

Canucks defenseman Christopher Tanev sent the game into overtime when his wrist shot beat Kuemper’s with 1:52 remaining in the third period. 

“I didn’t know what to expect with the trip, but I have nothing but great things to say,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “It was an experience of a lifetime.”

Forward Nick Shore gave the Kings a 1-0 lead at 9:29 of the first period, taking a pass from Trevor Lewis and beating Nilsson from just below the right circle. Defenseman Jake Muzzin made it 2-0 at 17:07. Muzzin, who had three assists on Thursday, was named MVP of the China Games.

Baertschi, who scored the Canucks’ first goal on Thursday, finished off a sustained flurry in the Kings’ zone by tucking the puck between the left post and Kuemper’s pad to make it 2-1 at 8:50 of the second period. 

Forward Tyler Toffoli gave the Kings a 3-1 lead at 1:15 of the third, beating Nilsson in close on the glove side. But the Canucks made it 3-2 at 11:52 when Loui Erikssons shot went off the leg of Kings defenseman Alec Martinez and past Kuemper.

Canucks forward Bo Horvat was scratched because of an upper-body injury sustained in the game on Thursday.


Kings defeat Canucks in opener of NHL China Games

By Lisa Dillman –

SHANGHAI — The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 Thursday on a historic night at Mercedes-Benz Arena in the 2017 NHL China Games presented by O.R.G. Packaging.

Kings left wing Tanner Pearson scored twice in front of 10,088 fans in the first NHL game to be played in China. It’s the first of a two-game preseason series between the Pacific Division rivals. The Kings and Canucks will play Saturday at Wukesong Arena in Beijing (3:30 a.m. ET; NHLN-US, SN, TVA Sports, NHL.TV).

“There’s definitely some significance to playing the game here,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “The guys were talking about it being one of the first teams to play a game here. To be quite honest we didn’t know what it would be like: the crowd, the noise and the atmosphere.”

Canucks defenseman Eric Gudbranson hoped the fans enjoyed their first look at the NHL.

“It was really fun,” Gudbanson said. “To begin with, this is a beautiful rink and they took to the game really well. I’m hoping they had fun and appreciated what we had to offer.”

The Kings scored twice in the first period, once in the second and twice in the third to back goaltender Jonathan Quick, who made 31 saves. Forwards Adrian Kempe and Jeff Carter and defenseman Alec Martinez had goals for Los Angeles, and defenseman Jake Muzzin had three assists.

Forwards Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund scored for Vancouver.

Kempe earned the distinction of scoring the first NHL goal in China when his power-play slap shot from the top of the left circle beat Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom at 7:06 of the first period.

“I was happy I was the first guy to score, obviously,” said Kempe, a 21-year-old who had six points (two goals, four assists) in 25 games for the Kings last season. “We got a good start, it was a nice shot, so I was glad.”

Pearson made it 2-0 with an unassisted shorthanded goal at 15:18, scoring on a breakaway after intercepting an errant pass by Canucks forward Thomas Vanek.

“I didn’t like our first period,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “I thought our play with the puck wasn’t good enough. I thought [the Kings were] good with the puck in the first compared to us. I like how we played the last two periods.”

Martinez made it 3-0 at 1:04 of the second period, but Baertschi cut the Kings’ lead to 3-1 with his power-play goal at 2:15 of second period and Granlund made it 3-2 at 12:37 of the third period.

Pearson gave the Kings a 4-2 lead with 3:03 left when he scored on another breakaway, and Carter scored into an empty net with 50.7 seconds remaining.

Break Away: NHL’s Entrance into China

By Geoff Ng – City Weekend

China is not traditionally a hockey-playing nation, but with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics fast approaching, the country’s eyes are turning quickly towards the sport. The national hockey program is now laying the groundwork for growth over the next decade, making this September’s exhibition match between the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and the Los Angeles Kings a pivotal moment for the development of the sport in this country.

The country is currently ranked just 35th in the world rankings, up two spots from two years ago. Typically only the world’s top 12 nations are eligible for the Olympics. So to jump start the program ahead of 2022, China’s national team recently hosted open tryouts for players of Chinese descent in Toronto and Vancouver. Off the back of these open sessions, Vancouver native Brayden Jaw has signed on to join fellow Chinese-Canadian Zach Yuen to play in China this year as a member of the Kunlun Red Star, the Shanghai-based team in Russia’s cross-continental league, the KHL.

