During his fruitful career of 15 seasons, Chris Kunitz held the Stanley Cup four times. Now he announced his retirement from playing and has been hired to assist with player development by the Chicago Blackhawks.

A Successful Professional Career

In 2003 Kunitz was undrafted and then signed with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim as a free agent. At that stage, he had 619 points from 268 goals and 351 assists. He played 1 022 games in National Hockey League for various teams. These included the Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Atlanta Thrashers, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Chicago Blackhawks. During his career, he won 96 points from 27 goals and 66 assists in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was part of the Stanley Cup Winning teams during his career at the Ducks in 2007 as well as with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, 2016 and also 2017. During last season Kunitz played 56 games for the Blackhawks ending up with 10 points from five goals and five assists. Except for the four Stanley Cups, Kunitz also received an Olympic Gold Medal playing for Canada in 2014. During the shortened lockout season of 2013, Kunitz was named for the All-Star team. He also finished 16th that year in the Hart voting and 14th in Selke voting. During 2017 he scored his most important goal during double-overtime during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. With this goal, he sent the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final. It was then when they defeated the Nashville Predators during six games.

The New Role

Head Coach for the Blackhawks, Jeremy Colliton, expressed his excitement to have Kunitz moving into his new career at the team. Not only does he feel that Kunitz is an extremely professional player, but also a valuable contribution in different regards. Colliton realized Kunitz’s potential to assist other younger players into growing into stars while coaching him in the previous season. He stood out as an asset in possible resource development of the team. He is looking forward to the contribution which Kunitz will be able to make to the lives of the players of Rockford.

Kunitz’s Farewell

Kunitz made use of his retirement announcement to express his gratitude for being fortunate enough to have such a great career. He also expressed his gratefulness towards the four great teams which taught him so much about professionalism in the game and the professional league. He felt that they didn’t only extend themselves to him, but also his children. He also mentioned the many coaches, trainers and managers whose work always exemplified the possibilities of the teams they were involved with. His fellow teammates were also mentioned. Kunitz started as a youngster in the league, but his teammates helped him grow into a player which he always dreamt of becoming. Through wisdom, humour and hard work, many friendships were formed.

In 2014, Mike Gillis was fired from the Vancouver Canucks. After many years of involvement in the sport as a former player, coach, executive agent and the lifelong student he considers himself to be, he took a five-year sabbatical from the game. This trained lawyer took it upon himself to study the success of other sports teams. He wanted to find out how they create cultures of winning and how they operated successfully, and now he is back with all his knowledge to share. In his successful career, Gillis was awarded GM of the Year in 2011; he also managed to build the winning teams of two Presidents’ Trophies. He made it clear that he is not interested in becoming a GM again.

A Journey to Expand Horizons

It seems that during this sabbatical, no trouble or effort was too much for Gillis to obtain his goal of getting as much knowledge as possible. This means that he travelled the globe to learn as much as possible. Gillis spent some time in Oregon at the Nike Sport Research Lab to learn more about cognitive awareness. He went off to Switzerland and the Campus BioTech, at the University of Michigan he participated in a business school, and he studied how KHL teams develop their players. He went to Spain, Australia and China and never stopped to research how other organizations in different cultures run their organizations successfully.

The Knowledge Obtained

The main lesson learned from his travels can be taken as the importance which other successful and modern teams put on their training environment, on a day-to-day basis. They follow a much more holistic approach towards the players and every moment is seen as crucial as part of the training, from the arrival of the player until the player departs again.

Another suggestion which Gillis feels can bring significant change within the leagues is how front offices are run. He thinks that the organizational structures need to change, and one of the ways this can be done would be through changing the workflow. Gillis is convinced that a GM has too much on his plate and shouldn’t have to oversee the entire operations department. If more people can share in the responsibility, it would ensure that GM’s don’t get worn out and then when they are tired, make poor decisions.

Another suggestion is to employ four assistants to the GM. This is much based on the models of many English elite soccer clubs. Having this structure allows for a group of people to be able to influence the club and not only having the entire responsibility rest on one person alone.

Gillis also made suggestions around the time of day when practice times are scheduled and so much more. He is very keen on sharing his knowledge and expertise, and it would be exciting to see what the future holds.

NHL is slowly approaching the 2019-20 season. With some significant contracts signed and sealed. New players are ready for the ice; there is also a fair share of bad deals which must be resolved. In NHL it isn’t as easy to get rid of a bad contract as in some of the other Major Leagues. You can’t hide them, and you can’t trade them unless you find a manager willing to take your mistakes on. With a hard cap salary, it will most probably cost you more than what you would like. So who are some of this season’s bad contracts?

