Welcome back, dearest readers, and a most joyous of summer solstices to thee and thine. Let me start by expressing how grateful I feel that in both semi-final series of these Stanley Cup playoffs, the heavily discounted underdogs have put up a fight and kept things interesting. While no one around here wants to see Montreal fans happy and I had forgotten that the Islanders existed for years until they acquired JG Pageau, Vegas fans don’t deserve happiness because they just got here, and Ottawa’s expansion brethren in Tampa also deserve some misfortune of some sort after winning another championship last summer. So without further ado, the news and such:
- Longtime friend of the franchise and former assistant coach of the Ottawa Senators (and former head coach of the Binghamton Senators) Luke Richardson won his first NHL game as a head coach on Friday night as he took the helm for Montreal Canadiens bench boss Dominique Ducharme after the latter received a positive COVID-19 test result pre-game. Richardson continues to honour the legacy of his late daughter Daron through the Do It For Daron campaign to raise and promote mental health awareness, and Sens fans will always embrace the Richardson family for all they continue to do to inspire positive change in our community and across the country.
- Elsewhere around the NHL, the league continues to hand out the hardware throughout the postseason. Defender Jaccob Slavin of the Carolina Hurricanes won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship with just two penalty minutes through 52 games played this season. Florida’s Sasha Barkov ousted favourites Patrice Bergeron and Mark Stone for the Frank Selke Trophy for top defensive forward. Unsurprisingly, head coach Rod Brind’Amour took the Jack Adams Award with 36 wins and a divisional title in this abridged NHL season.
- Now former Senators’ goaltender Marcus Hogberg confirmed his departure from Ottawa, signing with his former SHL team Linköping for the next four seasons. As one of those fans who had big expectations for Hoggy since he last played in the SHL, I hope this move gets his professional career back on track. Could we see the Hogburglar back in the NHL in 2025?
- In other local news, Eugene Melnyk held up his end of the bargain(!?) lending the Canadian Tire Centre as a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site in collaboration with the Ottawa Hospital. Those getting jabbed at the CTC can also bring non-perishable food items to donate, per the team.
- Donnovan Bennett did a great write-up about Willie O-Ree Community Hero Award winner Kevin Hodgson and the HEROS program. Through HEROS, executive director Hodgson makes hockey accessible for children and teens who would otherwise not have the means to participate. Across the country Hockey Education Reaching Out Society sponsors kids from age-10 through high school without the families incurring any cost. Despite the myriad voices echoing the sentiment that hockey remains inaccessible for far too many kids who could benefit most from participation, few organizations are bridging the gap like HEROS.
- And finally, in extremely troubling news, Rick Westhead reports that despite reports of sexual abuse perpetrated by former video coach Brad Aldrich, Chicago’s hockey organization refused to file a report to local authorities. I’ll include a content warning on the link as the article includes disturbing details of the reports from two former Chicago players. After departing from Chicago in 2010, Aldrich went on to work in university hockey, and his since been charged, convicted, and sentenced for criminal sexual conduct. The litigation remains active in the case between the team and the victims.