Tag:Brian Stubits
Posted on: February 28, 2012 12:20 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 12:36 pm
 

Habs legend Beliveau hospitalized after stroke

Jean Beliveau. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The hockey world got a bit of frightening news on Tuesday when the Montreal Canadiens sent out a release saying legendary player Jean Beliveau was hospitalized after suffering a stroke on Monday.

"Now 80 years old, Mr. Beliveau is currently undergoing active investigation and treatments. As of today and for the duration of his convalescence Mr. Beliveau humbly asks everyone to respect his privacy and that of his family."

A Quebec native, Beliveau spent each of his 20 seasons in the NHL with the Canadiens beginning in 1950-51 until he retired after the 1970-71 season. He was a member of an incredible 10 Stanley Cup championship teams, or one ring for every finger (and thumb).

Beliveau also won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league MVP twice, the Art Ross once and the Conn Smythe once in a distinguished career.

In Hockey-Reference.com's all-time skater rankings, Beliveau comes in at No. 12 behind Nicklas Lidstrom and Raymond Bourque, ahead of Mike Bossy and Stan Mikita. That's quite the company he keeps.

For his career, Beliveau had 507 goals and 712 assists for 1,219 points in 1,125 regular-season games. He was just as good if not better in the postseason where he had 79 goals and 97 assists in 162 games, including 12 goals in 10 games in 1955-56.

A statue of Beliveau stands outside the Bell Centre in Montreal.

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

Posted on: February 28, 2012 12:11 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 12:47 pm
 

Nash: 'Felt I could be a huge part' of rebuild

By Brian Stubits

Just when you thought the Rick Nash story was going to die down after the trade deadline came and went with him still in Columbus, Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson decided to reveal at the post-deadline news conference that it was Nash who approached the team about a trade.

Well on Tuesday Nash had his first chance to talk about the trade deadline and his request to leave the only franchise he has ever known.

"I was informed by management that there was a rebuild, a reshape, of the team, and I personally felt I could be a huge part of that, toward bringing assets in," Nash said after the team's skate. "I think that was in my view that was the best thing for the team, the organization, and personally for my career."

It sounds noble to be sure. And I'm not even going to be the cynic here and say there's no truth to that, that Nash is trying to remain the good guy. He's been incredibly dedicated and loyal to that franchise, I believe he was interested in helping them build for the future.

Just don't be fooled into not reading that Nash just doesn't want to be part of it. The organization has more or less been in a perpetual state of rebuilding. Can't blame Nash for being ready to play on a winning team. He'll take the martyr role in the process.

Here is an interesting back and forth from today's media availability that allows you to read through the lines however you choose.

"I think the biggest thing is when management said they were going to make a rebuild and a reshape, I thought the best thing for the team and for the organization would be to get assets for me, and I thought it would be best for my career."

Reporter: "Best for your career, to go somewhere else?"

Nash: "To be part of the rebuild."

What will be interesting to see now is how the fans in Columbus treat Nash. They have beloved him as the face of the franchise for years. Now, we'll have to wait and see.

"I don’t know what to expect," Nash said. "I think I’ve been with these fans my whole 9-year, 10-year career here and I love them no matter what. They’re a great fan base, loyal. They’ve been patient with this organization and this team, and no matter what the reception is I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for our fans."

I'm going to go out on a limb here (not really) and say the overwhelming majority won't be mad at Nash. I doubt many if any of them could blame him for wanting to leave, whatever the reason. If his intentions really were as noble as he says then there's definitely no way they could feel scorn for him.

Now that Nash's retort is out of the way, this can be put on the backburner until the summer. On to the playoff push.

More from Eye on Hockey

Howson reveals Nash requested trade

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

Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:09 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 11:11 am
 

Fiddler's Bieksa imitation cracks Vigneault up

By Brian Stubits

Over the weekend, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault was seen on the Vancouver bench in hysterics. For a guy who seems to have the same face during games at all times, it was a treat to see. He just couldn't control himself, trying to hide behind his papers and conceal his red-faced laughter.

Kevin Bieksa was giving a good chuckle on the bench too. But why, exactly? What happened?

It was one wicked Bieksa imitation from Dallas Stars forward Vernon Fiddler that at first appeared to escape the cameras, but oh no, there's video. Thank goodness there was video.

Well done Fiddler. That's worthy of a solid A.

