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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Today In NHL History - 2004 NHL Lockout Begins

On September 16th in 2004, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the 2004-2005 season would not proceed as scheduled owing to a deadlock in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. What would have been the NHL's 88th offering was officially canceled on February 16, 2005. The dispute was ultimately resolved on July 22, 2005.
At the heart of the 310 day 2004 NHL Lockout was an owner proposed mechanism to link league revenues to player salaries in an attempt to lower the alleged 76% of gross revenues attributed to player costs and $273 million in collective owner losses during the 2002-2003 season. NHLPA executive director Bob Goodenow disputed these financial findings and refused to allow a cap to be applied against player salaries.

In the end, a cap was born and a season lost marking the first time since 1919 without a Stanley Cup champion. Though the 1992 NHLPA strike and 1994 NHL Lockout disrupted play, never before had a North American major sports league lost an entire season to such strife. Among the side effects of the stalled season was a temporary global redistribution of NHL talent and a unique lottery system for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft to direct Sidney Crosby and others to deserving teams.

That's today in NHL history.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Today In NHL History - Jared McCann Hugs Ref

On September 13th in 2015, Vancouver Canucks prospect Jared McCann scored his first goal for the pro club during an all-rookie match-up against the Winnipeg Jets during the 2015 Young Stars Classic in Penticton, BC.

What made the marker memorable was McCann's election to celebrate with the referee, engaging him in a long embrace and a pat on the head before his teammates arrived to rejoice the milestone.
When asked afterwards why he hugged the referee after whistling a wrist shot past netminder goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, McCann remarked "he looked lonely over there, he looked like he needed a hug". The Canucks added three more goals to beat the Jets rookie quad 4-1.
That's today in NHL history.

Today In NHL History - Anson Carter Snubs Canucks

On September 13th in 2006, Anson Carter rejected a one year $1.7 million offer from the Vancouver Canucks to skate with future Art Ross winning twins Henrik (2010) and Daniel Sedin (2011) on the 'Brothers Line', electing instead to sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets for one year at $2.5 million.

Having led the team in goals (33) and earned the club's Most Exciting Player award (2006), Carter was confident he had a home in Vancouver and allegedly demanded a three year contract worth $9 million. The signings of the Sedins, Roberto Luongo and Willie Mitchell, however, depleted the club's resources for Carter.

The top line vacancy was eventually awarded to Alex Burrows who thrived with the Sedins and succeeded Anson as the Canucks Most Exciting Player for three consecutive seasons (2008, 2009, 2010).

Carter's tenure with Columbus lasted 54 games (27 pts) before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2008 5th round pick (Tomas Kubalik). Carter collected just one point in his 10 games with Carolina, skating only 64 games in what would be his final NHL season. Despite earning an invite to the Edmonton Oilers training camp the following season, the right winger failed to crack the roster.

And like that, he's gone.

Anson Carter's ten season NHL career spanning eight different teams (Capitals, Bruins, Oilers, Rangers, Kings, Canucks, Blue Jackets, Hurricanes) was over at the age of 32. One can only wonder what might have been if Carter had renewed with the Canucks and skated with the Sedins as they entered their prime playing days. I wonder if player agent Pat Brisson overplayed his hand advising Anson to chase market value when a hometown discount would have been far richer.

That's today in NHL history.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Today In NHL History - Heatley Trade (OTT-SJS)

On September 12th in 2009, the Ottawa Senators shipped a disgruntled Dany Heatley and a 5th round pick in the 2010 Draft (Isaac MacLeod) to the San Jose Sharks for Jonathon Cheechoo, Milan Michalek and a 2nd round pick (Kent Simpson).

The two-time 50 goal scorer (2006, 2007) and Calder winning (2002) winger publicly demanded a trade three months earlier, a mere two years into his six year $45m deal with the club, handcuffing GM Bryan Murray into settling for less than market value for his prized possession.

