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Puck drops tonight boys.  Time to talk puck. 

Two interesting games tonight.  Lightning banner night against the Pens (sans Crosby and Guentzel).  And, the last two in - Knights v. Kracken.

Who are in your Cup Finals?  Who wins the Hart, Vezina and Calder?

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A reminder that this year you can watch every out of market NHL game with an ESPN+ subscription. That's the best deal in sports especially with college basketball just around the corner.

 

 

I have a Sens vs Coyotes final like everyone expects.

Edited by SimonBolivar
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28 minutes ago, SimonBolivar said:

A reminder that this year you can watch every out of market NHL game with an ESPN+ subscription. That's the best deal in sports especially with college basketball just around the corner.

 

 

I have a Sens vs Coyotes final like everyone expects.

Finally signed-up for ESPN+ because of the NHL deal.  

Wow. Sens over the Sabres?

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9 hours ago, SimonBolivar said:

A reminder that this year you can watch every out of market NHL game with an ESPN+ subscription. That's the best deal in sports especially with college basketball just around the corner.

 

 

I have a Sens vs Coyotes final like everyone expects.

Does that mean I can't watch Stars games on ESPN+ if I'm in Austin? I have Youtube TV so I don't get the regional sports stations.

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5 minutes ago, cactusflinthead said:

Is there a map? I promise you there is, but how the consumer could find it is beyond me.

Think you can search by zip code on NHL site for what local market (if any) you're in. I assume Austin is in the Dallas market, but maybe not.

Brother in southern Oregon and buddy in Spokane are both in Kraken market even though 300 miles away. We were in no market last year so all games were out of market and streamable. 

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2 hours ago, HornOnTheBayou said:

Does that mean I can't watch Stars games on ESPN+ if I'm in Austin? I have Youtube TV so I don't get the regional sports stations.

Bump for an answer to this question. I'm probably about to be in the same boat. Google Fiber TV ends Nov 30 & I'll probably be switching to Youtube TV. 

Another question: do any of the tv streaming services offer Bally Sports?

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30 minutes ago, shadow_operative2.0 said:

98% sure Austin will be fucked on the ESPN+ deal, I’ll have a buddy test it Thursday. 

This appears to be your only streaming option for Bally SW. 

https://www.atttvnow.com

I cringe at the thought, but I may actually go back to Spectrum since they carry Bally. But I'm exploring every option first ...

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18 hours ago, HornOnTheBayou said:

Does that mean I can't watch Stars games on ESPN+ if I'm in Austin? I have Youtube TV so I don't get the regional sports stations.

Correct, you'll have to move to Bandera to get the Stars games.

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51 minutes ago, VirginiaLonghorn said:

Caps 5-1 over NYR.

Ovie .. 2 goals, 2 assists, passes Marcel Dionne with 732 goals.

None of the anticipated fireworks between Wilson and Reaves.

Rangers are a mess on the back end.  

So are the Hawks.  18 shots in the first by the Avs.  Without MacKinnon.  

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5 hours ago, Beau Vine said:

 

Take the politics out of it...what kind of dumbass thought they could get away with that?!  LOL, this dude is showing himself to be dumber by the second.  Word from NHL insiders was always him being uber talented but dumb as a box of hammers.  This isn't exactly changing my mind.  

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On 10/18/2021 at 10:43 PM, ChiTownDoc said:

Take the politics out of it...what kind of dumbass thought they could get away with that?!  LOL, this dude is showing himself to be dumber by the second.  Word from NHL insiders was always him being uber talented but dumb as a box of hammers.  This isn't exactly changing my mind.  

Friend of mine has Sharks season tix and knows a couple of team officials.  They tell him that Kane is despised by his teammates.

