Report: Coyotes to name Andre Tourigny as next head coach

The Arizona Coyotes are set to hire Andre Tourigny as their next head coach, reports Craig Morgan of

The team will hold a press conference at 11 a.m. on Thursday to announce the decision.

Tourigny has a wealth of experience in junior hockey. He's been the head coach of the OHL's Ottawa 67s since 2017. Prior to that, he was the bench boss of the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads for one year and the head coach/general manager of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies for 11 seasons.

The 47-year-old has some experience at the professional level, too, with stints as an assistant coach with both the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche from 2013 to 2016.

The Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, native has also coached on the international stage. He was the head coach for Team Canada at the 2020 World Junior Championship, at which the nation won a silver medal. He also served as an assistant on Gerard Gallant's gold-medal-winning staff at this year's World Championship in Latvia.

Tourigny will be the eighth head coach in Coyotes history since the franchise relocated from Winnipeg to Phoenix in 1996. He'll succeed Rick Tocchet, who guided the club to a 24-26-6 record in 2020-21.

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Report: Blackhawks working with Keith on trade closer to family

It appears Duncan Keith's days with the Chicago Blackhawks could be numbered.

"One of the things that Chicago is doing is they are working with Keith now to try and facilitate a trade to either the Pacific Northwest or western Canada," Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported during the second intermission of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

He added: "Now we'll see where this goes, but Keith has family in western Canada and he'd like to go closer there. The Blackhawks are trying to work with him to get it done."

Keith has two seasons remaining on the 13-year, $72-million contract he signed with the Blackhawks in 2009. The deal carries a full no-movement clause and an annual cap hit of $5.54 million, though there's only $3.6 million remaining in actual salary, according to CapFriendly.

The future Hall of Famer's play has declined of late. He recorded just 15 points in 54 games during the 2020-21 campaign while averaging 23:25 per contest. The underlying numbers weren't great, either.

Keith is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, but his family lives in Penticton, British Columbia, according to Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times.

The teams that fit the criteria include the Seattle Kraken, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets, and perhaps the San Jose Sharks.

Keith has spent his entire 16-year career in the Windy City. He's won three Stanley Cups, two Norris Trophies, and a Conn Smythe Trophy.

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Lightning defeat Canadiens to take 2-0 series lead in Stanley Cup Final

Blake Coleman scored the eventual game-winner on a diving buzzer-beater in the second period as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 to take a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night.

Anthony Cirelli opened the scoring at the 6:40 mark of the middle frame, and Canadiens forward Nick Suzuki replied with the equalizer just less than four minutes later before Coleman restored the Lightning lead.

Ondrej Palat tallied late in the third period to give Tampa Bay some insurance.

The Canadiens controlled play for most of the game and outshot the Lightning 43-23, but Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 42 of those shots. Montreal netminder Carey Price allowed all three Lightning goals.

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Public health rejects Habs’ proposal to increase Bell Centre capacity

There won't be a half-full Bell Centre for the Stanley Cup Final.

Quebec Public Health authorities rejected on Wednesday the Montreal Canadiens' proposal to increase capacity to 50% (10,500) for Games 3 and 4, as well as a potential Game 6, according to The Associated Press' Stephen Whyno.

The Habs are permitted to allow only 3,500 fans, the same number they hosted for Round 3 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper actually advocated for an increase in capacity.

"This game was meant to be played in front of fans," he said after his team punched its ticket to the Stanley Cup Final.

The Bolts filled Amalie Arena with 18,600 fans for Game 2 on Wednesday.

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Report: Soderberg signing in Sweden

Carl Soderberg will play for his hometown team next season.

The 35-year-old forward is going to suit up for Swedish club Malmo in 2021-22, reports The Athletic's Peter Baugh.

Soderberg, who was a pending unrestricted free agent, scored a goal and added an assist in four playoff games with the Colorado Avalanche this spring after collecting a pair of assists in 11 contests down the stretch.

Colorado acquired him from the Chicago Blackhawks in a trade on deadline day in April. He posted seven goals and eight assists in 34 games with the Blackhawks after signing as a free agent in December.

