January 20 — Secret Agent Men & Players With Personality

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

FEBRUARY FEVER: On Wednesday, the NHL released a comprehensive update to the 2021-22 schedule with the addition of 95 games between Feb. 7 and 22. Using the scheduled time off to accommodate the Olympics, the league will return to play following All-Star Weekend on Feb. 4-5.

RANGER REAVES: Ryan Reaves scored his first goal since joining the New York Rangers last offseason and recorded his first two-point night since 2013 in the Rangers’ 6-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Auston Matthews had his road goal streak snapped at 10 games, one shy of tying Pavel Bure and Steve Yzerman for the record.

NO GO ON FRANCOUZ: Pavel Francouz must love playing the Anaheim Ducks. On Wednesday, Francouz recorded his second career shutout in a 2-0 win over Anaheim. His first shutout likewise came against the Ducks during the 2019-20 season. It was also the first time in Colorado Avalanche history the team earned consecutive shutouts on the road after blanking the Arizona Coyotes 5-0 on Saturday.

QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY: At the end of the second period in last night’s Coyotes at New Jersey Devils game, shots were 27-8 in favor of the Devils. However, thanks to a trio of tallies in a span of 7:23, Arizona held a 3-1 advantage. That’s all Karel Vejmelka would need, stopping the final nine shots he faced for a total of 35 saves to seal the victory, 4-1.

Top-Shelf Thursday – Top Player Interview Moments

If you’re reading this, there is a good chance that you saw the now-viral exchange between Leon Draisaitl and Jim Matheson. Everyone around the league has an opinion on the awkward moment, and for some, it sheds a negative light on the media. The Morning Skate crew decided to share some heartwarming moments between reporters and players, so let us know on Twitter what your favorite interview moment is by using the hashtag #THWMorningSkate. 

Antoine Roussel’s Routine

Our own Patrick Brown asked Arizona Coyotes forward Antoine Roussel if there was a difference between how he approached a game that started in the afternoon versus at night after the Coyotes afternoon matinee against the Montreal Canadiens. Roussel laughed and said that he wished they played in the afternoon every game, saying his routine is to get some crepes with maple syrup on them and get going. Considering Arizona won 5-2, I think it’s safe to say crepes for everyone.

Yegor Sharangovich Relationship Goals

Last season, fans in New Jersey were introduced to rookie forward Yegor Sharangovich. The Minsk, Belarus, native was a pleasant surprise on the ice, and his wholesome personality off the ice made him an instant favorite. During a post-game press conference last season, Devils reporter Amanda Stein asked about his two-goal performance. Sharangovich responded that his wife wanted him to score three goals, so that’s what he tried to do. Has an NHL player ever given a more honest answer?

Paul Bissonnette With a Microphone

Paul Bissonnette had a six-year NHL career and is currently a studio analyst for NHL on TNT, the color analyst for Arizona Coyotes radio, and a podcast host. He provided endless laughs, including a three-minute clip in which he introduced himself as “Paul Bissonnette, left bench, Phoenix Coyotes.” He has a knack for showing fans players’ true personalities, and we certainly can’t forget his “Bachelor Report,” when he broke down each episode of The Bachelor with a player from the Coyotes.

Agents Turned GM: The Good, the Bad & the Middling

If the Montreal Canadiens’ hiring of player agent and close friend Kent Hughes as GM caught you by surprise, chances are you weren’t paying attention. Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Jeff Gorton hinted at as much during his introductory press conference back in November, suggesting that the club would target someone “outside the box” and even openly mused about bringing in an agent.

It turns out Gorton was bang on about the agent part but was it outside-the-box hiring? Once a unique career transition, the switch from player representative to team executive is commonplace now, with Hughes poised to follow the path of current top execs like Brian Burke, Bill Zito, Chuck Fletcher, Kyle Dubas, and Jeff Solomon.

