Tag:Nashville Predators
Posted on: August 31, 2011 6:10 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 11:35 pm
 

Wade Belak found dead

Belak

By: Adam Gretz

What has been an incredibly sad offseason in the NHL continued to get worse with the news that recently retired defenseman Wade Belak was found dead in a Toronto condo on Wednesday afternoon according to the Toronto Sun. He was 35 years old.

Belak, selected 12th overall in the 1994 Entry Draft by the Quebec Nordiques, spent 14 seasons in the NHL as a member of the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and, most recently, the Nashville Predators. In 549 career games he scored eight goals and tallied over 1,263 penalty minutes.

He announced his retirement back in March.

On Wednesday evening the Predators organization released the following statement:
“The entire Nashville Predators organization and family is shocked and saddened by the sudden and untimely passing of Wade Belak. Wade was a beloved member of the organization, a terrific teammate and wonderful father and husband. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Jennifer and children Andie and Alex. We offer our full support to them at this very difficult time.”
Belak's name was in the news earlier this month when it was announced that he was going to appear in CBC's Battle of the Blades, which is basically Canada's on ice version of Dancing With The Stars

His primary role in the NHL was as an enforcer and fighter, which will make it easy for everyone to immediately connect his death to the recent passings of Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien, both of whom were also fighters. Whether there's any connection or not, it's been a very disturbing couple of months.

According to Hockeyfights.com Belak was involved in over 125 fights during his NHL career.

I never met Belak or had an opportunity to speak with him, but just about every person that did meet him and work with him throughout his 15-year NHL career has shared pretty much the same opinion on Wednesday night: He was an amazing person to be around and always -- always -- a fantastic player to interview.

You can find plenty of examples of his personality on YouTube, including just about every episode of the "Wade a Minute" segment that was filmed during his tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Here are a couple of examples:



Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: August 26, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: August 27, 2011 10:17 am
 

Daily Skate: Islanders getting closer to playoffs

By Brian Stubits

CLOSING IN: The New York Islanders continue to rebuild, seemingly getting closer to the playoffs with each passing season. Now they are at a point of at least being competitive for the playoffs. That's what four different NHL pro scouts told Chris Botta at Islanders Point Blank. "They'll be in the playoff race in the East until the end." It isn't exactly a large sample size, but four scouts all recognizing the growth of the franchise is a sign that things are getting better for fans on the island.

THINKING LONG TERM: Just because the Predators and Shea Weber couldn't work out a deal before arbitration and the player won the biggest award ever in a hearing, doesn't mean the two sides are ready to sever ties after next year. Nashville will have the daunting task of re-signing all three of Weber, Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne with conventional wisdom being they can't bring all three of them back. The assumption was that it could be Weber because of the cost of keeping him this offseason, but that's not necessarily the case (The Sports Xchange). Weber recognizes the negotiations for what they were when asked if things are OK with the club: "Yeah, for sure. I think that was just part of the business.

OUT OF TOUCH: The troubles of staying on the cutting edge of modern communication is brought to light by Adrian Dater of sportsillustrated.com. He points out that as players are never seen without their headphones or iPod when they travel any more, the classic team bonding of yesteryear isn't happening as often. It's a very interesting and salient point made that coaches and team executives are more than vexed by.

A-MAZE-ING: When Tim Thomas took the Stanley Cup to his hometown of Davison, Mich., he was met with many a dedication, one of which being a corn maze of him lifting up the Stanley Cup (from Puck Daddy). Well, not to be outdone are the non-Thomas fans in Michigan, mostly the Red Wings fans. Check out this corn maze of a Winged Wheel and a "Go Wings" scribbled in it in the Casco Township. Time for a battle of the corn! (Photo courtesy of Twitpic.)

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.


Posted on: August 18, 2011 7:32 pm
 

National TV schedule is out; light on Predators

By Brian Stubits

So the national television game schedules were released by the NHL on Thursday, and all in all it's what you would expect. It features a lot of the Red Wings, Bruins, Capitals, Flyers, Blackhawks, Rangers and Penguins -- the usual suspects.

It's clear why they are on the tube so much. They have earned it with their play on the ice and the fan support off it. It's only smart business for a league that is the lowest of the USA's four major sports leagues in interest and viewership.