Soderberg tallied 17 goals and 18 assists with the Arizona Coyotes in 2019-20. He spent the previous four campaigns with the Avalanche before they traded him to the Coyotes in June 2019. The nine-year veteran played his first three seasons with the Boston Bruins.

The St. Louis Blues drafted Soderberg 49th overall in 2004. They dealt him to the Bruins about three years later.

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How every major sports league except the NFL got to guaranteed contracts

In March 2020, veteran outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy left the New England Patriots to sign a four-year contract with the Miami Dolphins. The deal was worth $51 million, including $30 million in guarantees. Well, that's how its terms were reported, anyway.

Twelve months later, the Dolphins released Van Noy, completely wiping out the final three years of his contract. According to Over the Cap, Miami paid Van Noy a total of $15.025 million for his one season of work. The team was under no obligation to pay him another penny. Van Noy has since signed back with the Patriots on a deal that will pay him a maximum of $12 million across two years, though if he were to be released again after one season, he'd collect a total of just $6 million. It's possible he could earn $30 million less than what he was contracted for a little more than a year ago.

Van Noy's situation is no outlier. Among the major North American sports leagues - MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL - the NFL is the only one that does not customarily guarantee multi-year contracts for veteran players, even as it brings in the most revenue.

There are some longstanding structural barriers that have prevented guaranteed contracts from becoming more common in the NFL. But contrary to popular belief, there is nothing to prevent a player or player's agent from negotiating a contract that is fully guaranteed. In fact, that's exactly how such deals became the norm for players in MLB, the NBA, and the NHL. The difference is that years ago, a variety of competitive circumstances provided players in those leagues with a strong enough bargaining position to establish contract guarantees as standard in ways that never happened in the NFL.

As Roger Noll, an emeritus professor of economics at Stanford University, told me: "Guaranteed contracts were created by competitive necessity."

How NBA players did it

The NBA was founded as a competitive enterprise, and it battled other leagues for the rights to players for significant portions of its first 30 years of existence, a period in which guaranteed contracts came into fashion.

The National Basketball League began play in mostly smaller markets in 1937, but in 1946 it found itself going head to head with the Basketball Association of America, which looked to capitalize on bigger markets that had hockey arenas. The rivalry between the two leagues created an intense bidding war for players. Contracts in all major sports typically went year to year way back when, but George Mikan - basketball's biggest star - commanded a five-year deal from the NBL's Chicago American Gears as far back as 1946, according to Robert Bradley of the Association for Professional Basketball Research. The pact was worth a whopping $60,000 (more than $828,000 in today's dollars), plus incentives.

Noll said that guarantees mostly vanished in the years after the BAA merged with the NBL to become the NBA in 1949. But they soon returned when the American Basketball League began play in 1961-62. The NBA wasn't exactly on solid financial footing at the time, but pro sports were expanding and basketball appeared to have growth potential.

The ABL folded shortly into its second season, in no small part because of the pressure its competition with the NBA exerted on player salaries, which proved to be more than most franchises could pay in an era before television networks began showering sports leagues with cash.

In spring 1962, ex-Ohio State star Jerry Lucas turned down a three-year offer worth $100,000 from the NBA's Cincinnati Royals, choosing instead to accept a proposal from the ABL's Cleveland Pipers, who'd also drafted him. The Pipers' deal - the brainchild of some dude named George Steinbrenner, who'd later gain some renown for showmanship as the mercurial owner of MLB's New York Yankees - was for less cash than the Royals proposed, but its benefits package included stock options and an executive position with the team.

Lucas, an eventual Hall of Famer, later told columnist and author Bill Livingston he "never saw any of that money." But a precedent had been set, especially after the better-funded American Basketball Association launched in 1967 to compete with the NBA. The ABA-NBA rivalry caused a number of players to switch leagues for better offers before eventually forcing the leagues to merge a decade later after years of litigation - most notably Oscar Robertson's lawsuit, which challenged the proposed consolidation on antitrust grounds.

According to Bradley's account, the NBA Players Association in those days largely fought for pensions, better working conditions, and increased minimum salaries, with the Robertson case running point on securing free agency, which became reality in conjunction with the merger. But guaranteed contracts eventually just happened on an individual basis.

