August 31 — Twain, Béliveau & Bench Bosses

Last Night’s News 📰

TURNING THE TAGE: Forward Tage Thompson agreed to a seven-year, $50 million contract extension with the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. In the second year of his three-year deal last season, the 24-year-old had 68 points (38 goals, 30 assists) in 78 games for the Sabres.

MIKE CHECK: Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan signed a three-year contract extension with the team on Tuesday after going 297-156-24 in seven seasons with the Penguins, including 46-25-11 last year. Sullivan, 54, led the Pens to Stanley Cup titles in 2016 and 2017 but lost to the New York Rangers in the first round of the 2022 Playoffs.

ADVANTAGE, TEAM USA: The Americans capped off the preliminary round of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championship with a 5-2 victory over the arch-rival Canadians, finishing first in Group A. Megan Keller had a goal and an assist in the win as the U.S. scored five unanswered goals. On Thursday, Team USA will face Hungary, while Canada faces a tough test against Sweden in the quarterfinals.

DESERT DUNES: Looking to secure their goaltending position, the Vegas Golden Knights exchanged a fourth-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft for Aiden Hill of the San Jose Sharks on Monday. Hill posted a 10-11-1 record with a 2.66 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage in 25 games (22 starts) last season.

The New Guy in Charge – Part 2

On Monday, we focused on five of the 10 new head coaches around the NHL and the situation they now find themselves in. Excluding rookie bench boss Lane Lambert, that group shared plenty of experience within the coaching ranks, with more than 60 seasons and 3,500 games among Bruce Cassidy, John Tortorella, Pete DeBoer, and Paul Maurice

Our next group doesn’t have nearly the same pedigree, which could make them intriguing wild cards for just how they’ll impact their new clubs. Let’s have a look a part two of the new head coaches list:

Luke Richardson, Chicago Blackhawks

Luke Richardson, seen here as assistant coach of the Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Chalk this one up to a case of “be careful what you wish for,” perhaps? Luke Richardson spent more than a decade working up the coaching ladder before finally landing a head position with the Chicago Blackhawks in late June. However, the Blackhawks traded away Kirby Dach and Alex DeBrincat just a week later in deals that signaled a forthcoming rebuild.

Derek Lalonde, Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman went to a familiar place in his coaching search this past summer, plucking Derek Lalonde away from Jon Cooper’s Tampa Bay Lightning staff. Though none would blame Lalonde for riding out the rest of a mini-dynasty that has produced two Stanley Cups, he landed pretty softly for his first head coaching gig. Taking over a team featuring Calder winner Moritz Seider, impact offseason additions in Andrew Copp, David Perron, and Ville Husso, and a promising pipeline of young talent.

Jim Montgomery, Boston Bruins

Talk about two sides that need one another. The Boston Bruins afforded Jim Montgomery a new lease on life and another head coaching opportunity in the NHL after the 53-year-old struggled with alcohol abuse with the Dallas Stars. In turn, the Bruins remain hopeful that Montgomery can be part of a renaissance from the Cup’s gifted, playoff-tested core that returns once again.

Rick Bowness, Winnipeg Jets

After parting ways with the Dallas Stars, it didn’t take Rick Bowness long to find his next coaching destination. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Winnipeg Jets and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff can spin it any way they want to, although it’s tough not to view Rick Bowness as a consolation prize after their widely reported courtship of Winnipeg native Barry Trotz. However, it doesn’t mean Bowness can’t be effective in steering the Jets away from a forgettable 2021-22 season featuring underperformance and reported dysfunction. That roster remains largely intact, so it’s up to Bowness and his 40 years of coaching experience to right the ship.

David Quinn, San Jose Sharks

After a legendary career at Boston University, David Quinn didn’t enjoy the same success during his first NHL coaching foray with the New York Rangers. Now on his second go-round with the San Jose Sharks, this one probably isn’t be any easier. Even with respected veterans like Erik Karlsson, Logan Couture, and Tomáš Hertl in tow, the Brent Burns-less Sharks likely won’t end what is now a three-year playoff drought.

