The free agency frenzy is in full force, we’ve seen some questionable decisions, some good trades but not that big splash we’re all so curious about it. Where will Jack Eichel end up? Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting pieces to come out of this week and more interesting news from around the league.
- When the Las Vegas Golden Knights began their NHL journey, they needed a “face of the franchise”. It’s hard to do when your team is basically a collection of players you took from other teams, some of which weren’t pleased about it. However, there was one player who embraced the Knights and made every effort to make that team his own. Marc-Andre Fleury became the face of that franchise before the draft even began. He has played considerably well for them the past 4 years and was even won the Vezina this season. How did they reward him? A twitter trade! Fleury had one season left on his contract, he obviously didn’t want to move and now he’s in a situation where he may be forced to retire because he doesn’t want to join the Chicago Blackhawks. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to simply have that conversation with one of your top players and not contacting your player after you’ve traded him is definitely not a knightly thing to do.
- The Montreal Canadiens had a real fall from grace since their appearance in the Stanley Cup final. The whole saga with Carey Price turned out to be an overblown stunt in a sense and Price will indeed be okay to start the season. That was the “best part” of their offseason though. The 2021 NHL draft was all fun and exciting until Marc Bergevin decided to draft Logan Mailloux. By now everyone knows who Mailloux us and why this was a disastrous choice. Bergevin defended himself by saying they want to help him evolve and be a better person. The reactions were not friendly and many expected the Habs to take a step back and maybe risk losing that pick. Instead, in the middle of the first day of the NHL free agency, Geoff Molson released a statement apologizing for letting his fans and the victim down as well as outlining an “action plan” to help Mailloux earn his spot. Not only was the timing insulting but the sheer disregard for how big of a crime his actions were is just stunning. Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (a Habs fan) found it necessary to come out and speak about it. Then they went on to sign Mike Hoffman just to make everyone has the right image of how low that team is willing to go.
- Speaking of the NHL’s questionable culture, the Carolina Hurricanes have recently risen to high levels of respect and lovability. Everyone liked that nice team that brings its fans together and goes outside the box. They even took a strong stance against racism last season and were applauded for it. Then free agency came around and somehow bringing in Tony DeAngelo seemed like a good idea? If you didn’t know who DeAngelo was, you’re lucky. But the defenseman has had a series of racist incidents and has been known for hos controversial takes on twitter. He has basically lost all respect from fans around the league and teams have realized he was a major red flag. Not the Hurricanes. The double standards in this league have become a bit too much to handle. So next time when the NHL says “Hockey is for Everyone”, they actually mean everyone; yes even those poor players who just need another chance.
- Onto a well respected super star whose only crime was destroying your favourite hockey team and celebrating his feats a little too loudly. Alexander Ovechkin is officially finishing his career with the Washington Capitals after signing a 5-year deal that should take him to retirement or at least the end of his NHL career. Ovechkin stated previously that he’d like to finish his career in Russia so we’ll see when that happens. The more important question is, will he catch up to Wayne Gretzky’ elusive record? Well he needs an average of 32 goals per season left on his contract. If anyone’s going to do it, it’ll definitely be him and he will be deserving of that crown.
- While the Olympics are still a wide unknown for NHL players, the break in the schedule was a nice first step. Team USA wasted no time getting ready to assemble the team and has named Penguins coach Mike Sullivan as Head Coach. Hopefully that inspires another Crosby gold-winning goal for Team Canada.