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

Posted on: February 28, 2012 10:02 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 2:09 pm
 

Morning Skate: Playoff outcasts meet in Toronto

Florida and Toronto haven't made the playoffs post-lockout. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

Playoff Race

7 ET, Florida at Toronto

Considering how the last six years have gone in the NHL, it's pretty amazing to think that we're talking about this game and playoff implications at the end of February. They are the only two franchises not to see the postseason in that stretch.

And there is certainly no guarantee both or even one are going to get in this go-round. That's especially true when talking about the Maple Leafs. In playoff position almost all season long, they have hit hard times in the month of February. The goalies are a mess (so it is still like the previous six years in Toronto). All told, the Leafs have lost four in a row and eight of their last nine. Their last regulation win? Feb. 6 vs. Edmonton.

Now they're three points back of Winnipeg (with three games in hand, mind you) and two behind Washington in the battle for that last playoff spot (five behind Florida if the Panthers fall out of the Southeast lead).

The Panthers this season, by the way, are 10-2-2 against Canadian teams. Not that that means all too much. But they're 2-0-0 against the Leafs including a 5-1 win in Toronto at the beginning of the season. And they've won three consecutive on the road.

Florida is guaranteed to be in first place still by the end of the night. But if they want to take their first Southeast crown in franchise history they'll need to win games like this against struggling teams like Toronto.

My question: Who will Capitals fans be rooting for while they're team plays the Islanders? The only way they're happy is as long as it's not a three-point game.

8 ET: Los Angeles at Minnesota

It's the same story, different day for Minnesota. If they lose you have to think they're done in the playoff race. I seem to write it all the time these days and every time they pull off the win. But chasing so many teams in the logjam ahead of them they aren't gaining much traction.

One of those teams ahead of them is in town on Tuesday night, so that helps. Especially when that team has about as hard a time scoring as the Wild. Actually harder, but they have a new addition in L.A. who is supposed to help out that department.

Coming into the night, the Wild continue to hang on by their chinny chin chin. They are five points back of the Stars and Avalanche who are tied with 70 points in the eighth spot. They're three back of the Kings. They have games in hand entering the night on all of them. So, you know, have to make those games count and all that, otherwise they're missed opportunities.

For the Wild keen an eye on veteran Matt Cullen. It might just be coincidental but he didn't have a single point in the Wild's seven-game losing streak but has scored a goal in three of the last four games. They are 3-1 in those games. I'll let you guess which one they lost.

10:30 ET, Philadelphia at San Jose

Welcome back home, Sharks. It must be nice to be swimming in friendly waters again after more than two weeks straight on the road. Philly is waiting for you.

San Jose's nine-game jaunt that began Feb. 12 in St. Louis wasn't very kind to them. They won only two of those games picking up five points in total. They lost a late lead in the final game and they're coach Todd McLellan was knocked out of the game by a fluke play near the bench. Oh, and they lost first place in the Pacific Division to the Coyotes.

So yeah, it's probably very nice to be back home.

And while they have to be tuckered out after playing that final road game on Sunday evening in Minnesota, the Flyers are going to be a well-rested group who has had some extra time to enjoy the sites of San Francisco and the Bay Area, having last played on Saturday in Calgary.

Philadelphia is comfortably in the playoffs, its fight is for the No. 4 seed. But San Jose? You will start to wonder if they're going to even make it here pretty soon if they lose tonight. I'm not saying it's panic time, it's certainly not. A road trip like that is brutal. But if they fail to get any points tonight, they will remain just one point ahead of the two teams in eighth. That starts making it pretty interesting.

Others worth watching

9 ET, Vancouver at Phoenix: Arguably the two hottest teams in the league right now (and not much argument for anybody else) this is a huge measuring stick game for the Coyotes. If they get at least one point tonight they will have earned a point in every game in the month of February. Only once so far have they failed to get two points this month -- a shootout loss to the Canucks, no less.

7 ET, Ottawa at Boston: These two renew acquaintances after the weekend's hotly contested game in Ottawa, a Bruins win. The spread is three in the division for the B's with games in hand, so head to head is Ottawa's best chance to gain ground. Look for some fireworks after last game and Kyle Turris' hit on Joe Corvo that avoided supplemental discipline.

