John Brophy, legendary hockey coach, dead at 83 (Puck Daddy)

John Brophy, the long-time hockey coach who spent three years behind the bench for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has passed away at the age of 83, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. Brophy coached just like his played: with toughness. One glance at his career playing statistics will show you that he wasn’t one who would back away from a fight. You couldn’t fill out the “PIM” column on his hockey card without using three digits. His playing career in the Eastern Hockey League took him from Baltimore to Charlotte to New Haven and to Philadelphia before he settled in for parts of eight seasons with the Long Island Ducks. How intense did Brophy get at times? Val James, who played under him on Long Island detailed in his book. From the Toronto Sun : James tells of the short-fused Brophy getting so incensed at the Sherbrooke AHL team’s effort one day that he smashed a chalkboard over his own head during a dressing room rant and continued to berate the players while covered in white dust, then tearing his sportscoat to shreds. Toward the end of his career Brophy became a player-coach before moving full-time into the bench boss role. He spent some time in the World Hockey Association before taking on the head coaching role of the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens for three seasons. He would accept the Maple Leafs’ head job in 1986 and took the team to the playoffs in two of his three seasons there. No matter where he went, Brophy tried to instill his no-nonsense mentality into his teams. And when things didn’t go his way, Brophy was quite comfortable airing his grievances to the media following games. After one loss in 1988 the head coach let loose a legendary rant that included 72 f-bombs, which was caught on the recorder of Toronto reporter Lance Hornby and detailed in the book “Tales from the Toronto Maple Leafs Locker Room.” Fired 33 games into his third year in Toronto, Brophy ended up in the East Coast Hockey League with the Hampton Roads Admirals, where he’d spend the next 11 seasons, winning three championships. When Brophy retired, he was the ECHL’s leader in regular season games coached (882), regular season wins (480) and was given the honor of having the league’s “Coach of the Year” award named after him. He was also inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2009. “The entire ECHL is saddened to hear of the passing of John Brophy,” said ECHL Commissioner Brian McKenna in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Brophy family. There was no greater competitor than John Brophy. He played a significant role in building the ECHL and our annual Coach of the Year award bears his name.” Brophy would leave the game of hockey with 1,027 professional coaching wins, second to only Scotty Bowman. Like I said, he was never one to back away from a fight, whether it was with a player half his age: Or with a contemporary, like Jacques Demers: Hockey has had its share of colorful personalities over the years and Brophy was certainly an unforgettable one. – – – – – – – Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Sean_Leahy MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY :

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What We Learned: NHL free agent blues for Backes, Brouwer (Puck Daddy)

