this week: surviving a meteor strike


P.K. Subban was dining on liver in Paris, Adam Vingan of The Tennessean reports, when he got the word last Wednesday that the Montreal Canadiens had traded him to Nashville’s Predators.

“Quoi?” tweeted Montreal’s mayor, Denis Coderre, when he heard the news. The online shock was matched only by the outrage: “La twittosphère s’enflamme à propos de l’échange de P.K. Subban” was a Journal de Montreal headline from the following day.

“So that Subban trade really happened, eh?” wrote Gerald Butts, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Principal Secretary and a prominent Habs fan. “Call me old fashioned,” groused another, actor and director Jay Baruchel, “but it’s more fun to watch PK Subban play hockey than it is to watch Michel Therrien coach hockey. #fuckingHabs”

Also, in other news, the Toronto Maple Leafs convened a camp for their brightest prospects this week, in Niagara Falls. Mitch Marner was there, and William Nylander, along with, of course, Auston Matthews, drafted first overall in June’s draft. Reported the Associated Press: Leafs skating coach Barb Underhill “quickly noticed a flaw in Matthews’ stride: his left shoulder wasn’t coming across enough.”

Subban’s personality was too big for Montreal, said The Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur.

Andrew Berkshire, a writer for Sportsnet who also commands editorial content for the analytics firm Sportlogiq: “The Montreal Canadiens have made possibly the worst trade in the history of their franchise, for no reason at all.”

“Unbelievable,” Subban told Adam Vingan, regarding his foie de Paris. About the trade, he said he felt closer to winning the Stanley Cup than he had to before. “I’m just happy to be in a situation where I can excel and feel good about myself coming to the rink every day.”

“I don’t want to take anything away from P.K.,” Montreal GM Marc Bergevin said when he stepped up to face the media in Montreal. “He’s made the way he is and he’s a good person.”

“This is the Roy debacle all over again,” declared Brendan Kelly in The Montreal Gazette. “It’s the worst move by the Habs since Réjean Houle dealt Patrick Roy to the Colorado Avalanche for a bag of pucks in 1995. It took the franchise years to recover from that horrible trade.”

roch pkstrk

David Poile disagreed — but then he was the guy on the other end, Nashville’s GM. “I’m a general manager,” he said of Subban on the day, “but someday I’d like to be a fan, and he is a guy that I would pay money to see.”

“We never had a problem with P.K.,” was something else Marc Bergevin said. “You have 23 players on your roster and they’re all different. They all bring different things. One of the most important things for me is punctuality. We never had a problem with P.K. with that.”

At, Adam Kimelman wrote about an 18-year-old draft prospect. His lede:

After surviving a meteor strike, moving to Canada became a bit easier for right wing Vitaly Abramov of Gatineau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Abramov led Gatineau and indeed all QMJHL rookies in goals, assists, and points (93) last season. Columbus ended up drafting him. Kimelman:

Abramov was at school in his hometown of Chelyabinsk, Russia on Feb. 15, 2013 when a meteor exploded over the city. The meteor was between 49 and 55 feet in size, with an estimated mass of 7,000 to 10,000 tons, according to CNN.

The estimated energy released by the meteor’s explosion was 300-500 kilotons, or about 20 times the estimated amount released by the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945.

“I was in school and all the windows in my class crashed,” Abramov said. “All windows in the city was gone. … It was like big panic because it was something none of us had ever seen. But after that it was fine when everyone said it was a meteorite and we’re still alive.

“Normal school day and a meteor came down.”

“I will not go into detail why we think we are a better team,” Marc Bergevin told that press conference, “but we feel we are a better team.”

kunlunIn China, during an official visit by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, the Kontinental Hockey League announced that it would add a Beijing franchise to the league, HC Kunlun Red Star, for the 2016-17 season.