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This is an interesting read.

https://theathletic.com/2880963/2021/10/21/auston-matthews-a-bunch-of-kings-and-big-boy-mcavoy-the-making-of-the-dominant-1997-born-junior-bruins/

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Auston Matthews, a bunch of Kings and ‘Big Boy McAvoy’: The making of the dominant 1997-born Junior Bruins

Fluto Shinzawa 6h ago 53 

Paul Marino Jr. had a favor to ask. Chris Masters granted it. Masters, the coach of the 1997-born Boston Junior Bruins tournament team, handed over the dressing room before his team’s game against Regional Gold Express. The father of John Marino did not hold back.

Marino Jr. screamed at the peewees to work hard. He yelled at them to play for each other. By the end, he had lost his voice.

Masters cannot say for certain if that Prospects Tournament game was in 2007 or 2008. He doesn’t recall whether Connor McDavid played for the opposing team. The final score escapes his memory.

Thirteen or 14 years later, other things remain as clear as ice to Masters. The game was at the Maple Leafs’ former practice facility in Etobicoke, Ontario. They played on the rink just to the right as you entered the building. The door to the Junior Bruins’ dressing room was left slightly open during the pregame, enough for Masters to hear Marino’s bellows.

That day, the Junior Bruins would lose by two goals, either 4-2 or 3-1. It was the first time they had lost in four years. By Masters’ recollection, they had previously been 53-0-2.

The winning streak was over, and Marino Jr.’s first pregame speech would be his last. But the memories of one of the most dominant, star-packed youth teams ever assembled live on.

Many of the names of the 1997-born boys who played for the Junior Bruins spring and summer tournament teams are out of a current NHL All-Star lineup: Marino, Mathew Barzal, Noah Hanifin, Clayton Keller, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, Charlie McAvoy, Matthew Tkachuk, Colin White.

JUNIOR BRUINS ROSTERCOLLEGE/JUNIOR TEAM

Mathew Barzal

Seattle

Jeremy Bracco

Kitchener/Windsor

Cal Burke

Notre Dame

Michael Davies

Denver

Casey Fitzgerald

Boston College

Lincoln Griffin

Northeastern

Noah Hanifin

Boston College

Jake Henderson

Kitchener/North Bay

Clayton Keller

Boston University

Luke Kunin

Wisconsin

John Marino

Harvard

Mitch Marner

London

Auston Matthews

ZSC (Switzerland)

Charlie McAvoy

Boston University

Luke Opilka

Kitchener

Pat Shea

Maine

Luke Stevens

Yale

Matthew Tkachuk

London

Colin White

Boston College

As mites, squirts, peewees and bantams — the levels at which most of these future NHL stars barnstormed for the Junior Bruins — they represented the peak of the 1997 class. Even as 8-year-olds, they showed elite skill and athleticism and exquisite hockey sense.

“As mites, you just lug the puck, take it and go. There’s not a lot of passing. It’s just the nature of being a mite,” Masters says. “But this group would get it, give it, move and get open. They’d go low-to-high and D-to-D, which sometimes you may not see until kids are second-year squirts and you can teach them that.”

They were members of a generational class. The best was McDavid, the singular No. 97 of ’97. Others followed.

For proof, Scott Fitzgerald, the Boston Bruins chief college scout, points to the Americans born that year who ended up in the National Team Development Program, which annually plucks the country’s prodigies. Some of the 1997-born NTDP alums are NHL regulars: Hanifin, Matthews, McAvoy, Tkachuk, White, Christian Fischer, Luke Kunin, Jack Roslovic, Troy Terry, Tage Thompson, Zach Werenski.

Scouts, like vintners, know which birth years are special. The 1997 fruit grew into a vintage.

“It’s a whole different level,” Fitzgerald says. “That’s the best group I’ve ever seen at the National Development team. You’d be hard-pressed to say there was a better age group than that group.”

In-season as schoolboys, Hanifin (Norwood, Mass.) and White (Hanover, Mass.) played for the South Shore Kings. At various times during their youth hockey careers, so did Marino (Easton, Mass.), Lincoln Griffin (Walpole, Mass.), Pat Shea (Marshfield, Mass.) and Luke Stevens (Duxbury, Mass.), who would play collegiately at, respectively, Harvard, Northeastern, Maine and Yale. Pat’s father, Neil, currently a Colorado Avalanche amateur scout, coached the 1997 Kings.