Ryan Kesler for the Anaheim Ducks

With their focus set on winning the Stanley Cup, they probably knew the results of this deal working out well aren’t great, yet that wasn’t as important as the Cup at that time. The Ducks didn’t win the Cup, and they also realized that their enthusiasm regarding Kesler was overrated. During his first season, it still went well with him getting 58 points. From there though it took a nosedive to a mere 8 points during the 2018-19 season. Signed in on a $6.875 million contract, this one is going to cost them even more than just money. The assumption is that Kesler will probably not play this season and that the Ducks will give him a long term reservation on the injury bench.

Kyle Okposo at the Buffalo Sabres

NHL free agents signed deals all over during the 2016 summer. Very few of them turned out to be great. This was a lesson which the Buffalo Sabres also had to learn. They had hope for Kyle Okposo when signing him on, but they were wrong. During his first year, he did relatively spoken not so bad, with 65 games and bringing in 45 points. Then he went onto a gradual decline until reaching a low of only 29 points from 78 games. In his defence, Okposo did suffer some injuries which probably negatively affected his match. One of these had him hospitalized with signs of having a concussion. Currently, though, he is earning the salary and yet not delivering in return. His playing time also got dramatically cut, yet he is signed at a $6 million cap.

James Neal for the Calgary Flames

Last on this list, which can continue for many more pages, is the hope of the Flames which got extinguished. Neal had all the promise of being a great scorer when signed on. That was precisely what the Flames needed to fix a scoring issue. Even though Neal never scored less than 20 goals in one season before the Flames, he only managed to get out seven goals during the 2018-19 season with a mere 19 points. Maybe a bad year for Neal or maybe age catching up rudely, yet he is not contributing much to the Flames and their score concerns. Signed at a $5.75 million cap for four years, one can only hope for improvement.

Every sport has its highlights and moments of glory, but often delivering a balance to this, is a fair share of moments which just shocked the world. These are some of those shocking moments in National Hockey League history.

The Shame of Alan Eagleson

Going from a Hockey Hall of Fame to prison. Alan Eagleson is the name of NHL Players’ Association’s first director. He was a man with significant influence in the league and brought many superstars into the limelight. Names like Darryl Sittler and Bobby Orr were all from Eagleson’s camp. The success of the Summit Series in 1972 was much due to having him as a chief promoter. But Eagleson was greedy and skimmed from sponsorships and stole from both players and clients. After pleading guilty, he was sent to 18 months in prison, kicked from the Hall of Fame as well as the bar as a lawyer.

An Internal Gambling Ring

Right before the 2006 Winter Olympics, a scandal broke loose when police arrived to investigate a gambling ring within the league. It was during the period when Wayne Gretzky still stood serving Team Canada in his position as executive director. The main suspects were none other than Gretzky’s wife, Janet Jones and Rick Tocchet, serving under Gretzky as a coach. Jones got away with no charges ever laid against her. Tocchet was not so lucky. He ended up pleading guilty on charges of conspiracy.

Aggressive Approach

Sometimes aggression gets the upper hand during the heat of the game. During a match riddled with assault in March 2004, Todd Bertuzzi lost control. One punch landed him into controversy and took Steve Moore, playing for Colorado, out of the game forever. Moore ended up with some broken vertebrae and a severe concussion. Moore claimed damages after a guilty plea from Bertuzzi. Finally, the two could settle the matter ten years later in 2014.

Anger at a Different Level

It is 2004, and the Stanley Cup playoffs were just over, and the St. Louis Blues didn’t make it. This was, however, only the start of controversy for the team. Days after the playoffs Mike Danton got arrested. The charge against him was for hiring a hitman. His target was David Frost, his then-agent. Danton served five years in a US prison before being transferred to Canada for another six months before his parole. Later on, the world saw him returning to the ice at Saint Mary’s University. Then in 2010, he played in the national championship for the Huskies.

Taking on the Crowd

Sometimes the aggression runs over towards the spectators. This is what a New York fan learned during a match between the Rangers and the Bruins in 1979 after hanging over the glass and hitting a Bruins player with a program. This caused the already rowdy players to sort out the spectator in the crowd. It was when Mike Milbury whacked the man with his shoe, that police was called in to calm the crowd down. Leading to Milbury and some teammates being suspended.

The Dallas Stars do not have a high season behind them. They had heavy blows from injuries suffered during the season and are hoping to regain new depth with signing contracts with veteran players.

