All posts by Eric Patterson

Maple Leafs’ Dubas says nobody’s job is safe after elimination

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas faced the music on Thursday after being eliminated from the playoffs by the Boston Bruins, and did not fully commit to Mike Babcock - or to anyone else - going forward.

"I wouldn't give any guarantee to anybody in our whole organization, starting with me," Dubas replied when asked about Babcock's job security at his end-of-year press conference, via Sportsnet. "We'll do what we think is best and we'll let you know when we know."

Dubas prefaced his non-guarantee of Babcock's job security by saying team president Brendan Shanahan must first evaluate his work as the general manager.

"The way I look at that is (Shanahan) has to decide on me first, and do an evaluation on me," Dubas said. "And once that's done we evaluate everybody."

Babcock, who has four seasons remaining on his eight-year, $50-million deal, insisted earlier that his relationship with Dubas is "really good," according to TSN's Kristen Shilton.

On Thursday, Dubas also took responsibility for the William Nylander contract saga during the season and for the Maple Leafs' poor penalty kill in the playoffs.

"The blame for the (Nylander) situation going that far has to go to me," Dubas said. "I don't think it set William up to have a good season, and I accept that."

The 33-year-old Dubas added that he's hoping for better things next season after another first-round playoff exit.

"I know that I have to do a better job, continue to improve and help our players," he said. "And hopefully we meet under a different set of circumstances in about 13 months from now, or more, we hope."

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Report: Sabres, Sens to speak with Jacques Martin for HC vacancies

The Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators have both asked to speak with Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Jacques Martin for their respective head coaching vacancies, Sportsnet's John Shannon reported.

Martin has spent the last six seasons with the Penguins, which included two Stanley Cup victories. Previously, his lengthy head coaching career started in 1986 with the St. Louis Blues and he notably oversaw the Senators from 1995-2004. Overall, he's a four-time Jack Adams Trophy nominee and won the award as the league's top coach in 1999.

The Sabres fired Phil Housley earlier in April after two seasons in charge. He failed to turn around the struggling franchise, missing the playoffs in both campaigns.

The Senators moved on from Guy Boucher in March during a disappointing campaign. Marc Crawford took over on an interim basis en route to a last-place finish in the NHL.

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Report: Oilers will pursue interview with Golden Knights’ McCrimmon

The Edmonton Oilers will request permission from the Vegas Golden Knights to interview Kelly McCrimmon for their general manager vacancy, TSN's Darren Dreger reports.

It's expected the Oilers will ask for and receive permission to speak with the Golden Knights assistant general manager soon. However, right now the team is giving Vegas time to sort through its end-of-season procedures after being eliminated from the playoffs on Tuesday night.

Keith Gretzky has acted as interim general manager since the Oilers fired Peter Chiarelli in January.

In early March, Dreger reported Edmonton narrowed its search for a replacement down to six candidates, which included McCrimmon and Mark Hunter, who reportedly completed his second interview with the Oilers last week.

The Golden Knights hired McCrimmon in 2016, and he's been with them since their inception. Prior to Vegas, he spent 28 years with the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings as majority owner and general manager, and 10 years as the team's head coach over two separate stints.

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Watch: Jets’ Wheeler tells reporter to ‘f— off’ after playoff elimination

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#BlakeWheeler let โ€˜em know how he was feeling ๐Ÿ‘€

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Winnipeg Jets captain Blake Wheeler had no time for a reporter who implied his team may not have been at its best after being eliminated from the playoffs by the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night.

Wheeler reeled it in after telling the reporter to "f--- off," adding that the Stanley Cup "is a tough trophy to win" and perhaps the Jets' best effort "just wasn't good enough."

Winnipeg bowed out of the postseason with a 3-2 loss in Game 6 in St. Louis, the first road loss by either team in the series. The club's exit in Round 1 comes a year after reaching the Western Conference Final in 2018.

Wheeler recorded five points during his short six-game stint in the 2019 playoffs.

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Hurricanes’ Svechnikov: Ovechkin started Game 3 fight

Carolina Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov claims Alex Ovechkin initiated the lopsided fight in which he fell victim to the powerful right fist of the Washington Capitals' captain.

"He did ask me first for (a) fight," Svechnikov said in broken English, according to The News and Observer's Luke DeCock. "I am not (a) superhero, (not going to) ask first for (a) fight."

The 19-year-old Svechnikov was knocked out by his fellow countryman during the first period of Game 3 after the two dropped the mitts. He suffered a concussion and remains unable to return for Saturday's Game 5.

Here's a video of the bout:

"I just wanted to stand up for myself," Svechnikov continued, justifying his decision to accept the fight offer. He said the tilt resulted from "back and forth all series."

Ovechkin reached out to the rookie after the game to apologize for the outcome.

"He called me right after (the) game, we talked a bit," Svechnikov added. I said 'sometimes (that) happens, you never know.'"

Svechnikov skated at Saturday's practice with a non-contact jersey and says he "hopes" to return for Game 6.

