All posts by Matt Teague

KHL club withdraws from 2020-21 season, funding diverted to COVID-19 relief

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Admiral Vladivostok of the Kontinental Hockey League will not take part in the 2020-21 season due to the coronavirus pandemic, the team announced Tuesday, per Alliance of European Hockey Clubs managing director Szymon Szemberg.

The regional government of Primorsky Krai, where the city of Vladivostok is located, has pulled funding from its sports teams in an effort to help combat the COVID-19 virus. Admiral's main private sponsor "is also experiencing crisis" and likely couldn't make up the shortfall, the team's statement said, meaning the club wouldn't be able to meet the KHL's minimum-wage requirements.

Many KHL teams won't be able to survive without government funding, according to TSN's Rick Westhead, and Szemberg describes Admiral as the "first club in (a) European league to be (a) victim of the pandemic."

The KHL officially canceled its playoffs March 25 after initially postponing them until April 10.

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Report: NHL extends self-quarantine period until April 15

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The NHL has extended its self-quarantine period for players and staff until April 15, according to Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.

On March 16, the league allowed players to fly home if they self-quarantined until March 27. That date was pushed until April 4 and has now been extended a third time.

The NHL suspended play of the 2019-20 season March 12 amid growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. The prolonged mandate plus local isolation guidelines make it "almost impossible" for the league to reopen team facilities, adds TSN's Darren Dreger.

Four unnamed players - two on the Ottawa Senators and two on the Colorado Avalanche - have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus to date.

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NHLPA releases 2019-20 player poll

The NHLPA released its annual player poll on Tuesday, giving players a chance to provide their input on who among their peers is tops in several categories. The poll also includes what players think about different arenas, mascots, and jerseys.

Broken into three categories - on ice, off ice, and arenas/teams - we've compiled the results for the majority of the questions.

On Ice

Best forward: Connor McDavid

Harry How / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Player - Team % of vote
Connor McDavid - Edmonton Oilers 68.35%
Sidney Crosby - Pittsburgh Penguins 14.93%
Nathan MacKinnon - Colorado Avalanche 6.65%
Nikita Kucherov - Tampa Bay Lightning 2.88%

For the second consecutive year, McDavid earns the honor, running away with the vote. The 23-year-old has racked up an incredible 34 goals and 97 points in 64 games this season.

Best defenseman: Victor Hedman

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
Player - Team % of vote
Victor Hedman - Tampa Bay Lightning 37.88%
John Carlson - Washington Capitals 21.35%
Roman Josi - Nashville Predators 9.04%
Drew Doughty - Los Angeles Kings 6.54%
Brent Burns - San Jose Sharks 6.54%

The 2017-18 Norris Trophy winner has been voted the top rearguard in back-to-back years. Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson makes his first appearance on the list amid a career-best campaign.

Best goalie: Carey Price

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
Player - Team % of vote
Carey Price - Montreal Canadiens 41.55%
Andrei Vasilevskiy - Tampa Bay Lightning 17.09%
Marc-Andre Fleury - Vegas Golden Knights 8.93%
Sergei Bobrovsky - Florida Panthers 5.63%

It's hard to believe Price has been stifling his opponents for over a decade. The 32-year-old puck-stopper continues to be among the game's elite at his position entering the back end of his career.

Choose one player to win one game: Sidney Crosby

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Player - Team % of vote
Sidney Crosby - Pittsburgh Penguins 44.03%
Connor McDavid - Edmonton Oilers 30.53%
Nathan MacKinnon - Colorado Avalanche 4.11%
Patrice Bergeron - Boston Bruins 3.33%

With three Stanley Cups, two Conn Smythe trophies, and two Olympic gold medals, is there a better answer here than No. 87?

Most complete player: Sidney Crosby

Player - Team % of vote
Sidney Crosby - Pittsburgh Penguins 45.56%
Patrice Bergeron - Boston Bruins 25.44%
Aleksander Barkov - Florida Panthers 7.50%
Ryan O'Reilly - St. Louis Blues 5.33%

Again, after winning nearly every individual award the NHL offers, it's hard to argue anyone other than Crosby is the game's top all-around talent.