"The poster boy for the return of guaranteed contracts was Jerry Lucas," Noll told me. "He had the best form of guaranteed contract - partial ownership of the team! Since the NBA has had more or less continuous competition - ABA in 1967, then free agency when the leagues merged - its players have had at least partially guaranteed contracts ever since the Lucas episode."

How NHL players did it

The NHL's path to contract guarantees is a bit more convoluted than the NBA's, though it can also be traced to direct competition with an upstart league.

As far back as 1966, the Boston Bruins signed future Hall of Famer Bobby Orr to what Robert C. Berry, William B. Gould IV, and Paul D. Staudohar describe in their book, "Labor Relations in Professional Sports," as a "precedent-setting contract" that made him the highest-paid player in the sport even though he was still only 18. It paid $70,000 plus a $25,000 signing bonus.

The deal coincided with major expansion that doubled the size of the league from six to 12 teams. Within five years, Orr would sign a five-year deal worth $200,000 annually. But because most NHL teams had shaky finances, windfalls like Orr's didn't quite catch on. Instead, it took the formation of the rival World Hockey Association in 1972 to create that kind of pressure.

Noll told me there's no precise precedent for guaranteed deals in the NHL, but he did say one of the most prominent cases involved another Bruins player, Derek Sanderson. In August 1972, not long after he helped lead Boston to its second Stanley Cup in three years, Sanderson jumped to the WHA's Philadelphia Blazers after signing a five-year, $2.6-million contract that made him the highest paid athlete in the world. Sanderson was also the lead plaintiff in an antitrust suit that successfully challenged the NHL's reserve clause, which led to free agency.

Like the ABA, the WHA hung around and tried to poach NHL players until eventually merging with the NHL toward the end of the 1970s.

"Before the entry of the WHA," Noll said, "(most) contracts were not long term and were not guaranteed."

The NHL now has a salary cap and a system that allows teams to buy out long-term contracts for either one-third or two-thirds of the remaining value of that deal, depending on a player's age. But such buyouts happen rarely - maybe a dozen or so in a given year out of more than 600 players.

How MLB players did it

It's easy to pinpoint when guaranteed deals in baseball were established. There was plenty of bidding involved, but unlike what happened for players in the NBA and NHL, a rival league had nothing to do with it.

In 1974, before free agency in MLB was even a thing, Catfish Hunter bargained for a deal with the Oakland A's that required owner Charlie Finley to make a payment into a trust fund by a given date. After Finley missed the payment and attempted to pay Hunter directly, Hunter and MLB Players Association chief Marvin Miller got an arbitrator to agree that Hunter's deal with the A's should be voided because Finley broke its terms.

This made Hunter a free agent, and teams quickly set about jockeying for his services. On New Year's Eve 1974, Hunter agreed to an unprecedented deal with the Yankees: total compensation of $3.75 million across five years, all fully guaranteed.

Joel Maxcy, a professor of sports business at Drexel University, pointed me to a provision of MLB's CBA that still states that a player whose contract is terminated between seasons "for failure to exhibit sufficient skill or competitive ability" is entitled to just 30 days' pay, no matter his contract status. Yet that kind of collective contract language is now routinely superceded by the wording of individual player deals, starting with Hunter's.

The book by Berry, Gould, and Staudohar notes that the language of Hunter's contract did not specifically use the word "guarantee." Rather, it stated that payments "shall be the obligation of the Club, notwithstanding the inability of the player to perform the services provided for under the contract." This represented a profound shift in the way baseball players were about to be compensated.

"Prior to the dawning of free agency, it was a rare circumstance for a player to get anything more than a one-year contract, and a guaranteed contract was virtually unheard of," University of Wisconsin-La Crosse economist Michael Haupert wrote in "The Economic History of Major League Baseball." "If a player was injured or fell off in performance, an owner would slash his salary or release him and vacate the remainder of his contract."

MLB players would soon get free agency after Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally successfully challenged the reserve clause through arbitration in 1975, winning a battle through channels established in the collective bargaining process that Curt Flood had lost in the courts just a few years before. The floodgates opened, and players soon had much more bargaining power.

