YOUR GUESSING GAME:
1. Shane Wright or Juraj Slafkovsky too? I agree with Wright.
2. What are the Devils doing with the second pick? I say they reach for Slafkovsky
3. Malkin, Letang, who stays in Pitt? I say Letang. they are fed up with Gino.
5. Carey Price – will he return next season? I say he will try.
6. Chara, Thornton: Who is retiring? I say Zdeno.
7. Derek Lalonde, good or bad? Good. He’s smart and funny.
DYNASTY OR NOT?
Did we just see a hockey dynasty in Tampa Bay?
Under the Original Six standard, a team had to win to earn the “Dynasty” label three Stanley Cups in a row. Period! It was no small feat, as it was 32 years in the life of the NHL before the Toronto Maple Leafs accomplished that feat in 1946-47, 47-48, and 48-49. That meant Conn Smythe’s team was one of a kind, winning six straight playoff series to reach the pinnacle.
Next, in the late 1950’s, Maurice (The Rocket) Richards overtook Montreal Canadiens Toronto by winning five consecutive cups; this corresponds to ten series wins in a row.
Finally, the last Original Six dynasty belonged to Toronto again, as Punch Imlach whipped out its Leafs to Cup victories — well, almost — in 1962, 1963 and 1964.
When the extension arrived in 1967, the definition of dynasty had to change. As more teams were added to the fraternity, the playoffs lasted longer.
Beginning in the 1975/76 season and ending in 1979, Scotty Bowman’s Habs won back-to-back trophies, which was all well and good. Then came the Islanders, and in 1984 they not only won four straight titles but three more series before Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers practically annexed the NHL.
But the irony of all ironies is that Gretz-Mess and Company could never put three cups in a row.
Which brings us to the bolts. Before they were finally slowed down last Sunday, they sat down eleven straight series wins.
Think about it; this is a ten-plus in a row from The Rocket and in a much more intense pressure cooker vibe.
All of this tells me that the Lightning have every right to claim dynasty status along with the other esteemed teams.
One more thing until any team shows up nineteen straight playoff series wins, The Al Arbor Islanders must go down in history as the greatest team of all time.
HOCKEY TIME MACHINE’ A WINNER
Paul Patskou’s Toronto-based “Hockey Time Machine” was another winner last night. The show featured Hall of Famer and Canadiens icon Yvan (The Roadrunner) Cournoyer, who played with the Habs his entire career.
A teller With no peer, Yvan was asked why he had two sore shoulders. His reply politely put it in a nutshell: “I had to lift the Stanley Cup ten times!”
To date, only one other Canadian has surpassed that mark – Henri (Pocket Rocket) Richard with eleven Stanley Cup rings to his credit.
I JUST SAY YES’
* The Flower could theoretically be a starter or backup for Mackenzie Blackwood provided the latter is healthy enough to return.
* Should we believe ex-Red Wing Darren McCarty’s claims that Jeff Halpern will be Detroit’s next coach? If so, that would be a big annoyance.
* Wayne Gretzky looks so neat and groomed that you get the impression he could put on the blades and still be a good second-line center.
* Sportsnet’s Rory Boylen mentions Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat, Vancouver’s JT Miller and Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun among the tradeables.
*Miller is my pick as the most likely of the trio. DeBrincat and Chychrun are too valuable to their respective clubs to dump.
* Good job Sabers, re-signing goalie Craig Anderson. He’s the pro’s pro.
THE CULTURE VULTURE
Here’s a hot one. John (I Love Coaching More Than TV) Tortorella arrived in the city of brotherly love and declared, “I’m going to change the culture of the Flyers.”
Copycat Luke Richardson arrived in The Windy City declaring, “There’s going to be a new culture here in Chicago.”
Hey, we could make a movie out of this, When NHL Cultures Clash.
Okay, joking aside – or maybe not – I’m going to find my trusty “Culture Meter” and get told all about the new “culture” shifts on Broad Street or West Madison.
My guess is that Torts will require his Flyers to try harder than they did under Mike Yeo and that Luke’s Blackhawks at least make the playoffs.
JOE COHEN – THE LEGENDARY SUPPORTER OF THE MACCABI GAMES
When the Jewish Olympic Games – aka The Maccabi Games – open in Jerusalem on July 13, hockey will be front and center for a number of reasons. Past games have been as intense as a Stanley Cup final for a reason.
Edmonton’s Zach Hyman and Rangers’ Adam Fox can attest to that. Everyone is a graduate of past Maccabi Ice Tilts.