Those who have charted that path have experienced a large swath of varying levels of success. To highlight some of the potential outcomes that await the suddenly in-the-spotlight Hughes, let’s look at a cross-section of good, bad, and middling legacies that awaited previous agents turned managers:

The Good: Brian Burke

Brian Burke (Canadian Press)

Say what you will about Brian Burke, but his lengthy career in the league is a testament to his status as a shrewd deal-maker, as his career has taken him through Vancouver, Anaheim, Toronto, Calgary, and now, Pittsburgh. The Harvard Law grad built a winning foundation around the Sedin twins with the Canucks, won a Cup with the Ducks, and added the likes of Dion Phaneuf, James van Riemsdyk, Joffrey Lupul, and Jake Gardiner to the Leafs.

The Bad: Brian Lawton

In Tampa Bay, Julian BriseBois has overseen two Stanley Cups, Steve Yzerman took the Lightning to the Cup Final as part of five playoff appearances, and Jay Feaster anchored the front office during the club’s 2004 Cup triumph. Somewhere in there was Brian Lawton, who led Tampa to zero playoff appearances over a failed two-year tenure. The one-time representative of Mike Modano and Sergei Fedorov clashed with head coach Rick Tocchet and neglected to add complementary talent to inherited stars Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis.

The Middling: Ray Shero

Long-time executive Ray Shero (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

You could argue that every agent-turned-exec belongs here, as you won’t find anyone who hasn’t balanced out their good moves with some bad. Ray Shero helped Pittsburgh take the next step in becoming championship-caliber by adding major pieces like Marian Hossa, James Neal, and Bill Guerin. While in New Jersey, Shero acquired a future MVP in Taylor Hall but took on P.K. Subban’s bloated contract and had his fingerprints all over a franchise that regressed in the win column for three straight seasons.

Talent on the Tape: “Lacrosse” Goals in the NHL

Tuesday night, Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Tyler Angle successfully executed a lacrosse-style goal, also known as the “Zorro” (or “Michigan”) in an AHL game between the Cleveland Monsters and Grand Rapids Griffins. The move, which involves a player picking up the puck on the blade of their stick, reaching from behind the net, and throwing it back into the goal, is a complex maneuver to execute.

Attempted many times since it was made famous by University of Michigan forward Mike Legg in the 1996 NCAA Tournament, the gambit has only been pulled off a few times at the highest level. Below are the NHL players who have successfully performed arguably the most impressive goal-scoring technique in hockey.

Andrei Svechnikov (Oct. 29, 2019 & Dec. 17, 2019)

Although Legg performed the feat in 1996 (and learned it in 1993), it took 20 years for a player to attempt it in the NHL and wasn’t successful until fewer than three years ago. Svechnikov had unsuccessfully tried the “Zorro” several times, but the Carolina Hurricanes forward finally got it done on Oct. 29, 2019, against the Calgary Flames.

Down 1-0 midway through the third period, Svechnikov swiftly picked up the puck and put it in the left top corner of the net, squeezing it over the right shoulder of Calgary goaltender David Rittich, becoming the first NHL player to perform the lacrosse-style goal. He scored less impressively about three-and-a-half minutes later, and the Hurricanes won 2-1.

Two months later, the 21-year-old winger pulled off the same move again, this time against the Winnipeg Jets. Svechnikov came around the other side of the net and whipped the puck into the same spot he did the first time, squeezing it past goaltender Connor Hellebuyck to take a 3-2 lead in the second period of a 6-3 win.

Filip Forsberg (Jan. 14, 2020)

Like Svechnikov, Forsberg attempted the “Zorro” multiple times before he pulled it off, with the first attempt hitting the post. After a couple of impressive misses, the Nashville Predators winger finally found success on Jan. 14, 2020, against the Edmonton Oilers.

Without stopping, Forsberg skated around the net while picking the puck up with his stick turned over and bounced it in off the left side of Edmonton goaltender Mike Smith. The first-period goal tied the game at one, though the Predators would ultimately lose 4-2.

Trevor Zegras (Dec. 7, 2021)*

Technically, Zegras has not successfully executed a lacrosse-style goal in the NHL (yet). However, the Anaheim Ducks rookie did provide the best play of the year when he lofted a “lacrosse” pass in a 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 7, hence the asterisk.

Just over five minutes into the second period of a scoreless contest, Zegras skated behind the Buffalo net, scooped up the puck, and flipped it over to teammate Sonny Milano to bat it out of the air past goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. It was the closest equivalent hockey has to an alley-oop.

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule