Game recaps plus the latest on Joe Thornton, Keith Yandle, Christian Ehrhoff, Scott Gomez, Dan Ellis and more.
Note: Games involving Canadian NHL teams are recapped in “Canadian Corner.”
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Anaheim Ducks edged the Minnesota Wild 2-1, marking their 27th one-goal victory this season. Ducks goalie John Gibson made 32 saves for the win while teammates Francois Beauchemin and Jakob Silfverberg were the goalscorers.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Power-play goals by Shawn Horcoff, Tyler Seguin and Vernon Fiddler carried the Dallas Stars to a 4-2 win over the slumping Washington Capitals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Ducks’ win gives them sole possession of first in the Western Conference and in the overall league standings. The Stars’ victory moves them within five points of the LA Kings for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: Sharks center Joe Thornton raised eyebrows around the league yesterday by lashing out at Sharks GM Doug Wilson, accusing Wilson of lying about the circumstances which led to Thornton being stripped of the Sharks’ captaincy last summer. “I think Doug just needs to shut his mouth,” Thornton said after his team’s morning practice. “I think that’s the bottom line.” Wilson had expressed the belief that the pressure and stress of being the captain had gotten to Thornton.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s almost unheard of in today’s NHL for a player, let alone a star of Thornton’s magnitude, to be publicly critical of his general manager. In the old days, Thornton would be on the first bus to the farm team. In today’s NHL, a trade would be inevitable, or at the very least he’d be a healthy scratch for several games. Of course, Thornton’s status and no-trade clause complicates the situation, as does the fact the trade deadline has passed for the regular season. Thornton’s comments are undeniable proof of his serious rift with Wilson. It also suggests there’s serious issues within the franchise affecting its performance this season. I’ll have more thoughts on this in my Rumors section.
NEW YORK POST: Recent-acquired Rangers defenseman Keith Yandle is struggling to adjust to his new team.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: Penguins defenseman Christian Ehrhoff is finally over his concussion symptoms and has received medical clearance to return to action.
MIAMI HERALD: Florida Panthers’ call-up goalie Dan Ellis has admirably filled in for injured starter Roberto Luongo.
THE PLAYERS’ TRIBUNE: New Jersey Devils forward Scott Gomez writes about the decline of his performance in recent years and how he’s resurrected his NHL career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kudos to Gomez for detailing his recent struggles, its effects upon his confidence and the challenge of maintaining his NHL playing career. NHL followers tend to treat players like expensive robots, forgetting they’re people who must cope with their own issues and frailties. Gomez’ piece provides a refreshing look at the human side of life as an NHL player.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks Joakim Nordstrom received a two-game suspension by the league for cross-checking Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson from behind into the boards, injuring the Coyotes blueliner.
THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC: The Coyotes’ operating losses were lower than expected during IceArizona’s first year owning the franchise ($16.5 million), leaving the group optimistic over the franchise’s future in Glendale. Those losses count toward the group’s out-clause in its arena lease agreement with the city, but team president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc downplayed the clause. “It is absolutely something, I can’t say more emphatically, we have not even talked about,” LeBlanc said.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes ownership can utilize that clause in 2018 if they’ve accumulated $50 million or more in losses. If there’s a team which desperately needs to win this season’s draft lottery and the chance to draft Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, it’s the Coyotes. McDavid or Eichel, playing alongside promising Max Domi and recently-acquired Anthony Duclair, could be the best hope for the Coyotes to stay in Arizona beyond 2018.
NATIONAL POST: Jane MacDougall pens a interesting piece on what it’s like to be the wife of an NHL player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: NHL fans often forget the fact players have lives away from the rink, which includes families. Spouses and children pay a price, especially when a player ends up frequently moving around because of trades, demotion or free agency.