(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) The NHL is getting smarter every year. Despite that, some bad free agent decisions get made every summer.  How many times has it happened that a strong playoff performance by an otherwise just-OK player results in too many dollars for entirely too many years? Yes, too many. You can be very, very certain that it’s going to happen again. Two guys who certainly seem to fall into the category of “pending UFAs whose playoff performances are going to get them straight-up paid” are the big goal-scorers for the Blues. David Backes and Troy Brouwer both have seven goals in this postseason, tied with Vladimir Tarasenko and Logan Couture for fourth in the league. The latter two are guys whose career-long performance shows they can contribute at a high level. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] Backes and Brouwer, not so much. Greg recently highlighted both Blues forwards as guys who are going to cash in as a result of the playoffs. Not that anyone thinks they’re going to pull something in the range of even Couture’s $6 million a season, but these are two players you’re going to want to be very careful about signing. Travis Yost had a good breakdown of why David Backes should give potential suitors pause this summer. I see Brouwer as being very much in the same category. Not salary-wise, obviously. There’s a clear differentiation between how Backes — a proven leader and strong two-way player — is perceived in the hockey world at large. Most people wouldn’t blink at someone giving him a sizable raise from his current cap hit of $4.5 million. Now, given that he’s 32 and clearly trending downward at this point in his career (as most 32-year-olds are) I’d be dubious that any raise will end up being “worth it” sooner than later, but guys still get paid for past performance and it would be tough to say that there weren’t at least a few seasons in the last few years in which Backes contributed more bang for the buck than the average comparable player. A smart GM probably wouldn’t give him, say $6 million AAV for four years, let alone a Ryan Kesler contract, but there are some executives out there who will be just desperate enough for what Backes provides that the evidence at hand won’t matter. He’s a gritty leader who plays the full 200 feet and, as a bonus, scored a lot in the postseason. That gets a guy paid, full stop. Brouwer is a more interesting case, though. Backes has a semi-legitimate claim to getting paid. He’s Olympian, All-Star, and frequent top-five Selke vote-getter who’s scoring in the playoffs and will generally get you at least 50 points, historically speaking. That’s a very valuable thing to have around in theory, but time catches up with us all and so on. How much longer Backes can be the idealized version of himself is very much up for debate. But what, then, is the idealized version of Troy Brouwer? Never an all-star, never received a single vote for any award, never a captain and a guy whose best statistical output doesn’t match Backes’ worst. Despite that, he’s scoring a bunch in the playoffs and is, like Backes, seen as a gritty two-way guy. One can therefore reasonably expect that this postseason gets him a raise that is not commensurate with his actual value. We have plenty of evidence to show why he might not even be worth what he’s paid right now. Take, for example, this new visualization from Carolyn Wilke. It compares a player’s performance with other players in their cap hit range (as a percentage of the overall cap). The last “band” into which Brouwer falls is his current contract, and you can clearly see that he underperforms in comparison with the average player in the league who carries a similar cap hit: Troy Brouwer’s postseason is probably going to earn him a raise he wouldn’t get otherwise pic.twitter.com/yq9cow2Jnx — Carolyn Wilke (@Classlicity) May 22, 2016 That can be a little hard to read, but the message should be clear: Brouwer’s teams get more heavily out-chanced when he’s on the ice than when he’s off, he doesn’t score as much as similarly compensated players, and he doesn’t generate enough chances of his own. Part of that is because he’s used in a defensive role, which is going to depress his ability to score goals and create chances. But part of that is also that he’s probably not good enough to be used in the way he has been for the last three seasons. All the 5-on-5 data over his current contract — the last three seasons, at an AAV of about $3.67 million — suggests he’s roughly a lower-end third-line performer. And that’s fine. If that comes with 35-plus points, you probably take the current contract as-is. Doesn’t mean he’s bad or anything, it just means that anyone who probably leaves you with better options for power play time and so on. His coaches, for whatever reason, haven’t really found those options; he’s played more than half of all his team’s power play time over the last three seasons, and it was only this year that Ken Hitchcock started to reel things in after Washington really let him run wild on the man advantage (close to 65 percent of their PP minutes!). Even with Hitchcock reducing Brouwer’s power play time, he still scored seven of his 18 goals on the man advantage, with three more going into empty nets. A guy logging as many minutes as he does at 5-on-5 shouldn’t be scoring just eight goals over the full 82 games and then expect to get paid based on playoff performance. In fact, eight goals at full-strength this past season was tied for 10th-fewest in the entire league among all 116 forwards playing at least 1,000 minutes. He scored roughly the same number of goals per 60 minutes as Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Cody Eakin this season, and unlike those two his numbers are more likely to decline. Like Backes, Brouwer isn’t getting any younger. He’ll be 31 in August, and guys who play his type of game generally do not age well. It would be one thing to overpay him slightly, but any raise above and beyond what he already makes is going to be tough for a team to justify. He seems to have peaked in or prior to the lockout-shortened year, in his age-26 season (surprise surprise), and that’s getting to be a while ago now. Because the league is getting smarter, there will be no Ville Leino contract . No one will give him a Dave Bolland deal. The overpayment will probably be a lot more modest in both term and dollars. But given the way the cap is moving (barely), and how much more efficiently teams are finding ways to spend money (much), even giving Brouwer an extra year or an extra $1 million would be worrisome. If his cap hit clears $4 million and he gets more than two or three years, it won’t be the worst contract in the league, but it still won’t be a good one. It’s great for the Blues that he’s scoring in the playoffs. He’s a big reason they’ve gotten this far. But if there’s anyone willing to pay him based on that, well, you know what they say about who is soon parted with his money. What We Learned Anaheim Ducks : Finally, the Ducks add a potentially high-end young defenseman . They’ve really been hurting for those lately. Arizona Coyotes : Having an AHL team in Tucson is a pretty good deal for the Coyotes. It’s a two-hour drive as opposed to a five-hour flight. Saves a lot of money on call-ups.  Boston Bruins : The Bruins may have to wait another year to get the compensatory second-round pick Edmonton owes them from signing Peter Chiarelli. Fun. Buffalo Sabres : Can you believe a kid from the WHL is named “Brycen?” Of course you can. Calgary Flames : Sean Monahan doesn’t want a bridge deal . However, the two sides haven’t really made a lot of progress either way, which seems crazy to me but hey whatever. Carolina Hurricanes : Well I mean, they shouldn’t want Cam Ward back . Because he’s not good any more. Chicago : Good luck improving that defense with that cap situation. Chicago’s in a real tough spot on the back end. Again, that’s the price of success. Colorado Avalanche : I still can’t imagine why they’d trade one of their few good defensemen, but here we are . Columbus Blue Jackets : Columbus is apparently considering just LTIR-ing David Clarkson forever. This trade is working out great. Dallas Stars : The “ this ” in this scenario should be, “Getting a real goalie.” Detroit Red Wings : These guys really have their fingers on the pulse here. The Wings are dropping off? Wow! Edmonton Oilers : Benoit Pouliot was hurt for a good chunk of the season . Still a good player when he’s healthy, but that’s not often any more. Too bad. Florida Panthers : New logo and jerseys out June 2 , but you already know what they look like. Los Angeles Kings : Man, the Kings could only be so lucky as to have Dallas sign Milan Lucic for a ton of money this summer. Two years from now whatever deal he gets probably doesn’t look very good. Minnesota Wild : If Bruce Boudreau can’t make Jason Pominville effective in attack again , probably no one can. Montreal Canadiens : I mean, yes, but … Nashville Predators : The Preds believe they will keep improving with this group. They also need to upgrade a few spots in the lineup. New Jersey Devils : How do the Devils have it set up so only like 11 guys are on their payroll for next season right now? That never happens. So yeah, lots to consider apparently . New York Islanders : Having the cap space and actually being able to sign a guy are two very different things. New York Rangers : Jeff Gorton sitting around his office like, “ But what if we got even more bad defensemen ?” Ottawa Senators : How many people on this list should the Senators actually target? Like, three? Philadelphia Flyers : Yeah, the Flyers probably don’t trade up . What’s the point if everyone’s a project after, say, No. 5?