"Soon thereafter," Berry, Gould, and Staudohar wrote, "guaranteed contracts became the norm."

Haupert told me one of the reasons players were quickly able to leverage guarantees is because the MLBPA quickly set about publicizing contract details, an act that served a larger purpose for future contracts.

"So what that did right away is it let every player know what everybody else was getting," Haupert said. "The word doesn't have to spread slowly; it became apparent very quickly. Every agent wanted every new agent to have all the information, every player wanted it. They all had something to gain by getting as much information out there as they could."

Of course, MLB's lack of a salary cap also means teams aren't hamstrung by what they can spend in the future. In the NFL, things are a wee bit different.

What this means for the NFL

In the 1960s, the NFL faced competition for players from the American Football League that led to an increase in labor costs. Yet while the leagues formally merged in 1970, they'd agreed to come together in 1966, two years before the NFL's first collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association.

Unlike their NBA, NHL, and MLB peers, NFL players are up against several institutional factors that prevent guaranteed contracts from becoming more widespread:

The constraints of the salary cap. The cap went into effect in 1994, in conjunction with the advent of free agency after years of labor strife and court battles. NFL teams are not granted any exceptions to exceed the cap in a given year, and they also must account for anything paid to a player, though the bookkeeping can stash that money into the future, where it can limit what a team can pay to players in a given year once the bill comes due. Additionally, teams can roll over any unused cap space in a given year, which incentivizes many of them to squirrel away cap resources that might otherwise have to be spent.

Significant injury risk. A 2017 paper from the Football Players Health Study at Harvard University, which was funded by the NFLPA, found that (emphasis mine) "the mean number of injuries suffered per game in the NFL is approximately 4.9 times higher than the sum of those other leagues." Teams don't want to pay for that kind of risk any more than they might have to.

Much larger rosters. In-season NFL rosters are made up of 53 players, which means there are many more players to pay under the constraints of the cap. None of the other leagues' teams carry even half that total. In MLB, the roster number is 26. In the NHL, it's a maximum of 23. The NBA has just 15 - and the presence of one or two players can completely elevate a team. "Players kind of co-opted that," Haupert told me. "The players really drive the bus in the NBA. The NBA markets it around players, so it gives more power to the players, market-wise, and there's a smaller number of them that can make a difference."

Certain provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. The NFL's CBA has long been hardwired with restrictions on player movement: franchise and transition tags that allow teams to keep valued players from testing the free-agent market; the rookie wage scale that went into effect in 2011; and a rule that mandates that teams put any guaranteed money into escrow, minus a deductible that was increased from $2 million to $15 million when the current CBA was approved last year. The CBA also spells out that teams can terminate a contract for reasons related to "skill," "injury," or "cap" unless an individual deal overrides one or more of those provisions.

But the CBA itself doesn't have to be an obstacle to a fully guaranteed deal. A player just needs to have the market power to make it happen, which is often a trickier proposition.

"It's not like the NBA has guaranteed contracts in their CBA," NFLPA executive director for external affairs George Atallah explained to Defector's Drew Magary back in April. "They don't. Individual players and agents negotiate guarantees."

The fully guaranteed three-year deal Kirk Cousins got from the Minnesota Vikings back in 2018 is indicative of how difficult this process can be. As a starting quarterback with a decent track record who managed to make it to free agency, Cousins had unique leverage. (Yes, a supertsar like Tom Brady hit the market last year, too, but Brady was 43 and willing to settle for less than top-of-the-market money. So Cousins is a much more relevant case study.) When he signed with Minnesota, Cousins had just played back-to-back seasons on the franchise tag for Washington, which worked to establish a negotiating floor for any potential suitors of roughly $24 million per year.

Cousins used his bargaining position to lock down a full guarantee, but few players have the kind of negotiating power to get anything like a full guarantee beyond a year or two.

"The players never really had much leverage in the NFL," Maxcy told me.

Some veteran contracts with full guarantees extend those guarantees into Year 2, though a handful will go into Year 3, and usually with offsets that get a player's current team off the hook if he were to sign elsewhere after being released. The only NFL players with fully guaranteed contracts that extend beyond two years are most of those selected in the first round of the draft - conditions largely drawn into the rookie wage scale that took effect in 2011.