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Report: Yzerman returning to Red Wings as GM

The Detroit Red Wings will announce the hiring of franchise legend Steve Yzerman as the club's next general manager at a press conference Friday, TSN's Gord Miller reports.

Yzerman, 53, spent the last eight years as the general manager and vice president of the Tampa Bay Lightning before resigning from the role in September of 2018 with one year remaining on his contract.

The Red Wings announced they will hold the press conference at 3:00 p.m. ET with Yzerman, current general manager Ken Holland, and owner Christopher Ilitch in attendance.

Holland is expected to remain with Detroit and become the team's senior vice president, per Miller. However, Holland has been contacted by other teams, including Edmonton and Seattle, according to TSN's Darren Dreger. He served as the Red Wings' general manager since 1997.

Yzerman led the Lightning to one Stanley Cup final in 2015 and won the NHL General Manager of the Year award that season. The Hall of Famer spent his entire 22-year playing career with Detroit, winning three Stanley Cups as captain and amassing 1,755 points.

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Babcock calls Drake curse ‘craziest thing I’ve ever heard’

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock doesn't believe Drake's presence at the Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday night had anything to do with his team's loss.

"That's probably the craziest thing I've ever heard," Babcock said Thursday, according to Sportsnet's Luke Fox. "Anytime somebody wants to come and support us, we're all in."

Drake was in attendance and wore a Maple Leafs jersey for Toronto's 6-4 loss to the Boston Bruins.

The Grammy-award winning artist has a history of "cursing" teams by showing support prior to an event. Alabama's 2019 football team was the latest victim of the perceived curse, with Serena Williams, Conor McGregor, and the Toronto Raptors among the other victims over the years.

During the 2019 NFL playoffs, Drake wore a sweatshirt with the logos of the four remaining teams to avoid hexing one specific franchise.

AS Roma of Italy's Serie A soccer league recently placed a ban on their players from appearing in pictures with Drake to avoid the curse.

With the series between Toronto and Boston heading back to TD Garden tied at two games apiece, Maple Leafs fans are likely hoping Drake travels to Massachusetts in the Bruins' colors for Friday's contest.

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Crosby chooses rest over representing Canada at World Championship

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby won't represent Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Championship following his team's disappointing exit from the NHL postseason.

"I'm just going to try to make the most of the rest," he said during the Penguins' locker room cleanout. "No significant injuries, but as you get older, there are things that nag you."

The New York Islanders' sweep of the Penguins will give Crosby his longest offseason since the conclusion of the 2014-2015 campaign. He's played in 64 playoff games over the past four years.

After recording 100 points in 79 games this past regular season, the 31-year-old was held to just one assist in four playoff contests versus the Islanders.

Despite the loss, Crosby insisted he has faith in Pittsburgh's roster moving forward.

"It's always easy to point fingers when you lose ... I definitely have confidence in this group," he said, according to Wes Crosby of The Associated Press.

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Holtby declines White House invite: ‘I’ve got to stay true to my values’

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby will not be in attendance Monday when his teammates visit the White House as Stanley Cup champions.

"I've got to stay true to my values, and I'm going respectfully decline the offer," Holtby said Friday, according to The Washington Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan.

"In saying that, it's a tough situation for everyone to be in, to be forced to make a decision of that standing," he added. "You're a team and you want to stick together no matter what, so I hope everyone kind of blows it away and that we don't worry about who goes and who doesn't."

Capitals forward Brett Connolly already declined the invitation, citing his support for Devante Smith-Pelly. Smith-Pelly, who played a crucial role in Washington's championship run but is currently with the AHL's Hershey Bears, has previously spoken out against President Donald Trump and will also skip the visit.

โ€œFor me, it's just a personal thing," Holtby said. "I believe in what I believe in, and in order to stick to those values, I think I have to do what I feel is right. But that doesn't make a difference (in) everyone else's decision.

"We stick by every single teammate we have and their decision. That's about it."

Holtby is an active supporter of the LGBTQ community. He's marched in D.C.'s Pride Parade and was the Capitals' "You Can Play" ambassador for the past two seasons. That involvement factored into his decision.

"My family and myself, we believe in a world where humans are treated with respect regardless of your stature, what you're born into," the 29-year-old said. "You're asked to choose what side you're on, and I think it's pretty clear what side I'm on. I believe that this is the right decision for myself and my family."

The Capitals announced there would be no official ceremony or media availability during their visit. They will receive a tour of the White House and meet President Trump in the Oval Office, reports Khurshudyan.

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Canucks sign Quinn Hughes to 3-year, entry-level deal

The Vancouver Canucks have signed defenseman Quinn Hughes to a three-year, entry-level contract, the team announced Sunday.

Hughes, who was selected seventh overall in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, will travel to Vancouver on Tuesday.

If the 19-year-old plays 11 games with the Canucks this season, he'll become eligible for the Seattle expansion draft in 2021, according to CapFriendly. Additionally, his three-year contract will begin during the current campaign.

Hughes led the Michigan Wolverines of the NCAA in scoring this season with 33 points in 32 games. He also won both a silver and a bronze medal across the past two World Junior Hockey Championships with the United States.

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