THE NHL expansion Las Vegas team the Golden Knights have revealed their new players, jersey and regular season debut details.
Marc-Andre Fleury took the stage at T-Mobile Arena in a brand- new Vegas Golden Knights jersey, and his new fans welcomed him to town with raucous cheers. After an up-and-down career in Pittsburgh, the three-time Stanley Cup champion goalie is among 30 NHL veterans who could get a fresh start out West after the Golden Knights grabbed him in the NHL expansion draft.
“I didn’t know that was coming,” Fleury said about his new fans’ enthusiasm.
“I was a little surprised by that. That was a warm welcome, and I’m getting excited about it.”
A year after the NHL welcomed owner Bill Foley’s 31st franchise into the league, the Golden Knights finally have the core of the team they’ll put on the desert ice this fall.
The choices included defensemen Marc Methot and Alexei Emelin, 30-goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault and veteran forwards David Perron and James Neal. Golden Knights owner Bill Foley and general manager George McPhee announced the selections during the NHL’s annual postseason awards show at T-Mobile Arena, where Vegas will begin play in the fall.
Nobody got more attention than the 32-year-old Fleury, who lost his starting job during last season’s playoff run with the back-to-back champion Penguins. He seems almost certain to be the Golden Knights’ starter with two years on his contract.
“Obviously, we’ve got great fans already, having sold out the season tickets and the reception we had tonight here,” Fleury said. “I’ll give it everything I’ve got to win some games and try to get into the community to meet people and spread the word about the Golden Knights.”
Vegas chose three goalies, 14 forwards and 13 defensemen, including Trevor van Riemsdyk and Brayden McNabb. Vegas appeared to land a particularly strong corps of blueliners through draft choices and trades, providing the foundation for the tough, young team envisioned by McPhee.
The Golden Knights will make their regular-season debut on the road in Dallas on Oct. 6 and host the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 10 in the first home game in franchise history.
NHL teams announced their home openers Thursday with the full, 1,271-game schedule for the 2017-18 season set to be released tomorrow.
Vegas will play its first two games on the road, visiting Arizona on Oct. 7 before the second leg of an early back-to-back for coach Gerard Gallant’s club.
The Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins will raise another banner and begin their quest for a three-peat on Oct. 4 against the St. Louis Blues. The Penguins visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 5 in a matchup of the only teams to win the Cup three times in the salary-cap era.
The Western Conference-champion Nashville Predators open the season Oct. 5 at Boston. Nashville celebrates the longest playoff run in franchise history at home Oct. 10 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The back-to-back Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals open their season at Ottawa on Oct. 5 and host the Montreal Canadiens in their home opener Oct. 7.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS TEAM
Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Calvin Pickard (Colorado Avalanche)
Jean-Francois Berube (New York Islanders)
Teemu Pulkkinen (selected from Arizona Coyotes)
William Carrier (Buffalo Sabres)
Cody Eakin (Dallas Stars)
Tomas Nosek (Detroit Red Wings)
Jonathan Marchessault (Florida Panthers)
Reilly Smith (via trade with Florida Panthers)
Connor Brickley (Carolina Hurricanes)
Chris Thorburn (Winnipeg Jets)
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (Philadelphia Flyers)
Nikita Gusev (via trade with Tampa Bay Lightning)
Mikhail Grabovski (via trade with New York Islanders)
James Neal (Nashville Predators)
Brendan Leipsic (Toronto Maple Leafs)
David Perron (St. Louis Blues)
Oscar Lindberg (New York Rangers)
Erik Haula (Minnesota Wild)
Alex Tuch (via trade with Minnesota Wild)
William Karlsson (Columbus Blue Jackets)
David Clarkson (via trade with Columbus Blue Jackets)
Luca Sbisa (Vancouver Canucks)
Jon Merrill (New Jersey Devils)
Brayden McNabb (Los Angeles Kings)