7 ET, Islanders at Washington: Interestingly enough, the Isles are the only team from the Eastern Conference the Capitals haven't beaten this season. This is their third crack at them. With just one point the Caps vault into the eighth spot in the East with the Jets, two points give them the No. 8 spot all to themselves.

Your promised miscellany

  • Check out our brand new Facebook page and like us, because we like you!
  • Monday's Winners & Losers
  • After the Jets allowed four unanswered goals to the Oilers at home last night, Kyle Wellwod called it the "worst loss of the year." (Winnipeg Sun)
  • Did Cody Hodgson ask for a trade out of Vancouver? Canucks GM Mike Gillis won't say one way or the other. (The Province)
  • Sheldon Souray is back and it means the return of one of the best nicknames I've seen this season: Studly Wonderbomb. (Dallas Morning News)
  • Think Mike Mottau is happy to be a Bruin? “I always said that I’d take a puck in the teeth to play for the Boston Bruins,” said Mottau. “Now I’ll get that chance.” (CSN New England)
  • Lastly, here's a pretty neat inside look at what happens when NHL teams make a trade and the call they make to the league, this one the Hodgson-Zack Kassian swap. (Also, note that the Sabres and Canucks made two separate deals, Alexander Sulzer and Marc-Andre Gragnani were technically their own trade.)

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

Posted on: February 27, 2012 11:55 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 12:31 am
 

Winners & Losers: Avs get big win, others miss

By Brian Stubits

There's always a winner and a loser in the NHL, and this is a new nightly look at some of the winners and losers in the biggest games and biggest situations across the league.

Playoff Race

This isn't the trade deadline winners & losers (those are right here!) but from the winners & losers from the actual games that were played.

Winners

1. Colorado Avalanche

They are the one and only team that gets to land on the winner's side tonight. They were the only team who really needed it that scored a big win, taking down the Ducks in Colorado. And just in case there were any hopes left, probably ending Anaheim's playoff hopes in the process.

That deal that the Avs swung for Steve Downie has paid some nice dividends early. In the now four games he's played with his new team, Downie has himself two goals and five assists after notching two helpers on Monday night. Not so bad for a guy not exactly known for his scoring prowess.

With the win the Avs are back on the streaking side as they moved into a tie with the Dallas Stars for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They hold the ninth spot based on playing one more game than Dallas thus far, but with the rest of the West contenders for that last spot falling on Monday night, it's a very big two points.

[Related: Avalanche 4, Ducks 1]

Arnott's head dress. (Jeremy Rutherford)

2. Jason Arnott

The veteran Blues center had two goals to help the Blues take care of the the Flames in Calgary on Monday, arguably the top performer of the night.

With the win the Blues actually climbed back to .500 on the road this season. They've been very good at home and not near as much on the road, but they just rattled off their third road win in a row, perhaps taking care of one of the remaining questions about their ability to win in the postseason.

Perhaps more importantly is the fact that Arnott donned the Weenie Hat for his postgame interview with the media.

Like a lot of teams, the Blues have a postgame award that they hand out to the player of the game. The Rangers have the Broadway Hat, the Blackhawks have the championship belt, etc. The Blues did have a hard hat in exchange for the Weenie Hat.

NHL locker rooms really are fun places after wins.

3. Matt Duchene

The Avs already made the list on the winner side, but I had to include Duchene here.

Duchene gets the award for goal of the night by swatting in the bouncing puck saucered his way by Paul Stastny to give the Avs the insurance goal.

I'm going to take a guess and say Duchene played some baseball growing up. Great hand-eye coordination to finish that one off.

Losers

1. Viewers of Rangers and Devils

Oh sure, Henrik Lundqvist had another shutout and Martin Brodeur only gave up one goal. We could be lauding them for their fine performances. We would, if either had broken a sweat.

Lundqvist pitched a shutout, but the Devils only managed a measly 13 shots. In the entire game. The Rangers meanwhile only had 15. And one of those came on Ryan Callahan's empty-net goal.

Not even the hatred between the two teams could really make up for the general lack of excitement with the game itself being played. Things were just a little clogged up. Not that I blame either team for the way they play, it's just when their two styles come together it doesn't make for incredibly exciting hockey. This game had twice as many goals as their previous meeting.

[Related: Rangers 2, Devils 0 | Video: Clarkson's charge on Dubinsky]

2. Winnipeg Jets

The Jets are in the middle of a long homestand that has allowed them to get back in the Southeast Division race. They've been great on home ice all season in front of their rabid fan base.