It didn’t take long for Masters, also the program director for the Junior Bruins, to discover this cluster of South Shore talent. He wanted them for his Junior Bruins’ tournament rosters.

Every spring and summer, Masters invited top local players to participate in events such as the OTTF and Prospects Tournaments in Toronto, the Repentigny Tournament in Montreal and the Icebreaker Tournament in Marlborough, Mass. These drew other top American and Canadian programs: Connecticut Junior Rangers, Little Caesars, Chicago Mission, Minnesota Blades, Montreal Ice Storm, Regional Gold Express, Toronto Bulldogs, Toronto Pro Hockey. The tournaments were opportunities for North America’s top players to compete with and against their top-flight peers.

For some players, it wasn’t an airtight decision. White was a three-sport athlete, busy with football and baseball when he wasn’t playing hockey at the Foxboro Sports Center, the Kings’ home base. Families were occupied in the offseasons with other sports, siblings’ commitments and vacations. Burnout was a concern.

“It would just be those three or four tournaments throughout the summer. We wouldn’t do anything else,” says former UMass Lowell defenseman Garrett Burke, father of Cal Burke, a Notre Dame graduate who is currently in the Colorado Avalanche system. “We wouldn’t go to any camps. We wouldn’t do anything. Because I always thought it was super valuable for your mind to get away from the game. You get refreshed each year. If the kids grind through the whole summer all the time, it just gets to be monotony, because it becomes more about the parents.”

For other players, acceptance came easily. Marino was a rink rat. His dad was, to put it kindly, a committed hockey father.

When and John and twin brother Paul were 4 years old, the family took a trip to Disney World. As the family sat poolside at Disney, John complained there was no rink. The Marinos cut their vacation short and returned home.

One year, by Marino Jr.’s count, John played in 84 games in April, May and June following the Kings’ winter season. Perhaps it was that year when one of Marino Jr.’s acquaintances invited John to play up with his 1996-born Montreal team on the same weekend the 1997 Junior Bruins were participating in the tournament.

Marino Jr. was delighted. His son would play four games each Friday and Saturday, not just two for the Junior Bruins.

John was midway through a Saturday game with the 1996s. It wasn’t looking good for Montreal. So his dad pulled him off the ice after the second period. He hustled John over to his 1997 Junior Bruins, who were about to start a game.

Masters had been unaware of John’s participation with the Montreal team. As the Marinos approached, Masters saw what was happening and stopped them short. He was furious.

Because of his dad’s actions, Masters declared, John would not play for the Junior Bruins that day. John was crushed he could not play with his friends.

“How the fuck can you play your kid in four games a day?” Marino Jr. recalls Masters yelling at him.

“I don’t know,” Marino Jr. answered. “He’s in good shape?”

Marino Jr. apologized. He asked Masters for forgiveness and begged him to let his son play in the championship game on Sunday. Masters said yes. The Junior Bruins won.

John Marino is now a Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman. (Charles LeClaire / USA Today Sports)

The South Shore boys were the base of the Junior Bruins. Masters didn’t have trouble convincing other Massachusetts players to join the fun.

Burke (Boxborough, Mass.) played for the Minuteman Flames. The Flames, like the Junior Bruins, used Marlborough’s New England Sports Center as their home rink. Burke caught Masters’ eye. So did Casey Fitzgerald (North Reading, Mass.), who played for the Islanders and Junior Warriors.

The Junior Bruins did not limit themselves to Massachusetts players. Word was out that two mites for the Long Island Gulls stood out above the rest. McAvoy (Long Beach, N.Y.) and Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) came on board.

Bracco became one of the Junior Bruins’ standouts. McAvoy was good but not one of the best.

