November 29 — A-Plus Agitators & Capital City Challenge

Yesterday’s Games

Celebrity Shinny 2021
Celebrity Shinny 2021-22

NHL Standings

Last Night’s News 📰

NO KANE DO: The San Jose Sharks placed suspended forward Evander Kane on waivers on Sunday, three years into a seven-year, $49 million contract. Kane was suspended 21 games by the club for submitting a fake vaccination card. On top of that, the 30-year-old winger is also facing domestic assault allegations from his estranged wife, Anna Kane. San Jose was reportedly seeking a trade for the two-time 30-goal scorer prior to placing him on waivers.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE FOR ME LATELY?: Also placed on waivers this weekend was Ottawa Senators netminder Matt Murray, who has since cleared and been assigned to the AHL’s Belleville Senators. In just the second year of a four-year, $25 million contract, the former back-to-back Stanley Cup champion has gone 0-5 with an .890 save percentage and 3.26 goals-against average (GAA).

CANADIENS CLEAN HOUSE: Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson announced a series of moves that the team hopes will shake up the rough start to its season. Out are general manager Marc Bergevin, assistant GM Trevor Timmins, and senior vice president for public affairs and communications Paul Wilson, who were all fired on Sunday after assistant GM Scott Mellanby resigned on Saturday. Jeff Gorton, former GM of the New York Rangers, was hired to handle the day-to-day hockey operations for the club.

Capital City Challenge Weekend Review

In case you were unaware, the traditional World Under-17 Hockey Challenge tournament that is held annually was canceled this season, so Hockey Canada decided to create a tournament of its own. Based out of TD Place Arena in Ottawa, the Capital City Challenge features three U17 Canadian teams that consist of players from the three major junior leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) and junior A leagues, such as the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) and British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). Rounding out the tournament as the fourth team is the Canadian National Women’s Team, comprised of the women who will represent the country at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games.

With the first weekend of preliminary games completed, let’s look at how the four teams are doing.

Team Canada Black

It’s been a dominant showing for Team Black’s first line, which includes Calum Ritchie, the Oshawa Generals phenom who has scored 19 points in 16 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) games. Team Black has only played two games thus far, defeating Team Red by a score of 7-2 and being challenged by the National Women’s Team before prevailing with a 4-1 victory. Ritchie has been the best player on Black to date, scoring two points in two games while playing top minutes.

Team Black Celebrates (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

Team Canada Red

After getting taught a lesson by Team Black, losing 7-2 on Friday night, it was a solid showing for this group the following two games. Team Red defeated the National Women’s Team by a score of 7-0 and persevered in a close matchup against Team White to win 4-2. Matthew Wood, who plays for the Victoria Grizzles in the BCHL, has three goals and six points through three games and has been the most noticeable player in the tournament.

Zach Benson, Team Black, makes a move on Kyle Hagen, Team Red (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

Team Canada White

Through two games, it has been an average showing for Team White, defeating the National Women’s Team by a score of 7-3 in its first game, then losing to Team Red in Sunday’s outing. Ethan Gauthier, who plays for th Sherbrooke Phoenix of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), has registered four points in two games to lead the team.

Chris Barlas, Team White (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

Canadian National Women’s Team

While the scores may suggest otherwise, this group that is preparing for the 2022 Bejing Olympics has progressively improved each game. Marie-Phillip Poulin, the captain of the National Women’s Team, has scored two goals and made a few opposing players miss with some crafty moves in transition. Not surprisingly, the standout player of the tournament has been goaltender Ann-Renée Desbiens, who plays for the Montreal region in the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) and made 52 saves against Team Black in Sunday’s game.

Marie-Philip Poulin Team Canada (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)

Agitators Gonna Agitate

As we all know, a league-wide dip in fighting has rendered enforcers all but extinct across the NHL. However, while this past weekend showed that pugilists may be out of style, agitators remain alive and well.

The role of the agitator is to get under the skin of their opponent and goad them into stupid, costly actions. In that sense, both Brad Marchand and Brady Tkachuk—two admittedly over-qualified pests—did their jobs admirably over the weekend. Let’s break down the two incidents where these world-class provocateurs pushed their foes over the edge and into some bad decisions.

The Acts

Brad Marchand
Playing the New York Rangers on Friday night, Marchand reportedly riled up Blueshirts star Artemi Panarin with comments about how the winger had become a pariah in his native Russia for his outspoken views against President Vladimir Putin.

Brady Tkachuk
We don’t know what inspired Los Angeles Kings forward Brendan Lemieux to chomp down on Tkachuk’s finger while the two were tied up during LA’s Saturday night tilt against the Ottawa Senators. Who knows, maybe the two second-generation NHLers have beef from their dads, Keith Tkachuk and Claude Lemieux, duking it out at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

The Response

Brad Marchand
While the Breadman probably wished to do far worse, Panarin ultimately settled for angrily tossing his glove at Marchand while the two jawed at each other from the benches.

Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Brady Tkachuk
Yeah, I’m not kidding about that “chomp down” part—Lemieux apparently bit him. No stranger to life as an agitator himself, the LA forward is seen leaning in close to Tkachuk’s hand before the Senators captain appears to say, “he [expletive] bit me!”

The Punishment

Brad Marchand
For the glove throw, Panarin picked up a $5,000 fine, the maximum allowed under the league’s current collective bargaining agreement. The fine is hardly significant for a guy making over $11.5 million this year, but you can imagine news of the NHL’s decision being equal parts amusing for Marchand and frustrating for Panarin.

Brady Tkachuk
Lemieux drew a 10-minute misconduct penalty and will have an in-person meeting with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety in the coming days. In other words, the dude is gonna be missing some games soon.

Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Agitator

Brad Marchand
Marchand’s antics didn’t give his Bruins any discernible edge in the game apart from maybe leaving Panarin vexed and lighter in the wallet. Also, using a complex political situation that has probably carried significant weight in the Rangers star’s life is low but also par for the course with Marchand.

Brady Tkachuk
It certainly sounds like there’s a history with the younger Tkachuk brother and Lemieux, but biting?? Definitely feels like a few steps too far—and the fallout is likely coming. Tkachuk did his job effectively and now has the teeth-marked scar to prove it.

Spotted 👀

After a busy holiday weekend that featured welcoming home family members, making new memories, and seeing old friends, it was nice to dive back into the hockey season. As always, fans and players took to social media to share what they were thankful for as November comes to a close.

I ❤️ New York (Islanders)

After starting the season on a 13-game road trip, the Islanders finally played in front of their home fans at UBS Arena. While there was not much to write home about on the ice, it was exciting for fans to spot Kevin Connolly and Ralph Macchio making appearances to root on their favorite team.

Trading Mementos

Some of the most heartwarming moments of the game happen during warmups. During a recent a LA Kings game, a young fan held up a sign requesting to trade a lollipop for a puck. Kings’ defenseman Mikey Anderson skated over and made the swap with the boy, who happened to be celebrating his birthday at the game. Needless to say, he was thrilled to leave Staples Center with a souvenir.

Baby on Board

Our Morning Skate crew would like to send a huge congratulations to David & Nikola Rittich, who are expecting their first child together. The 29-year-old goaltender, who recently made his debut with the Nashville Predators, shared the news on his Instagram ahead of American Thanksgiving. I guess there is plenty to be thankful for at the Rittich house this year!

Today’s Games