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Hab at heart: Martin Petit

Les Boys, Alex Kovalev, Maurice Richard… The ties between Martin Petit, the hockey world and the Montreal Canadiens are endless. Whether it’s in his work as a stand-up comedian, actor, script writer or simply as a fan, the 47-year-old has always supported the CH. We had the chance to talk to Petit about his past in Quebec City, his relationship with the man affectionately known as “The Artist,” and Stanley Cup parades.

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Big-league success

MONTREAL – “Every 24 hours the world turns over on someone who was sitting on top of it.”

That quote still resonates with Jeff Petry’s father – former major-league pitcher Dan Petry – today, long after his retirement from professional baseball back in 1991. Those words were featured on a sign in Hall-of-Fame manager Sparky Anderson’s office in Detroit where Dan spent the majority of his 13-year playing career that included helping the Tigers claim their last World Series title 32 years ago.

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Edmonton Oilers sign winger Zack Kassian to one-year contract (The Canadian Press)

The Edmonton Oilers have signed winger Zack Kassian to a one-year contract. The 25-year-old Kassian appeared in 36 games with the Oilers last season, posting eight points (three goals, five assists) and 114 penalty minutes. The Oilers acquired Kassian from Montreal on Dec. 28 in exchange for goaltender Ben Scrivens, and the move resurrected a nearly lost season for the forward.

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Puck Soup Podcast: Actor Tom Cavanagh talks NHL, The Flash and ‘Mystery, Alaska’ (Puck Daddy)

(WARNING: STRONG ADULT LANGUAGE AND HUMOR. LISTENER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.) PUCK SOUP  is the new hockey podcast on the  Nerdist network  for Puck Daddy editor Greg Wyshynski and Dave Lozo of Vice Sports, Uproxx and The Comeback. This is a hockey podcast, in the sense that the talk about hockey, both on the ice and about fan culture. That’s the “puck.” This is also a podcast about movies, TV, fast food, life lessons and general idiocy. That’s the “soup.”  In episode seven, Greg and Dave talk hockey with actor Tom Cavanagh (“THE FLASH,” “ED”) about Olympic hockey, the Montreal Canadiens, his sad tale about getting rejected for a starring role in “Mystery, Alaska,” comic book fans vs. hockey fans and why Zack Snyder made a huge mistake in not taking Grant Gustin as his “Justice League” version of THE FLASH. Plus, Stanley Cup Playoffs talk, an examination of Joe Thornton’s playoff beard, dissecting the problems with NBC’s NHL coverage, the Top 6 Greatest Playoff Disappointments of All-Time, Puck Soup listener mail and a silly movie name game.  This episode is sponsored by  Seat Geek : use promo code SOUP for $20 your first purchase! Follow  @wyshynski ,  @davelozo  and  @PuckSoupPodcast  on Twitter!

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Montreal Canadiens-Themed Restaurant by HMSHost Unveiled at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

PRESS RELEASE

MONTREAL — Now taking centre ice at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport is Avenue des Canadiens, a new full-service dining experience by global restaurateur HMSHost. Inspired by the beloved local NHL team, the Avenue des Canadiens grand opening was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony by a perfect matchup of Montreal Canadiens executives, as well as HMSHost and Aéroports de Montréal representatives.

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Canadiens sign gifted Slovak forward Reway to three-year contract (The Canadian Press)

The Montreal Canadiens announced Wednesday that playmaking forward Martin Reway has signed a three-year contract with the club. The five-foot-nine Reway, drafted 116th overall in 2013 by Montreal, split last season between Sparta Prague in the Czech league, where he had five goals and 10 assists in 14 games, and Fribourg-Gotteron in Switzerland, where he eight goals and 21 points in 19 games.

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Canadiens sign gifted Slovak forward Reway to three-year contract (The Canadian Press)

The Montreal Canadiens announced Wednesday that playmaking forward Martin Reway has signed a three-year contract with the club. The five-foot-nine Reway, drafted 116th overall in 2013 by Montreal, split last season between Sparta Prague in the Czech league, where he had five goals and 10 assists in 14 games, and Fribourg-Gotteron in Switzerland, where he eight goals and 21 points in 19 games.

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Canadiens agree to terms on a three-year contract with forward Martin Reway

PRESS RELEASE

MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced on Wednesday that the team has agreed to terms on a three-year, two-way contract (2016-17 to 2018-19) with forward Martin Reway.

