Around the League: New coaches and suspended players

Man, there’s a lot going on in the NHL right now (and the world of hockey in general). Coaches gone, players banned, and amidst all of that, the Minnesota Wild just keep winning.

I won’t talk about the Wild’s winning ways today, but the rest will be addressed.

Boudreau and Maurice Out

The Maurice one I could have called as happening pretty soon. The ‘Canes have been absolutely horrific this season.

Their star player has been playing horrible, the team hasn’t been winning and, well, there’s usually a surefire band aid solution for a general manager when that happens – bring in new blood.

Maurice’s departure isn’t terribly surprising. The ‘Canes haven’t made the playoffs since his first season and have struggled greatly at points of the season. They remain a good team, but they just weren’t getting the job done.

Boudreau’s dismissal, however, was a bit more surprising – at least on the surface. The more I looked at it, though, the more I realized it really shouldn’t have been.

The situation for Boudreau was exactly as it was for Maurice.

He had a star player that has been playing horrible. The team hasn’t been winning and Boudreau has been pulling out all of the stops to try to right the ship, and it just hasn’t worked.

Both teams are going to be getting bench bosses with no head coaching NHL experience, despite being highly sought after coaches, so will this work for either team?

My gut says that, for Washington, this will work. Just look at all of the high end players that have come out of London that have played under Dale Hunter. I think he’s going to do just fine in Washington. In fact, he might even be able to solve the mystery that is Alex Semin – but let’s not put that much pressure on him just yet.

Hunter is, by all accounts, a players coach. Basically, what that means, is that he’s flexible. He’s willing to listen to his players’ needs which, from what I can tell, Gabby wasn’t towards the end of his tenure in Washington. As Daryl Reaugh said on Twitter, you can’t “go from teddy bear to grizzly bear with the same team.”

As for Kirk Muller, I’m not so sure his success as an assistant will translate to the head coaching ranks.

Muller has been the head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals and has done marvelously for them, but I get the feeling that he’ll be more Todd Richards than Mike Yeo.

That’s neither here nor there, though. The ‘Canes got their guy and, for better or worse, they’re going to roll with him.

Yablonski suspended from KHL

Well, this is pleasantly surprising news.

Jeremy Yablonski was suspended from the KHL today for general, all around goonery.

If you don’t know what happened, well, just click here and go look at the fight of the night.

If you’re video impaired, it’s pretty much Yablonski running around and cheap shotting people and the KHL has had enough.

In fact, suspending Yablonski for the season wasn’t enough for them. They’re going bring on a pretty major rule change because of it.

The gist of the rule? If a North American player hasn’t played at least 80-120 NHL games, they can’t play in the KHL.

Now, I agree with friend of the blog Justin Bourne, over on Backhand Shelf. The rule, in and of itself, is absolutely ridiculous. It prevents players from the CHL that weren’t drafted or haven’t been able to crack the roster after a few years in the AHL or who just want a different view from playing in the KHL and it seriously limits the amount of talent that comes into the league, not to mention the quagmire it starts with players currently in the league that don’t meet the restrictions.

But, overall, it looks like the KHL was forced to do something. This might just be a temporary fix, it might be permanent, but either way it’s sure going to at least draw attention to the fact that they don’t want to be the wild west.

Share your memories of Pavol Demitra – R.I.P. Demo

My initial memories of Pavol Demitra are those of shock.

When Gary Bettman walked up to the podium at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and announced that Minnesota was making a trade. I was floored. We never did that.

A common scene during Demitra's time in Minnesota

But, that day, Doug Risebrough pulled the trigger with the first move that would be one of the most eventful off seasons of his tenure at the helm of the Wild. He brought in a proven veteran and close friend to team superstar Marian Gaborik to help propel the Wild into the playoffs, and that’s exactly what Demitra helped do.

I remember that the entirety of the State of Hockey was torn on the trade. On one hand, we’d given up one of our top prospects. On the other hand, we’d gotten a proven veteran and proven scorer.

Demitra was, by all accounts, one of those players that everyone in the locker room likes. He brought people together and he helped bring the Wild’s locker room together.

I didn’t know him, personally, but I just remember how spellbound I was watching him skate in that initial season for Minnesota. He had something that no one else on the Wild’s roster had. He just had it.

When he was at his best, watching him play was magical and he showed that in Minnesota.

For me, though, the biggest memory I have of Demitra was the interview that he did with Kevin Falness after being named the Minnesota Wild’s captain.

His humbleness and the fact that he was truly touched by the honor shown through during the interview and was what really cemented him, in my mind, as a class act and a consummate professional.

So, share with us. What are your memories of Demo?

He was a great person, he was a great player and he will be sorely missed.

Breaking News: Majority of Lokomotiv roster killed in plane crash

Lokomotiv

I’m going to be very straight forward here. This blog is unplanned and off the cuff, so if it’s a bit disjointed, I apologize.

It’s been reported by many that the majority of the KHL team, Lokomotiv, have been killed in a plane crash.

According to the AP,

A Russian jet carrying a top ice hockey team crashed while taking off Wednesday in western Russia, killing at least 43 people and leaving two critically injured, officials said.

The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the Yak-42 plane crashed immediately after leaving an airport near the city of Yaroslavl, on the Volga River about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Moscow. It was carrying 45 people, including 37 passengers and eight crew, and the ministry said all but two people were killed in the crash.

Also, according to Greg Wyshynski at Yahoo.com’s Puck Daddy Blog, “Among the NHL alumni on Lokomotiv’s roster as of Aug. 31: Josef Vasicek, Pavol Demitra, Karel Rachunek, Ruslan Salei, Karlis Skrastins and Red Wings goalie prospect Stefan Liv.”

This is just the latest of a string of tragedies that has struck the hockey world this off season and the second involving a former Wild player.

While information is still rolling in, it has been confirmed that Right Wing Alexander Galimov has survived the crash and is currently in grave condition in a nearby hospital and, as of yet, he has been the only reported surviving player (a male flight attendant has been confirmed as surviving as well).

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families of the players, coaches and flight crew during this difficult time.

UPDATE: Per BD Gallof on Twitter: “lenta.ru/news/ reporting that Alexander Galimov succumbed to injuries”