Best trash-talker: Brad Marchand

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Player - Team % of vote
Brad Marchand - Boston Bruins 25.87%
Drew Doughty - Los Angeles Kings 13.37%
Ryan Reaves - Vegas Golden Knights 11.05%
Patrick Maroon - Tampa Bay Lightning 3.78%

The game's most infamous talent has done it again. Marchand earned top honors in this department last season, and he's clearly continued to run his mouth while dominating opponents on the scoresheet.

Worst trash-talker: Brad Marchand

Player - Team % of vote
Brad Marchand - Boston Bruins 10.59%
Drew Doughty - Los Angeles Kings 6.85%
P.K. Subban - New Jersey Devils 6.85%
Nick Cousins - Vegas Golden Knights 5.61%

You've got to be pressing the right buttons to be voted both best and worst trash-talker. Kudos to Marchand and Doughty for this hilarious achievement.

Best female player: Marie-Philip Poulin

Kevin Light / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Player - Nation % of vote
Marie-Philip Poulin - Team Canada 39.92%
Hilary Knight - Team USA 36.29%
Kendall Coyne Schofield - Team USA 15.52%
Emily Matheson - Team USA 1.41%

Known for her ability to perform in the clutch, Poulin has helped Canada capture a pair of Olympic gold medals (2010, 2014), and she served as team captain at the 2018 Games.

Off ice

Funniest player: Keith Yandle

Eliot J. Schechter / National Hockey League / Getty
Player - Team % of vote
Keith Yandle - Florida Panthers 17.98%
Drew Doughty - Los Angeles Kings 6.94%
Brad Marchand - Boston Bruins 5.68%
Phil Kessel - Arizona Coyotes 4.73%

Yandle has been voted the class clown for the second consecutive year. Please treat yourself to the 33-year-old's comedic chops:

Best bromance in the league: David Perron, Ryan O'Reilly

Brian Babineau / National Hockey League / Getty
Players - Team % of vote
David Perron & Ryan O'Reilly - St. Louis Blues 6.42%
Joe Thornton & Brent Burns - San Jose Sharks 5.05%
Auston Matthews & Mitch Marner - Toronto Maple Leafs 4.59%
Matthew Tkachuk & Drew Doughty - L.A. Kings & Calgary Flames 3.67%
Jamie Benn & Tyler Seguin - Dallas Stars 3.67%
Brad Marchand & Patrice Bergeron - Boston Bruins 3.67%

We can only imagine how much winning a Stanley Cup would strengthen the league's top bromance. Perron and O'Reilly take the cake, but it's clear players enjoyed themselves here, throwing a couple of rivals into the running.

Best social media follow: P.K. Subban

Andy Marlin / National Hockey League / Getty
Players - Team % of votes
P.K. Subban - New Jersey Devils 13.59%
Alex Ovechkin - Washington Capitals 6.31%
Brad Marchand - Boston Bruins 4.37%
Max Domi - Montreal Canadiens 4.37%

Subban has always been one of the best in the league at connecting with the fans. With 1.1 million followers on Twitter and 981,000 on Instagram, Subban is one of the most active players on social media.

Best nickname: Tomas "Tuna" Tatar

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
Player - Team % of vote
Tomas "Tuna" Tatar - Montreal Canadiens 8.08%
David "Pasta" Pastrnak - Boston Bruins 7.31%
Artemi "Breadman" Panarin - New York Rangers 5.77%
Christian "Stinky" Fischer - Arizona Coyotes 2.69%

There's nothing fishy about the production from "Tuna" this season. Tatar is enjoying a career year in Montreal, leading the club with 61 points in 69 games.

Best golfer: Joe Pavelski

Jonathan Devich / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Player - Team % of vote
Joe Pavelski - Dallas Stars 15.84%
Tyler Bozak - St. Louis Blues 5.57%
Justin Schultz - Pittsburgh Penguins 4.11%
Mark Stone - Vegas Golden Knights 3.81%
Cal Clutterbuck - New York Islanders 3.81%
Greg McKegg - New York Rangers 3.81% 

There's never a bad time to hit the links in San Jose, and Pavelski has lived there for over a decade. Known as one of the top multi-sport athletes in the NHL, Pavelski showed off his golf game at the American Century Championship a few summers back.