Corey Perry

Perry just signed a one-year contract to the value of $1.5 million. This contract is weighing heavy towards a bonus side with the amount of $1.75 million being paid as bonus money should Perry perform according to expectations. This is because Perry himself didn’t have a high season after returning too soon after surgery to his knee due to an injury and thus he only had ten goals from 31 matches. Perry is also not the most influential hockey player in the history of NHL, but the Stars do consider him to be a low-risk addition to strengthen their lineup. The Stars management is expecting that Perry will be able to bounce back to his former glory of being a scorer of 50 goals. Depending on Stars coach, Jim Montgomery’s combination choices for the forward group, Perry will slide in between Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov, Tyler Seguin, Roope Hintz and Joe Pavelski.

Since 2003, Perry knew no other NHL home except the Ducks where he has been at since they initially drafted him. Perry also stated that there is nothing wrong between him and his old team and was, in fact, grateful for the opportunities he had there from playing NHL to bringing the Stanley Cup to Florida. They did decide to let him go when his performance was going down, and they bought him out of his last two years of his contract valued at $17.5 million. That way, they felt that they could give both him and the team a better chance to succeed. Now being in the Stars again is a promising turn of events and joining this developing team, was a natural choice for Perry to make.

Andrej Sekera

The future which Montgomery has planned for Sekera is still slightly uncertain. He is a left-handed defenseman and former Edmonton Oiler forward and now being third on the Stars depth chart, with Miro Heiskanen and Esa Lindell exceeding him. Montgomery does feel stronger with having between seven and eight defensemen from NHL on his team. The uncertainty remaining about Johns and whether he will be returning, lead to stocking up on defensemen by James Nill. Therefore except for the signing of Sekera, Taylor Fedun and Roman Polak were also re-signed. Sekera is also signed to a $1.5 million contract, and the possibility of bonus payouts based on the number of games played as well as postseason performance. This amount for his bonus payouts is set at $500 000. Sekera is also coming from a buyout background, and therefore he got the same kind of deal as Perry, having to prove what can be delivered to earn.

These two players signed indeed a low-risk deal with which the Dallas Stars can either earn excellent delivery or lose out with a minimal price to pay.

History

The Hockey Hall of Fame was established in 1943 with James T. Sutherland in the leadership position. It introduced its first class of honoured members in 1945. It moved to Kingston in Ontario in 1958 after the NHL withdrew support from it. This was its first permanent location. In 1993 it moved premises to Toronto’s downtown and is currently situated inside a historic Bank of Montreal building and Brookfield Place. It serves as an ice hockey museum as well exhibiting memorabilia and is also home to the Stanley Cup.

New Class

Since 2009 new members could be inducted into the Hall of Fame as either on-ice officials, players or builders, which included coaches, managers, team owners and commentators. Annually a commission elects the names of the next class to become part of the Hall of Fame. The class for 2019 bears the following titles. Representing the male players are Guy Carbonneau, Vaclav Nedomansky and Sergei Zubov. On the female side, the one person who stood out for exceptional performance was Hayley Wickenheiser. Jerry York and Jim Rutherford represent builders.

Hayley Wickenheiser

This Canadian lock has 18 goals from 26 games to her name. She has four Olympic gold medals and seven IIHF World Championship golds. Her performance is outstanding, and her name just became synonymous in Canada with women’s hockey. This was the first year which she was eligible for the Hall of Fame, and clearly, she deserves to be inducted.

Guy Carbonneau

He played in 1 318 games in 19 seasons and was part of three victories of the Stanley Cup Championships. In his long career, he had 260 goals and 663 points. He won the Selke Trophy three times during 1988, 1989 and 1992. He was also the former Canadian captain and contributed significantly to the sport during his career.

Vaclav Nedomansky

Being part of the Czechoslovakian team earning the silver Olympic medal in 1968 as well as the world championship in 1972. When he moved over to play for the Detroit Red Wings, the Rangers and the St. Louis Blues, he became the first player from the behind the Iron Curtain to change sides from behind it.

Sergei Zubov

A defenseman from Russia won the Olympic gold medal in 1992 as well as the World Junior Gold Medal in 1989. He is standing at 888 points from 1 232 regular NHL season and playoff games during his career at the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Dallas Stars and the New York Rangers. He was humbled by the honour and spoke of gratefulness for being able to be part of this beautiful game all his life.

Jim Rutherford

Being the general manager for Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes as well as the Pittsburgh Penguins, his career stretches over many years. During his time as team leader, his teams brought home the Cup in 2006, 2016 as well as 2017.