“The thing that Charlie fought early was that he was a little heavy. We used to call him ‘Big Boy McAvoy,’” Masters says. “I remember talking to his dad one time. I said, ‘Hey listen, he’s young. This is all baby fat. But if he trims down, his feet, which are good, will be that much better. Those first couple steps are holding him back now.’ He was always a good player on a great team. The kid always had a smile on his face.”

Matthews, playing for the Western Selects, was in a similar category. The Arizona boy was good — good enough to score invitations from the Junior Bruins and good enough to hold his own among the East Coast kids. But Masters did not see a future No. 1 NHL pick.

“On our summer team, he was the fifth- or sixth-best kid,” Masters says. “Which isn’t to denigrate him. But it’s interesting. He’s now an NHL superstar, one of the best players in the world.”

Charlie McAvoy (right) recently signed a contract that’ll pay him $9.5 million a year for the next eight years. (Bob DeChiara / USA Today Sports)

There was no such question about McDavid. He was a prodigy every time Masters saw him in tournament action. Masters once emailed Brian McDavid, No. 97’s father, to invite his son to play for the Junior Bruins. The father politely passed.

“He was just so dominant,” Masters says. “He was such a good skater. Some things I look for is, ‘What’s their skating like? What are their hockey smarts like?’ Sometimes you don’t know that until you coach a player or see him for 15 or 20 games. Connor McDavid was so good with the puck. He was so fast. His acceleration was so much better than everyone’s.”

The truth of it was that Masters didn’t really need McDavid. By the time the 1997 Junior Bruins were squirts, another cluster of players had completed the roster: the boys from St. Louis.

When Casey Fitzgerald was a mite, father Tom was approaching the end of his 1,097-game NHL career. Keith Tkachuk, Tom’s cousin, was playing in St. Louis, where the Melrose, Mass., native had settled his family.

Matthew, Tkachuk’s oldest son, was starring for the Junior Blues. The St. Louis program was becoming a powerhouse. They could hang with more established teams like the South Shore Kings.

Once, when the Kings were visiting the Blues, the on-ice temperature spiked. The parents got into it too. Mark Kunin, Luke’s father, exchanged words with one in particular: Marino Jr.

“We started MF’ing each other,” Kunin admits.

Kunin and Marino Jr. would soon be cheering for the same team. As one of the 1997 Junior Blues’ coaches, Keith Tkachuk knew the boys well. He also knew his nephew Casey was playing for a top-end tournament team that always welcomed good players.

For the Tkachuks, who spent part of their summers in Cape Cod, committing Matthew to the Junior Bruins was a slam dunk. Keith Tkachuk recommended others too.

So upon Tkachuk’s counsel, Masters invited some of the top Junior Blues to head east. Kunin, Michael Davies and Jake Henderson joined Matthew Tkachuk. So did 1998-born Clayton Keller, good enough to play up with and against boys a year older. At any given time, the Junior Bruins were exiting the bench through doors opened by big-time ex-NHLers.

“It doesn’t hurt when Keith Tkachuk, Tom Fitzgerald and Kevin Stevens are coaching your team. That’s appealing to parents,” says Scott Fitzgerald, Tom’s brother and Casey’s uncle. “The kids, 11 and 12, they probably don’t know who they were. But the parents knew.”

The games would get out of hand. Still, the Junior Bruins needed goalies. At times, they called upon Luke Opilka, who played for the Junior Blues. Opilka knew firsthand how good the Junior Bruins were. When he played for the US Selects, Opilka had been ripped apart by boys he knew well.

“I just remember they had four lines,” Opilka says. “There was never really a break in the onslaught. I remember specifically my friends from St. Louis — Kunin, Jake Henderson, Michael Davies, Tkachuk — they all scored that game. So I got scored on by all the St. Louis kids.”

The out-of-towners had other choices. Chicago Mission, for one, was a closer and more familiar landing spot for the St. Louis players. But the Junior Bruins were winning. Good players wanted to play with good players.

