The NHL offseason – simultaneously the most boring and busy time in the year for hockey. This is the time when most players, fans and journalists take breaks to visit some tropical place (in a non-covid year of course). People around the world turn off their notifications for Chris Johnston, unfollow 31 Thoughts: The Podcast and unsubscribe from Sportsnet. And yet over the course of (less than) 3 months there have been many breaking news stories, so with the pre-season starting in a day, here’s 31 Thoughts: The Ripoff with 32 Pieces of Hockey News You Might Have Missed Over The Summer (brought to you by caffeine, an unhealthy Leafs obsession and two hours of sleep)
Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft
Easily the biggest news at the start of the offseason, the Seattle Kraken Draft was constantly talked about. The last expansion draft was four years ago in 2017, for the Vegas Golden Knights, and many notable players were featured. Namely three-time Stanley Cup champion G Marc Andre-Fleury.
All eyes were on this draft, and it did not disappoint. G Chris Driedger, RW Jordan Eberle, D Jamie Oleksiak (yes, Penny Oleksiak’s brother), two-time Stanley Cup Champion C/LW Yanni Gourde and Flames Captain D Mark Giordano are many of the big names selected. Additionally they also drafted brother defence duo Cale and Hadyn Fleury.
2021 Regular Draft
The 2021 Regular Draft went as expected, unless you count over five hours of delay and a highly controversial player being selected.
Logan Mailloux, a Canadian defenseman, had previously withdrawn from the draft due to inappropriate behaviour. A year previously the 18-year-old Belle River Native had secretly taken photos of a woman while they were engaged in a sexual act, and shared them — and the identity of the woman — with members of his hockey team. And although he had withdrawn himself from the draft, the Montreal Canadiens selected him in the first round, 31st overall. Ironic how he was selected without his permission.
Trades, trades and more trades
As with every offseason there is a multitude of trades; opening up roster spots, cap space and acquiring assets. And this season there were big moves by multiple GMs but none other than Vezina winning goalie Marc Andre-Fleury.
Yes, you heard right. Three-time Stanley Cup Champion and 2021 Vezina winner Marc Andre-Fleury was traded for… almost nothing? Major oof. And the beloved goalie found out through Twitter. Double oof. (sorry Hirushi </3)
Unrestricted Free Agency
This was the largest first day of Unrestricted Free Agency in YEARS. Over 120 players were signed including Zach Parise, Zach Hyman, Jamie Oleksiak, the whole personality line of Tampa and almost-two-time-Stanley-Cup-champion Corey Perry. There was also a goalie swap with Toronto and the Hurricanes, with Freddy Andersen signing with Carolina and vice versa for Petr Mrazek.
Restricted Free Agency (Canucks….)
Every summer RFAs are often overlooked by fans and forgotten about… until you realize that some of these players are vital to the NHL. This year some of the top RFAs (that are STILL not signed) are Elias Petterson, Brady Tkachuk and Quinn Hughes. Seriously, what the heck are the Canucks doing?? Sign people!!!
Henrik Lundqvist <3
This summer a beloved goalie retired, and his name is Henrik Lundqvist. The Swedish former goaltender mainly played with the New York Rangers and holds the record for most wins by a European-born goaltender in the NHL. He has won an Olympic gold medal and has reached the Stanley Cup Finals once, but has not broken through to the ultimate trophy. Henrik Lundqvist and his wife also founded the Henrik Lundqvist Foundation, a non-profit organization with a focus on health and education for children and families. He will be missed for years to come, and he has certainly left his impact on the hockey world.
Stanley Cup Playoffs Guess – From a Leafs Fan
I already know who I would bet on (although the season hasn’t even started, so sue me). The New York Islanders. And I have my reasons (and not just because I love Mat Barzal and Matt Martin). The last two years the Islanders have been the closest team to beating the Tampa Bay Lighting, taking them to 6 games then 7 games each.
NHL 22 – Why Auston Matthews?? Explain??
Do I even have to explain?? Auston Matthews joins the elite group of players who have been on the cover twice, and yes, he does deserve it. But seriously?? They picked someone who looks like 1990s pornstar when they could have picked Connor McJesus.
