Top 5

Kyle Clifford

Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford is known for taking — and receiving — some of the most punishing checks in the NHL. He lists teammates Dustin Brown and Matt Greene among the hardest hitters in the game. Who are his hardest-hitting opponents?



  1. Ryane Clowe

  2. Milan Lucic

  3. Niklas Kronwall

  4. Cal Clutterbuck

  5. Alexander Ovechkin



NHL Confidential

James NealTravis Mathew Apparel specializes in casual menswear for on and off the golf course. It’s a favorite of Wayne Gretzky as well as current NHL stars James Neal, Dustin Penner, Scottie Upshall and Ryan Getzlaf. “That laid-back, SoCal athletic vibe resonates with a lot of guys who want to look good during an off-day on the golf course,” said Leif Sunderland, the marketing director for the Seal Beach, Calif.-based retailer. travismathew.com.

JP

On Jay Bouwmeester, Doug Jarvis, Glenn Hall, and hockey’s iron men.

Why is an "iron man" streak in hockey more impressive than one in any other team sport? Ask Jay Bouwmeester. (Getty Images)

Why is an “iron man” streak in hockey more impressive than one in any other team sport? Ask Jay Bouwmeester.

When Cal Ripken Jr. played his 2,131st consecutive baseball game for the Baltimore Orioles in 1995, the sitting President and Vice President of the United States were on hand to watch. Bruce Hornsby and Branford Marsalis performed the National Anthem. Drop the number “2131” in Baltimore and many Orioles fans still understand the reference.

When Doug Jarvis played his 915th consecutive hockey game for the Hartford Whalers in 1986, he received a standing ovation from the fans at the Hartford Civic Center Coliseum. There could not have been more than 15,126 fans cheering, because the building could not accommodate more than 15,126 fans. Drop the number “915” in Hartford and it might accurately reference the number of Whalers fans still living in Hartford, since the team hasn’t existed in 17 years.

Doug Jarvis? Who’s that?

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On Slava Voynov and domestic violence: Adding nuance to a hot topic.

Slava Voynov arrestThe headline of an article published on Boston.com today asks, “Why Are We So Mum On The NHL’s Response To Domestic Violence?”

The question grabbed me a bit more than usual. Just last night I took 15 minutes out of my evening to discuss the NHL’s response to domestic violence with Norm Rumack on SiriusXM Canada.

But hey, maybe I was missing something.

Turns out I was not.

To begin with, it’s a flawed question. Some of us are discussing the topic — on a radio station with more than 1.8 million subscribers at last count.

That might be a smaller audience than most Ray Rice-related dialogue, and the second paragraph of the story asks, “why aren’t we talking more about this”?

OK.

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NHL power rankings, in 30 words or less.

Less is more.

There is power in brevity.

Check out these 30-words-or-less power rankings to kick off the NHL season in rapid fashion:

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Order is restored: A 2014-15 college hockey preview.

Boston College hockey

Boston College lost the most talented contributor to its 2014 NCAA championship team. (Dave Arnold | New England Hockey Journal)

The 2014 college hockey season was interesting, to say the least.

The Big Ten Conference began play, which led some teams to willingly leave an old conference or grudgingly move to a new one. The teams in the NCHC couldn’t wait to get out, while the remaining CCHA teams were forced to say goodbye.

The preseason rankings were a little off. Miami University began as the number-two team in the country and the consensus pick to win the NCHC. They finished last in the conference and missed the NCAA tournament. Michigan was also predicted to make the tourney again, then finished a distant third in the Big Ten. After a 22-year run, the Wolverines have missed the tournament the last two seasons. Things have been a little rough lately in Ann Arbor; at least the hockey team is doing better than the football team.

Finally, there were some surprises in the national tournament.

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NHL Expansion: Ranking the nine cities most likely to get a team.

Secret Season rink

The NHL expansion rumor mill has been heating up in recent weeks with a pair of reports connecting the NHL to Las Vegas as a done deal (Tony Gallagher’s column in the Vancouver Province and Howard Bloom’s Sports Business News tweet:

The NHL was quick to shoot down these reports, but perhaps this is a situation where when there is smoke, there is fire, as the NHL has a least looked a few places for future teams in the past calendar year.

Maybe the NHL doesn’t really need expansion and 30 teams are enough, but considering the potential windfall to the league’s ownership by adding teams, and you can almost bet on the NHL expanding in the not-so distant future. Thirty-two or 34 teams would make sense as the next logical step, and if you believe the reports that are out there, it might happen as soon as 2016-2017, the NHL’s centennial season.

Here is a quick evaluation of nine potential NHL expansion or relocation cities in order from most likely to get a team by 2025 to least likely:

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Ten years later, awakening the lost NHL season: Part II

Editor’s Note: This is the second of two pieces hypothesizing what might have happened if the 2004-05 season hadn’t been cancelled.

It is September 2004. NHL training camps have opened for business. The surprising Tampa Bay Lightning are the defending champions. Hope springs eternal across Canada, where the national Stanley Cup drought has reached a seemingly interminable ten seasons. Across the Detroit river, the Red Wings are looking strong. That’s been the case most years of late — every year from 1996 to 2000 the Wings either won the Cup or were eliminated by the Avalanche — but no, this season is special.

