Top Line: Henrik Lundqvist nearly a Star; Pens eye Pierre McGuire; more
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Henrik Lundqvist might be the greatest draft pick in New York Rangers history, but he almost became a Dallas Star back on draft day in 2000. Here's the story of how New York lucked into the man who might lead them to the Stanley Cup.
• Mike Vaccaro says Los Angeles is a city of sporting thieves and it's about time it came at New York with a team of its own. And with that, the war of words between the cities columnists commences...
• On paper, this year's Los Angeles Kings look better than the edition that won it all in 2012. So why has their road to the Cup been so much harder this time?
• Just because Rangers coach Alain Vigneault has been effusive in his praise of Los Angeles doesn't mean that New York is afraid of the big, bad Kings. It doesn't sound like he's looking to embrace the underdog role, either. Smart move. There's already enough belief in the room, so there's no need for a "just happy to be here" act. The Rangers are in it to win it.
• Here's the reality facing die-hard Rangers fans: it's cheaper to fly to L.A. and buy a ticket then to pony up in New York.
• Stephen Whyno lists five factors that could swing the outcome of the Cup final, including the Kings' experience and the extra days of rest that were afforded the Rangers.
• He kind of looks like that crazy uncle who shows up every Thanksgiving mumbling about something no one quite understands, but Los Angeles sure loves it some Darryl Sutter.
• Dustin Brown knows that Kings fans are down on Jonathan Quick, but says the team has full faith in its goaltender.
• Jeff Z. Klein thinks those six days of R 'n' R will give the Blueshirts a significant edge in the final.
• The Rangers and Kings have locked horns before, as this wild vintage video shows.
• He hasn't died yet. Meet the man behind the most famous fan sign in hockey history.
• Bucky Gleason says this year's dream-come-true final four proves that good management is rewarded in the parity-bound NHL.
• Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin sounded like the calm voice of reason as he wrapped up the Canadiens' season and talked sparingly about the future at his year-end press conference. He has some tough decisions ahead of him this summer, and his keeping Andrei Markov and Mike Weaver isn't the sure bet that many of the team's fans believe. With so many young prospects knocking on the door, Bergevin may decide to clear space on the blueline.
• Canadiens mascot Youppi made good on his bet with talk show host Jimmy Fallon. Here's the sad photographic evidence.
• Adrian Dater looks behind the code to meet the people behind the most popular advanced stats sites on the web.
• Rogers Communications has revealed the four announcers who will anchor its NHL coverage this year. It's a solid group, especially with one familiar face returning from overseas, but I wish they would have found a spot for Gord Miller.
• Sources at the NHL Scouting Combine this past weekend say Florida and Buffalo received multiple offers for their top picks and both are likely to be in play ahead of the draft.
• Nick Ritchie and Jake Virtanen top the list of prospects who intrigue Winnipeg at No. 9 overall.• Two sons of famous hockey fathers are trying to prove they're more than just recognizable last names as they carve their own paths to the NHL.