Jason Garrison (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Jake Bischoff (via trade with New York Islanders)
Deryk Engelland (Calgary Flames)
Colin Miller (Boston Bruins)
Marc Methot (Ottawa Senators)
David Schlemko (San Jose Sharks)
Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton Oilers)
Alexei Emelin (Montreal Canadiens)
Clayton Stoner (Anaheim Ducks)
Shea Theodore (via trade with Anaheim Ducks)
Trevor van Riemsdyk (Chicago Blackhawks)
Nate Schmidt (Washington Capitals)
NHL AWARD WINNERS
Hart Memorial Trophy, MVP – Connor McDavid, C, Columbus
Vezina Trophy, goaltender – Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus
James Norris Memorial Trophy, defenseman – Brent Burns, San Jose
Calder Memorial Trophy, rookie – Auston Matthews, F, Toronto
Frank J. Selke Trophy, defensive forward – Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, most gentlemanly – Johnny Gaudreau, F, Calgary
Jack Adams Award, coach – John Tortorella, Columbus
King Clancy Trophy – Nick Foligno, F, Columbus
Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award – Nick Foligno, F, Columbus
NHL Foundation Player Award – Travis Hamonic, D, N.Y. Islanders
NHL General Manager of the Year Award – David Poile, Nashville
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy – Craig Anderson, G, Ottawa
Art Ross Trophy, points scoring leader – Connor McDavid, Edmonton
Maurice Richard Trophy, goal-scoring leader – Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
William M. Jennings Trophy, goalies with fewest goals against – Braden Holtby, Washington
Ted Lindsay Award, outstanding player – Connor McDavid, Edmonton
Ben Simmons Philadelphia 76ers, trade news, practice, Travis Kelce slams Simmons, NHL, NFL, Philadelphia Eagles,
The Ben Simmons saga has become so bad that other sports are getting dragged into the fray. Now the Australian has received a brutal reality check from one of Philadelphia’s most beloved NFL stars on earning the respect of Philly fans.
Jason Kelce played a key role as the 2017 Eagles won that season’s Super Bowl – their first ever – then dressed up as a ‘Mummer’ (a participant of a unique Philadelphia parade) and gave an inspired speech during their trophy parade.
Now he’s taken aim at Simmons, explaining the fans who are notoriously tough on their own players are simply asking for accountability and hard work.
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“You write your own narrative,” Kelce said, per NBC Sports Philly. “What’s going on, I don’t want to crush any other players, but what’s going on with the 76ers, Ben Simmons, stuff like that. All that is because of a lack of accountability, a lack of owning up to mistakes and a lack of correcting things.
“If all that got corrected, you fix the free throws, if you’re getting better as a player, none of this is happening. Everybody can b***h and complain about how tough this city is to play in. Just play better, man. This city will love you.”
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He added: “This city really appreciates accountability, appreciates people being very honest, real, emotionally invested, caring.
“There’s a lot of people who say it’s a hard place to play. I think it’s pretty f***ing easy, to be honest with you. You just go out there, play hard. Want to be loved in this city as a baseball player? Run to first base. They’re going to f***ing loving you. I mean, that’s what it comes down to. If you go up and make a bunch of excuses, if you come up here and try to lie to them and act like they don’t know what they’re talking about — which, sometimes they don’t — when you act that way or when you aren’t accountable if you’re making mistakes, or when you’re not getting better or anything like that, they’re going to crush you.
“Everybody’s going to get crushed at some point. Everybody’s going to go through a downturn or struggle, right? At all times this city is going to keep you accountable to be doing your job and performing. But if you stick to it, if you fight through it and you get better and everything like that, they’ll respect the hell out of you.
“Even if you’re struggling and you’re fighting and really trying, they’re still going to respect you. That’s what I think most guys miss.”
