This weekend if the 2022 NHL All Star Weekend. Here are your links for today to discuss and share:
Jack Hughes is the Devils’ lone representative at the 2022 NHL All-Star Game. The Devils’ official website has a short article about it as well as stating that they are on site in Las Vegas, presumably to follow The Big Deal. [Devils official website]
Tonight is the NHL All-Star Skills Competition. Hughes will be a part of the Breakaway Challenge, joining Trevor Zegras, Alex DeBrincat, Alex Pietrangelo, and Kirill Kaprizov. The goalies will be Manon Rheaume and Wyatt Russell. [NHL.com]
Jackass Forever is coming out tomorrow. How is this Devils-related? Because P.K. Subban is in the movie! He fires pucks at the crotch of someone named Danger Ehren. Talk about a cup check. I learned it from this movie review by Adam Graham. [The Detroit News] (Aside: Hey, Devils, why not promote the fact that Subban was in this movie?)
The New Jersey Devils did not play on Thursday, but they took a minor ‘L’ on Twitter. The team congratulated Michael McLeod for his birthday.
There was just one problem: McLeod was born in 1998. That makes him 24 years old, not 25. This was noted by many for the next hour, including Michael’s mom, Judi:
The Devils would delete the tweet and correct it in this one. A minor thing but that’s how deep this current slump goes.
First, the NHL All-Star Skills Competition is tonight on ESPN, Sportsnet, and TVA at 7:30 PM ET. It will feature two new events: the Las Vegas 21 in 22 wherein shooters will fire at cards to make a hand up to 21 without going over; and the NHL Fountain Face-off where shooters will try to shoot pucks into five targets as fast as possible while on the famous fountains of the Bellagio. [NHL.com]
Second, the NHL All-Star Game will be this Saturday at 3 PM ET on ABC, Sportsnet, and TVAS. Four teams for each division; 3-on-3 hockey; and the winner takes home a cash prize. The Metropolitan will be without Alex Ovechkin due to COVID-19; he will be replaced by Tom Wilson. [NHL.com]
Now, a series of Chicago-related news. Be forewarned that you are free to discuss it, but do so seriously given the nature of the issues at hand.
On Wednesday night, Rocky Wirtz and Chicago management held a “town hall” press conference. Mark Lazerus of The Athletic asked Danny Wirtz (CEO of the team) about what the Blackhawks are doing and have done and will do to make sure there is not another incident as to what happened with Kyle Beach. The Blackhawks settled with Beach and a former high school hockey player that was sexually assaulted by Brad Aldrich back in December. Rocky Wirtz jumped in and bellowed at Lazerus, first stating they are not going to talk about and it was not his business. Hardly reflective of accountability or taking the matter serious after the settlement. Rocky Wirtz would then get similarly aggressive with Phil Thompson of the Chicago Tribune after Thompson asked about the values of the organization. There is video of the presser and it is actually worse than I am making it seem. The video the Lazerus segment was posted by Wally Maz:
Here’s the full segment/video. Just ridiculous from Rocky Wirtz. pic.twitter.com/9k9QxKW0gI— Wally Maz (@WallMaz35) February 3, 2022
This article by Lazerus is his understandably angry reaction to the presser. [The Athletic ($)]
Phil Thompson did Tweet after the town hall that Danny Wirtz would be happy to discuss with him about the team’s values and protocols to protect players in the future. Unfortunately, Rocky’s response made it clear who is in charge in Chicago. [Phil Thompson]
Reaction online has been universally negative towards Rocky Wirtz and Chicago. NHL on TNT’s panel also did not hold back on the presser, with Wayne Gretzky providing the key quote to sum up why this reaction to how the Blackhawks are handling the Beach situation was so bad:
Gretzky on @NHL_On_TNT: "If I'm a parent, I want to know if my 18-year-old kid is being drafted by that team, that he is going to be protected."#Blackhawks— Mario Tirabassi (@Mario_Tirabassi) February 3, 2022
If you want the whole segment, the NHL on TNT Twitter account has the full video here.
Not so coincidentally, Greg Wyshynski of ESPN reported on Twitter that a media availability with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy comissioner Bill Daly will happen this afternoon. [Greg Wyshynski]
While Rocky Wirtz may not want to talk about it, he may have to real soon. According to Rick Westhead, there are three potential plaintiffs from Miami (of Ohio) University who are planning to file suit against the Blackhawks claiming they helped Aldrich get a job with Miami, wherein Aldrich proceeded to sexually assault another player in 2012. Additionally, former Blackhawks skills coach Paul Vincent is also exploring his legal options, alleging he has been blacklisted by Chicago after he urged Blackhawks executives to report Aldrich to the police. [TSN.ca - Note: The article does go into detail about the assaults by Aldrich.]
In less grave news, Chicago is also searching for a general manager. According to Insider Training at TSN, the Blackhawks are going to interview Peter Chiarelli for their GM position. [TSN.ca]
Anaheim has announced that former New Jersey Devil player and Detroit assistant GM, Pat Verbeek is their new General Manager. [Anaheim Ducks official website]
Pierre LeBrun noted that from the same episode of TSN’s Insider Training, the NHL and the NHLPA met last week to begin planning the World Cup of Hockey for 2024. Curiously, they are looking at doing it in February 2024 instead of in August and September. The NHL is still planning to go to the 2026 Olympics. [Pierre LeBrun]
In the ECHL, Danielle Goyette became the first female assistant coach in league history when she went behind the bench last night for the Newfoundland Growlers. [TSN.ca]
Sean Shapiro at The Athletic has written up a survey of NHL agents as to what teams they prefer their clients to go to, stay away from, Bettman, NHLPA leader Don Fehr, Olympics, and other bits of information. New Jersey is favored or unfavored, for whatever that is worth. [The Athletic ($)]
The Women’s Ice Hockey event in Beijing began yesterday. Expected favorites Canada and United States won their first games. Canada dusted Switzerland, 12-1. The United States beat Finland 5-2. Olympic hosts China lost 3-1 to Czechia. Japan put down the Swedes, 3-1. You can keep up with the event through the IIHF website. [IIHF]
However, Brianna Decker suffered a significant injury and had to be stretchered out of the game. Decker was one of the top Americans on the 2018 team that won gold. She will be out for the rest of the event. [NY Times]
In the meantime, COVID is taking center stage. An exhibition game between Canada and Switzerland to prepare for the tourney was cancelled due to Christian Marti testing positive. [Reuters] David Krejci, Tomas Hyka, and Simon Hrubec on the Czechia team also tested positive upon arrival to Beijing. [Reuters] The previous link also noted that six Russian women also tested positive. The Men’s Ice Hockey event will begin later in February; but the Women’s Ice Hockey event has begun and Russia will carry on against Switzerland without those six women.
Feel free to discuss these and any other hockey-related stories in the comments below. Remember that all rules apply. Thank you for reading.