That's why it hurts so much to lose to the Edmonton Oilers at home. Having played more games than anybody in the NHL, that's a perfect example of the game they have to win if they want to make the playoffs. Instead, they gave up four consecutive goals to Edmonton in the third period, the second worst team in the NHL record wise.

As a result, they remain two points back of Florida in the Southeast despite having played four more games than the Panthers. They do hold on to the eighth spot in the East but that too is very tenuous.

[Related: Oilers 5, Jets 3]

3. Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames

Each team is on the outside looking in for the last playoff spot in the West and both came up empty on Monday night.

Granted, each was playing one of the monsters of the Central Division, but the end result is the failure to get points out of the games.

It's particularly painful for Calgary, which lost another game at home, falling to the Blues. General manager Jay Feaster guaranteed to TSN earlier this week that his team will make the playoffs. Well if they're going to do that they need to win these games at home, of which they have a lot down the stretch run.

The Kings meanwhile were only able to muster one goal, and it came in the closing minutes. It's been the story for them all season, one which the acquisition of Jeff Carter is supposed to take care of, or at least help. But again, we'll grant them the stiff competition in the Predators and particularly Pekka Rinne. He's been pretty good lately.

[Related: Predators 2, Kings 1 | Blues 3, Flames 1]

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

Posted on: February 27, 2012 9:35 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 10:28 am
 

Video: Clarkson soars into Dubinsky for charging

By Brian Stubits

The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils game on Monday was exactly what you thought it would be. It was physical, "chippy" and low scoring. That chippiness was particularly evident.

One of the fights in the game, a quick tilt between David Clarkson of the Devils and Brandon Dubinsky of the Rangers was set off by Clarkson's charge into Dubinski.

Well, technically it was a charge but it was more like a leaping elbow. Perhaps Clarkson was trying to audition for next year's dunk contest with this one, the NBA could use a fresh take.

Now I haven't been right on very many of these lately, I admit I'm beginning to get lost on what's OK and what's not, but this one has to be deserving of a review from the league, doesn't it?

This is a classic case of intent vs. result. It might not draw a whole lot of attention because it didn't harm Dubinsky on the play. There was very little actual contact. But man oh man it would be nearly impossible to believe that there was no intention from Clarkson.

I've never been comfortable in the process of punishing guys based on what they say their intent is. But sometimes it's so obvious what the intent is that it can't be ignored. He leaped about a foot off the ice and came with an elbow flying high. What else could he be trying to do there?

I fear this doesn't get a second look from the league because of the lack of injury. But there's no place for that, I don't care if he connected or not. Clarkson obviously tried.

What do you think, will Clarkson's hit be reviewed by the league? Should it? Those are obviously not the same question.

More NHL Discipline news

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

Posted on: February 27, 2012 3:56 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 4:08 pm
 

Canucks ship Hodgson to Sabres for Kassian

By Brian Stubits

The biggest trade of the day -- by far, if you ask me -- came down some 40 minutes after the deadline. The Vancouver Canucks shipped young star Cody Hodgson and defenseman Alexander Sulzer to the Buffalo Sabres for former No. 1 draft pick and top prospect Zach Kassian as well as defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani.

Even on a more normal (see: busier) trade deadline day, that deal is going to make a lot of news. Hodgson is a big-time player who has been blocked from getting good ice time in Vancouver. But the idea of trading him didn't seem to be much of a good one with his potential. The problem is he plays center and the Canucks sort of have some good ones ahead of him. You might have heard of Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler.

This season playing bottom-6 minutes, Hodgson has 16 goals and 17 assists. He has been a player that the fans in Vancouver have rallied behind to get more ice time, but again there wasn't much of it for him to take.

So he gets sent to Buffalo for Kassian, who won't be blocked at the center spot. He's a true power winger who is rough and skilled. The best way to describe him is as a freight-train type on the ice, he isn't soft out there to be sure.

The addition of Gragnani for Sulzer in the deal makes it a lot more appetizing for Vancouverites. Sulzer is a bit of a journeyman defenseman who plays in the No. 5/No. 6 role when he actually does play (only 12 games with Vancouver this season) while Gragnani is inexperienced but still very young. This was the first season in which he played more than 10 games, appearing in 44 so far for the Sabres while scoring a goal and 11 assists while sporting a plus-10.