A former New England Patriots assistant coach also slammed Simmons. Michael Lombardi, who also worked as an executive with four other NFL franchises, tweeted: “Ben Simmons is embarrassing himself now —not even his ardent defenders can support his behaviour. Believe what you see.”
It’s not just NFL where Simmons’ situation is making a mark. In the NHL, “F**k you Simmons” chants rang out during the Philadelphia Flyers’ 6-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night (local).
TNT’s broadcasters at Wells Fargo Center even took digs at Simmons being booted from practice during the game.
As Flyers fans left the game, more “f**k Ben Simmons” chants were yelled.
But the biggest impact is still being felt by Simmons’ Sixers.
Despite Simmons missing the season opener, Philadelphia smashed New Orleans 117-97. But that didn’t stop the Pelicans fans from delighting in the Australian’s absence.
The crowd at Smoothie King centre repeatedly chanted “Where’s Ben Simmons?” during the game. And whenever a 76ers player took a free throw, those chants became louder – a reference to Simmons’ woeful 34.2 per cent shooting from the charity stripe in the 2021 playoffs.
On one occasion, Sixers star Joel Embiid was on the receiving end of sarcastic chants by fans declaring: “We want Simmons.”
What made ‘The Great One’ great? Wayne Gretzky arrives in Sydney for USA v Canada Ice Hockey Classic, NHL
WAYNE Gretzky was never the biggest, strongest or fastest guy on the ice. A lanky figure with a gentle smile, he didn’t look much like his NHL counterparts. But somehow Gretzky ascended to become a legend of the sport. So what is it that helped make ‘The Great One’ great?
In a career spanning twenty years Gretzky stacked 61 official NHL records, (60 of which he still holds), including the most goals (1,016) and most assists (2,223). He’s won the Stanley Cup four times with the Edmonton Oilers and won the Hart Trophy, the league MVP award, on a record nine occasions.
When it comes to ice hockey, there’s Wayne Gretzky — light years — and then everyone else.
The word ‘legacy’ is sometimes overused when reflecting upon the achievements of our sporting heroes, but few compare to the legacy left by Gretzky.
Looking back, it’s not his records or accolades he’s most proud of though. It’s the effort he put in.
“People ask me all the time, if someone said ‘How would you like to be remembered?’ I always say the same thing: I played a lot of bad games but I know in my heart that I played hard every single game,” Gretzky told Fox Sports Australia.
“People came up to me and they said ‘You worked hard out there,’ and to me, that’s the biggest compliment I can get.”
Canada’s favourite son had many great mentors throughout his playing career, like his father Walter, and ‘Mr Hockey’ Gordie Howe — who tragically passed away just this month.
However Gretzky credits his grandparents for instilling in him the grit and determination that would make him a legend.
“I probably got that from my grandparents,” Gretzky said.
“My grandfather [Tony] was from Belarus, part of the Soviet Union at the time. In 1920 he came over with my grandmother [Mary] who was from Warsaw, and they both went to North America.
“They both worked through to their early 80s. They had a farm, and they did all their own farming, so I think the work ethic that I had as a player was inherited from my grandparents.”
That farm is where a young Gretzky would watch ice hockey on TV with his family. It’s also where he first pulled on the skates and picked up his stick.
Greatness would soon follow as he rocketed through the junior ranks and made his professional debut at the age of 17 in the WHA (now defunct), before joining the Oilers in the NHL the very next year and creating NHL history playing for Edmonton, the Los Angeles Kings, St Louis Blues and New York Rangers.
Even after his playing days, he continues to be an ambassador for the sport, currently visiting Australia for the USA vs Canada Ice Hockey Classic that bears his name.
“Hockey has been so good to me in my life and everything I have is because of hockey, so I think that we can help promote the game and get everyone to see how great of a sport it really is,” Gretzky said.
“The game fares well in colder climate places. Kids in Canada can skate on lakes and ponds in the winter and it doesn’t cost parents any money. But we’re getting much bigger now with San Jose, LA, Anaheim, more kids are playing, and the first pick in the NHL Draft this week will be from Phoenix, Arizona [Auston Matthews], which nobody ever thought would be possible.
