NHL Headlines: Week of Feb. 10
The NHL just finished its fourth week of the 2021 season, and there was lots of exciting action. However, a lot of unexpected news broke this time around as well, as COVID outbreaks are affecting teams throughout the league. Here are the biggest storylines from week four of the NHL.
The Great 8 continues to climb the all-time goals rankings
Alex Ovechkin is a man on a mission to catch Wayne Gretzky’s goal record. The 35-year-old put two in the net versus the Philadelphia Flyers for career goals No. 710 and 711. Ovechkin currently sits at sixth all time in goals and is six behind Phil Esposito. Every year, hockey fans say, “this is going to be the year that Ovi slows down,” and Ovechkin proves them wrong every time. He had four points (two goals, two assists) on Super Bowl Sunday. With every single goal, he inches closer and closer to catching the great one’s record of 894.
COVID-19 outbreaks cause more postponements
Things just keep getting worse for the New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild. More players for each team were added to the COVID-19 protocol list. Being added to this list can mean a number of things: an unconfirmed or confirmed positive test, contact tracing, or showing signs of symptoms. The Devils currently have 17 players on the list—the most in the NHL—while the Wild have 12 and the Sabres have nine. All games for each team have been postponed until at least Feb. 15. Each team has not played since late January or early February. The NHL has adjusted its COVID protocols in a number of ways—such as removing the glass behind the benches to create more airflow—and more are still to follow.
Patrik Laine benched for entire third period on Monday
Newly acquired Columbus Blue Jackets star Patrik Laine had just 11 minutes and 44 seconds of ice time in the 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Laine was benched for the entirety of the third period, and many people speculated that it was because he missed a defensive assignment. However, it was due to an altercation with one of the coaches. Laine, in just four games as a Blue Jacket, has racked up three goals. Despite his great goal-scoring ability, he is a defensive liability and many people were questioning the fit, as head coach John Tortorella is a defensive-minded coach. The Blue Jackets acquired Laine in a trade for Pierre-Luc Dubois. It will be interesting to see what Laine’s role on the team is after the incident.
Ron Hextall and Brian Burke named GM and president of hockey operations for Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh Penguins hired new members to their front office on Tuesday. Brian Burke was appointed as president of hockey operations, while Ron Hextall became the newest general manager of the franchise. Hextall succeeds Jim Rutherford, who resigned from his duties on Jan. 27 due to personal reasons. Interim GM Patrick Allvin will return as assistant GM for the Penguins. Hextall and Burke have combined for over 50 years of experience in front offices around the NHL. Most recently, Hextall served as the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2014 to 2018. Burke was the director of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames in his latest tender until 2018; he was also responsible for building the 2006-07 Stanley Cup-winning Anaheim Ducks roster. With an aging core, it will be crucial for the new hirees to get to work in the draft process to rebuild a diminishing team that was dominant throughout the last decade.
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