Hanifin, incredibly fast and strong for his age, controlled games. White played with pace and skill. Bracco was an electrifying forward. Tkachuk was already agitating.

“They were always going to be in the NHL. There really wasn’t going to be a doubt. Even then,” Opilka says of some of his Junior Bruins teammates. “It was eventually going to happen. It didn’t matter how long. It was going to happen. You knew they were going to end up there.”

When the Junior Bruins were really rocking and rolling, Marner accepted an invitation to play. So did Barzal. There was even one tournament when the Junior Bruins, loaded on defense, didn’t have enough room to bring McAvoy.

“They didn’t mind passing the puck around three or four times to get the fanciest goal they could probably get,” Garrett Burke says. “It was just unique. They loved hanging out with each other too. I think the knee hockey games in the hallways of the hotels, where they’d get yelled at, were more intense than some of the games we played against some of the other teams.”

Coach Chris Masters and his Junior Bruins after a 2005 tournament victory. (Photo courtesy Chris Masters)

The Marinos were somewhere in New York. They were returning from a tournament in Toronto.

At around 3 a.m., a deer darted in front of their Honda Pilot. It smashed into the windshield. The impact woke up John, who was sitting in the passenger seat. Smoke curled out from under the hood. After some consideration, Marino Jr. decided to keep going. Somehow, the battered Pilot made it back to Massachusetts.

“So I drove to the auto body guy near my house,” Marino Jr. recalls. “He says, ‘Good thing you got here. You can’t drive this car.’”

The Pilot, which Marino Jr. pushed past 200,000 miles, survived more tournament travel. This time, somewhere in Canada, the Marinos, with Luke Stevens in tow, were on their way to McDonald’s after a game. Marino Jr. approached a puddle and blasted through at 50 mph. The puddle was deeper than he thought. The car stalled out.

“It was such a good experience,” Marino Jr. says of the family’s tournament adventures. “We looked forward to it. I think we had 13 tournaments in one summer, most of them in Toronto. One summer, we went back and forth to Toronto six times. We’d leave Thursday and come back Sunday night at two in the morning, three in the morning. That tired me out.”

It was one thing for families like the Marinos to drive to and from tournaments. It was another for Opilka to fly from St. Louis to Toronto to stand practically unoccupied in the crease while his teammates shredded the other net.

“It was a pretty boring tournament for a goalie,” Opilka says. “I didn’t have much action.”

Before one tournament in Toronto, some of the parents took the players go-karting. The next day, their arms still aching from driving, the Junior Bruins played a more competitive game than Masters would have preferred. More than a decade later, the fun the boys had on go-karts resonates more than the on-ice results.

“I made so many friends from those tournaments,” White says. “To this date, some of those guys are my best friends, whether it was on my team growing up all winter or in the summer too. A lot of us have kept in close touch. It’s amazing to see how far these guys have come. On the other side of it, it’s the sacrifice my family made and everyone’s family made for us to come together in the summer and play tournaments together.”

By the time they were bantams, the 1997 Junior Bruins drifted apart, pulled by greater demands from school and club teams. Some of the relationships never wavered.

Mark and Chris White, Colin’s parents, still talk to Mark Kunin. When McAvoy and the Boston Bruins were in South Bend for the 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame, Garrett Burke caught up with Charlie McAvoy Sr. and wife Jennifer. Colin White, Noah Hanifin and John Marino are still fast friends.

“My brother and I played for Matignon,” Masters says. “We played at the old Boston Garden in high school championships. My brother (Peter) won a junior national championship in the USHL. We played in Beanpots. But my dad would say without a doubt, his favorite time watching us play was mites until about 13 years old. There’s no pressure. It’s just fun. It’s fun.”

Mark Kunin turns on the TV to follow Luke play for Nashville now. But it’s different from when he watched Luke and older brother Nick, who also played for the Junior Blues. 

“I miss it so much,” Kunin admits.