Dented Stanley Cup – Tampa Bay Celebrations
During Tampa’s back-to-boat parade, the Stanley Cup was dropped. Yes, dropped. A player dropped it due to it being slippery from the rain and the whole side caved in. It was flown back to Montreal for repairs, which is just hilarious. I guess the cup did go to Montreal after all.
Steven Stamkos Day in Markham (hehe)
For his day with the Stanley Cup, Tampa Bay Lightning Captain Steven Stamkos went to his hometown of Markham. And there the Mayor pronounced that day, August 28th, Steven Stamkos day. Next August 28th you’ll know where I’ll be.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi Offer Sheet, like why
FOLKS THERE WAS AN OFFER SHEET THIS YEAR!!!! And not just an offer sheet, but an unmatched sheet. The Carolina Hurricanes offer sheeted Canadiens forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Or KK for short, because I’m lazy). The specifics: $6.1mil for 1 year, with a 20 signing bonus – for Dvorak and two draft picks (a 1st and a 3rd).
In my not-so-humble opinion, Jesperi Kotkaniemi is NOT worth it. He barely made the Habs playoff roster, and the contract takes up so much cap space that it forces Jake Gardiner onto LTIR.
NHL in the Olympics!!!! Hopefully!!!!!
For the first time since 2014 NHL players will be in the Olympic Games! The NHL, the NHLPA, and the IIHF finally agreed during the off-season to allow the players to participate. Although this is exciting news, it, unfortunately, is not for sure. Some reasons, including COVID, The NHL’s ability to withdraw and the fact that the USA and Canada might boycott are currently unknown factors.
Projected Roster for Team Canada in Olympics (Mat Barzal pLs)
Even if they might not play, I BELIEVE
MacKinnon – McDavid – Marner
Marchand – Crosby – Bergeron
Huberdeau – Barzal – Stone
Tavares – Point – Stamkos
Extra: Scheifele, Couturier, Taylor Hall
Theodore – Makar
Chabot – Pietrangelo
Rielly – Hamilton
Extra: Eckblad, Byram, Brodie
Price, Andre-Fleury, Hart
Extra: Binnington, Blackwood
Premiere Hockey Federation (PHF, formally NWHL)
The first paid Women’s League, the National Women’s Hockey League has been rebranded to the Premiere Hockey Federation (or the PHF). This change comes a year after Commissioner Tyler Tumminia took over. She stated in an episode of 31 Thoughts: The Podcast that it was changed to reflect the change inside the organization. Their salaries have doubled and two teams have been added and now the world watches as the PHF grows and flourishes.
Gold for Team Canada at Women’s World Championships (when women 😩)
I watched the Women’s World Championships gold medal game live and the whole time I was either about to cry, laugh or melt. It was a game of ups and downs, old history and the new future, unsung heroes and thoroughly sung heroes. Namely Canada’s captain, Marie-Philip Poulin.
The USA vs Canada women’s ice hockey teams have years of history, with Team Canada’s nine-year gold drought and Team USA’s domination of the Women’s World Championships. And so the game started to like how most would expect from this match-up; close chances, scrappy almost-fights and loads of tension. Within the first period, the USA scores two goals in quick succession, leaving Canada trailing 2-0 going into the second period. But then Canada launches their assault and pulls the score up to 2-2 going into the third period. Finally, after 20 minutes of constant back-and-forth, the game was going into overtime. And there is where Team Canada cemented itself into history. Marie-Philip Poulin, Captain Canada, scores a gorgeous bar-down goal to complete the comeback and to win her first gold as captain.
Major Women’s Achievements This Summer
Other women in hockey also had major accomplishments over the NHL offseason. At the World Championships forward Hilary Knight broke fellow American Cammi Granato’s scoring record, with 45 goals. Manon Rhéaume, the first and only woman to play in the NHL, not only celebrated the 29th anniversary of her historic game but also was gifted with a statue in her hometown of Beauport, Quebec. Additionally, Canadian former player Hayley Wickenheiser worked both at the hospital and for the Leafs prospect came at the same time. Due to hospitals being understaffed she volunteered her time and often went straight back and forth between the two jobs. Hats off to her!
