Let the countdown begin! We are on day away from the Stanley Cup final getting underway. There is little doubt, Boston will be facing their toughest competition yet in the 2011 playoffs. The Vancouver Canucks have a nice blend of skilled and physical forwards. Up front, it will be vital for Daniel and Henrik Sedin, along with Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, to hammer away at Zdeno Chara. In goal, there must be some questions concerning 37-year-old Tim Thomas. Will he finally melt after going 7 games against Tampa? On the other hand, he could emerge as the key to any success experienced by Boston. He is certainly holding the-hot-hand and we all know what a goalie playing in "the zone" can accomplish. My prediction? Vancouver in five games.
Congratulations to coach Gerard Gallant and his Saint John Sea Dogs, winners of the Memorial Cup. They defeated the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors 3-1 on Sunday night. After taking a 2-1 lead into period three, the Sea Dogs held-off a fierce attack by St. Mike's. Goaltender Jacob DeSerres was outstanding in the final frame. A late goal by Jonathan Huberdeau was icing-on-the-cake, giving Saint John the junior title. Prior to the Memorial Cup presentation, Huberdeau was named tournament MVP and picked-up the Stafford Smythe Trophy. For the first time in history, the Memorial Cup will reside in Atlantic Canada.
On the topic of Memorial Cup history, there was a very interesting article published in the Toronto Star (May 26, 2011). Written by Jonathon Jackson, the piece contains an interview with Bunny Clark (nee Keeling). Bunny is the 103-year-old sister of former NHL player Melville "Butch" Keeling. It was wonderful to read her recollections of the 1924 Memorial Cup. Her brother was a member of the championship squad (from Owen Sound). Keeling reached the NHL in 1926-27, signing as a free agent on September 7, 1926, with the Toronto St. Pats. In his rookie campaign with the St.Pats/Maple Leafs, Keeling scored 11 goals in 30 games. On April 16, 1928, he was traded to the New York Rangers for Alex Gray. Butch Keeling would play 10 seasons in the Big Apple, winning the Stanley Cup in 1933. FULL STORY.
Ex-NHL player, Barry Potomski, passed away on May 24th. The 6'2" left winger was signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Kings on July 7, 1994. Over two seasons with L.A., Potomski scored 6 goals in 59 games. His final NHL stop came in 1997-98. He went scoreless while playing in 9 games with the San Jose Sharks. Barry Potomski was born on November 24, 1972 in Windsor, Ontario.
On May 25th, Red Wings defenceman Brian Rafalski announced his retirement. The three-time Stanley Cup champion walks away from NHL duty at the age age of 37.
The Red Wings now sit and wait for Nicklas Lidstrom to decide on his future, I'm sure general manager Ken Holland will be paying close attention to Vancouver during the Cup final. Potential free agent Kevin Bieksa should draw a ton of looks this summer.
In Uniondale, New York, Doug Weight called it a night with his retirement from the New York Islanders. He will remain in the organization, serving as an assistant coach and an aid to GM Garth Snow.
News from Chicago concerning Hawks legend Stan Mikita. It was announced last week the Hall of Fame centre has been diagnosed as having oral cancer. Caught in the early-stages, Mikita will under go radiation treatments. According to his doctor, Mikita's prognosis is "excellent".
Golly Gee - It's Me! It was terrific seeing Howie Meeker being honoured with the Order of Canada by Gov. General David Johnston on Friday.
Catching-up with Hall of Fame executive Brian O'Neill. On May 28th, the Toronto Star ran a Q&A piece featuring O'Neill. He came upon the NHL scene in 1966, when Clarence Campbell required additional staff due to the NHL doubling in size (6 to 12). Now 82, O'Neill serves as Discipline Chairman for the Memorial Cup tournament.