Per Over the Cap, the top 26 picks from 2020 all have all four years of their rookie deals guaranteed, while the rest of those taken in the first round all have guarantees that extend into Year 4. Teams also have an option for a fifth (and more expensive) year for all first-rounders. Second-rounders have two years guaranteed, with the top six having a portion of those guarantees stretch into Year 3. But the rookie scale is an enormous bargain for teams, a way to fill roster holes with younger, cheaper talent and cost certainty that lasts nearly as long as the average NFL career.

It will take a quarterback on the caliber of Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson to establish the kind of guarantee standard that might begin to trickle down. A few years ago, before both of them signed their current deals, there were reports that one or the other might insist on some sort of norm-altering benchmark such as a full guarantee, a player option, or a mechanism that pegs yearly salaries to the annual growth of the salary cap. In the end, both went with rather conventional, high-priced deals.

Then again, for star players like Rodgers and Wilson - as opposed to marginal or even above-average players, who make up the vast majority of the NFL's veteran workforce - there is evidence to suggest it's wiser to take a deal with front-loaded cash payments via some mechanism like a signing bonus instead of guarantees, even though that might seem counterintuitive.

This is because securing a bigger guarantee means having to accept a shorter, cheaper contract - in essence, bargaining away additional money in exchange for the guarantee. A front-loaded deal ensures that a player will collect a substantial portion of what's contracted even if a team were to terminate the contract early. And a signing bonus gets paid up front or within the first year, while the accounting has to be prorated across the life of the contract, which places a dead-money risk on the team that may make it less likely to cut a star.

As Ian Whetstone, an expert analyst of the Pittsburgh Steelers' cap, once told me, a boatload of front-loaded cash for a star player essentially functions as an effective guarantee: a team isn't going to cut a guy right after handing him a deal that averages $20 million a year, so why insist that first year be guaranteed?

The problem for most of the NFL's rank and file, of course, is that they lack this kind of leverage. The NFL is a have and have-not league, with the stars at one end of the salary scale making serious money, the draftees and the try-hards at the other end making substantially less, and a legion of guys like Kyle Van Noy stuck somewhere in between, capable of playing their way into a substantial payday but always at risk of having most of it taken away.

Dom Cosentino is a senior features writer at theScore.

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Andersen interested in returning to Maple Leafs

Goaltender Frederik Andersen is interested in re-upping with the Toronto Maple Leafs this offseason, his agent told The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun.

The pending unrestricted free agent is comfortable sharing the net with Jack Campbell going forward, LeBrun adds.

Campbell took over the starter's role this past season as Andersen struggled with injury and poor play. The 29-year-old went 17-3-2 with a .921 save percentage before posting a .934 clip in the playoffs as the Maple Leafs fell in seven games to the Montreal Canadiens in Round 1.

Andersen had been Toronto's No. 1 netminder since the team acquired him from the Anaheim Ducks in 2016. He registered the worst statistical season of his career in 2020-21, owning a .895 save percentage and 2.96 goals-against average across 24 games.

The 31-year-old is coming off a five-year, $25-million contract and will likely need to take a pay cut to return to the Maple Leafs. Toronto is projected to have $10 million in cap space this offseason, according to Cap Friendly, but the team only has 16 roster players under contract for 2021-22.

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Toews missed season due to chronic immune response syndrome

Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews shed some light Wednesday on the previously undisclosed medical issue that kept him off the ice for the entire 2020-21 NHL season, and he said he's working his way toward a return.

"I just think there's a lot of things that just kind of piled up, where my body just fell apart," Toews said in a video. "So what they're calling it was chronic immune response syndrome, where I just couldn't quite recover and my immune system was reacting to everything that I did."

"Any kind of stress, anything that I would do throughout the day, it was always kind of a stress response," he continued. "So, took some time. That was the frustrating part, was not really knowing when or how we were gonna get over the hump. "

Toews was ruled out indefinitely in late December, and at the time said he felt "drained and lethargic." The captain and the Blackhawks kept details under wraps as he attempted to recover.