Connor Bedard, Connor Bedard, Connor Bedard
If only I could show you my notes for this thought. Unfortunately it is full of swearing, but here is a clean summary; “dude is 15, 16 and has GOLD AT WORLDs AND IS LIKE FAMOUS AND LOOKS LIKE CONNOR MCJESUS WHEN SKATING AND IS VERIFIED ON IG WHAT-”
As you can see, I was losing my mind. And rightfully so. Approximately a month ago TSN, Sportsnet, and the NHL reposted a video of Bedard skating and I still can’t believe my eyes. I don’t think anyone in that comment section could either.
SDPN Back In-Person (Don’t judge me, I love Steve Dangle)
STAN STEVE!! And yes, SDPN is back in person, which means we get to see Jesse, Adam and Steve all in the same room. Let the chaos ensure (I’m kidding, ish). The podcast is back to be filming in person, as well as they are now coming out more often due to the start of the season. I look forward to hearing the sweet sound of a screaming Steve :D.
Reporter-News (CONGRATS CHRIS!)
Chris Johnston (or reporter Chris, like I call him in my head) is now a Toronto Star reporter! The Toronto-born native was ecstatic, and so was the rest of the hockey community. He truly is a wonderful writer and the Toronto Star has much to gain from him. We wish you luck Chris!
To add to the reporter news, John Tortorella has returned to televisions across North America. The former Columbus Blue Jackets coach has signed with ESPN as a studio analyst and will be appearing frequently. As much as I will miss the “Top 10 Mad Torts Moments” I am glad to see him back on the news!
Darren Dutchyshen (Dutchy:( )
Dutchy has been diagnosed with cancer:(. The 54-year-old has been with TSN since 1995, regularly hosting Sportscentre. He released his diagnosis through a Twitter post “I’m off Sportscentre for a bit. I have been diagnosed with cancer. I’m getting some incredible treatment with some amazing doctors and can’t wait to return. #daddyshomesoon” The Kingsley Voice wishes him good luck and a speedy recovery <3!
The Leafs. Pain. That’s it.
I have about an hour-long rant if anyone wants to hear it (dm me @cizzy8!), but I don’t have enough time, patience or space to put it here.
R.I.P Jimmy Hayes
Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes’s brother, was an American professional ice hockey right-winger. He had won the 2010 NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament with Boston College and won silver at the 2007 IIHF World U18 Championships with Team USA. And on August 23rd, 2021 he died in his Milton home. He is survived by his brother, his wife, his two sons, and his very large and loving family.
The return of Captain Serious
On a brighter note, one of the most beloved NHL captains is returning to play. Chicago Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews (aka Captain Serious) is returning to play after missing the entire 2020 – 2021 season. He released in a video that he had been diagnosed with Chronic Immune Response Syndrome, which means his body was so overworked it literally stopped working. But the captain is planning to return for the 2021 – 2022 season and the hockey community is beyond happy to see him back.
Arizona kicked out of their arena (Lmao)
Last month the Gila River Arena announced that they will not agree to a contract with the Arizona Coyotes for the 2022 – 2023 season. This leaves the Coyotes without a home next year and mild panic spread through the management. The Coyotes were even considering the possibility of leaving Arizona. But just three weeks ago the Coyotes submitted a bid to Tempe, Arizona and proposed a $1.7B development that would include an Arena.
Theo Fleury Publicly Shamed by Universities (as they should)
Theo Fleury is a major sports figure, in both positive and negative ways. In 2009 he released an autobiography that revealed that he was sexually abused by his former coach Graham James and became a spokesperson for sexual assault in sports. He received many awards, such as the Canadian Humanitarian Award and the Queen’s Jubilee Medallion. He has also received an honorary doctorate in science from the University of Guelph-Humber and another honorary degree from Brandon University.
