Since the 1997-98 season, no NHL team has been able to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.
On Sunday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins could become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998 to repeat as champs, as they travel to Bridgestone Arena in Nashville for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. In a series that saw the Nashville Predators largely outplay the Penguins through the first four games only to see the series split 2-2, Pittsburgh dominated Game 5 from start-to-finish. It took the Penguins just over 90 seconds to open the scoring, and they didn’t look back. They blasted the Preds 6-0, chasing goaltender Pekka Rinne for the second time in three games in Pittsburgh.
Throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs, Rinne was dynamite. When these teams met in Nashville for Games 3 and 4, Rinne was lights out. That included arguably his best period of the playoffs during the second period of Game 4, a 4-1 Predators win. The home team has won every game in this series, as the Preds took Games 3 and 4 by a combined score of 9-2.
After two shaky outings in Games 1 and 2, Rinne appeared to have regained his form. Until the puck dropped on Game 5. After allowing three goals on nine shots in the opening period, Rinne was yanked for Juuse Saros, who didn’t fare much better. Rinne’s numbers at PPG Paints Arena this series? A ghastly 5.39 goals-against average and an equally atrocious save percentage of .766. His record on home ice? A sparkling 9-1 mark with a 1.44 GAA and .949 save percentage. If Nashville is to rebound and win the first Stanley Cup in franchise history, Rinne will have to find a way to make key saves on the road. However, the Predators will need to find a way to make their home ice work in their favor one last time just to get to a Game 7.
Calgary Flames want a new arena, but the city doesn’t want public money used
For some time, the Calgary Flames have been angling for a new arena. Who can blame them when the provincial rival Edmonton Oilers opened up the brand new Rogers Place to rave reviews? However, some harsh words were exchanged in the media between Flames president of operations Brian Burke and Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi.
During a business luncheon at the Canadian Club of Calgary, Burke lamented the city of Calgary’s lack of support in financing a new arena:
“We’re not going to make the threat to leave. We’ll just leave. We still have a building that was built in 1983, the oldest in the league by more than 10 years. They figured it out in Edmonton. Where they know that a new building can rejuvenate the downtown. But I guess we’re just smarter than that here.”
I’m pretty sure saying “We’ll just leave” is still a threat, but I digress.
Flames CEO and President Ken King quickly released a statement on the team’s website in response to Burke’s comments:
“Brian Burke runs Hockey Operations for the Calgary Flames and he and many Calgarians have strong views about this topic. However, he is not our spokesperson regarding a new events center for our city. We remain committed to our dialogue with the City and very optimistic we will get to a positive conclusion. We admire everyone’s enthusiasm on this subject.”
Nenshi responded to Burke’s comments by essentially saying the city wouldn’t roll over for the Flames, but would be willing to negotiate, while taking a shot at what Burke said:
“I do think, when you’re sitting opposite from somebody at the negotiating table, insulting their intelligence and saying they’re not very smart, kind of an interesting way to continue negotiations.”
“I want it to end in something that doesn’t look like Edmonton, that is a deal where any public money is very clear and it absolutely leads to public benefit. They had a very different situation. They had a derelict part of their city.”
Nenshi would also go on to say that Edmonton was also looking to revitalize their downtown because they “hadn’t had a skyscraper built in the downtown in who knows how long.” Apparently, he feels pretty confident that a new arena would be nice, but that it should be built with private money. In essence, he doesn’t want the city of Calgary dropping $313 million in public money for a new arena. That was the amount the city of Edmonton contributed to Rogers Place, while the Oilers chipped in $166 million.
Kings re-sign Tyler Toffoli to a three-year contract
Since taking over as the GM of the Los Angeles Kings, Rob Blake has been busy, re-signing forward Tanner Pearson to a four-year deal, $15 million contract. He followed that up by re-signing restricted free agent Tyler Toffoli to a three-year contract worth $13.3 million. Toffoli’s deal averages $4.6 million annually, a raise of $1.35 million over his previous deal.
It’s the classic bridge deal, as Toffoli is coming off a down year of 16 goals and 34 points. This came just one season after career highs of 31 goals and 58 points. However, the raise is due on his performance over the previous three seasons (including this year). His 70 goals since the start of 2014-15 trail only Jeff Carter on the Kings’ roster during that time. His 141 points trail only Carter and Kings captain Anze Kopitar. It’s tough to criticize the money. Toffoli is one of the few players on this roster that can score with any sort of consistency.
However, Los Angeles only has $5.32 million in cap space right now. They’ll have to get creative this offseason in order to get some offensive help. A trade or two could be in the works. What would really help out the Kings would be finding someone to take Dustin Brown or Marian Gaborik off their hands. However, it’s tough to picture finding a willing trade partner to take on either of those contracts.
Howe, Richard, Hull to be removed from Stanley Cup soon
It takes 13 years for one ring of the Stanley Cup to completely fill up. When that ring is full, the oldest ring on top of the Cup gets retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame and a blank ring is placed on the bottom.
Guess what? It’s about that time again, as the winner of this year’s Stanley Cup will be the last team to have their names etched on the current ring. Which means the oldest ring is about to make it’s way into permanent retirement, as Ken Campbell of The Hockey News pointed out this week. The ring featuring the Stanley Cup champs from 1953-54 to 1964-65 will soon no longer be on the Cup. Why is this significant? Because three of the league’s greatest players ever, Gordie Howe, Maurice “Rocket” Richard, and Bobby Hull will no longer be on the Cup. That’s going to be weird.
In addition to those three legends, Hall of Famers Ted Lindsay, Jack Adams, Stan Mikita, Jacques Plante, and Frank Selke will no longer have their names etched on the Cup as they all won titles during that timeframe. It’s one of those things that’s as inevitable as the passing of time. One day, we’ll also no longer see names like Gretzky, Messier, Lemieux, and Yzerman on the Cup. Despite that, nothing can take away what all of these great players have accomplished. You’ll just have to head to the Hockey Hall of Fame to see these retired legends’ names etched on the Cup’s old rings.