Jerry York

The man with the most wins in any active NCAA Division and coach to Boston College and Bowling Green has five national titles to his name.

The Stanley Cup belongs to the St. Louis Blues and the NHL Awards are over so now is a great time to reflect on history and to ponder on the records set over time.

Record for Most Points in a Season

The Montréal Canadiens are the record holders with achieving the most points in any one season. Their points won totalled at 132 for the season 1976-77. Founded in 1909 they are not only the record holders for most positions in a season, but they are also the professional hockey team who are the longest continuously operating.

Most Wins in a Season

This record was set in the 1995-96 season by the Detroit Red Wings with a total of 62 wins. During the 2018-19 season, Tampa Bay Lightning joined them in this position also achieving 62 gains for the season. During the 2019 season, the Detroit Red Wings also moved into the place of having won the most Stanley Cup Championships compared to any other US-based NHL franchise and are in third position overall following the lead of Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs.

Longest Winning Streak in a Season

17 is the golden number at this stage. Set by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992-93. The Pens are one of two NHL franchises in Pennsylvania and an active participant of the Battle of Pennsylvania. This battle refers to the rivalry between the Pens and the Philadelphia Flyers which started in 1967 when both teams were introduced into NHL. This rivalry is still today alive and active.

Quickest Goal in History

Only a mere five seconds after the opening whistle blew during a match between the Winnipeg Jets and St Louis Blues in December 1981 Doug Small scored the first goal for the Winnipeg Jets. This event was repeated three years later when Bryan John Trottier did the same in 1984 in a game between the New York Islanders and the Boston Bruins. In 1991 Alexander Mogilny did it again in a match between the Buffalo Sabers and Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto.

Leading Scorer in NHL

The title goes to none other than Wayne Gretzky, also known as the Great One. He holds the title for the most points totalling at 2 856 during the regular season, the most goals standing at 894 and the most points attained in a single season of 215. The amount of records linked to his name is also record-breaking with receiving recognition for more than 60 recordings over his career which stretched from 1978 to 1999. He is considered to be the greatest ice hockey player of all times by opponents, fans and commentators alike. His skills brought him fame, and his legacy is set not only in the record books but also with a freeway named after him as well as three awards and four video games. The 58-year old NHL legend is indeed an inspiration in the world of ice hockey.

Only nine months after the Swedish Erik Karlsson was traded into the San Jose Sharks, Doug Wilson got what he wanted, and an eight-year contract was signed to keep Karlsson in the Sharks camp. A deal valued at $11.5 million per year putting this defenseman now in the ranks of highest-paid NHL players. Just a small shortfall behind Connor McDavid at $12.5 million per year, who is currently the number one in paying terms. Wilson is convinced that he had to have Karlsson signed to his team since he is twice the winner of the Norris Trophy and six-time All-Star. This kind of player is not easy to find.

Karlsson’s Career

Debuting in March 2008 for Frölunda HC in Scandinavium against HV71, scoring not only the winning goal but also recording a time of 8:48 on the ice. That season Frölunda took the Anton Cup home. Always moving up in his game, Karlsson made the regular roster with Frölunda. In December of 2009, he scored his first NHL goal for the Ottawa Binghamton Senators and remained in NHL for the rest of the season. The 2011-2012 season brought him his 100th regular-season NHL point, and he became one of the four Senators players to be in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. He signed a seven-year contract with the Senators in 2012 and won the James Norris Trophy for being the best defenseman in NHL. He remained with the Senators until being traded in 2018 to the San Jose Sharks and scored his first goal for the Sharks in November. Now he is here to stay, and it is a part of the journey which he looks forward to. Karlsson expressed his excitement about the bay area, the people, the fans and the organization.

The Impact on the Sharks

During last season Karlsson suffered from a groin injury which kept him out of several games, and he only played 53 which brought him 45 points from 42 assists and three goals. With his seven-year contract with the Ottawa Senators coming to an end, he could have moved into the position of the league’s marquee free agent but preferred to sign with the Sharks instead. He is adamant that he wants to be part of the future success of the team and winning the Stanley Cup. In May he had to undergo surgery for his groin injury but is expected to make a full recovery before the start of the season and to be ready to be able to deliver a long and successful career at the Sharks.

Playing At a Different Level

Apart from his exceptional level of play, which made him such a wanted player for the Sharks, Karlsson is also known as the kind of player who influences everybody around him and making his fellow teammates better in their own game. It seems that the San Jose Sharks can be pleased with the decision and that fans have much to expect to see from Karlsson.