Jaw and Yuen, both in their mid-20s, will serve as a buffer generation to help seed talent in the age groups below them. Even if there is a large potential talent pool in China’s 1.6 billion population, it will take some work to tap into it. “It is a big market,” says Henrik Sedin, captain of the Vancouver Canucks. “But as you’ve seen in markets around North America, it’s tough to build the game. You have to grow it from a young age.”

Not surprisingly then, the national program has a lot of work ahead of itself. “Youth hockey has been developing quickly, especially for ages 10-15,” says 17-year-old local player Eric Zeng. “But the sad thing is that there are fewer and fewer players for our U18 teams. Many Chinese players start very young but they quit hockey for education.” Zeng has enrolled in Shanghai’s men’s league and is hoping to leverage his play and his academics into a scholarship for a Division II American college next fall.

Following the KHL’s lead, the NHL has been nibbling at the edges of China for a few years now, most recently making headlines when the New York Islanders (and its Chinese-American owner Charles Wang) made Andong Song the league’s first Chinese-born draft pick in 2015. Song came up in the Beijing International Ice Hockey League but moved to Canada at age 10 and is now working his way up the Islanders’ developmental system.

The Canucks and the Kings have also contributed, having hosted youth camps in Shanghai and Beijing for the last few years.The Canucks even went one step further this summer, inviting 20-year-old Beijing-born Simon Chen to their prospect development camp in Vancouver.

As for the match itself, the Kings and Canucks will square up with different goals in mind for the season. The Canucks sank to second-last place in the league last year and are building a base of young talent to take them forward, while the Kings have been one of the league’s best teams over the last decade, despite missing the playoffs last year. Nevertheless, with pride and big league jobs on the line, it’s sure to be a competitive game.

NHL team takes it to the ‘ice’ in Barbados

By The Barbados Advocate

The Florida Panthers Ice Hockey team was right at home in Barbados when they paid a visit to Icetopia Skating Rink this past Wednesday evening.

Continuing their community outreach while on the island, the United States National Hockey League (NHL) teams carried a clinic for young players as there was a new interest in the sport.

With several youngsters coming out to the region’s first ice skating rink to take part in the workshop, they were taken through the paces by defencemen Ian McCoshen and Alex Petrovic as well as newly-retired player Shawn Thornton, who now wears the hat of Vice President of Business Operations for the team.

Speaking to The Barbados Advocate, Vice President of Alumni and and Broadcasting Randy Moller explained that the initiative came out of their desire to give something back, in the hopes that it would aid the development of the sport in Barbados.

“As part of our partnership with the island of Barbados and our outreach programmes and our community development for youth hockey for the Florida Panthers, we jumped on this opportunity to come down here to this beautiful Caribbean island of Barbados when we found out that they have an indoor synthetic ice arena that kids actually play hockey on. We were excited about coming down and putting on a clinic for these kids and hopefully give them some more pointers to improve their skills in the world’s fastest team game,” Moller said.

Noting that they brought some of their best and brightest, Moller stated that they were enjoying their time on the island.

“We brought Panthers defencemen Alex Petrovic, Ian McCoshen and former Florida Panther Shawn Thornton to strap on the blades and come down and see what this is all about. We have been very impressed. This is incredible and to have this on an island in the Southern Caribbean is amazing. Barbados is incredible and we are really happy to be here,” he said.

Selanne, Kariya, Andreychuk headline 2017 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees

By Ian McLaren – The Score

Selanne was seen as the biggest lock of this class. He set the bar early by setting an NHL-record 76 goals as a rookie in Winnipeg, and finished his career with 684 goals and 773 assists for 1,457 points in 1,451 games. He also won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007.

It’s quite special that he’d enter the Hall alongside Paul Kariya, considering the pair were linked as linemates and friends during their stints in Anaheim and Colorado. Kariya, whose career was cut short due to concussion, recorded 989 points in 989 career games.

Dave Andreychuk and Mark Recchi have been patiently waiting to get the call from the Hall. Andreychuk captained Tampa Bay to a Stanley Cup in 2004, and finished his career with 640 goals and 698 assists in 1,639 games. Recchi is a three-time Cup winner, and sits 12th all time in NHL points with 1,533 (577 goals and 956 assists) in 1,652 games.

Goyette is one of the most successful women’s players the game has seen, putting up massive amounts of points on the international stage while winning two gold medals and one silver for Canada at the Winter Olympics.

For the builders, Jacobs has been the owner of the Boston Bruins since 1975, while Drake coached the University of Alberta’s Golden Bears for 28 years, winning six national championships.

This group of seven will be inducted in a ceremony Nov. 13 in Toronto.

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