Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Donbass Donetsk is suspending operations due to civil unrest in the Ukraine while Lev Praha and Spartak Moscow are both sitting out due to financial issues. Replacing the three teams will be Jokerit Helsinki, making them the first Finnish squad to be in the KHL, HC Sochi, who is looking to capitalize on the momentum that the Winter Olympics created for the town, and Lada Togliatti, who was in the KHL from 2008 through 2010, when arena issues forced them to drop into a lower league.
SKA Saint Petersburg is also going into the season with a major change, this one behind the bench, as a disappointing end to a season with high expectations led them to tab Vyacheslav Bykov as the new head coach. Expectations will forever be high with the team that has never won a championship in their history, which dates back to 1946.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
How both teams filled those vacancies was different, as the Oil Kings hired from within, as Steve Hamilton was promoted from associate coach to be the new bench boss of the Oil Kings. He helped oversee an Oil Kings unit that made the WHL Finals three years (currently) in a row and claim two WHL championships and a Memorial Cup. His familiarity will help an Oil Kings squad that may very well experience a major turnover in its roster.
The Winterhawks looked to Chicago to name their guy, as Jamie Kompon was named to both the head coach and General Manager roles. His resume includes six years as an Assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings (with two of those seasons intersecting Johnston's time with the Kings) and two seasons as an Assistant coach of the Chicago Blackhawks. He has two Stanley Cup championships from 2012 and 2013 in that time. Kompon has some sizable shoes to fill, but he appears to have the tools to lead Portland in their quest for a fifth straight WHL Finals appearance.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
There has been some talk about the St. Louis Blues making changes to their uniforms, and it seems that the fine people over at Icethetics are confirming this, at least the team's home jerseys. The full story can be found here. All of the things that will change are explained in the piece, so I won't go into detail into what they are until the official unveiling. As for what the recreation (no photos were provided, and there won't be until the official unveiling) portrays, it's basically the Blues going back to the pre-Edge design. If the design holds true, it will be a good idea on the Blues' part, as they decided to keep it simple by eliminating the piping and adding waist stripes.
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Washington is apparently hoping to beat the Penguins by being the Penguins, since they decided to take a gamble on Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. Niskanen had a breakthrough year last year, becoming an offensive threat in Kris Letang's absence. He was given a 7-year deal that says last year was just the beginning. Meanwhile, Orpik gets 5 years, and given his age and injury history, it does not look so great. Those were not necessarily the worst moves made, though, as Calgary and Florida outdid them. While Calgary did well by signing Hiller, they also threw $8.7 million (!) and three years at Deryk Engelland, a guy whose only purpose is to fight. Meanwhile, Florida attempted to recreate the 2011 off-season by signing veterans to deals. The difference is that this time, the veterans are Shawn Thornton, Dave Bolland, Willie Mitchell, and Jussi Jokinen. Thornton is strictly a fighter, and while he provides a tough presence to a Panthers locker room that desperately needs it, two years seems to be a bit much. Mitchell will be with the Panthers for a couple of years and the hope there is that Erik Gudbranson, Dmitry Kulikov, and Aaron Ekblad will learn a lot from him. Jokinen is a fine complimentary player, but who exactly will he be complimenting? Unless the kids such as Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov start taking a hold of the offensive reins, this signing doesn't make great sense. However, the worst signing was Bolland, who was inked for five years at a clip of just over $5 million a year. While Bolland is at his best when agitating and providing occasional offense when healthy, the health part is the big problem. He missed considerable time in his only year in Toronto last year and has never played a full season in his career.