A miraculous 11th-hour bargaining session allowed the NHL to avoid a work stoppage, ensuring a full 82-game season. The miracle was in the details. The players’ union agreed to an unprecedented salary-cap structure, taking a small step toward achieving competitive balance among markets large and small. The owners agreed to tweak the rules to improve the style and speed of the game. The era of so-called “clutch and grab” hockey is dead. Speedy skaters can speed without fear of mutilation at the hands of gargantuan defenders. The game is faster and more exciting. More scoring could be in store.

What transpires is only partly predictable.
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Ten years later, awakening the lost NHL season.

Editor’s Note: This is the first of two pieces hypothesizing what might have happened if the 2004-05 season hadn’t been cancelled.

What if I told you that the 2004-05 lockout was just a nightmare and didn’t actually happen?

No, I’m not making an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, although it’s tempting. At this point, there’s a new documentary about anything remotely significant.

This NHL season will mark the 10th anniversary of the 2004-05 lockout, and I figured it would be fun to imagine what might have occurred if the NHL had the common sense not to cancel an entire season by virtue of labor strife. In case you all forgot, in 2005 the Stanley Cup wasn’t awarded for the first time since 1919. A Spanish Flu epidemic swept across the globe in 1919 and forced the cancellation of the playoffs. That’s a more valid premise than a ridiculous labor dispute.

Anyway, my point isn’t to force anyone to remember the pain of a lost season. It’s to wonder who would have hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2005.
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The Rangers and Kings return to the Finals, and this time it’s different.

2014SCchampionsTwenty years is a long time. It didn’t hit me until this weekend that’s how long it’s been since the Rangers went to the Stanley Cup Finals. I was 10 years old when that happened and although I was somewhat pulling for Vancouver (I liked their logo, and we all did dumb things when we were younger), I remember being happy for New Yorkers when the Rangers won. The celebration was massive. ESPN — ESPN! — showed the victory parade. I’ve only rarely seen a city so grateful to win a title.

That 1994 squad was led by center Mark Messier, defenseman Brian Leetch and goalie Mike Richter and its top-to-bottom depth was impressive. New York ended up winning the President’s Trophy that season and set a team record for points in a season. After easily dismissing the Islanders and Capitals, the Rangers had to gut out a memorable seven-game series against the Devils. Once the Finals rolled around, New York was in control before teasing the Canucks with the possibility of a Game 7 upset at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers won the game 3-2 and the series 4-3.
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The birth of hockey in California is the death of ‘hockey in California’ as you know it.

Greetings from Anaheim. It’s a new day here.

Literally, it just turned midnight. Figuratively, there was an important shift in the hockey-in-California narrative just now.

For the seventh time in the last nine years, a team from California will play in the Western Conference finals. The Kings are in for the third straight year, a streak that began with their 2012 run to the Cup. The Sharks came up on the short end of the conference finals in 2010 and 2011. The Ducks lost to Edmonton in five games in 2006, then beat the Detroit Red Wings in six games in 2007 en route to their first and only Cup.

Seven out of nine ain’t bad for a state that can never claim to be home to an Original Six franchise. Consider this: The last time a team from California wasn’t in the conference final, Rob Ford was a city councillor from Etobicoke and “The Hangover” was a few weeks away from its big-screen release.1

So, back to the shifting narratives.

In case you missed it, the Kings eliminated the Ducks in a 6-2 Game 7 victory. Here’s how the final seconds of that game played out:
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How would the NHL react to a Donald Sterling-type incident?

Would a traditionally “white league” like the NH be quick to ostracize a racist owner?

You’ve probably heard the story by now. An old man with a history of controversy is recorded in the middle of a racist rant. The tape is distributed to media outlets. As it turns out, this old man owns the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers and the league is in a tough position. A couple of days after the tape is released, the NBA bans the old man for life and begins the process of taking over his franchise.

The first thought when I heard the tape of Donald Sterling’s rant was “I’m not surprised.” My second was to ask how would people react if an NHL owner was the person being taped?
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  • Don Cherry recalls Pat Quinn as an old-school coach revered by his players November 26, 2014
    TORONTO - Don Cherry remembers Pat Quinn as an old-school coach with a special way about him. Quinn, a former NHL defenceman, coach and executive, died Sunday night in Vancouver after a lengthy illness. He was 71. "He was one of the good o...
  • Around the League notebook for Tuesday, Nov. 25 November 26, 2014
    TUESDAY’S RESULTS Home Team in Caps Winnipeg 4, COLUMBUS 2 Ottawa 3, ST. LOUIS 2 (SO) NASHVILLE 4, Los Angeles 3 (SO) DALLAS 3, Edmonton 2 Colorado 4, ARIZONA 3 (OT) VANCOUVER 2, New Jersey 0 ANAHEIM 3, Calgary 2 AVALANCHE, SENATORS RAL...
  • Blues goalie Elliott leaves game with injury November 26, 2014
    ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott did not return after he left the game Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators because of a lower-body injury with 6:02 remaining in the second period. Ottawa's Erik Condra tumbled over Elliott durin...
  • WHL Roundup: Matt Bradley's four points help Tigers rout visiting Giants November 26, 2014
    MEDICINE HAT, Alta. - Matt Bradley had a goal and three assists in the Medicine Hat Tigers' 6-1 rout of the Vancouver Giants on Tuesday in Western Hockey League action. Kyle Becker scored twice in the first period for Medicine Hat (17-6-2), w...
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