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Habs defenceman P.K. Subban to host comedy gala at Just for Laughs in Montreal (The Canadian Press)

NHL all-star P.K. Subban is stickhandling a new role: comedy host. The Montreal Canadiens defenceman is teaming up with the Just For Laughs Festival for the “P.K. Subban’s All-Star Comedy Gala” on Aug. 1 in Montreal. Proceeds raised by the P.K. Subban Foundation for the gala will be donated to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation.

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What We Learned: Stop overpraising Blues, Sharks management (Puck Daddy)

A thing you saw a lot this week, in the lead-up to Sunday night’s Western Conference Final matchup between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues, is praise for the teams’ respective general managers and fellow Dougs, Wilson and Armstrong. They have put together some good teams over the years, to be sure. Both rosters are talent-rich at all positions. Both have a healthy mix of older players who have been through the wars before and still contributing at a high level and younger players who are throwing in their own solid performances. Both are well-coached. Both are getting strong goaltending. But was either GM actually “patient” with their rosters? Probably not. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] The San Jose example is the one for which there was obviously no real patience displayed. Back in 2014, when the Sharks blew a 3-0 lead to the Kings, Wilson saw his divisional rivals go on to win the Stanley Cup, and thought, “There but for a lack of Leadership and Grit go I.” He tried to trade Joe Thornton. He tried to trade Patrick Marleau. Neither would wave their no-trade clauses. He also brought in some largely useless veterans (like future All-Star captain John Scott!) to try to move the needle and ended up setting his team back in some ways. If Wilson had gotten his way back in the summer of 2014, this Sharks team looks a lot different than it does now. And probably a lot worse as well. Who knows what selling low on Thornton and Marleau at that time gets him on the trade market, but when you look at the impact those two have had not only in this postseason, but in the last two years, you have to say that any return would probably have not produced commensurate numbers. The only thing you can say in Wilson’s defense here, honestly, is that the no-movement and no-trade clauses he wrote into the contracts those two players signed for three years beginning in 2011 and 2014, respectively, prevented him from making his team worse. I’m not sure if that’s patience. I’m positive it’s not praiseworthy. Another thing Wilson did that wasn’t exactly patience to actually help his team is go out and acquire a solid goaltender. Not that Antti Niemi was in any way bad for the Sharks on the whole, as he was perfectly fine in his time there, but “perfectly fine” doesn’t usually win you many playoff rounds, as anyone can see. It should surprise you not at all that Martin Jones’s save percentage in this postseason is the second-best any Sharks team has seen since the start of the Behind the Net era in 2007-08. Combine that with the transformation Brent Burns has given the Sharks on the blue line and yeah, it’s inarguably a really good team. Wilson deserves praise for keeping that team together only insofar as he didn’t do a good enough job convincing his veteran forwards to waive no-trades, and didn’t do anything dumber. With the exception of Jones, I’m not sure he actively sought to improve the team or its core at any point in the last two years. He signed Paul Martin this summer, and Martin has been… fine? I guess? Which, okay, it’s nice to have serviceable defensemen, but the price point and term is worrisome on that deal. He got rid of Brad Stuart and Scott Hannan retired. (Can we reasonably count that?) In fact, his big trade at the deadline, bringing in Roman Polak and Nick Spaling, has gone about as well as you’d think “giving up two second-round picks for Polak and Spaling” would go. But again, you can say Wilson made some moves to improve his team while accidentally sticking with a very good core. Not really sure you can say the same for Armstrong. The Blues made a number of transactions in the offseason, signing big-time contributors like Danny Kristo, Jordan Caron, Peter Harrold, Kyle Brodziak, Andre Benoit, and Justin Hodgman in July. He also added Scottie Upshall, Scott Gomez, and Martin Havlat in-season. Mostly depth moves, obviously. But of all those additions, only Upshall and Brodziak are still with the big club, and both are playing about nine minutes a night in this postseason. Further, Armstrong actively made his team worse this summer by trading T.J. Oshie to Washington for Troy Brouwer. The latter is a subpar possession player who didn’t even crack 40 points this year. The former isn’t exactly a possession driver but did okay relative to his club, and at least chipped in 51 points. That was a net loss for Armstrong, except it did save him a measly $500,000 or so against the cap. And let’s not forget, it’s tough to make trades in the NHL these days. St. Louis has some pricy contracts Armstrong has given out that are therefore difficult to deal even if the player in question is somewhat sought-after. In addition, there are also guys where it’s just a no-brainer you don’t trade them. Is that what we’re qualifying as patience these days? Here are two actual smart things he did, but one would have to qualify “smart” as simply being “not dumb.” First, he didn’t fire Ken Hitchcock, or let him walk without a new contract, when everyone thought he would. Fine. Second, he didn’t try to upgrade from a great goaltender in Brian Elliott. Well, not especially hard anyway. Because man did they ever try really hard to give the starting job to Jake Allen over the course of the last two seasons, but Elliott was always there, being better. No “solutions” to a non-problem that didn’t need solving. You just stick