There are days in the summer now when Kunin gets together with a neighbor, who has a younger hockey-playing son. When the boy goes for skills sessions, Kunin tags along to chat with his neighbor. It brings back memories of when his sons were boys, the rink was home and the frenzy of life made everything worth it.

 

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The Hurricanes seem to be full-blown aggy:

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The Carolina Hurricanes trolled the Montreal Canadiens with a satirical website after defeating them on Thursday night, only to have that site hacked and turned into an anti-Carolina web page by Friday morning.

After the Hurricanes beat the Canadiens in Montreal, the team sent out a website link to its 506,000 followers on Twitter: DidTheHabsLose.com.

The site featured a banner photo with the word "YES" in bold letters. Underneath were two links to buy two Hurricanes player T-shirts: One for center Sebastian Aho, whom the Canadiens unsuccessfully attempted to sign away from Carolina with a free-agent offer sheet in 2019; and one for forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi, whom the Hurricanes poached from Montreal via an offer sheet last offseason. The shirts were on sale for $20 -- which is Aho's number and Kotkaniemi's signing bonus -- for anyone using the promo code "oui."

It was an extraordinary bit of postgame gloating and NHL social media trolling, and one that managed to make the Hurricanes some profit in the process.

"It's literally our jobs: To entertain and drive revenue. That did both of those things," Mike Forman, vice president of marketing and brand strategy for the Hurricanes, told ESPN on Friday. "If you're a Montreal Canadiens fan, it probably rubbed you the wrong way. But we're not building our marketing plan around Canadiens fans or Canadian media, for that matter. We're building it for our fans."

Forman said the planning for this stunt started three weeks ago at a weekly meeting that included Dan LaTorraca, the team's senior director of marketing.

"We come up with a lot of ideas. Most never see the light of day," said Forman. "We decided to reserve a few URLs. Obviously, if we lose a game, we aren't going to do anything with them."

The Hurricanes reserved domains for four teams to do the same bit they did with the Canadiens. One of those teams is the Washington Capitals. Another is the Carolina Hurricanes themselves, to cover their bases and be a little self-deprecating.

"It won't be any secret. It'll be the teams we had some social media fun with over the last few years," Forman said.

There was discussion about buying URLs for all 32 NHL teams.

"We thought about it. But we're not actual jerks. We're the figurative jerks. Our philosophy is that we won't throw a first punch. But we'll throw the second punch and we're going to try for it to be a knockout," said Forman, referencing the "Bunch of Jerks" nickname that former "Hockey Night in Canada" commentator Don Cherry gave the team.

The first deployment of the website trolling was a hit. But then an unexpected incident ended the fun early: DidTheHabsLose.com was hacked overnight and transformed into an anti-Hurricanes website. Carolina owner Tom Dundon called Forman on Friday morning to ask him if was an actual hack or if the marketing team had put that up there as part of the bit.

"No, we were actually hacked," said Forman, laughing. "Honestly, it's just gaining more traction because of it."

The team is debating what to do with the hacked website.

"We may have fun with it, or we may talk with our IT team to get it corrected. Either way, we'll do something," said Forman.

While brief, the experiment was a success. The Hurricanes once again got the attention of the hockey world with a social media stunt and moved some merchandise in the process. Helping matters was the fact that Aho and Kotkaniemi both scored goals in the victory over Montreal.

"The fact that we could drive any revenue on a random Thursday night is a good win for us," said Forman. "This is our brand. We're big and bold. We know we're going to rub a lot of people the wrong way, but we're also going to entertain people -- especially our fans."

 

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I knew the hawks were bad, but I didn’t realize they were “only two players not in a negative +/-“ bad. One of those players is at zero. The other is +1. Hawks need to clean house. There’s a lot of hand wringing about firing Stan Bowman and losing Scotty too, but too fucking bad. This team is a complete dumpster fire. Last night players were drawing up a PP plan on a whiteboard, Colliton and staff has completely lost the bench. 

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