"I definitely felt bad to a certain degree that people were that worried, they thought it was really serious," Toews said. "But in the back of my mind, I knew I would get through it; it was just a matter of time."

He was fresh off posting 60 points in 70 regular-season games in 2019-20 before authoring a vintage playoff performance in the bubble, averaging a point per game through nine contests as Chicago surprisingly advanced through the qualifying round.

Toews has spent his entire career with the Blackhawks, who drafted him third overall in 2006. While captaining the franchise, Toews has captured three Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe, and a Selke while registering 815 points in 943 games. The 33-year-old has two seasons remaining on his contract.

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Seguin on mental health, Corey Perry, entrepreneurship, and NHL TV deal

Tyler Seguin isn't your typical, cliche-dishing NHL player. Rather, the Dallas Stars veteran is a rare professional athlete who seldomly speaks in platitudes.

Yet, one cliche works perfectly for the 29-year-old at this stage of his life and career. It goes like this: You don't realize what you've got 'til it's gone.

"One-hundred percent. One-hundred percent. One-hundred percent," Seguin replied, seemingly nodding in agreement when theScore recited the bumper sticker-worthy saying over the phone.

Seguin, the second overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft and a five-time 30-goal scorer, is comfortable attaching himself to the cliche because he's dressed for only three meaningful NHL games since last August. He misses competing.

Glenn James / Getty

A durable, point-producing forward since 2010-11, Seguin appeared in 741 of a possible 773 regular-season games in the first 10 seasons of his career. In 2020-21, however, he was sidelined for 53 of 56 contests to recover and rehabilitate after undergoing a hip arthroscopy and labral repair last November and a knee scope one month later. In all, it was a treacherous six-month rehab that involved Seguin having to painstakingly "rebuild" his right quad.

By the time Seguin returned to the lineup in May, the 23-19-14 Stars were well on their way to finishing fifth in the Central Division. Dallas failed to earn a playoff spot despite making the bubbled Stanley Cup Final the year prior.

With so much idle time on his couch, Seguin turned his attention to his off-ice pursuits. He became one of the first NHLers to sell personalized non-fungible tokens; modeled as a brand ambassador for a cologne named "Sexual Noir Pour Homme"; worked away at his Nine One lifestyle brand; and, most recently, launched a dog toy and treat company called The Chew Club.

In an interview on Tuesday, Seguin discussed the recovery process, business interests, a couple of ex-teammates, the 2022 Olympics, and much more.

(Note: The following conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.)


It was a crazy past season for you with the surgeries and rehab, then a brief return to action. What are you up to at this point in the offseason?

I'm in Dallas. Once our season ended, I took off, I don't know, probably six of seven days of training, and then I went right back at it as far as working out and rehabbing. I don't know if I would call what I'm doing today rehabbing or working out. It's kind of a hybrid. Here in Dallas, I'll do my rehab/working out while the other guys are doing a lower-body lift, and on the upper-body days and core days, I'm doing the same workouts as the rest of the guys. Things have been progressing really well. I'm really happy with where I'm at right now, and I still have to take advantage of the next few months off here before it's go time as far as continuously strength-building my quad and my hip post-surgery, but I love the progress, where I'm at. It's exciting times. I've gone on the ice a few times lately, and if I remember where I was the first few times I went on the ice before I came back for a few games, I'm light years ahead.

Do you think you'll be at full health, 100%, on opening night in October?

That's the plan. If not, I don't think I'm a month or two off from being 100% after that point. So, I'm just going to keep working and hope for the best.

Andy Devlin / Getty Images

Such a difficult year can really test an athlete, a person. How much has your perspective on hockey and life changed over the past year or so?

A lot. It's funny, I feel like you have interviews throughout your career where you say that, but I feel like this is the first time I can actually mean it when it comes to perspective on, like you said, hockey and life. Plus, tying in all of the COVID-19 stuff, and things going on in the world, and being injured. It's been some wild times, but I'm really happy with where I am - especially mentally after everything. I had some dark days and dark weeks of just being in that grind, not being able to do too much in the gym, just slow methodical things that taught me pretty valuable lessons. I've had many surgeries throughout my career - well, I haven't had many, but I've definitely had a few - but none as grueling as this, none where I had to then go back under the knife a month after a major surgery with some knee stuff. It's definitely a process that I'm going to look back on for years.

