Top Line: Rich Clune's candid interview; beyond advanced statistics; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Tired of the bland, programmed responses hockey players tend to offer in interviews? Then by all means run, don't walk, to read this refreshingly honest Q and A with the Predators' Rich Clune, in which he discusses the player he most wants to punch, the hottest wife of a player in the NHL and the importance of not texting pictures of one's manhood. The language gets a bit salty—OK, very salty—but it's a great read.
• Bob McKenzie says that there's no point in arguing about the value of such advanced stats as Corsi and Fenwick because they are ancient history to NHL teams. He offers a bit of insight into what metrics clubs actually find useful these days.
• The Penguins hiring of Jacques Martin gives you an idea of the concepts discussed by McKenzie at work. Pittsburgh's new assistant coach be tasked with studying other Eastern Conference teams and evaluating how to make the Pens more effective against them.
• Rob Rossi says that Mike Johnston's trip to visit Evgeni Malkin in Moscow might be the most important moment of the coach's debut season. The challenge? Convince Malkin to make the Penguins his team.
• The roots planted by the Coyotes have never quite seemed to be firmly planted in Arizona, but the impact of the team on the development of the game in the state is nevertheless impressive. Jerry Brown looks at a growing group of Arizona prospects who took to the sport thanks to the 'Yotes.
• Fully recovered from the bout with meningitis that nearly ended his life, Canadiens prospect Tim Bozon has his sights set on playing himself back into shape with the French national team.
• The Rangers reached a deal with forward Chris Kreider on Wednesday that brings New York's salary cap situation into sharp focus. Larry Brooks points out that the team has just $9 million left to spend on two or three defenseman (including RFA John Moore), arbitration-eligible center Derick Brassard and two or three wingers. Tight, sure, but Glen Sather should come in under the wire.
• Adrian Dater considers the 11th hour deal between Ryan O'Reilly and the Avalanche and feels the potential is there for a long and happy future between the two sides.
• If O'Reilly and Colorado could find mutually acceptable middle ground without the services of an arbitrator, then surely Montreal and Lars Eller can do the same, right? But with $1.5 million separating the two sides and a Friday deadline approaching, negotiations could go down to the wire.
• Leon Draisatl hopes that a commitment to spending the summer training in Edmonton puts him on the fast track to a job with the Oilers. Considering how thin the team is down the middle, it wouldn't be surprising to see the third pick from the 2014 Draft at least start the season with the big team.
• Was Philip Danault a wasted first-round pick by the Blackhawks? That's not the conclusion of Tracey Myers, who explains here that the team is asking him to model his game after that of Marcus Kruger. But when the bar for a top selection is being set at a bottom-six role after one year as a pro, it's fair to wonder if that's all Chicago saw for him when he was drafted in 2011.
• The last NHL draft was highlighted by prospects with NHL bloodlines, but it's not just sons who are following in the footsteps of their fathers. William Douglas introduces us to Cassandra Vilgrain, a forward at New Hampshire and the daughter of former Devils winger Claude Vilgrain.
• Jason Botchford offers an interesting take on why the Sedins have dodged criticism in Vancouver despite their lousy performances in 2013–14. Not sure I buy Botchford's “survivor's guilt” theory, though. I think the credit belongs to a sophisticated fan base that understands the twins were hampered by being forced to play the style of hockey favored by former Canucks coach John Tortorella.
• The NHL's Sustainability Report wasn't simply a perfunctory nod to environmental awareness by the league. It was the league's statement that global climate change poses a danger to the future of the game itself.