with your really good goalie. But should we really be praising someone for having the patience to keep one of the demonstrably best coaches in hockey around? Or for finally saying, “Ah hell, let’s see what this above-average goalie does with the opportunity?” Come on. Hitchcock was better than anyone the team was reasonably going to get over the last few summers. Elliott is only now starting because of flameouts from Allen last year (.904 in six games), and Miller the year before that (.897 in six). In 2012-13, the only other season in which the Blues were especially good, they lost in six games with Elliott, but he was .919 against Chicago. Sometimes you run into a better team, especially in that conference. Sometimes the puck bounces the other team’s way for years at a time in the postseason, until it doesn’t. Smart general managers understand this and don’t make over-reactive moves. Remember when the Capitals overreacted to Bruce Boudreau flaming out in the playoffs and then starting a little slow, and set their team back two-plus years? Their roster still has problems, especially on the back end, but there’s no doubt they’re one of the most talented teams in hockey. What’s really worked out for the two general managers in this case is the fact that young talent which wasn’t there a few years ago, at least not in any significant role, is now a major contributing factor to winning and losing. I guess you praise teams for identifying and developing those players successfully. But beyond that it’s hard to give credit for “patience” in either case because that’s the bare minimum any intelligent general manager with a good roster should do. And in both cases, it was only for a stunning lack of success in previous attempts to tinker that they finally arrived here in Patientville. Not-blowing-up good NHL rosters is like not-stepping in dog crap in the middle of the sidewalk. As long as you’re paying the slightest bit of attention, you should be able to avoid it with ease. And certainly you don’t deserve adulation for it. What We Learned   Anaheim Ducks : I think we can safely file this under “ duh .” Arizona Coyotes : This is a truly shocking turn of events. Boston Bruins : Not surprising at all to see Joonas Kemppainen jump to the KHL . Bruins’ goal getting awful crowded at all levels. Buffalo Sabres : Sam Reinhart is playing a marginal role for Canada at the Worlds, which is fine all things considered. Calgary Flames : The Flames are looking for a head coach who has “ been involved with winning programs .” Hey gang, Randy Carlyle won a Cup. Carolina Hurricanes : Major upgrades will be made to the Hurricanes’ practice facility this summer, perhaps including no longer being the Hurricanes’ practice facility because they might move to Quebec or Las Vegas. Chicago : This is embarrassing whining . Colorado Avalanche : This is the worst-run team in the league . Columbus Blue Jackets : The Blue Jackets’ arena may host a playoff game after all . On Wednesday, if necessary, the AHL club will play Game 7 there because their usual building will be the site of a Carrie Underwood concert instead. Dallas Stars : This is going to get very expensive very quickly . Detroit Red Wings : In four years when these kids are all 26 they will finally get a shot with the Red Wings. Edmonton Oilers : Turns out Taylor Hall is really good . Who knew! Florida Panthers : I know we’re supposed to be chagrined by all the changes the Panthers are making but like, I’m not convinced that getting the guy who gave out contracts to Dave Bolland and Shawn Thornton a little more removed from the decision-making process is such a terrible move. Los Angeles Kings : This is bad news for anyone hoping the Kings would completely fall apart this summer. Minnesota Wild : No way to anyone could’ve seen this coming . Montreal Canadiens : Okay so we’re officially looking at another Offseason of No Good Decisions , eh? Nashville Predators : Just happy to be here . New Jersey Devils : The many 27-year-olds on the Albany Devils have pushed the youthful and mega-talented Toronto Marlies to the brink . New York Islanders : Going with Greiss as your No. 1 for a full 82 seems like a huge gamble but it’s one that probably has to be made. New York Rangers : Hey can this kid play defense ? Ottawa Senators : The one word that came to mind when watching Guy Boucher’s Lightning teams a few years ago was…………… creative ? Hmm, no that’s not it. Philadelphia Flyers : The good news is 10 to 12 weeks isn’t a long time when you don’t have another game until October. Pittsburgh Penguins : So would you say, then, that he in fact has not matured ? San Jose Sharks : Seems like the Sharks got the memo on “ cover that 91 guy .” Easier said than done, though. St. Louis Blues : Ken Hitchcock got a similar memo about the San Jose power play. Also easier said than done. Tampa Bay Lightning : I’m just gonna go ahead and say right now in advance that if either Andrei Vasilevskiy or Matt Murray gets lit up over the course of this series, any media backlash against them for “ inexperience ” or anything else is going to be silly and unreasonable. Toronto Maple Leafs : The “ or Laine ” here should be followed by a wink emoji. Vancouver Canucks : I feel like “ room for panic ” about the Canucks is the biggest understatement in league history. Washington Capitals : They really shouldn’t say stuff like this when so many mitten-stringers are more than happy to say it for them. Winnipeg Jets : Not a lot going on between the Jets and Mark Scheifele, extension-wise . That’s something that really ought to be prioritized. Play of the Weekend This finish from Jo Drouin with the puck still in the air is ridiculous.  Gold Star Award

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St. Louis and San Jose face off in Western Conference finals (The Associated Press)

Since entering the NHL as an expansion team in 1967, the St. Louis Blues have had some of the greatest players in league history, but nobody has been able to lead them to Lord Stanley's Cup.