Other news from Montreal: the Canadiens acquired winger Andrew Shaw from the Chicago Black Hawks for a pair of draft picks. Known for his energy and a talent for annoyance, Shaw is also remembered for having been suspended in this year’s playoffs for uttering an anti-gay slur. He talked to reporters on a conference call soon afterwards, including Mark Lazerus of The Chicago Sun-Times, who heard him say that Bergevin had been in on drafting him, Shaw, as an assistant GM in Chicago. “He likes the rat in me,” Shaw said.

One new teammate Shaw mentioned was Brendan Gallagher.

“Me and Gallagher have had some fun battles,” he said. “Now I’m excited to be on his side to annoy people together, I guess. It’ll be a fun team to play with. I’m pretty excited about it. Can’t wait for September.”

The Calgary Flames, meantime, drafted 18-year-old Matthew Tkachuk, a.k.a. son of a Keith. “He’s a pain in the ass,” said Brian Burke, chief of Flames hockey operations. “We don’t have enough guys who are pains in the ass… I like guys who are pains in the ass.”

For his part, Tkachuk fils mentioned to a Calgary Herald reporter that he models his game on Corey Perry’s. Wes Gilbertson:

And if he can, indeed, blossom into a Perry sort, he might not have to pay for a meal in Cowtown for his entire life.

After all, Perry is a guy who seems to routinely score 30-plus goals each season, never shies away from a collision and, thanks to his aggravating style, has probably been called four-letter words that most of us don’t even know.

The Hockey Hall of Fame announced its 2016 class last week: Eric Lindros, Rogie Vachon, Pat Quinn, and Sergei Makarov. Here’s Katie Baker, at The Ringer, on the erstwhile Number 88:

Lindros was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame, after six years of mostly silly rejection, and it’s about damn time. Ever since he was a teenager, the center was an unceasing, and worthy, obsession of the hockey world. He was huge (6-foot-4, 240) and hugely skilled, capable of playing a style of hockey that seemed more of an abstract ideal than an actual bodily possibility. (Instead of using the 20/80 scale to evaluate prospects, hockey scouts ought to just rate them from 1 to Eric Lindros.) He was, for a time, hockey’s avatar. In the biopic he’d be played by Channing Tatum, and you’d spoil the viewing experience for your kids because you’d keep pestering them: No, you don’t understand, there was no one like him in his prime.

 What should a Hall of Fame be? This is a question that all sports face; baseball has a whole steroid-fueled generation that it may never decide how to properly judge. Should the place feel like an encyclopedic compendium of a sport’s most successful players as defined by known, unassailable metrics — career length and Cup wins included — or should it have more laid-back shrine-to-the-glory-of-hockey, this-is-what-things-were-like-back-then vibes? I’m an extremist, but my ideal Hall of Fame would be the best kind of museum, the type that immerses you in the context, ugly and beautiful, of all of hockey’s eras. Hell, put an interactive NHL on Fox glowing-puck exhibit next to Lindros’s bust. Few things are so specifically, disgustingly mid-’90s.

“I’m not P.K. Subban,” Shea Weber said when the media in Canada turned its attention to him, “I’m not going to try to be. I’m going to bring my hard work and attitude and try to bring this team some wins. The biggest thing I want to do is win. I know that they’ve got a good base there, obviously one of the best goaltenders in the world, some top-end forwards, and I’m just excited to be joining that group.”

Also last week, before the Subban/Weber deal went ahead, the Edmonton Oilers traded winger Taylor Hall to New Jersey for a defenceman, Adam Larsson. “I certainly do feel a bit slighted by the whole thing,” Hall said. “I do take this as an indictment on me as a hockey player,” he added later, at a press conference.

While NHL general managers were trading their superstars to New Jersey and Tennessee, U.S. President Barack Obama was in Ottawa, addressing a joint session of Parliament. He’d been in the capital before, of course, in 2009. From the White House transcript of his remarks:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: So Canada was the very first country that I visited as President. It was in February. (Laughter.) It was colder. (Laughter.) I was younger. (Laughter.) Michelle now refers to my hair as the Great White North. (Laughter.)