Some fans seem to believe pro athletes are immune to mental health struggles. Clearly, that's not true. What have you learned on that front?

Two things with athletes. One, we have amazing perks being a professional athlete. There are things in life that a regular person wouldn't be able to do that we get to do, and 95% of what other people get to see from our lives are those perks. The other side of athletes is that we're human beings, and we go through struggles, and we have things that happen away from the rink that people don't know about - off-ice stuff, family, friends, whatever. We're still human beings. But, definitely, when it comes to the injury side, it's really a whole different ball game that people won't quite understand. There's the physical side and the mental side of not being able to be around your teammates, which is something that your mind and body are so accustomed to. Being on plane rides, playing cards - you know, day-to-day stuff that a regular person wouldn't quite understand. And they might say, 'Well, who cares, it's not that big of a deal.' But it is to us. Especially the mental side of watching games, and being close or being in overtime or losing games in shootouts, just knowing there are different times in the games where you'd be helping your teammates and your brothers, but you can't. It's tough to get used to that, to get over it, and it's something that teaches you to appreciate the game. I obviously have always loved hockey, but I didn't actually know or get my eyes fully opened to how much I really do love this game and love this life until I got hurt this time. I really didn't appreciate what I had until it was gone.

Your old teammate Stephen Johns, who retired from the NHL earlier this month due to post-concussion symptoms, has turned a huge challenge into something positive and meaningful with his #MentalMiles trip across the U.S. What can you say about how Stephen's handled the transition?

I think it's awesome. I mean, that guy has been through so much. And the hardest part for him, when he was going through everything, was not getting a proper reading from somebody to say what exactly was wrong. They couldn't really figure it out. Imagine having to go to the rink every day and say you're not playing and telling your teammates you can't go in but not really being able to explain why. That must have been so hard for him. I've golfed with him a bunch since and talked to him a lot. With everything he's gone through, I'm incredibly proud of what he's doing today. He's going to make a difference with other people, and he's in good hands on the trip with Jeff Toates there too. He did our photos and media this year in Dallas. That's two good people on a trek through the United States. They're definitely making an impact.

Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

Meanwhile, another ex-teammate, Corey Perry, is in his third Stanley Cup Final. What's behind Perry's renaissance, these consecutive strong postseasons in his mid-30s as a member of the Stars and Canadiens?

He's just one of those players, man, where you don't look at the age. You look at his resume. When he's in those situations, he finds a way to take it to the next level. There are just guys that have that capability. You look at a guy like Joe Pavelski, too. I mean, there's a lot of people this year who probably thought he was still 30 years old. I mean, these guys, they have that tick. They have that in them, and they're fun to be around, and it rubs off on you when you start to understand their psyche and their mental side and their preparation before games, especially since they're in the later stages of their careers. 'Worm' is just a heck of a player and a heck of a person. He definitely made us better, and he's a big reason why I think Montreal's where they are.

Gary Bettman expressed concern Monday about the Olympics' impact on the 2021-22 NHL season. The league wants to honor the MOU signed with the players' association, but there are outstanding issues with the IOC. As an NHLPA member and a player who will likely be considered for a spot on Team Canada, how crushing would it be if NHLers end up not participating in another Olympic Games?

(Sighs) I mean, it's been the same question for years and the same answer for years: The players obviously want to go. As a kid growing up, when you're sitting in your bedroom when you're nine or 14 or 15 years old, you're dreaming about winning the Stanley Cup and dreaming about representing your country. The Olympics is about representing your country on the world's biggest stage and with one's heart and soul. I would love to go there, and hopefully, it works out.

So what's the story behind creating The Chew Club?