The 2018/19 St. Louis Blues, an NHL team that was once left for dead, has managed to achieve hockey immortality on Wednesday evening.

The St. Louis Blues Win the Stanley Cup

The Blues managed to complete the longest road back in the history of the NHL with an incredible 4-1 victory against the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden, allowing the team to give the franchise its very first Stanley Cup title in its existence that has been around for the last 52 years.

What’s even more impressive is that the team achieved it uniquely, as they managed to come back from having the fewest points in the NHL on 3 January, to being the most dominant hockey team in the second half of the season.

Alex Pietrangelo and Ryan O-Reilly managed to score during the first period of the match for the St. Louis Blues, while Brayden Schenn managed to add an insurance goal during the third period with only 8:35 to go. Zach Sanford, who was raised in the area and even went to Boston College before he left, managed to score the final goal with only 4:38 left on the clock, allowing the team to secure the win fully.

O-Reilly, who was acquired during a trade with Buffalo on 1 July 2018, was the most dependable player on the team throughout the 2018/19 season. Due to his performance and team efforts, he won the prestigious Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP during the postseason. He stated that it’s like a dream come true to win such an award and he can’t believe that happens.
Jordan Binnington managed to stop the initial 32 shots that he faces which included 12 shots during the first period where the Boston Bruins played solidly and could have easily scored more than once if it was any other goaltender. During the third period, the St. Louis Blues protected a sensational 2-0 lead which looked like it could have been 2-1 if the right pad didn’t stop an incredible shot made by Joakim Nordstrom.

Post-Match Celebrations

Once the final horn went off, the St. Louis Blues was spilt across the ice as they all made their way to Bennington at goal where they engulfed him in a sea of white and blue. Equipment and gear littered the ice while the Blues celebrated joyously. Binnington was the guy who led the line of handshakes after the match, and it started with an extended talk with Zdeno Chara who is the captain of the Boston Bruins.

The Boston Bruins had a total of 22 shots on goal, while the Blues only had a mere eight on goal during the first period. After another two periods, the shot attempts were 40-22 for the Boston Bruins. If goal attempts decided the game, the Boston Bruins should have taken it, but the Blues kept secure and kept the Bruins from scoring.

There was never any doubt that the ice hockey series would be a long one. Following their laid egg in Game 3, the Blues managed to bounce back with a phenomenal 4-2 victory in Game 4 that saw the home crowd sing, Gloria, while the Stanley Cup Final clash against the Bruins were tied with two games on either side. With that in mind, let’s take an in-depth look at the action that unfolded in Game 4.

St. Louis Blues vs Boston Bruins – Game 4

Tuukka Rask, the Boston Bruins goalie, stated that the St. Louis Blues were more desperate on Monday evening and he is probably spot on with that statement. The St. Louis Blues managed to benefit from some clever line-up manoeuvring that saw Vince Dunn make his debut in the Stanley Cup Final after recovering from injury along with Zach Sanford that provided a decent boost on the 2nd line. Both these players helped with the first goal as the team scored just 43 seconds into the game thanks to Ryan O’Reilly.

They also managed to weather some Boston attacks which included a short-handed goal. If you are interested in criticizing something about the St. Louis game, you will find plenty of things when you take a closer look at their power play, which was quite challenging to watch. Towards the end, it was Ryan O’Reilly that managed to score once again to ensure they win the game. The veteran centre buzzed all night even though he only had three playoff goals when he entered the match.

The St. Louis Blues, with new and improved discipline, have now managed to score a goal in the opening two minutes of a match a total of 6 times during the playoffs. They are now 5-0 to date. By the way, Rask looked quite vulnerable during the game for the first time in a long time. This was the first time he managed to allow three goals in regulation following the second round when they faced Columbus. The Blues and Jordan Binnington proved once again that they are the rulers of the ice when rebounding from a defeat in the postseason.

The Stars of the Evening

St. Louis Blues – Ryan O’Reilly: O’Reilly managed to achieve something that only three other players have accomplished in the past, score a goal during the opening minute and to later score a goal to win the same game during a Stanley Cup Final match. The other players include Sid Smith, Bernie Geoffrion, and Fernando Pisani.

St. Louis Blues – Alex Pietrangelo: The captain managed to include himself on two assists and was only 23 seconds short of playing a mind-blowing 30 minutes while taking on 34 shifts.

St. Louis Blues – Zach Sanford: Sanford managed to play so well in Game 3 that the coach promoted him to the 2nd line in Game 4. He managed to add a nice boost in Game 4 that certainly helped.