Now that the summer is almost over (thank goodness) and the teams and players are setting up for training camps. A lot has happened in the NHL since the Boston Bruins finished the season on the ice by winning the Stanley Cup in mid June.
So, if for some reason you have been living under an NHL rock for the past 2 months, sit back as SenShot takes a look back at the summer that was and present the Top 10 Stories of the Summer!
10. Injuries & Recoveries – As with any off season, this summer was a time to heal wounds from a long season of battle. Some high profile players could miss significant time once the season starts. Sidney Crosby has been in the news as debate rages as to how well his recovery from post concussion syndrome is going. Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Pronger, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler and Jonas Hiller all have had long summers of recovery from various injuries and are hopeful to return during training camp. Travis Zajac (achilles) and Mike Comrie (hip) will miss significant time this season due to ailments.
9. Heatley Dealt, again – Dany Heatley apparently wore out his welcome in another city as the San Jose Sharks dealt the former Senator to the Minnesota Wild for another former Sen, Martin Havlat.
8. June 23rd Philadelphia Blowup – In one day, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren made two impactful deals by trading captain Mike Richards to the LA Kings for Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and a 2nd round pick. Earlier in the day Holmgren had dealt Jeff Carter to Columbus for the 8th overall pick (Sean Couturier), Jakob Voracek and a 3rd round pick. The deal sent shockwaves througout the league and put scrutiny on the Flyers dressing room and apparent partying habits of the departed players.
7. So Long, Farewell – A number of veteran star players announced their retirement after stellar careers this off season. Mark Recchi left on a high note, winning his third Stanley Cup with his third different team. Also calling it quits are Doug Weight, Kris Draper, Chris Osgood, Chris Drury and although he hasn’t made it official as of yet, Mike Modano. Also calling it quits was former Senators netminder and scapegoat Patrick Lalime.
6. Perry Has Hart – The Ducks’ Corey Perry continues his charmed life by winning the Hart Trophy as the League’s MVP at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas. Other major winners included Jeff Skinner (Calder), Nicklas Lidstrom (Norris), Tim Thomas (Vezina), Ryan Kesler (Selke), and Daniel Sedin (Ted Lindsay Award).
5. Hired to be Fired – Coaching changes abound as no less than 6 teams will have new faces behind the bench. First time NHL head coaches Kevin Dineen (Florida), Claude Noel (Winnipeg), Glen Gulutzan (Dallas), Mike Yeo (Minnesota) and Paul MacLean (Ottawa) singify a changing of the guard in the NHL, while Peter DeBoer (New Jersey) is a young coach already with his second assignment.
4. Generation Next – The Edmonton Oilers opened up the 2011 draft by selecting Red Deer Rebels forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the first pick overall. The top ten are all super talented and will be impact players in the NHL one day. As for the Senators, Bryan Murray made 3 first round selections, nabbing Mika Zibanejad (6th), Stefan Noesen (21st) and Matt Puempel (24th) in what should go down as a franchise changing day.
3. Free Agent Frenzy – There were a lot of long, expensive contracts handed out as July 1st approached and passed. Christian Ehrhoff, Brad Richards, Ville Lieno, James Wisniewski and Ilya Bryzgalov were among the players who cashed in big time. Florida and Buffalo went on uncharacteristic spending sprees, while the biggest bargain might be Tomas Vokoun, who signed a 1 year, $1.5 M deal with the Capitals.
2. A family greives – The NHL family lost a number of members this summer, as former Flames owner Harley Hotchkiss passed, as did New York Rangers forward Derek Boogard and Winnipeg Jets forward Rick Rypien. The losses are felt througout the league and losing the active players puts more emphasis on fighting and the costs of it on players physical and mental health.
1. Atlanta’s Loss is Winnipeg’s Gain – Amid rumours that the Phoenix Coyotes was the club on the move, it ended up being the Atlanta Thrashers who moved north to the city of Winnipeg. Before the move was approved, the city of Winnipeg put their money where their mouth was and bought 13,000 season tickets 17 minutes after going on sale to the general public. After much speculation as to what the name of the club would be, True North Sports and Entertainment finally unveiled the return of the Winnipeg Jets. By the way, the Coyotes saga still hasn’t been resolved after more than 2 years of questions.
So there are the best and worst of what was a very eventful off-season. The coming season promises to provide many stories on the ice, but off the ice could be dominated by the looming work stoppage, as the current CBA expires Sept 15, 2015.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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