It's been a passion project. Once COVID-19 hit and once I had injuries and even in the bubble, being in a hotel room a lot, sitting in rehab for months and months, I had a lot of time to think. To say today that it's a company is pretty incredible to me. I've always been a dog guy my whole life. We've always had a Lab in the family, and now I'm going into my 12th year in the league, and I've got three dogs at ages 11, seven, and four. Being in the NHL, you're always on the road, and I'd always notice that when I came back, especially early on in their lives, a belt would be eaten, and shoes would be eaten (laughs). So I always thought of having this structure in my life, where maybe every month there'd be a new toy or new dog treats. I was always busy and always looking for help with them. But I also have always loved them as my own children. That's where The Chew Club comes in. I think it's pretty awesome. If you get a monthly subscription, every month you get a new box with toys and treats. And, you know what, dogs get anxiety. They get depressed. They get bored. Us, as athletes, we give them misreadings where in the summer we're around every day for two to four months, then, all of a sudden, when it's the season, they see your suitcase every single week, and they get confused, and they get sad and anxious. The products are also healthy. That was a big thing for me as well. And another thing I love about what we do with our product is the smell. Toys and treats tend to have a certain smell. And these are all maple-smoked, so you won't smell much, and if you smell anything, it'll smell good, which will help their breath. We've had many different flavors, different types of toys, and it all got tested through my dogs. The ones they loved are what we've put into the first few boxes. It's Gerry, Marshall, and Cash approved.

It's interesting that you aren't just a spokesperson or ambassador. You're very much all-in on The Chew Club as a co-owner from the start.

Oh yeah, I'm all-in. I think it changes with everyone's career. When I was younger, in my first, maybe, I don't know, five or six or seven or maybe eight years in the league, I loved just comparing companies for endorsements and seeing the numbers that they give you to post this or that on social media. You go with the big companies, and you do that. But you also want to figure out what you want to do later in life. You realize hockey is going to end at some point. I think injuries open you up to that aspect as well, which is something you don't fully understand when you're a kid in the league and living your dream. So, a lot of my business now, I guess you could say, has been transferred from endorsements to equity, and then now, with this company, being an actual owner. I'm having a lot of fun with it, and I'm definitely wearing my heart on my sleeve with this one. So, hopefully, people like it.

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Reading between the lines - and I swear I'm not trying to retire you here - you'll head right to the business world when you're done playing?

I've always wondered what I'd be doing next, and a big thing that's happened as of late, really, is that once COVID-19 hit, before I went into the bubble, I started learning a lot more about business. I found a lot of my days were spent in my office, studying different things and talking to different people. Now I have another property elsewhere. There's also networking and getting into the golf world. Business just seems to, I don't know, make me excited and make me happy, and I have a lot of fun with it. Now, with me having my own company, I'm trying to understand things, whether it's how to market something or figure out what makes this toy better than the next toy or what makes this treat healthier than the next treat. I find a lot of joy in that. That's why, for sure, when I'm done, I'll be doing something along these lines.

You mentioned the length of your career. Over the course of it, I feel like hockey culture has come a long way with respect to accepting different personalities, players who have outside interests. Would you agree?

I keep hoping that we continuously go on that path. I love some of the young kids coming in now with a lot more swag. I look back on even Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner in Toronto and how they came in, and they just had the swag and fashion. Of course, P.K. Subban's great at what P.K. does. I try to put my own spin on it, as well. I'm a guy with a lot of tattoos and a flair for personality. It may have gotten me in trouble early on in my career, in my first few years (laughs). But it's accepted a lot more now, which is great. You can speak your mind a little bit more versus doing the typical 'get pucks in deep' and 'roll four lines.' Typical cliche answers. So, it's exciting. Hopefully, with us going over to ESPN with the TV deal, we can continue to show that. I don't think we can get to the NBA's level, but hopefully, we can continue to stay on that path of being outspoken people who aren't going to be complete idiots but can at least show a little personality.

OK, one follow-up as I let you go. In general, what did you think of the new TV deal in the U.S., with ESPN and TNT coming aboard?

I loved it. I thought it was great. I think it was a great first step for our league, and now the players have to back it up with being able to be themselves and not fall too much into the typical structure of an old-school hockey player.

John Matisz is theScore's senior NHL writer. You can follow John on Twitter (@MatiszJohn) and contact him via email (

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