“So it’s growing, it just takes time and hopefully twenty years from now, people over here are going to say ‘Wow, this is a fun sport’.”
Gretzky said getting more kids to watch and play ice hockey is what will help it grow Down Under. He also praised Australia’s first (and only) NHL draftee Nathan Walker for helping that cause.
“I heard he plays hard and he has some great abilities, and had a strong season [with Washington Capitals affiliated AHL team Hershey Bears]. It only helps our sport,” Gretzky said.
Sydney fans will be in for a treat Saturday night when Gretzky takes to the ice in a four-on-four exhibition prior to the main event.
The five-stop Australian tour has already been a hit in Melbourne, Perth, and Adelaide, with Sydney and Brisbane the final games left on the schedule.
Gretzky has also brought along his 25-year-old son Ty, a keen player himself who now works for his dad’s hockey camps and is expected to play in Sydney.
As for what ‘The Great One’ will get up to in his downtime while in town, just don’t expect golf to be on his itinerary, despite his son-in-law Dustin Johnson’s triumph at the US Open last week.
“I don’t get any golf tips,” Gretzky said.
“My golf upside is about as good as his hockey upside… which is not very good.”
Wayne Gretzky will be at the Qudos Bank Arena for the USA vs Canada Ice Hockey Classic.
Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne: Friday 17 June, 2016
Perth Arena, Perth: Saturday 18 June, 2016
Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide: Friday 24 June, 2016
Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney: Saturday 25 June, 2016
Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane: Saturday 2 July, 2016
Toronto Maple Leafs select Arizona-born Auston Matthews as no. 1 pick
ON the heels of the NHL expanding into Las Vegas, the Toronto Maple Leafs are pinning their future on Arizona-born centre Auston Matthews.
Amid chants of “Go Leafs, Go!” the 18-year-old from Scottsdale was selected by Toronto with the first pick in the NHL draft Friday night. Though the Maple Leafs had kept their decision under wraps since winning the draft lottery in April, Matthews was the expected choice.
NHL Central Scouting ranked the 6-foot-2, 210-pound playmaker as its top draft-eligible project, and he’s also a natural centre, a top-line position that’s difficult to fill. Matthews already has pro experience after spending last season with Zurich in the Swiss Elite League.
Finnish-born forwards Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi rounded out the three top prospects.
Matthews, who grew up a Coyotes fan, became the seventh American selected at No. 1, and first since the Chicago Blackhawks chose Patrick Kane with the top pick in 2007.
For Toronto, Matthews represents a significant piece in general manager Lou Lamoriello’s extensive rebuilding plans to restore relevance to one of the league’s most high-profile franchises. The Maple Leafs have missed the playoffs in 10 of the past 11 years, and spent last season purging high-priced contracts and veteran talent with a focus on rebuilding through youth.
Matthews arrives at a time when the Maple Leafs usher in the 100th year of professional hockey being played in Canada’s largest city.
Winnipeg was set to select second, followed by the Columbus Blue Jackets, whose general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said he’s considering trading the pick depending upon which two players are taken ahead of him.
Two trades were announced by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman before the second pick.
Montreal traded forward Lars Eller to Washington for the Capitals’ second-round draft picks in 2017 and ‘18.
Also, Chicago traded forward Andrew Shaw to Montreal for the Canadiens’ two second-round picks — No. 39 and 45 — in this year’s draft.
Numerous Maple Leafs fans made the two-hour drive to Buffalo to be on hand for their team selecting first for only the second time in the draft. Toronto selected Wendel Clark first in 1985. Each time Maple Leafs began cheering, their rival Sabres fans began booing.
Before the draft began, Bettman announced that the league’s annual pre-draft rookie combine will return to Buffalo for a third consecutive year.
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