By the Numbers: Jean Béliveau

Hockey legend Jean Béliveau was born on this day in 1931. The Quebec native played 20 seasons in the NHL during the 1950s and ’60s, all of them with the Montreal Canadiens. Widely hailed as one of the greatest hockey players of all time, Béliveau won numerous accolades before being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972. To celebrate his birthday, here are some illustrious numbers regarding the man nicknamed “Le Gros Bill.”

Jean Béliveau, pictured here with teammate John Fergusen (right) after winning the Stanley Cup in 1969, was one of the greatest hockey players of all time (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images)

12 – Age when Béliveau began playing organized hockey. A few years later, he was a star and on the radar of Montreal general manager Frank Selke. The young forward ended up signing a “B-form” contract with Selke and the Canadiens, meaning Béliveau would play for Montreal if/when he turned pro. To ensure they got him, the organization bought the league he was playing in (the Quebec Senior Hockey League) and turned it into a pro league in 1953.

$105,000 – Value of the five-year contract Béliveau signed with the Canadiens on Oct. 3, 1953. At the time, it was the most lucrative contract in NHL history.

1,219 – Points (507 goals, 712 assists) scored during his 1,125 career games in the NHL, which ranks 43rd all-time. Béliveau also had 176 points (79 goals, 97 assists) in 162 career playoff games.

4 – Individual accolades Béliveau won during his playing career. He won the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s highest point-scorer in 1955-56, the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP in 1955-56 and 1963-64, and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason MVP in 1964-65.

10 – Stanley Cup titles won as a player. As part of a dominant Canadiens dynasty, he lifted the Cup in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, and 1971. Béliveau is tied with Montreal teammate Yvan Cournoyer for second all-time in championships while playing. Only Henri Richard won the Cup more times (11).

17 – Times Béliveau’s name appears on the Stanley Cup, the most of anybody in NHL history. After winning it 10 times as a player, he won it seven more as an executive for the Canadiens (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1986, & 1993).

Shania Twain Discography

This week, Canadian country queen Shania Twain celebrated her birthday. She is a well-documented hockey fan and will sometimes wear the jersey of the local NHL team during concerts. It’s only appropriate to celebrate the Windsor, Ontario, native by going through her discography and comparing her top hits to our favorite NHL teams. Let’s go, gang!

Up!: New Jersey Devils

After a disappointing season that led to the team utilizing seven goaltenders, things can only go up for the New Jersey Devils. Their general manager was busy this offseason, bringing in Ondřej Palát, Erik Haula, John Marino, Brendan Smith, and Vitek Vaněček. The team will be opening the 2022-23 campaign with even higher expectations, and hopefully, they can deliver and at least make a push for the playoffs. 

I’m Outta Here: Arizona Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes have officially left Gila River Arena and Glendale behind as they move forward in Tempe at Mullett Arena. It’s, of course, not the best situation considering the arena has 5,000 seats, but it will have to do as the organization figures out a more permanent home. As someone who prefers intimate concert venues over stadiums, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds as the NHL takes on Arizona State University.

No One Needs to Know: New York Islanders

This Shania Twain hit could very well be the theme song of Lou Lamoriello. The New York Islanders general manager was radio silent all summer, leaving fans and media questioning what was happening at UBS Arena. Lamoriello, 79, finally held a press conference on Aug. 22 and discussed multiple topics, including the signings of Noah Dobson, Alexander Romanov, and Kieffer Bellows.

Life’s About to Get Good: Detroit Red Wings

Things can’t be that bad when Steve Yzerman is your general manager. Detroit may have missed the playoffs for six consecutive seasons, but that does not mean the Red Wings aren’t slowly working toward their former glory. With Moritz Seider patrolling the blue line and Lucas Raymond showing signs of brilliance and becoming the third teenager in Detroit history with a four-point game joining Yzerman and Gordie Howe, life is about to get good in Motor City.

We Got Something They Don’t: New York Rangers

Rangers fans haven’t exactly suffered when it comes to their goaltending. Once the king retired, a prince emerged and took his rightful place in the blue paint. In a stacked Metropolitan Division, the Rangers stand out thanks to the one thing they have that no one else does—Igor Shesterkin. Only 26 years old, Shesterkin finished this past season as the top goaltender with a 2.07 GAA and .935 save percentage to lead his team to the Eastern Conference Final.