But how about the teams making the fewest appearance? It's some of what you'd expect. The Columbus Blue Jackets, at this point, will not grace the networks of NBC or Versus (or whatever the station will be named this season), not even once. The Florida Panthers will be seen nationwide on one occasion -- a date with the Penguins. Those are pretty understandable. It would be nice to see a little more of them, but it makes sense. They are rebuilt rosters, but have been bad for some time and don't exactly have large followings (we're being kind).

Next on the list, though, is the Nashville Predators. The Preds will be seen on national TV just twice. The only thing against the Preds is that they are in a small, southern market. But the quality of the team warrants a few more games than this. It's possible they will get flexed onto national coverage late in the season, but either way, it's a shame they are being left out save two games. After all, the Predators did make it into the second round of the playoffs last season, hockey's equivalent of the Elite Eight.

While upset, the people over at the Section 303 blog, a Predators destination, aren't surprised by the stiff.

Staying in the Western Conference, the Minnesota Wild will get quite a bit more air time despite not making the playoffs for the third straight season last year. In all, the Wild will be broadcast from sea to shining sea 10 times.

Here are the U.S. channel schedules, starting with NBC. I hope you like the Keystone State battles. (Source: NHL.com)

NBC schedule
Day Date Visitor Home Eastern time Notes
Fri. 11/25 Detroit Boston 1 p.m. N/A
Mon. 1/2 N.Y. Rangers Philadelphia 1 p.m. Winter Classic
Sat. 1/14 Chicago Detroit 12:30 p.m. N/A
Sun. 1/22 Boston Philadelphia 3 p.m. N/A
Sun. 1/22 Washington Pittsburgh 3 p.m. N/A
Sun. 2/12 Washington N.Y. Rangers 3 p.m. NBC/VS Flex
Sun. 2/12 Philadelphia Detroit 7:30 p.m. NBC/VS Flex
Sun. 2/19 Pittsburgh Buffalo 12:30 p.m. N/A
Sun. 2/19 San Jose Detroit 12:30 p.m. N/A
Sun. 2/19 St. Louis Chicago 3 p.m. N/A
Sun. 2/19 Boston Minnesota 3 p.m. N/A
Sun. 3/4 Boston N.Y. Rangers 3 p.m. NBC/VS Flex
Sun. 3/4 Philadelphia Washington 7 p.m. NBC/VS Flex
Sun. 3/11 Los Angeles Chicago 7 p.m. NBC/VS Flex
Sun. 3/11 Boston Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m. NBC/VS Flex
Sun. 3/18 Pittsburgh Philadelphia 3 p.m. NBC/VS Flex
Sun. 3/18 Washington Chicago 7 p.m. NBC/VS Flex
Sun. 4/1/ Boston N.Y. Rangers 3 p.m. NBC/VS Flex
Sun. 4/1 Philadelphia Pittsburgh 7:30 p.m. NBC/VS Flex
Sat. 4/7 Buffalo Boston 3 p.m. NBC/VS Flex
Sat. 4/7 Washington N.Y. Rangers 3 p.m. NBC/VS Flex
Sat. 4/7 Philadelphia Pittsburgh 4 p.m. NBC/VS Flex
Sun. 4/7 Chicago Detroit 4 p.m. NBC/VS Flex

Now here's the full schedule for Versus/NBC Sports Network.

Finally, here's how it will go on the NHL Network.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 17, 2011 9:06 am
Edited on: August 17, 2011 2:16 pm
 

Daily Skate: The NHL's new fight

By: Adam Gretz

THE NHL'S NEW FIGHT: As reactions to Rick Rypien's death continue to pour in, National Post columnist Bruce Arthur put together a tremendous column on Tuesday nighttalking about the new fight that the NHL has on its hands: depression. Writes Arthur:
we don’t know enough about why he might have been depressed, about whether fighting was a trigger for that depression. We just know that he suffered from a disease that is still not understood in society, or in sports. Studies have shown that depression is severely underreported in professional sport; even if this case, in which the Canucks attempted to procure various avenues of treatment without putting pressure on the young man, Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis admits they didn’t have an established course to follow. “There is,” he said, “no blueprint.”
The entire column is definitely interesting and worth checking out.