Arenas/Teams

Best visitor's dressing room: Rogers Place, Edmonton Oilers

Arena - Team % of votes
Rogers Place - Edmonton Oilers 38.01%
T-Mobile Arena - Vegas Golden Knights 26.47%
Little Ceasars Arena - Detroit Red Wings 23.30%
PPG Paints Arena - Pittsburgh Penguins 6.79%

Best ice: Bell Centre, Montreal Canadiens

Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Arena - Team % of votes
Bell Centre - Montreal Canadiens 31.75%
Rogers Place - Edmonton Oilers 16.75%
Bell MTS Place - Winnipeg Jets 11.00%
T-Mobile Arena - Vegas Golden Knights 8.75%

It makes sense that three of the league's coldest cities would be able to preserve the best ice, but Vegas? The Golden Knights have done just about everything right since debuting during the 2017-18 season, which is further proven in the next category.

Best jersey: Chicago Blackhawks

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Team - % of votes
Chicago Blackhawks 28.25%
Vegas Golden Knights 6.83%
Toronto Maple Leafs 6.83%
New York Rangers 6.38%

Three original six teams with the league's newest club in the mix? It's safe to say the Vegas Golden Knights' branding department is doing a spectacular job.

Best team mascot: Gritty

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

Was there ever any doubt? The Flyers' mascot took an overwhelming 69.72% of the vote.

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Report: Leafs, Coyotes front-runners to land KHL forward Barabanov

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes are considered the favorites to sign Russian forward Alexander Barabanov, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

Barabanov's agent, Dan Milstein, will begin interviewing interested NHL teams Tuesday, Dreger adds.

The 25-year-old winger has played seven seasons with the KHL's SKA Saint Petersburg and racked up 11 goals and 20 points through 43 games in 2019-20. He captured a pair of Gagarin Cups in 2015 and '17.

Internationally, Barabanov won a bronze medal for Russia at the 2014 world juniors and earned gold at the 2018 Games in PyeongChang.

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Kings’ McLellan ‘not a fan’ of reported draft lottery tournament proposal

Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan took an unsurprising stance when asked about a reportedly proposed draft lottery tournament if the 2019-20 season is officially canceled.

"I'm not a fan of it. Not one bit," McLellan said Monday, according to The Athletic's Lisa Dillman.

Last week, one team executive suggested the league could hold a tournament in which lottery teams would compete for the top selection if the season is lost, according to The Athletic's Craig Custance.

But McLellan's Kings are near the bottom of the standings (28th), so it's easy to see why the bench boss has an issue with the idea.

"For me, it's a little counterintuitive to do it that way," McLellan said, according to the Los Angeles Times' Jack Harris.

With the season currently on pause, the Kings would hold 9.5% odds to land the No. 1 selection under the traditional lottery format.

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Ranking every Conn Smythe Trophy run in the 2010s

The Conn Smythe Trophy is awarded annually to the player deemed to be most valuable during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A total of 47 different men have earned the award since its introduction in 1965, while netminder Patrick Roy has received the honor a record three times and became the youngest winner ever in 1986.

With the 2019-20 NHL season currently suspended, we're ranking every Conn Smythe performance from the last decade and including a signature moment for each recipient.

10. Sidney Crosby, Penguins (2015-16)

GP G A P ATOI xGF% (5-on-5)
24 6 13 19 20:26 58.74

You could argue that Phil Kessel should have claimed the Conn Smythe in the Penguins' first of back-to-back Cup runs. But while he tallied more goals and points than Crosby did, the captain's leadership and ability to perform in the clutch proved vital throughout the playoffs

Thanks to Crosby's heroics, the Penguins narrowly escaped a grueling seven-game Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. All three of No. 87's game-winning goals that postseason came in this series, highlighted by a beautiful solo effort on the road in a must-win Game 6.

9. Patrick Kane, Blackhawks (2012-13)

GP G A P ATOI xGF% (5-on-5)
23 9 10 19 20:56 57.21

Kane's Conn Smythe Trophy season was ironically the least productive of his three Stanley Cup runs. But on a strange and unlikely path to the title - which saw grinder Bryan Bickell rank second on the Blackhawks in scoring - Chicago needed a hero, and Kane was up to the task.

The electric winger contributed five points in six games during the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins, including a pair of tallies in the crucial Game 5.

However, Kane's signature moment came one round earlier in Game 5 against the Los Angeles Kings. With two goals already in the contest and the Blackhawks one win away from advancing, "Show Time" delivered the heartbreaker in double overtime to complete the hat trick and seal the series.