Giving up Hodgson definitely comes as a surprise but apparently he was expendable. And it helps the Canucks get something they could use, a little more grit and toughness. It's hard not to view this addition of Kassian as partly in preparation for a possible rematch with the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final based on last year's series. Bruins or not, it's a move to get a little tougher.

For Buffalo, it will be interesting to see if this satisfies the fan base's desire to see the team do something. It's been a very disappointing season, particularly based on the expectations for the Sabres so it was expected they'd do something. They waited until the very end by first trading Paul Gaustad to Nashville for a No. 1 draft pick and then this bombshell.

It's pretty easy to say that Hodgson is the big piece of this deal and he goes to Buffalo. But Kassian will have a role to fill in Vancouver without a doubt.

For the Canucks it was part of a busier day where they were determined to add some forward punch. In addition to the Kassian/Gragnani acquisition, they also landed Sami Pahlsson from the Blue Jackets and finished the day by getting Andrew Gordon from the Anaheim Ducks.

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

Posted on: February 27, 2012 3:34 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 8:22 pm
 

Nash stays put; Howson says Nash requested move

Columbus did exactly that, keeping No. 61. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The deadline has come and gone and Rick Nash remained with the Columbus Blue Jackets. That's going to make for an awkward end to what has been a very miserable season in Columbus.

Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson didn't help it become less awkward when he told the media at his post deadline news conference that it was Nash who approached the team about a trade, not the other way around.

"With respect to Rick Nash. He approached us and asked us to consider a trade. We agreed to accomodate his request as long as we could get a deal that would provide us with cornerstone pieces to help us compete for a Stanley Cup championship in the coming years," Howson said. "It did not happen by 3 o'clock today. This is too important to our franchise and our fans to do a deal that is not in our best interest. We pursued a number of options, but none provided the value back that we could justify trading a player of Rick's caliber.

"It doesn't really matter how close we were because it didn't happen. We had significant discussions today, but it didn't happen."

For the last two weeks the ebbs and flows of the Nash story were as constant as the ocean tides. The biggest name on the trade block by a long ways, the deals being discussed were more than blockbusters. They would have been franchise definers.

But much like the rest of the 2012 trade deadline, it didn't get done. Really, it exemplifies the entire deadline. It was a dull a trade deadline as we've seen in a long, long time. We thought last year was quiet with only 16 deals on deadline day. This year beat that by one deal.

All along the Jackets were demanding a very high price for Nash, and rightfully so. Scott Howson absolutely had to get a huge return for Nash and was dead set on getting it.

"The price was high and I don't apologize for that," Howson said. "It had to be high."

The Rangers, long viewed as the front-runners, were reportedly out on Sunday night of the Nash hunt. But they ramped it back up according to reports. A lot.

In fact, Darren Dreger of TSN said they made a very serious final push in the waning hours.

That mammoth offer? According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, this is what it looked like:

Columbus GM Scott Howson rejected what is believed a Rangers' final offer of Dubinsky, 21-year-old defenseman Tim Erixon, 2011 first-rounder J.T. Miller, 2010 second-rounder Christian Thomas and a first-round selection in this June's Entry Draft.

That didn't fit Howson's high price and I can't blame him too much. He wanted one of four guys (Michael Del Zotto, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh). The addition from previous reported offers was Christian Thomas, but it still wasn't enough.

Now all this means is that the talks will be put on hold. It really seems like this whole thing spun out of control so much that there is no way Nash can return to the Blue Jackets next season. The activity will pick up again in the summer time and you're likely going to see the same teams mentioned in the chase: The Rangers as well as the San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs. Nash's agent said his list of teams he'll accept a trade to won't expand in the summer, so there likely won't be many surprise contenders, but you never know.

"He's a member of our team right now, he's our captain," Howson said. "That's not going to change, nothing's going to change. Obviously we are going to look at all of our options as we move forward. We'll see what happens once we get around the draft and this summer."

Howson essentially backed the bus up over his captain today. In no way did he really help this situation with his comments. Admitting that Nash came to him wasn't a great start to rehabbing the image, nor is it good in his pursuit of getting a great return. It became even more clear after this that Nash can't remain in Columbus now. He actively wants out and now everybody knows that. That strengthens the suitors' resolve in not caving to Howson's demands. Eventually if anyone caves you have to think it is Howson.

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