Last Night’s News 📰
ROQUE-ING THE RINK: Abby Roque has earned a lot of accomplishments in her young hockey career, but one still eludes her. Roque, the Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, native and 2020 Bob Allen Women’s Hockey Player of the Year award winner, is competing to become the first Indigenous woman to play for the U.S. women’s Olympic hockey team.
CONN-MAN: Yesterday, the league announced that the Chicago Blackhawks’ Brett Connolly has been suspended for four games for his hit on the Dallas Stars’ Tanner Kero. Connolly was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for interference on the play and will forfeit $70,000 to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
JINGLE JETS: Over the weekend, the Winnipeg Jets wished their fans “Happy Holidays” in one of the more creative ways possible. Using wreaths with bells hung on nets, the Jets played a version of “Jingle Bells” by hitting their targets with pucks to create the classic song.
EXTENDED HOLIDAY BREAK: With the NHL already scheduled to be on break Dec. 24-26 for Christmas, the league has decided to postpone any cross-border travel to help curb the recent COVID outbreaks. Multiple teams are shutting down through the break, including the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
How’s That Working Out for You?
On Friday, the Winnipeg Jets and Paul Maurice had just about the cleanest, classiest split you can imagine between a hockey club and head coach. Maurice announced his resignation and acknowledged that “they need a new voice” while insisting that he still loves and is cheering for the Jets.
However smooth the breakup was after nine years, the fact remains that this has been a season of coaching changes. Maurice’s exit marks the fifth change of personnel behind an NHL bench since the 2021-22 campaign began. It’s too soon to tell how the Jets will fare with Dave Lowry at the helm, but how are those other four moves working out? Let’s rank them from least to most successful (to date):
4) Florida Panthers (Joel Quenneville → Andrew Brunette)
The circumstances surrounding Joel Quenneville’s resignation as head coach of the Florida Panthers runs much deeper than wins and losses, but that’s the basis of evaluation we’re working with here. In that sense, Andrew Brunette’s 10-7-4 record doesn’t quite measure up to the torrid 8-0 start that Quenneville had the Panthers off to kick off the season.
3) Philadelphia Flyers (Alain Vigneault → Mike Yeo)
After a dismal start to the season led to Alain Vigneault’s termination in Philly, the early returns with former assistant Mike Yeo in charge didn’t inspire much confidence. The Flyers fell 7-5 to the Colorado Avalanche in a home loss in Yeo’s debut, surrendering 50 shots along the way. They followed that up with a 3-0 shutout loss in New Jersey, running their skid to 10 straight. However, things have turned around while Philadelphia has snatched up nine of 10 possible points in its past five games.
2) Chicago Blackhawks (Jeremy Colliton → Derek King)
Derek King faced an uphill challenge, stepping into the Chicago Blackhawks’ bench boss role amidst an organization-wide scandal and, less significantly, a poor start under Jeremy Colliton. To his credit, things seem to have turned around on the ice. Colliton got axed with the Hawks sporting a 1-9-2 record, while King has led them to a 10-6-2 mark since. They’ve leveled off a bit after an early hot start, but the King era has indisputably represented a step forward in Chi-town.
1) Vancouver Canucks (Travis Green → Bruce Boudreau)
“Bruce, there it is!” With our apologies to Travis Green, things couldn’t be better in Vancouver now that the Canucks have moved on to the Bruce Boudreau era. The club is 6-0 under the veteran head coach, with only postponements due to COVID protocols managing to slow them down. To put Boudreau’s start in perspective, it took Green until game No. 18 to notch his sixth win of the season.
Love and holiday cheer was in the air over the weekend, as celebrities and NHL stars alike joined in some festive activities. Let’s look at what went down in the hockey world over the weekend.
Date Night in Smashville
Olympic star Shawn Johnson and her husband Andrew East donned Nashville Predators jerseys as they headed to Bridgestone Arena to see the Predators take on the Avalanche. The couple got married in Franklin, TN, and live in Nashville. It was a victory for the home team as they beat Colorado 5-2.
Magical Holiday Season
Anaheim Ducks teammates Adam Henrique and Kevin Shattenkirk took their families to Disneyland for some holiday fun. Henrique and his wife Lauren wore matching Mickey and Minnie sweaters, while the Shattenkirk clan spent time with their adorable son Connor.
Baby Makes 6
Zach and Bianca Bogosian are adding another little one to their bunch. The couple announced they are expecting a baby boy in June. Their announcement included their three kids, pup, and an adorable little stocking with a sonogram. Congrats to the happy couple on their newest addition!
No Hats Thrown
Dylan Larkin scored his first career hat trick during Saturday’s game between the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings. His hat trick comes as a surprise since Larkin is currently playing in his seventh NHL season. A player of that caliber typically registers a hat trick at some point in their career, but some never accomplish the feat.
Let’s look at four of the best players in NHL history to never score a hat trick in their career.
Ron Sutter never lived up to his potential after being selected fourth overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1982 NHL Draft. However, he carved out a career as a secondary scorer and even was captain from 1989 to 1991. Sutter is a unique circumstance, but for a player who scored a career-high of 26 goals in 55 games during the 1988-89 season, it’s surprising that he never scored a hat trick.
Although he was known as an agitator and pest during his career, Tucker could produce offense when needed. He scored 28 goals and 61 points in 74 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2005-06 season but never tallied three in one game.
An 18-year veteran, the defenseman played a crucial role for the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks, winning the Stanley Cup four times in his career. Given his position, it makes sense that he made this list. However, he was very offensively gifted, scoring 69 points in 79 games during the 2006-07 season.
Richards was a skilled center who played his best hockey with multiple teams, including the Tampa Bay Lightning, Dallas Stars, and New York Rangers. Scoring 932 points in 1,126 games throughout his career, Richards was known more for his playmaking abilities than his goal-scoring.
Happy Birthday to You!
Every day, NHL players have birthdays to celebrate. We at the Morning Skate would like to use this new weekly space to recognize these players who will celebrate the anniversary of their birth in the week ahead.
Birthday of the Week
Charlie Conacher, December 20
Only one Hall of Famer has ever been born on December 20—late Toronto Maple Leafs great Charlie Conacher. The younger brother of Canadian sporting legend Lionel Conacher was arguably the best hockey player of the 1930s, leading the league in goals on five occasions and winning the 1932 Stanley Cup. Conacher led a Leafs team that featured seven future Hall of Famers in scoring, with six goals and two assists the season they won the Cup.