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US quarterfinal spot in doubt at worlds after Germany defeat (The Associated Press)

Germany beat the United States 3-2 on a last-minute goal by Korbinian Holzer at the world ice hockey championship on Sunday, putting American qualification for the quarterfinals in doubt. The third defeat in six games leaves the U.S. fourth in Group B, one place behind Germany with one game remaining against fifth-placed Slovakia.

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Hab at Heart: Chuck Hughes

A world-renowned chef, co-owner of two of the most well-known restaurants in Montreal, television personality, and the man in charge of keeping some of the biggest names in the music industry fed at Osheaga and Heavy Montreal alike, Chuck Hughes rarely takes a break between projects. But, if he’s not in front of a stove or traveling the world to make an appearance, chances are that you’ll see him on a rink or watching the Canadiens battle it out for NHL supremacy. We caught up with the 39-year-old chef before festival season got underway to learn more about his love for the CH.

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Pure shock

MONTREAL – Sven Andrighetto loves Quebec so much that he has it tattooed on his heart. Literally.

Andrighetto’s stint with the Quebec-based Rouyn-Noranda Huskies had a significant impact on the type of player – and the type of person – that he eventually became. By his own admission, it wasn’t in his native Switzerland that he first thought he could one day reach the pros, but rather when he arrived in North America at the age of 18.

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The Montreal Canadiens support the Canadian Red Cross in Fort McMurray

PRESS RELEASE

MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens and the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation announced on Thursday a donation of $100,000 to the Canadian Red Cross to support people affected by the forest fires in the region of Fort McMurray.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov and rationalizing a Stanley Cup Playoff bust (Puck Daddy)

The Washington Capitals failed to reach the Eastern Conference Final again. It was Alex Ovechkin’s eighth attempt at doing so, and the eighth time one of his teams fell short. Luckily for every rational observer of the NHL, the “Blame Ovechkin” bandwagon has lost a wheel and fallen over a cliff. He did everything he could to lead this team to victory: on the ice, off the ice, on the scoresheet. That there are finally more stories being written to preemptively dismiss criticism of his efforts than actual critiques of his efforts hopefully means the death of that trope. Their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins was extraordinarily tight. It was one goal that separated them in Game 6, and one goal that separated them in the series. The Capitals got the better of the 5-on-5 play overall, but they lost two of three overtime games, including the one on which the series pivoted: Game 4, as the Penguins missed Kris Letang and Olli Maatta but the Capitals couldn’t, well, capitalize. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] All of this is to say that one goal here or there and it’s a different series. As Justin Williams, who knows a thing or two about scoring a key playoff goal, said after Game 6: “You have to own big moments. We owned some of them. Just not enough of them. Obviously not the big one tonight.” When it comes to big moments, the expectation was that a player like Evgeny Kuznetsov would have provided them. His goal in Game 7 against the New York Islanders last postseason promised as much. His 77-point season, leading all Capitals players, promised more. Considering that, Kuznetsov was an epic disappointment in the 2015-16 playoffs: Two points in 12 games. A power-play goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3. A power-play assist against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2. And nothing else. There were games in which he disappeared, like Game 6 against the Flyers and Game 1 against the Penguins, when he didn’t hit the net with a shot. And there were games in which he was present but with nothing to show for it, like in Games 4 and 6 against the Penguins, when he had six shots on goal.  But again: Your leading scorer had two points in the playoffs. Your leading scorer didn’t have a goal in nine straight games. Normally, this might get a player filleted. Like, for example, when Alex Semin followed his 40-goal regular season in 2009-10 with no goals in that seven-game disaster against the Montreal Canadiens, losing to an eighth seed. Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post called the Capitals a “regular season team” and suggested one remedy would be to “probably get rid of Semin, who is reluctant to go to the net, takes foolish penalties and squeezes his stick too tight under pressure with no goals in his last 14 playoff games.” Now, you’d have to be a [expletive] idiot to suggest the same for Kuznetsov, who’s a brilliant young talent who had a bad playoff season. But it doesn’t change the fact it was a bad playoff season – or does it? From Ian Oland of Russian Machine Never Breaks: Evgeny Kuznetsov Was Actually Really Good I get it. You love dashboard stats. Me too. We all love sick goals and fancy assists. Evgeny Kuznetsov led the team in regular season points. In the playoffs, not so much. He had two points in 12 games, the same amount as Karl Alzner. So clearly Kuzy was the reason for the Caps demise.   Except he wasn’t. His underlying play, measured in shot attempts and scoring chances, was tremendous. According to Pat Holden, Kuznetsov’s offensive production actually increased from the regular season . It’s just that his line’s shooting percentage cratered. So don’t blame Evgeny Kuznetsov. Don’t worry about Evgeny Kuznetsov (unless you’re worried that he’s going to feel bad because he probably will because he’s Evgeny Kuznetsov and he cares so much). Kuzy’s a great player and he is going to be even better next year. It’s not his first rodeo. See, this is where the analytics movement runs into a brick wall trying to convert the naysayers: When your leading scorer has one assist in six-game a semifinal round series, and the argument is made that “his offensive production actually increased from the regular season.” When the third-best even strength player in points production in the NHL this season – 59 of his 77 points were generated there – doesn’t get one in 12 playoff games. But, you know, dashboard stats … Look, it’s not Kuznetsov’s fault the Capitals lost. But it’s foolish to think that had their leading scorer been able to create one or two more goals against Pittsburgh, it might have been a different series. And series outcome. Criticism of him can be tempered by the fact the Penguins’ own big guns didn’t fire. Perhaps there was an injury. Perhaps coach Barry Trotz should have put him in more offensively advantageous spots during the postseason. Perhaps we’re just numb to the idea that a leading regular-season player for the Capitals doesn’t produce similar results in the playoffs. Perhaps likeability trumps honest assessment.  It’s just interesting to think about how Ovechkin and Semin used to have their numbers put through the ringer, and this disappointment by Kuznetsov is ignored or explained away. — Greg Wyshynski  is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at  puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com  or  find him on Twitter.  His book,  TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is  available on Amazon  and wherever books are sold. MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY

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Still going strong

MONTREAL – Life after the NHL has been kind to Cristobal Huet.

Nearly six years have passed since the 40-year-old netminder was loaned to the Swiss Elite League’s HC Fribourg-Gotteron by the Chicago Blackhawks back in September 2010, and Huet and his family have called the Central European country their full-time home ever since.

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Former NHLer Nigel Dawes takes penalty with leaping dive (Video) (Puck Daddy)

Former NHLer Nigel Dawes took a big dive in his 2016 IIHF World Championships preliminary round game.  Dawes, who is playing for Kazakhstan, leaped through the air after Team Norway defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen tugged on Dawes’ knee with his stick blade.   [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] Dawes received a penalty for embellishment and Tollefsen took a hooking penalty. Norway ended up beating Kazakhstan 3-2 Dawes played 212 games in the NHL and notched 84 points between the New York Rangers, Phoenix Coyotes, Calgary Flames, Atlanta Thrashers, and Montreal Canadiens. He has spent the last six years playing with Barys Astana in the KHL and has reportedly received Kazakh citizenship . The 31-year-old Dawes was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Kazakhstan team is also coached by Andrei Nazarov, who is known for some of the more outlandish behind-the-bench antics in hockey . MORE FROM YAHOO HOCKEY   – – – – – – – Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper

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Predators and survival; Blues on the edge (Puck Headlines) (Puck Daddy)

Here are your Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at  puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com .   

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Bruins and Canadiens to play NHL preseason game at Centre Vidéotron

PRESS RELEASE
evenko and Bell are proud to present an NHL preseason game featuring the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, October 4 at Centre Vidéotron in Quebec City.

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Clear vision

MONTREAL – Artturi Lehkonen has his sights set on earning an NHL roster spot come October.

On Sunday, the 20-year-old left-winger took another step towards achieving that objective by signing a three-year, two-way contract (2016-17 to 2018-19) with the Canadiens just over two weeks after helping Frölunda HC defeat Skellefteå AIK in five games to claim the Swedish Hockey League title for the first time since 2005.

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What We Learned: Dallas Stars burned by terrible goaltending (Puck Daddy)

(Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.) No one would argue that what the Dallas Stars are dealing with in goaltending this postseason is in any way helpful. Kari Lehtonen is checking in with a white-hot .901 save percentage through nine appearances, including the three goals on 21 shots he conceded in Saturday’s 4-1 loss to St. Louis. Antti Niemi, meanwhile, has played in four separate games and sits at .872. That is flat-out not going to win you any hockey games, and it’s a trend from the regular season that’s only getting worse. Both played at least 43 games, and both were more or less the same goaltender: .906 for Lehtonen, and .905 for Niemi. When the league average goaltender is .915, it’s safe to say that they cost their team — which by the way was quite good — plenty of games. Their play alone cost the Stars about 22 goals, or roughly four points in the standings, versus what a league-average netminder would have done. The good news for Dallas is that their offensive talent is so robust, even without Tyler Seguin, that it barely matters. Stars shooters tortured Devan Dubnyk for an .877 save percentage (21 goals allowed on 164 shots), but have run into a bit of a wall in Brian Elliott (10 on 158, or .937). And still, the series is 3-2. [ Join a Yahoo Daily Fantasy Hockey contest today ] Now, it’s absolutely unreasonable to expect any goaltender to match .937 over five games. That is steal-a-series goaltending, full stop. But you really have to say that Elliott isn’t so much stealing things as Niemi and Lehtonen are giving it away of their own accord. You simply cannot allow 16 goals on 143 shots and expect to win much over any length of time. And really, it’s easy to pinpoint where the Stars’ troubles come from. It’s the front of the net. Of the 18 goaltenders who have played at least 100 minutes in this postseason, Niemi has the worst high-danger save percentage at 5-on-5 of anyone. Lehtonen’s is fifth-worst. And that’s all you need to know about the situation, really. Combined, they’ve given up a postseason-leading 21 full-strength goals in 11 games, and all but four of them have been from high-danger areas. There is no defending these numbers. When looking at all the numbers, I wondered whether this was a product of the Stars — who don’t exactly have a world-class blue line group — giving up a particularly large number of high-danger shots on goal. Looking at all the numbers that didn’t seem like a particularly likely outcome, but it had to be investigated. They don’t, though. The 7.6 conceded per 60 minutes is actually a little below the league average of 8.1, and they’re also on the lower side in terms of high-danger attempts per 60 as well. In fact, Dallas is better than average at suppressing all qualities of shots. However, they do give up a larger percentage of high-danger chances than all but two other playoff teams still standing. In all, more than 29 percent of the shots they concede are from right around the net, and only Tampa (32.3 percent) and San Jose (30.3 percent) are worse. However, both those teams actually have competent goalies, and therefore seem well-positioned to move into the conference finals. It should be noted, too, that San Jose is the best shot-suppression team in the league this postseason, while Tampa plays higher-event hockey to begin with, out-run-and-gunning the Stars with more shots both taken and conceded per 60. So yup, Niemi and Lehtonen are just not very good. And at this point, it looks like that’s going to be the reason the Stars lose this series, or even if they somehow advance (highly unlikely; most estimates only give them about 20 percent odds of winning the next two games), the reason they lose in the next round. Now if you’re Jim Nill, you’re looking at a very sticky situation going forward. Here are two goalies signed with massive cap hits for each of the next two seasons. Lehtonen is at $5.9 million (uuuggghhh) and Niemi at a slightly more manageable but still probably not too wise $4.5 million. Lehtonen also has a limited no-trade clause for the entirety of his remaining years ( uuuuuuuuuggggggggggggghhhhhhhhh ). That makes it one of the sneakiest bad contracts in the entire NHL, because it both pays a goalie who is clearly in decline too much money, and makes it difficult or even impossible to move him. Near as I can tell, the details of Lehtonen’s no-trade clause are not publicly available and we therefore do not know exactly how many teams he can veto as potential trade destinations. Even if it’s just, say, five other clubs, that significantly limits the number of potential suitors where he could end up, if Dallas could find a trade partner willing to take on the money. Which is a big if. What you have to keep in mind about Lehtonen is that he’s dropped off a cliff in terms of quality the last two seasons. He routinely outperformed league averages prior to 2014-15, but since then he’s been well below. And unfortunately, goalies on on the wrong side of 30 who have suffered plenty of injuries over the years tend not to rebound too well.

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Canadiens sign forward Artturi Lehkonen to three-year contract (The Canadian Press)

The Montreal Canadiens signed forward Artturi Lehkonen to a three-year, two-way contact on Sunday. The 20-year-old Finland native scored 16 goals and 17 assists in 49 games this season with HC Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League. “Artturi is a young forward who enjoyed success at a very young age playing in a highly competitive league in Sweden,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in a statement.

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Canadiens agree to terms on a three-year contract with forward Artturi Lehkonen

PRESS RELEASE

MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced on Sunday that the team has agreed to terms on a three-year, two-way contract (2016-17 to 2018-19) with forward Artturi Lehkonen.

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Labor of love

NOTE: This article, which first appeared on canadiens.com on January 12, 2016, is being re-posted in conjunction with Mother’s Day. We’d like to wish all the moms out there a very special Sunday! Thank you for everything you do!

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Hab at heart – Chuck Comeau

Considering he’s been breaking drum sticks worldwide for nearly 20 years, it would be an understatement to say that Chuck Comeau of Simple Plan is a busy man. While they often travel from city to city to perform nightly in front of frenzied crowds, Comeau and his Simple Plan bandmates have always managed to find time – no matter what time zone they’re in – to stay up to date on the latest Montreal Canadiens news. We sat down with the 36-year-old symbol-smasher in the midst of Simple Plan’s ‘Taking One for the Team’ tour to learn more about his love of the CH.

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Canada scores five straight goals in 5-1 rout of US at world championship (The Canadian Press)

Brendan Gallagher and Brad Marchand are used to getting under each other’s skin. Gallagher, a scrappy forward with the Montreal Canadiens, and Marchand, an agitator with the rival Boston Bruins, each had a goal as Canada kicked of its defence of its world hockey championship title with a 5-1 rout of the United States on Friday. “I told him it was too bad — I enjoyed hating him all these years,” Gallagher jokingly said of Marchand.

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Opportunity earned

MONTREAL – Brendan Gallagher will be celebrating his 24th birthday in style on Friday.

A newcomer to Team Canada’s senior side for the 2016 World Hockey Championship, the Canadiens’ No. 11 will face off against Mike Condon and the Americans in the tournament-opener for both squads in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Continue reading Opportunity earned

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