November 10 — PHF Opening Weekend & Blaming Jack Campbell

Last Night’s News 📰

RECKONINGS CONTINUE: Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray is the latest prominent NHL figure to find himself in the cross-hairs of investigators amidst an alleged track record of improper behavior. Murray has been placed on administrative leave pending an ongoing investigation into the 13-year general manager’s professional conduct. Assistant GM Jeff Solomon will take the reins in the interim.

A PRICE ON HEALTH: For the first time since entering the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, Carey Price spoke out about his situation. In a post on Instagram, Price admitted to entering a residential treatment facility for substance abuse. Price also wrote that “things had reached a point that I realized I needed to prioritize my health for both myself and for my family.”

JACKS ARE WILD: After a rousing welcome to his new home, Jack Eichel fired up the crowd by cranking the siren prior to the Golden Knights game in Las Vegas on Tuesday night. Eichel, who undergoes surgery for an artificial replacement of his herniated disk in his neck on Friday, is expected to be out for three months before he can join the Knights on the ice.

PHF Opening Weekend Thoughts

Women’s professional hockey is officially back, as the six teams in the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) kicked off their seventh season last weekend. Here are three storylines from the opening games of the season.

Toronto Six Win First Regular Season Game

Toronto finally played its first official PHF regular-season game against the Buffalo Beauts, and it was action-packed. Six captain Shiann Darkangelo opened the scoring, deflecting a point shot from Taylor Woods. It didn’t take too long for Beauts’ rookie Missy Segall to score on the breakaway to tie the game. After lots of back and forth action, and four more goals, this one was decided late in the third period. Newcomer Michela Cava scored on the one-timer, and the Six won its season-opening game.

Boston Pride Undefeated

After winning the Isobel Cup in last year’s playoffs, the Pride have come back stronger than ever. During its two-game homestand against the Minnesota Whitecaps, Boston took both games as Jillian Dempsey kicked off the season with a two-point night on Saturday. With the Pride’s 2-0 start, this team is looking to repeat as league champions and are starting to resemble the Tampa Bay Lightning in terms of a modern dynasty.

Minnesota Whitecaps Are Struggling

On the other end of that spectrum, this was not a good start for the Whitecaps. Looking down memory lane, this team lost to the Pride during the 2021 Isobel Cup Final last year, so to lose both games to start the season is not motivating. On the bright side, Allie Thunstrom produced three points in the 6-4 loss on Saturday, and she will need to continue her prolific production for Minnesota to get back on track.

What I’m Thankful For – Central Division

The leaves are gently falling to the ground, and people are beginning to plan their Thanksgiving meal. Those are all indicators that it’s time to reflect and think about what you’re grateful for. Every Wednesday leading up to American Thanksgiving, we will discuss what each team is thankful for, continuing with the Central Division.

Arizona Coyotes: Okay, this one was tough. I reached out to Patrick Brown, our credentialed Coyotes writer, who quickly said, Bill Armstrong. The John Chayka experiment crashed and burned, and though the team’s rebuild is incredibly painful at the moment, Armstrong seems to have a solid plan in place to build a future contender.

Chicago Blackhawks: It has been a tough go for fans of the Blackhawks; there is no other way to say it. A small victory was the announcement that Brad Aldrich’s name has been crossed off the Stanley Cup. His name has been covered in X’s…so at least that is something.

Colorado Avalanche: Avalanche fans remain grateful for the duo of Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon. The team may not be at the top of the division yet, but the two have combined for 20 points this season. Where there is MacKinnon, there is hope.

Dallas Stars: It’s rather simple this season, the Stars are thankful for a healthy roster. They have a couple of players listed as day-to-day, but nothing compared to what they had to deal with last season. Let’s be honest, who isn’t psyched to see a healthy Tyler Seguin?

Minnesota Wild: Fans in Minnesota were thankful their team signed Kirill Kaprizov to a five-year contract and were extra thankful that he finally scored his first goal of the season. It may have taken nine games, but he finally delivered the thrill at Xcel Energy Center.

Nashville Predators: Is it still appropriate for Predators fans to be thankful for Pekka Rinne? With the announcement that Rinne’s No. 35 will be retired on Feb. 24, 2022, at Bridgestone Arena, we think the answer is yes. His number will be the first to hang in the rafters in Smashville.

St. Louis Blues: The Blues are currently first in the division with 17 points. Vladimir Tarasenko, who previously requested a trade, is tied for second on the Blues with 11 points, with a team-leading two game-winning goals on the young season. I guess Alexa can keep playing “Gloria” for now!

Winnipeg Jets: There is only one correct answer, and that is Kyle Connor. The 24-year-old has played in 12 games and leads the Jets with 17 points. His nine goals are tied for third-best in the league with Connor McDavid and Tyler Bertuzzi, trailing only Alex Ovechkin and Leon Draisaitl. 

The Jack Campbell Blame Game

When in doubt, blame Jack Campbell—that’s what he would do. Toronto’s starting goalie has been a revelation since coming over from the LA Kings in a trade on Feb. 5, 2020, providing an elite netminding at a meager $1.65 million cap hit. His play has been a welcome addition to his teammates and Toronto fans who have taken to chanting “Sooouuuup!” with every big save. The only person who doesn’t seem satisfied is Campbell, himself.

Jack Campbell, in a happier moment (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

In fact, the 29-year-old has made a habit of blaming himself for his team’s failings. How much of a habit? Let’s take a look back:

Nov. 8, 2021: 5-1 Loss to LAK

Giving up four goals on 28 shots against his former team hardly represented Campbell’s best effort, but he would’ve had to score some goals to help Toronto to a win on Monday night. Nonetheless, that didn’t prevent him from lamenting a performance that “cost us two points.”

May 31, 2021: Game 7 – 3-1 Loss to MTL

There was plenty of hurt going around in the aftermath of the Leafs’ shocking first-round collapse against the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens. That hurt was probably best exemplified by an emotional Campbell openly agonizing over what he called “the worst goal of my career,” the type of candor that was notably lacking from the team’s highly-paid stars.

May 27, 2021: Game 5 – 4-3 OT Loss to MTL

In retrospect, Nick Suzuki’s Game 5 winner that came one minute into overtime turned the tables on the entire series. Campbell could not have known that at the time, but he also wasn’t ready to brush it off and move on. With his team still sporting a 3-2 series lead, the goaltender was instead focused on the OT marker: “I just got to make that save.”

March 25, 2021: 3-2 OT Win Over OTT

Yes, a win! But instead of celebrating his 29-save performance or Justin Holl’s winner in the extra frame, Campbell was again hung up on his own shortcomings. “I’m not happy with myself but it’s about the team,” said Campbell. “You know they need the next save, and they need better plays from me.”

Look, we get it, Jack. You’re humble, but man, cut yourself some slack once in a while!