But more recently he has taken to posting anti-vaxxer propaganda and attacking people who are against him. It got to the point where Brandon University and the University of Guelph-Humber even released statements. Brandon University especially was very harsh about it in their statement. “One of the tragedies of abuse is how it perpetuates itself across generations. We call on Fleury to recognize that he is now a person in a position of authority, and to recognize that his actions as an authority put him in a place where he can cause harm to others. We hope he takes advantage of the resources at his disposal and seeks a greater understanding of the science behind the pandemic and the essential public health role of vaccines.” – Brandon University
Evander Kane – What????
Soooo, does anyone know what is going on with Evander Kane?? Because I have no clue.
That’s a lie, I do know (because it’s my JOB). Earlier this year Evander Kane’s wife, Anna Kane, said that her husband allegedly bet on one of his playoff games. But not only did she say that he bet on the game, but that he also threw the game to win money. The NHL took this very seriously, especially since Evander Kane had recently filed for bankruptcy – which contained mostly betting debts. The investigation just ended and Evander Kane was cleared of that charge. But now he is under another investigation for sexual assault and domestic abuse of his wife and daughter. But previously HE had a restraining order against his wife??? The whole issue has continued to develop more and I’m sure updates will follow.
The 2010 Blackhawks
Earlier this year serious allegations against 2010 Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich were released. For background information, Brad Aldrich is already a convicted sexual assaulter with many cases against him. This year two Blackhawks players filed against him stating that he had sexually abused both of them. The files were full of disturbing information. (Google at your own discretion). What is just as disturbing is the fact that many other players and the management knew. BUT DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!
And the NHL is doing nothing to address it. For more information, there is plenty online (but be aware of triggering things)
Buffalo, where NHL careers go to die
So. What just happened??????
Starting from the beginning, the drama was starting to unfold between the Buffalo Sabres Management and team captain Jack Eichel. Eichel had requested a trade due to the fact that the Sabres were not allowing him to get the surgery that he needed. This progressed into a huge issue and has now gotten even worse. Just the other day Jack Eichel failed his physical and is not cleared to play. The Sabres response? REVOKE HIS CAPTAINCY. Like, what??? The GM said that “He doesn’t reflect the heart of the team anymore”. Thanks, GM for the helpful information
Carolina Hurricanes: GOOD LUCK
Dear Carolina Hurricanes,
Good luck, you have a mess of a roster. There is a $6.1mil player (Jesperi Kotkaniemi), an extremely conservative and problematic idiot (Tony DeAngelo) and a beloved Indigenous representative (Ethan Bear). There is no possible way that three mix well together. And not to mention the multitude of other issues, from Jake Gardiner on LTIR to giving away Alex Nedeljkovic for practically nothing. I don’t know what you are doing, but hopefully, it’s worth that humongous fee of $25 a game that fans paid for.
A Concerned Hockey Fan
(PS. If you force DeAngelo and Bear together on the same roster I WILL end you – A Métis Hockey Fan)
I would die for Luke Prokop
Luke Prokop is a Canadian professional ice hockey defenseman for the Calgary Hitmen, a Western Hockey League (WHL) team. In October of 2020, he was selected 73rd overall by the Nashville Predators and less than a year later, on July 19th, 2021, he came out as gay. He is the first player under NHL contract to do so.
In an episode on 31 Thoughts: The Podcast (This is Luke Prokop’s Podcast With Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek) he said “Having a career with, you know, three Stanley Cups and Norris trophy and all these records is amazing and something that, you know, I’m hopeful in wanting to do. But I would rather play one game or two games in the NHL and create a lasting difference or a lasting change. Have some sort of impact on the game that goes beyond the ice.” And he certainly did, creating a defining moment that supported many people, including myself.
Empty net at the end of the rink (Bright light at the end of the tunnel)
Amid a hard time, with the COVID-19 pandemic, unrest around the world, and many unfortunate situations arising in the hockey world, it’s easy to forget the good. But with Luke Prokop coming out and the start of the NHL season we know positive things are coming, things we can look forward to.
Unless you’re a Leafs fan. Then you’re screwed.