The washed-up Rocket Richard winner (2006) Cheechoo mustered a measly 14 points in 61 games for the Sens and was bought out of the final year of his contract which would have paid $3.5m in 2010-2011. Heatley, meanwhile, enjoyed a 10 point improvement over his prior season skating with 1997 first rounders Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

The tide of the trade finally turned in 2012 when Michalek outpointed (60pts v 53pts) and outscored (35G v 24G) Heatley at almost half the cap hit ($4.3m v $7.5m) to lead the Senators in scoring. Heatley posted his 2012 numbers for the Minnesota Wild, his third team in four years, after the Sharks swapped the winger for Martin Havlat on July 3, 2011.

That's today in NHL history.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick

On September 7th in 1970, Wayne Gino Odjick was born in Maniwaki, Quebec. Fighting heavyweights Dave Manson and Stu Grimson in his NHL debut, the Algonquin Assassin earned the game's first star establishing himself as a fan favorite and formidable foe.

Taken 86th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1990 NHL Draft, Odjick played in 605 games over 12 seasons with 4 teams (Canucks 444, Islanders 82, Flyers 30, Canadiens 49) collecting 2567 penalty minutes and 137 points (64G, 73A). Skating alongside best friend and offensive phenom Pavel Bure in 1993-1994 Odjick scored a career high 16 goals. Gino's most famous offensive moment for the Canucks came on a 1991 penalty shot against Calgary Flames netminder Mike Vernon.

From beating a pair of black eyes into Jeff Brown for rumored indiscretions with Kirk McLean's wife to brawling the St. Louis Blues when Glenn Anderson refused to answer the bell for spearing Bure in the eye, Odjick defended his teammates to a fault on and off the ice.

When Mark Messier and Mike Keenan chased Captain Canuck Trevor Linden out of town, Odjick was the first to set the record straight:

"He (Messier) just wants to destroy everything so he gets the power. He didn't break a sweat for the first 10 games and just waited for (former coach) Tom Renney and (former GM) Pat Quinn to get fired. He talks to ownership all the time and he's responsible for Keenan, and he's part of most of the trades. Look what happened with (ex-Canuck and current Islander) Trevor (Linden) when Keenan gave him (hell). Did (Messier) come over to him and say, 'Look, Trev, we're with you?' He didn't say a word. How can you be captain like that? How can the team be together that way? He's not with the players. He's the one who controls everything. I don't blame Keenan for what's happened. Everything he does, he does in the name of winning. But everything that . . . Messier does is for more power. They signed him to help us, but all he wanted was most of us out of there so he could bring in his own people. He just wanted to tear it apart and do it his way."

As he put it, "I never wanted to fight just to see if I was tougher than one guy. I never wanted to be known as the toughest guy in the NHL. I just wanted to be known as a guy that took care of his teammates."

Gino retired in 2002 after sustaining a concussion from an errant puck during a Montreal Canadiens practice. Today he works in Vancouver with the Musqueam Band developing the Musqueam Golf Center.  

On June 26, 2014, Gino penned a letter to fans announcing that he was in the "biggest fight of his life" battling a rare heart condition called AL amyloidosis leaving him with only months or weeks to live.
"In my heart, I will always be a Canuck and I have always had a special relationship here with the fans. Your ‘Gino, Gino’ cheers were my favourite. I wish I could hear them again. You have been amazing". 
Gino heard those cheers again just days later when thousands attended a rally staged outside Vancouver General Hospital, where he was receiving treatment, and again weeks later when he attended the dedication of his childhood rink in Manawaki, Quebec in his honor. 

Thankfully, #29 won this fight and will hear the cheers for years to come. 

That's today in NHL history.

* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Runs Hasek.
* See also Today In NHL History - Gino Odjick Fights Blues.
* See also Today In NHL History - Odjick's Penalty Shot.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Today In NHL History - Randy Moller

On August 23rd in 1963, Randall Moller was born in Red Deer, Alberta. Raised by Lethbridge's Broncos, Randy's teenage scoring touch and fisticuffs earned him the 11th overall pick in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. Relegated to an enforcement role from the outset, Moller collected 1692 penalty minutes and 45 goals in 14 NHL seasons.

Today Moller makes his living calling the action as a play-by-play announcer for the Florida Panthers on Sports Talk 790. His claim to fame is incorporating fan requested pop culture references into his goal calls. What he lacks in originality he more than makes up for in enthusiasm.

That's today in NHL history.