SOME POSITIVE ATTENTION FOR LEBDA: Defenseman Brett Lebda was recently bought out by the Nashville Predators after they acquired him following what was a disappointing run with the Toronto Maple Leafs. His play was the butt of many jokes in Detroit (his first NHL team) and Toronto, and Michael Petrella of The Production Line points out a lot of the positive things he's been able to do throughout his career.

CHECK OUT BRYZGALOV'S NEW MASK: Apparently, Ilya Bryzgalov likes tigers because they are featured on what is supposedly his new mask that he'll wear as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. InGoal Magazine has the pictures.

LEAGUE TO TEST CURVED GLASS: The Research, Development and Orientation camp kicks off today in Ontario, and Dan Rosen of NHL.com has a look at one of the possible changes the league will be testing: curved glass that would replace the padded turnbuckles that used to sit near the end of the player benches.

ALFREDSSON RETURNS TO ICE: Ottawa Senators forward hit the ice for the first time since early February and managed to skate for more than an hour on Tuesday. The session appears to have been a success as the veteran winger said "it felt good to be back on the ice," via Martin Cleary of the Ottawa Citizen. The Senators can certainly use him -- and his offense -- this upcoming season.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: August 16, 2011 10:25 am
 

Daily Skate: Ovie endorsement; Isles under review

By Brian Stubits

I'M KIND OF A BIG DEAL: Alexander Ovechkin is always endorsing something. He and Sidney Crosby are undoubtedly the NHL's endorsement Kings. The latest for Ovie? His face being plastered (alexovetjkin.blogspot.com) on the Canadian candy bar Mr. Big Deal. Underneath a smiling Alex is the slogan "Be a big deal like me."

REPLAY REVIEW: The Islanders' plan to have a viewing party to re-watch the game against the Penguins that erupted into the Royal Rumble has drawn a lot of attention across the hockey world. Apparently it caught the NHL's eyes, too. Kevin Allen at USA Today writes that the NHL is "looking into" the promotion, with deputy commissioner Bill Daly saying "We do not approve of the use, based on what we know."

R.I.P. RIPPER: The tragic news came down late Monday that Winnipeg Jets enforcer Rick Rypien was found dead in his home. There is still a lot more to come out on that story. In the meantime, remembrances are pouring in all over Twitter of the player affectionately called the Ripper. Here's an example from Mike Commodore: "RIP Rick Rypien. He was a warrior. Hit me so hard my eyes couldn't focus for 30 secs. Not sure if it was a left or right. #hitmewithboth" USA Today offered up a photo gallery of Rypien's career.

PENS IN DEMAND: The Penguins continue to sell tickets like hot cakes. The team announced this morning that they are again capping the season-ticket sales at 15,000 for the season. That just continues the run in Pittsburgh where the Pens have sold out the last 210 games, which includes every game for the last four seasons.

SMAHSVILLE CELEB SHOW: The game isn't the only attraction in Nashville when you talk Predators hockey. The games are a hotspot for celebrities, too, mostly from the country music world. Nashville is, after all, the home of country. So in further embracing the city's country music roots and promoting the team, the Preds put together (Section 303) a bit of a montage of the scene at games in Nashville.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 15, 2011 10:10 am
Edited on: August 15, 2011 10:24 am
 

Daily Skate: 2012 free agents; bald man's hero

By Brian Stubits

FREE AGENT OUTLOOK: This year's free-agent class hasn't even taken to the ice, but Kevin Allen at USA Todayis already taking a look to next year's class. This summer, the Devils' Zach Parise was one of the higher-rated restricted free agents to be had, and next year he'll go through the process again after getting a one-year contract in New Jersey, but this time he'll be unrestricted. On Allen's list for next year, he sits second among the available, behind Predators defenseman Ryan Suter ... the other big-time blue-liner in Nashville.