In addition, the upcoming games will offer a historical breakthrough. For the first time, the organizers have included an ice hockey tournament for women in their program. My granddaughter Odel, 17, will play for Israel in defense against teams from Canada and the USA.
“It’s a big step forward,” said Ottawa-based Mitch Miller, manager of Canada’s men’s ice hockey operation. “Our girls will train hard for this event.”
Behind the Maccabi hockey scene is Joe Cohen, who has been one of the most important and influential figures in hockey for years. Cohen’s hockey involvement is deeply rooted in the sport, though this immensely popular guy keeps a low profile with no fuss or fanfare.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman calls Joe “a great man!”
The dapper Joe, former Los Angeles Kings owner, was a confidant of NHL executives such as Rangers president Bill Jennings, as well as Flyers owner Ed Snider and former league chairman Bill Wirtz.
Joe is so revered that none other than the legendary Wayne Gretzky once said, “If there’s one person in the world who has no enemy, it’s Joe.”
“The Maccabi Games are special to me,” says Cohen, “because they allow me to combine two of my passions, ice hockey and the State of Israel.”
Joe, current Maccabi World Union Board Member and Board Treasurer, is joined by his wife Rita, daughter Mary and Judy Gilbert, wife of the late Hockey Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert.
“I came to the hockey part of Maccabi in 2010,” Joe recalls.
“and in 2014, the NHL helped out when club owners invested in improving the Olympic ice rink at Metula on the Lebanese border.
“And with the help of (NHL Commissioner) Gary Bettman, in 2018 the league arranged to install its portable ice rink in a Jerusalem basketball arena so many more people could attend the games.”
“It’s amazing for me to see hockey being moved from an ice rink on the outpost on the northern Israeli border to a large arena in Jerusalem and the games being broadcast live on Israeli television.”
Cohen, 75, singled out Maple Leafs owner Larry Tanenbaum among many current NHL leaders whose contributions have made the Israeli hockey games possible.
“I would like to thank Eyal Tiberger, CEO of Maccabi, for his support,” added Cohen.
If current plans fail, President Joe Biden will drop the ceremonial opening game puck as part of his Middle East tour.
Cohen: “The presence of the President at the opening ceremony is another important step in the growth of the Maccabi Games.”
Joe knows a lot about arenas. During his tenure as head of MSG Networks, he oversaw the creation of the Rangers and Knicks’ fabulous training facility in Greenburgh, NY. Needless to say, he is a passionate Rangers fan and is just as proud of the team’s achievements this season as any die-hard fan.
“Rangers’ long playoff run surpassed all expectations,” says Joe, “and was a highlight of my spring.
WHO SAID THAT? “Sometimes he looks like he’s playing against 50 squid.” (ANSWER BELOW.)
ANOTHER WARRIOR LEAVES US
Jim Pappin who just passed away was The Hockey Player’s Hockey Player. He was a forward – with Toronto, Chicago, California Golden Seals and Cleveland Baron – who put on fabulous performances with less attention than he deserved.
He survived Punch Imlach’s tough coaching and landed on four cup winners. Jim has always been overshadowed by Frank (Big M) Mahovlich, Dave Keon and Red Kelly, just to name a few. It didn’t matter that he scored the Leafs’ last cup-winning goal in 1967. It was the same story in Chicago, where Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita dominated the spotlight.
But again, Pappin did his thing and did it well.
Another good man has gone. RIP Jim.
SO YOU WANT TO BECOME A GM
In a compelling series of interviews for The New York Extra, author and sportswriter Matthew Blittner took “an in-depth look at the jobs of NHL GMs.” Here are some Scotty Bowman tidbits:
Helpers have: “I got some people to be my assistants because I did two jobs: both coaching and management. And each was time consuming. I mean there’s just so much time during the day. But I felt more drawn to coaching and gave my assistant more responsibility. I took over the trade and the negotiations. To be honest, I didn’t like the management part as much as the coaching.”
Scouting: “When you are the general manager, all scouting employees – amateurs and professionals – are in constant communication with you. That’s why many teams now have an assistant general manager. He looks after the scouting people and usually runs the AHL team, which is the main farm club.”
Confidence: “Since I couldn’t be everywhere, I relied on the people who worked for me. The employees were important and I relied on the judgment of each individual. Basically, it’s a team game. As I was general manager I had to build a team off the ice just like I did on the ice.” (NEXT ISSUE: RAY SHERO.)
ANSWER TO WHO SAID IT? Defense attorney Gary Nylund on how the opposition tried to contain Pat LaFontaine.