Top Line: Corsi complexity vexes GMs; coaching-candidate carousel; more
An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:
• Happy birthday, Jim Corsi. The former netminder, who is now goalie coach for the Blues, and the godfather of the NHL's growing analytics movement, turns 60 today. Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal explores how putting advanced stats to their best use isn't always a simple thing for NHL teams.
• Gary Bettman has long been the man fans love to hate, but former NHL ref Paul Stewart offers you a take on the human side of the Commish.
• The Penguins should have a new coach by the end of next week. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Dejan Kovacevic has put his support firmly behind Rangers assistant Ulf Samuelsson.
• While the Penguins search for a new coach, former bench boss Dan Bylsma's name is among those being mentioned for the Canucks' job. Vancouver GM Jim Benning has interviewed three other candidates, according to Sportsnet, and will question two more by week's end.
• Among the other candidates for the gig in Vancouver is Willie Desjardin, the coach of the AHL's Texas Stars, who is fresh off a Calder Trophy triumph. In fact, the Canucks aren't the only NHL team that's interested in Desjardin. Pittsburgh has also received permission to talk to him.
• Why hasn't Kings assistant John Stevens been on the coachin-candidate carousel? Well, because Los Angeles doesn't want to give him up. They re-signed and promoted the one-time Flyers coach on Wednesday, leading some to believe that he may be Darryl Sutter's successor.
• Speaking of the Kings, they are still celebrating their Stanley Cup win, moving from the streets of Los Angeles to the sands of Redondo Beach. The team held another parade on Wednesday down by the shore, where many of the players and coaches live. Defenseman Drew Doughty yelled to the crowd, "Party at my house!" Which is exactly how a bad Jonah Hill buddy comedy begins.
• The rebuilding Sabres, who will be sending more prospects to Team USA's World Junior summer development camp in Lake Placid in August, have the second pick in the draft. Will they use it to grab OHL Barrie's Aaron Ekblad, this year's top rated defenseman? Buffalo released its recent combine interview with Ekblad, and you can see him make his case for being NHL ready.
• Of course more than a few teams are interested in Ekblad, a big, skilled, tough blueliner, and only the third player -- after John Tavares and Connor McDavid -- to have been granted exceptional status for early admission to the OHL at age 15. The Flyers, who have a history of draft day splashes, may make a bold move to grab him.
• Former Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle isn't the first free agent to stick his nose up at the idea of signing on with the Islanders. GM Garth Snow is now shopping the rights to the veteran UFA. Looks like the Maple Leafs might be interested. But does the move make sense for Toronto?
• Speaking of the Islanders, one of their long nightmares will finally end after next season. No, we're not referring to their stay in the crumbling Nassau Coliseum.
• His hockey future still in doubt after a scary cardiac incident during a game on March 10, Stars forward Rich Peverley plans to be a presenter at the NHL Awards bash in Las Vegas next week.
• The Canadiens have retired 17 jerseys in their storied history. Hall of Famer Guy Lapointe's No. 5 will join the pantheon next season. Unfortunately, it took some lobbying from his daughter to get him included with his "Big Three" blue-line teammates Larry Robinson and Serge Savard.
• What will the Senators do with Jason Spezza, who's asked GM Bryan Murray for a trade out of Ottawa? He has one year left on his contract and a list of teams for which he refuses to play. All six Canadian teams are reportedly on Spezza's list, as are (unsurprisingly) the Islanders, Panthers, Predators and Blue Jackets, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.
• Oilers captain Andrew Ference won the King Clancy Trophy, awarded to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice, and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community. A well-deserved award for a thoughtful and classy player.
• The Avalanche and forward Ryan O'Reilly are back on a rocky road, after the club filed for arbitration. What will be the future of the team's leading goal-scorer?
• A warning track on the ice? Some local Massachusetts rinks are giving the "look up line" a try. It's an orange band that covers the area just around the boards, giving players a visual cue to "look up" and be aware of their surroundings before they hit or are driven into them.