And on that visit, I strolled around the ByWard [sic] Market, tried a “beaver tail” — (laughter) — which is better than it sounds. (Laughter.) And I was struck then, as I am again today, by the warmth of the Canadians. I could not be more honored to be joining you in this historic hall — this cathedral of freedom. And we Americans can never say it enough — we could not ask for a better friend or ally than Canada. (Applause.) We could not. It’s true. It is true. And we do not take it for granted.

That does not mean we don’t have our differences. As I understand it, one of the reasons the Queen chose this site for Parliament was that it was a safe distance from America’s border. (Laughter.) And I admit, in the War of 1812, American troops did some damage to Toronto. I suspect that there were some people up here who didn’t mind when the British returned the favor and burned down the White House. (Laughter.)

In more recent times, however, the only forces crossing our borders are the armies of tourists and businesspeople and families who are shopping and doing business and visiting loved ones.  Our only battles take place inside the hockey rink. Even there, there’s an uneasy peace that is maintained. As Americans, we, too, celebrate the life of Mr. Hockey himself, the late, great Gordie Howe. (Applause.)

Just as Canadians can salute American teams for winning more Stanley Cups in the NHL. (Laughter.)


PRESIDENT OBAMA: I told you I should have stopped after the applause. (Laughter.)

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman talked to an NHL coach about Weber: “He’s got this nasty little crosscheck going into the corner. They never call it.” ESPN’s Craig Custance, meanwhile, checked in with another anonymous NHL coach — could be the same one, I guess — about Adam Larsson: “He’s a unicorn because he’s right-handed and he can play.”

Stud acquisition

was the headline on announcing the Shea Weber trade.

Milan Lucic, a bellicose free agent, signed up to play for Edmonton. “You need a guy with a couple of screws loose on your team to be successful,” he advised Marty Klinkenberg from The Globe and Mail. “From an opposition point of view, none of the teams that I played for were scared or intimidated heading into a game with the Oilers.” (For a number, Lucic chose 27, which used to Georges Laraque’s and, most notably, Dave Semenko’s.)

Bruce McCurdy wrote about Lucic’s penchant for collision for The Edmonton Journal’s Cult of Hockey blog, citing “Scott Young’s theory of hockey, ‘it is better to give than receive,’” though the phrase was usually one associated with the late Gordie Howe — religious hockey, he called it.

“Lucic,” McCurdy wrote, “is a heavy hitter and is not shy about laying on the body, ranking 8th in the league in hits over that same 6-year span. If he is losing any part of his edge, it would be hard to tell from hit counts of 240, 259, and 244 in the last three seasons following the lockout.”

Boston re-signed a defenceman, John-Michael Liles, and was (it was reported) thinking about going after another one, Kris Russell. James O’Brien of NBC Sports listened to the team’s GM Don Sweeney talk about the kind of defenders he’s looking for to boost the Bruin blueline: the “sort of guys that are able to defend and be hard but also having guys that can transition, get up and down the ice, get back on pucks and move pucks.”

Toronto Maple Leafs’ coach Mike Babcock talked to Dave Stubbs of, recalling the childhood hockey he and his friends played in the streets of Leaf Rapids, Manitoba.

“We had no streetlights,” Babcock said. “And on quiet nights, when it was 40 below zero and the wind wasn’t blowing, we’d ask to get some candles and put them on the chunks of snow that were our goalposts.”

Matt Carkner, 35, veteran defenceman, noted puncher, announced his retirement this week. “I’ve gone as far as I can with my body and unfortunately injuries have finally caught up to me and I can’t compete anymore,” he wrote on Facebook.

I loved every second of it and can’t believe how quick it went by. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of my parents, and my family & friends, near and far! I am so grateful for everyone who has ever helped me along the way. Big thanks to the San Jose Sharks, Cleveland Barons, Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, Binghamton Senators, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, Bridgeport Sound Tigers for all of their efforts in making me a better player and person!

“C’est ainsi que Montréal ce matin se réveille un peu plus terne,” Yves Boisvert wrote in La Presse.

 Andrew Berkshire wasn’t through, either: “This trade is so lopsided that it’s hard to believe it happened at all.”