Around these parts, we’ll do our best to give you everything you need to know about the Columbus Blue Jackets. We’ll also fill you in on the stories you may not have heard about (or those you didn’t think you need to know about), the social media buzz around the league, along with a few random nuggets for good measure.
Think of it as your morning coffee with a shot of hockey talk.
SECRETS NO MORE: The thing about sports leagues, expansion, and getting teams off the ground is that most of the work and the news is shrouded in secrecy. Teams and their staff get one chance to launch a team, so no one’s exactly going public with all of their information at the drop of a hat. Part of the NHL’s process is the expansion draft, which will go a long way toward filling the roster the Vegas Golden Knights, the league’s 31st club set to begin play this fall at T-Mobile Arena.
This time around, thanks to the age of information and technology, the NHL and Golden Knights will be doing most of this expansion draft in the public eye. All 30 clubs will release their protected lists later in June, and the expansion draft selections are scheduled to be announced as part of the NHL Awards in Las Vegas the week prior to the NHL Draft.
The Golden Knights are currently partaking in the NHL Draft Combine for the first time in team history, which has stirred up some action around the league:
Treliving says there seems to be more GMs here at the combine than in past years. The Vegas factor. Lots of discussions between teams...— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) May 30, 2017
It’s a big step forward for the NHL, which has endured some (deserved) criticism for its lack of information-sharing with its fans and needs to do its part to become a bit more modern. Allowing both the new fans of the Golden Knights to experience this once-in-an-existence event alongside the NHL’s growing fanbase is a very good thing and one they should keep in mind for future expansions.
You know it’s coming – looking at you, Seattle – it’s just a matter of when.
ONE DOOR CLOSES...: I’m not really sure how many people failed to believe Gary Bettman when he said the NHL is really, seriously, for-sure-not-happening-this-time not going to the 2018 Winter Olympics…but apparently, he needed to take things another step further to prove his point.
During his annual “state of the league” address prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday in Pittsburgh, Bettman again answered questions about the league’s decision to abstain from the 2018 Games and instead focus on its own international agenda in conjunction with the Players’ Association – an agenda that still has not been agreed upon and doesn’t appear to be any nearer a conclusion than it was a few months ago.
Bettman said the NHL has no interest in interrupting its season to go to the Olympics and that it’s an inconvenience to the league and players, an odd statement coming from the guy who runs a league that makes a once-per-decade habit out of work stoppages. But hey, no inconveniences around here!
So, to further drive it home, Bettman announced (finally) that the 2018 All-Star festivities will be held in Tampa. Guess that means the NHL and its players are definitely NOT going the Olympics now. Glad that’s settled.
"A REDNECK WITH A BAD IDEA": One of the weirdest but most entertaining stories of the year happened Monday night in Pittsburgh during Game 1 of the Cup Final. In the second period, a Predators fan chucked a catfish on the ice – which is only the fourth or fifth-most compelling aspect of this story.
The fan, Jake Waddell, was visiting family in northeast Ohio when the idea to attend Game 1 struck him. Not only that, but he decided to buy a catfish before departing form Tennessee and bring it with him, err, attached to him, to PPG Paints Arena. Now, for context, smuggling catfish into the arena and throwing them on the ice is tradition at Predators home games, but this was another level.
Waddell succeeded, was tossed from the game, and then the parade of weirdness started happening. He was charged with disorderly conduct (ok, fine), disrupting a meeting (no) and possessing an instrument of crime. The latter charge, mind you, is in reference to the dead, lifeless catfish.
Sean Gentille of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette authored the year’s best piece of sports journalism. It’s a must-read.
This is how the catfish tosser did it, in his words.— Sean Gentille (@seangentille) May 30, 2017
This is how he committed his terrible crime.https://t.co/Jq00kriPIM
ICYMI: The 1st Ohio Battery Awards continue with our "comeback player of the year," given to a deserving Blue Jacket ... Brandon Dubinsky will miss three months after undergoing wrist surgery on Monday in Vancouver ... Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen certainly sounds like a guy with an aggressive mindset heading into the summer.