Last Night’s News 📰
TOUGH LOSS: On Tuesday, the New York Rangers announced Sammy Blais will miss the remainder of the regular season with a torn ACL. The incident happened on Sunday night when Blais was going for the puck in the corner and collided with P.K. Subban. Blais will require surgery and is expected to be out for 6-8 months.
HANGING UP HIS SKATES: Dion Phaneuf officially announced his retirement from the NHL. He played 14 seasons with the Flames, Maple Leafs, Senators, and Kings, appearing in 1,048 career games while notching 494 points. Phaneuf was a three-time All-Star and was named the EA Sports cover athlete for NHL 09. Happy retirement, Dion!
TWO THOUSAND TUESDAY: Ryan Getzlaf became the seventh active NHL player, and first in Anaheim Ducks’ history, to record 1,000 career points in Tuesday’s win. Troy Terry also recorded an assist on the play, extending his point streak to 15 games, as the Ducks outlasted the Washington Capitals in overtime to record the 1,000th victory in franchise history.
HAVE YOU SEEN MY STAPLER?: Effective Dec. 25, the Los Angeles Kings will play their home games in the Crypto.com Arena, as part of a 20-year agreement with Staples Center owner AEG. A new logo for the arena will be unveiled on the day of the name change, and Crypto.com will become the “official cryptocurrency platform partner” of the Kings.
FOR JIMMY: In his first home game back from his second abdominal surgery in four months, Kevin Hayes scored a second-period goal and immediately pointed at the sky to honor his late brother. It was Hayes’ first goal of the season for the Philadelphia Flyers, and the first since the forward lost his brother Jimmy to a tragic death on Aug. 23.
Graham, I Am
With Willie O’Ree earning induction into the Builder’s Category in 2018, and Jarome Iginla serving as the headliner of the 2020 class, the Hockey Hall of Fame is gradually enhancing its diversity. While O’Ree legitimately stands as the NHL’s first Black player, Iginla doesn’t quite have the same trailblazing status.
That’s because Dirk Graham had already worn the “C” for the Chicago Blackhawks, replacing the legendary Denis Savard and leading the Hawks to the 1992 Stanley Cup Final. Monday’s induction of Iginla has prompted some discussion for the inclusion of Graham, a pioneer in more ways than one, who deserves to be celebrated more than he has been.
Graham the Captain
As if his status as the first Black captain wasn’t enough pressure, Graham’s opportunity to don the “C” in 1990 came in place of beloved franchise great Denis Savard, who had been traded to Montreal for a prospect package that included a young Chris Chelios.
Graham the Coach
Graham didn’t stop breaking barriers once his playing days were over. In the 1998-99 season, the hard-working, 11-year veteran brought intangibles to the ice and demonstrated the type of high character qualities that then-Chicago GM Bob Murray coveted. Unfortunately, Graham didn’t exactly oversee a boom period for the Blackhawks, going 16-35-8 before getting the boot after only 59 games. When asked what he would change about his coaching stint, Graham replied, “our win-loss record.”
Graham the Selke Winner
Graham earned the Frank J. Selke Award for the same sacrificial, team-first play that earned him a letter on his chest during the 1990-91 season. In doing so, Graham became the first Black skater to win an individual NHL award as the league’s best defensive forward (Grant Fuhr won the Vezina in 1988).
Graham the Goal Scorer
Though never truly known as an elite scorer in the league, Graham made his mark offensively when his Blackhawks had their backs against the wall. Facing elimination against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the 1992 Stanley Cup Final, the captain nearly salvaged the series on his own with a hat trick—all scored within the first period. While Graham’s best offensive season—a 33-goal, 78-point campaign—came in 1988-89 when he recorded 10 shorthanded tallies, joining Mario Lemieux (2x), Wayne Gretzky (2x), and Marcel Dionne as the only players to score double-digit goals while on the penalty kill in a single season.
What I’m Thankful For – Metropolitan 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 Metropolitan Division.
Carolina Hurricanes: Carolina is thankful for its impressive start to the season. With a record of 11-2-0, the Hurricanes surprised a lot of people with how well they are performing. Over the summer, the Canes lost 14 players, including four goaltenders and star Dougie Hamilton. Some may have counted them out, but over the past month, they have silenced doubters.
Columbus Blue Jackets: For the first time in a while, it appears the future is bright for the Blue Jackets. Columbus is currently sixth in the Metro Division with 16 points. After so much uncertainty surrounding the team, fans can breathe a sigh of relief knowing the future seems to finally be on the right track.
New Jersey Devils: New Jersey is thankful for its offseason acquisitions. General manager Tom Fitzgerald has done a phenomenal job addressing the needs of his team. Bringing in Ryan Graves and Hamilton has bolstered the Devils’ blue line, and fans couldn’t ask for more when it comes to Jonathan Bernier. Finally, things seem to be gaining speed in New Jersey.
New York Islanders: Things may not be running smoothly for the New York Islanders, but at least they have Barry Trotz as their head coach. Trotz is one of the best bench bosses in the league, and as long as he is there to right the ship, the Islanders will be okay—even at the bottom of the division and slightly under .500. Have patience, fans, your time is coming.
New York Rangers: There is only one answer, and that is Igor Shesterkin. The young goaltender has been the backbone of this team, especially when his record was 5-1-2 in his first eight starts. New York is near the top of the Metropolitan, and a large reason for that has been the play of the 25-year-old Shesterkin.
Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers have Ryan Ellis on their blue line. Do I need to say more? Yes, he has only played a handful of games, but he has five points in those four games. Philadelphia now has its top pair, right-handed defenseman and, while the sample size is small, there is a ton to be excited about if you’re a Flyers fan.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Because of the depth forwards that have done a great job in the absence of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh fans should be extremely thankful for Evan Rodrigues and Kasperi Kapanen. The Penguins were playing around .500 hockey without their star forwards, and now help is on the way.
Washington Capitals: I am not sure if there is excitement around the Capitals, but there is certainly excitement around Alex Ovechkin as he continues to chase Wayne Gretzky’s record. At this juncture, I don’t think it matters to fans outside of DC how the team performs, as long as Ovechkin keeps fighting the good fight.
Dion Phaneuf’s Greatest Hits
After a 14-season playing career, Dion Phaneuf has announced his retirement from the NHL. He appeared in 67 games for the LA Kings during the 2018-19 season before the team bought out the final two years of his contract. Phaneuf built a reputation of being a physical player who could lay a big hit on his opponents. In honor of his retirement, let’s look back at a few of his greatest hits.
Phaneuf Ends Rust’s Night
Does anything good ever come from a player keeping his head down entering the offensive zone? Absolutely not. Phaneuf completely leveled Bryan Rust, who was extremely slow to get up and head to the bench. After a few seconds on the bench, he was escorted down to the locker room. It was a tough lesson to learn for the then 24-year-old.
Phaneuf Welcomes Da Costa to the NHL
Would it be cliche to say this is a rookie mistake? Stéphane Da Costa was entering the offensive zone surrounded by Maple Leafs players, and sadly for him, one was Phaneuf. Da Costa’s teammates immediately came to his defense, but it’s like the coaches didn’t review any tape with their players before facing Phaneuf.
Phaneuf Sits Down Sauer
After looking at this hit, I’m surprised Michael Sauer got up as quickly as he did. Phaneuf stood Sauer up with a shoulder to his chest, breaking the Rangers’ stick in half and sending his helmet flying. While it was a clean hit, I can guarantee Sauer was feeling it the next morning.