Boston's new hope
Ask an old-timer to describe the prototypical Montreal Canadien and he'll quickly paint a visual picture of a player gifted with speed, fury and elegance ... topped off, of course, with the gift of a francophone surname.
It's equally easy to conjure up the ideal Boston Bruin. He's a menacing bruiser in black and gold who's just as capable of beating you with his fists and his broad shoulders as with his lunchpail ethic in front of the net. Fancy's all well and good for those Quebeckers, but the Boston fans have always been more of a ham sandwich kind of crowd.
While imagining that player's no problem, it's been a bit of an issue actually dressing one. With apologies to the great
Well, it looks like they've finally got their man.
Unless you watch the Bruins regularly, the name
The fans in Boston recognized that Thursday night, voting Lucic the winner of the team's Seventh Player Award. The honor goes annually to the Bruin who exceeds expectations. And if you say nothing else about Lucic, you have to admit that.
As the captain of Team Canada for last summer's Super Series against the Russians, Lucic was the ideal leader: hand working, conscientious, and capable of amping up the team's emotion with a big hit or a timely goal. Bruins fans saw the fear in the Russians' eyes and began dreaming of him donning the black and gold and terrorizing the hated Habs.
One problem: he couldn't skate worth a lick. Not such a big deal in junior hockey. But his early twirls around camp prompted one insider to say, "He looks like he's slogging through slush out there."
That should have been enough to earn him a trip to Providence for his first pro campaign. But each night during the preseason, he forced his way into the next game with a fight, a YouTube-worthy hit, or a surprisingly deft offensive play. And when the team broke camp, there he was, unbelievably, a Boston Bruin.
But unlike the bonus babies, he was brought along slowly, grabbing just six or seven minutes a night, really no more than he could chew. And somehow, in that limited time, he continued to find ways to catch someone's eye, to keep a job.
But more important than game night was the time spent at practice, working on his skating. If you went a couple weeks without seeing him, you'd be stunned by the improvements he'd made. Even after making remarkable gains in the skill, no one's going to film his stride as for a how-to tape. But they could use him as the perfect example of what can be accomplished through grim determination to succeed.
Over the season, the kid who no one expected to be there forged himself into a player that coach
The team may not get far in the postseason, especially if they line up against the Canadiens, a team that's on an 11-0 roll against the Bruins. No matter what happens though, Boston fans can gladly go into that long summer knowing that their team again has it's heart.
They're not the Big, Bad Bruins yet. But with Lucic, it's a start.
No surprise to hear that the NHLPA this week slammed the door on the NHL's proposal to move the start of free agency from July 1 to July 7. Although the league tried to sell it as a way to avoid the hassles brought on by dealing over the Canada Day and Independence Day holidays, it smelled like a fast one from the start. Essentially, it would have allowed teams to close a bothersome little loophole.
Under the CBA, players who make less than $1.5 million have until July 5 to elect for salary arbitration. That essentially left a five-day window for a restricted free agent to consider offer sheets before having to finalize a decision regarding his current team. If the date had been moved to the seventh, that window of opportunity would have been closed for the player, though it would not have impacted the ability of the teams to file for arbitration.
In their entreaty to the PA to move the UFA/RFA date, they didn't mention advancing the arbitration date.
Nice try, fellas.
San Jose's 14-0-2 mark may be the most publicized stat of the post-trade deadline period, but it's far from the most impressive. Try this one on: in the 14 games since he joined the Tampa Bay Lightning, checking center
Actually, that should just be 13 games. He played only 13 seconds against Pittsburgh last Friday before leaving with an injury. Either way, it's an amazing and completely unexpected outburst from a grinder who compiled just 25 points in 64 games with the Stars before the deal.
As thrilled as the Lightning are with his production, the numbers look even better by way of comparison.
No surprise to see Lightning coach
The late start of the tournament, which gets underway May 2 in Quebec City and Halifax, means that rosters won't be finalized until after the first round of the playoffs conclude. Still, look for the Yanks to make some early commitments, leaning heavily on younger players like