8. Justin Williams, Kings (2013-14)

GP G A P ATOI xGF% (5-on-5)
26 9 16 25 16:49 52.68

On a Kings team loaded with talent, Williams reigned supreme throughout the 2014 playoffs. He delivered at least five points in each round and played a significant role in helping the Kings erase a 3-0 series deficit against the San Jose Sharks with a pair of two-goal games.

"Mr. Game 7" also lived up to his moniker in the deciding contest of the Western Conference Final against the defending champion Blackhawks, scoring in the first period and dishing out the game-winning assist on Alec Martinez's overtime clincher.

Next, Williams' signature moment came when Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers went into extra time.

7. Ryan O'Reilly, Blues (2018-19)

GP G A P ATOI xGF% (5-on-5)
26 8 15 23 21:00 49.5

O'Reilly capped his Selke Trophy-winning regular season with a Conn Smythe and the Stanley Cup to complete one of the greatest individual campaigns in St. Louis Blues history.

The 6-foot-1 pivot was an absolute menace throughout the postseason, sharing the league lead in points and pacing all Blues forwards in average ice time.

O'Reilly's final act was one for the books, as the Ontario native scored goals in four consecutive Stanley Cup Final contests - a feat that hadn't been accomplished since Wayne Gretzky in 1985. He netted five goals during that stretch, with the final tally breaking the deadlock in Game 7.

6. Sidney Crosby, Penguins (2016-17)

GP G A P ATOI xGF% (5-on-5)
24 8 19 27 19:24 50.38

"Sid the Kid" was sensational in the Penguins' second straight Stanley Cup run, leading all players in assists while ranking second in points and first among Pittsburgh forwards in average ice time.

Crosby caused headaches for every opponent, tallying at least six points in each series, including seven in five games against the rival Washington Capitals during Round 2 (he played just 2:11 in Game 3 before exiting with an injury).

It also didn't take long for Crosby to make an impact in the matchup with the Capitals. In a scoreless Game 1, he buried a pair of goals just 52 seconds apart to spark Pittsburgh's third consecutive series win over Washington in the Crosby-Ovechkin era.

5. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals (2017-18)

GP G A P ATOI xGF% (5-on-5)
24 15 12 27 20:44 55.76

After a decade of heartbreak, Ovechkin wouldn't let the Capitals be denied in the 2018 postseason. The "Great 8" notched a playoff-leading 15 goals during his journey to hockey's summit - the highest total by a Conn Smythe recipient since Joe Sakic buried 18 in 1996.

Ovechkin, who recorded a point in every game of the final round against the Vegas Golden Knights, became the second Russian-born player to be named playoff MVP.

And though he found the net in the title-clinching contest against Vegas, Ovechkin's most important tally came in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. The Capitals captain fired home his patented one-timer just 1:02 into the game, setting the stage for a 4-0 win over the top-seeded Lightning.

4. Duncan Keith, Blackhawks (2014-15)

GP G A P ATOI xGF% (5-on-5)
23 3 18 21 31:07 52.91

Keith redefined what it means to leave it all on the ice during his legendary Conn Smythe run. The tireless blue-liner became one of four players in the last 20 years to log at least 700 postseason minutes, playing more than 40 on three occasions. His most impressive outing came in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final, where he logged 49:51 in a triple-overtime victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

The two-time Norris Trophy winner also played a pivotal role offensively. Keith's 21 points tied Chris Chelios for the most by a Blackhawks defenseman in a single playoff run. Plus, all three of his goals were game-winners, with the final tally serving as the Stanley Cup clincher in Game 6 against the Lightning.

3. Tim Thomas, Bruins (2010-11)

Record GAA SV% SO
16-9 1.98 .940 4

Thomas stifled his opponents for two straight months to become the 15th goaltender in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. He remains the oldest player to earn the honor, doing so at 37 years old.

The puck-stopper was incredibly clutch, collecting shutouts in Game 7 of both the Eastern Conference Final and the Stanley Cup Final. In the championship round against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks, Thomas allowed only eight goals in seven games.

His most memorable moment wasn't stopping the puck, however. Known for an unorthodox playing style and a short temper, Thomas cemented his place in the hearts of Bruins fans by flattening Canucks captain Henrik Sedin during Game 3 of the Cup Final.

2. Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks (2009-10)

GP G A P ATOI xGF% (5-on-5)
22 7 22 29 20:58 55.35

At just 22 years and 41 days, Toews became the second-youngest player - and the youngest skater - in history to capture the Conn Smythe Trophy en route to his first of three Stanley Cups.

Toews' 29 playoff points tied a franchise best for a single postseason and ranked second among all players that year. The Blackhawks captain rode an incredible 13-game point streak into the Stanley Cup Final, where he added three more assists against the Philadelphia Flyers.

His defining moment came two rounds earlier. Toews torched the Canucks with a hat trick and five points on the road in Game 4 to give Chicago a 3-1 series lead. The Blackhawks eventually won that matchup in six games.

1. Jonathan Quick, Kings (2011-12)

Record GAA SV% SO
16-4 1.41 .946 3

Quick's 2012 Conn Smythe run is simply unmatched. The 6-foot-1 netminder set modern-day playoff records with his sparkling 1.41 goals-against average and .946 save percentage, leading the eighth-seeded Kings on their Cinderella Stanley Cup run.

To break down his historic journey, consider the following: Quick allowed one or zero goals in half of his 20 postseason starts and never gave up more than three, conceding that number just twice. In the opening round against the league-best Canucks, Quick surrendered eight tallies through five games and recorded 40-plus saves in multiple appearances to help L.A. pull off the upset.

Relive Quick's monumental run through some of his highlights and the reactions of his teammates and coaches:

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Armstrong: Blues in ‘good spot’ to defend title if season resumes

St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong doesn't think the NHL's hiatus will impact his club's ability to defend its Stanley Cup title should the 2019-20 season resume.

"With the knowledge of what we did last year, and that we have a mature team, we're not worried about whether they're preparing or what they're doing off the ice, eating correctly and doing whatever workouts they need to be doing; I know they are because they've shown that year in and year out," Armstrong told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun.

"We feel excited that if we get the opportunity again that we'll be in a very good spot to put our very best foot forward."

The Blues continued their elite play this season and occupy the top seed in the Western Conference with the campaign on pause. The core group that brought the franchise its first Stanley Cup remains intact and star winger Vladimir Tarasenko, who missed most of this season following shoulder surgery in October, should also be back in the fold.

"You need to plan that you're going to play again," Armstrong said. "And we are planning that we're going to play again. We're very fortunate that we have a mature group, and the majority of our team is coming back that was here last year at this time. They did a really good job of putting themselves in a good spot throughout the regular season."

St. Louis pulled off one of the most incredible runs in NHL history in 2018-19. After sitting last in the league on Jan. 1, the Blues went on a 30-10-5 run that propelled them into the postseason and eventually to the Stanley Cup.

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Gallagher recreates iconic ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ scene in TikTok debut

Brendan Gallagher is showing off his comedic chops while self-isolating at home with the NHL season on pause.

The Montreal Canadiens forward recreated a famous scene from the television series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" in his first TikTok video.

Well done, Gally. Here is the original scene for those unfamiliar with the show:

The 27-year-old winger contributed 43 points while sharing the team lead in goals (22) through 59 games before the season was suspended on March 12.

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Report: NHL temporarily cutting employee salaries at league office

The NHL is temporarily cutting the salaries of league office employees by 25% due to the coronavirus pandemic that's put the 2019-20 season on pause, according to ESPN's Emily Kaplan.

The league is hoping the move will allow it to avoid layoffs, Kaplan's sources said.

The Montreal Canadiens, meanwhile, are proceeding with temporary layoffs. Groupe CH, which owns the Canadiens, announced Tuesday that it will temporarily lay off 60% of the organization's employees effective March 30. Ownership also created a $6-million fund to "enhance" affected workers' employment insurance benefits for eight weeks.

The NHL officially suspended play March 12 due to the growing threat of the COVID-19 virus.

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Wild sign Mitchell Chaffee to 2-year, entry-level contract

The Minnesota Wild inked forward Mitchell Chaffee to a two-year, entry-level deal, the team announced Tuesday.

Chaffee, 22, tallied 16 goals and 29 points through 30 games for the University of Massachusetts in 2019-20. The 6-foot winger amassed 47 goals and 95 points in 108 outings over three seasons with the program. He was named to the Hockey East All-Academic Team in both 2017 and 2019.

The NCAA season was officially canceled on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Minnesota signed forward prospects Adam Beckman and Damien Giroux each to three-year, entry-level pacts on Monday.

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