BALD IS BEAUTIFUL: Mark Messier is a hero, according to Bald Celebrity (hat tip to Puck Daddy). That's the site that dubbed the former Oilers and Rangers star a bald hockey hero, eloquently writing this: "It takes a real man to handle the pressure of leading a New York sports franchise; a real bald man. It takes an even manlier, and an even balder man though, to have led the 1994 New York Rangers NHL Team to a Stanley Cup Championship. Does this epically manly and epically bald man exist? Yes, yes he does; and his name is Mark Messier."

CAPITAL WEDDING: There is always one piece of advice I give to guys who are engaged, and it's not run away or anything like that. Instead I say tell the wife-to-be that you want a wedding theme based on your favorite sports team, or Star Wars. Stick to your guns and you get out of the planning process. But that wouldn't work for this guy as he and his wife went all out with a full-on Capitals theme at their wedding, even having festivities at the team's practice facility and getting the Caps P.A. announcer to introduce them. Pretty impressive.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 12, 2011 10:14 am
 

Daily Skate: Lucic Cup day muted; injury updates

By Brian Stubits

LOUSY FOR LUCIC: The Stanley Cup continues to make the rounds among the Bruins, and now it's Milan Lucic's turn. He was the player that had the honor of raising the Cup in his hometown, being met with a mixture of cheers and boos. As we have seen already this summer, a lot of players like to bring the Cup home and share it with the public, but Lucic won't be doing that seeing as how rough some in Vancouver took the Canucks' Finals loss. There was even a party slated for a beach that was scrapped due to fear of hooligans ruining the day. Instead he will have a low-key affair (The Bruins Blog) at his Vancouver home with some family and friends. It's the smart move, but that doesn't make it any less sad to hear.

INJURY ISSUES: When the Maple Leafs traded for Cody Franson and Matthew Lombardi, there was some trepidation considering Lombardi missed almost the entirety of last season after suffering the second concussion of his career. Kevin Allen at USA Today says the Leafs and Lombardi are expecting him to be present when camp begins. Allen also goes on to offer updates on a bunch of other injured players such as David Perron, Sidney Crosby and Jonas Hiller.

REWRITING HISTORY: The Minneapolis Star-Tribune is doing a summer series on a bunch of what-if scenarios in Minnesota sports, the latest being on if the North Stars never left the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Sure, the city would have a championship to boast about in the last 20 years, but it wouldn't have the Wild and the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Worth the robbing of the team?

DOUGHTY SPECULATION: The negotiations go on and on and on in the Drew Doughty talks with the Kings, the possibility growing that they will continue well into September. So while we all wait, Red Light District decided to take a gander at what Doughty's contract should be worth, which should put him at the top of the Kings payroll.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 11, 2011 8:45 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2011 4:23 pm
 

Kostitsyn not happy with Jacques Martin

KostitsynBy: Adam Gretz

Andrei Kostitsyn has never been a model of consistency in the NHL, but he did manage to score 20 goals in 81 games for the Montreal Canadiens last season, good enough for the third best total on the club, trailing only Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec. Not a great season, but definitely not a poor one as a 20-goal effort in the NHL is nothing to look down on.

Still, the 25-year-old Kostitsyn appears to be unhappy with his head coach, Jacques Martin, and recently sounded off on his role with the team that drafted him in the first-round (10th overall) back in 2003.

In an interview with Goals By, a publication out of Belarus, Kostitsyn said his relationship with Martin is "not too good," and added "It wasn't me who started to play badly, it's just that I was being put into (the) third and fourth line. I've tried talking to (Jacques Martin) more than once. But he doesn't care."

Of course, Kostitsyn spent a great deal of time this past season playing on Montreal's top lines, skating alongside Mike Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec, as well as Brian Gionta. All three of those guys were among Montreal's top-scorers and offensive threats last season, and not exactly chopped liver when it comes to talented linemates. Granted, he did see time with bottom-six players like Travis Moen and Lars Eller, but the majority of his time was spent with top-line talent and with top-line even strength minutes.

Kostitsyn's younger brother, Sergei, was also a member of the Canadiens organization for a number of years, and also had his share of problems with Martin. He was ultimately traded to Nashville last offseason where he went on to to lead the Predators with 23 goals in 2010-11, his best season to date in the NHL.

It should be interesting to see how the Canadiens organization decides to deal with the oldest Kostitsyn brothers given his apparent problems with the teams coach.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com