There wasn’t any monumental news around the league this week. At least none that forced me to edit my column at the last minute. This week, I’ll tie up a few more loose ends and highlight a few former GMs that made headlines. I’ll also share with you one of my favorite uniform concepts and a few special goals.
1. Pens’ GM ResignsLast week, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford stepped down from a role he’s held since June of 2014. Rutherford won two Stanley Cups at the helm when the Penguins went back-to-back in 2016 and 2017, becoming the first team to do so since the 1996-97 and 1997-98 Red Wings. Rutherford was named the GM of the year in 2016. He cited personal reasons for his resignation and did not provide further details.
First, whenever someone steps down for personal reasons, you hope that everything is okay. I wish the best for Rutherford and his family.
If this was the last job for Rutherford in his career, man did he do a great job. Rutherford was named the GM after the Penguins lost in the first round of the 2014 playoffs. They lost in the first round the next year, too. It was that offseason where he made his most-notable move as Pens’ GM, trading for Phil Kessel. Kessel was the missing link and helped the Penguins win two straight Stanley Cup Championships.
It’s been downhill from there though, as it usually is after a team expends so much draft capital to win now. The Penguins haven’t made it out of the first round of the playoffs since they lost to the Capitals on the way to their own Stanley Cup championship in the 2018 playoffs. The Penguins look to be outmatched in their division and aren’t even a lock to make the playoffs this season.
Every reign comes to an end. Hats off to Rutherford on what might have been the last run of his career.
2. Chayka Suspended by the NHL
Former GM of the Arizona Coyotes John Chayka was suspended through the rest of 2021. According to Emily Kaplan’s report on ESPN.com, Chayka was suspended for “conduct detrimental to the league and game.” You can see more below:
Commissioner Gary Bettman made the ruling Monday and circulated a memo to all teams that stated Chayka engaged in “conduct detrimental to the league and game.” Bettman’s ruling also said Chayka “breached his obligation to the club.”
If you don’t remember what happened, essentially Chayka told Coyotes’ owner Alex Meruelo he wanted to visit another team, who many speculate to be the New Jersey Devils, to speak with their owner to build a relationship, but it was not to seek a job. This was only a few months after Meruelo had rewarded him with a new contract. Then, right as the Coyotes entered the bubble, Chayka resigned. The Coyotes were obviously upset.
I’m happy the league stepped in and suspended Chayka. What he did to the Coyotes was slimy. I would understand if maybe he wanted a different role and was honest about it, or if he had family in that city he wanted to be closer to. But, he lied about it to his owner’s face. I know you can’t always tell your boss when you’re looking for jobs or aren’t happy, but the man just received a new contract. It’s clear the NHL agrees as they issued a lengthy suspension.
I feel bad for the Coyotes. Phoenix isn’t a popular market for hockey and isn’t the most desirable of GM jobs so it hurts a bit more. Let’s not forget they were in talks to bring Taylor Hall back after the season ended. I’m sure Chayka’s swift resignation didn’t help their cause.
3. Henderson Golden Knights New Helmets
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In uniform news, the Henderson Silver Knights, AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights, released their new chrome helmets. According to the team, “Our chrome helmets pay homage to the armor knights wore into battle during medieval times.”
I love the helmets. They’re awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a chrome helmet in hockey. I’ve seen a few in college football but that’s about it. The reason is corny as hell. I get wanting to fit your jersey concepts into a story, but medieval knights is a bit much.
Regardless, these buckets are awesome and the Las Vegas/Henderson Knights teams continue to crush it with just about everything they do.
4. Goals of the Week
Two awesome goals caught my attention last week. So much so that I had to share them with all of you.
Check out this goal by Alexandre Texier of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
ONE MORE TIME 😱
— NHL (@NHL) January 29, 2021
When I saw this goal for the first time, I had to watch it a second and third time. I realized I’ve never seen anything like it. We’ve all seen the replays of Nikita Kucherov’s phantom deke and Peter Forsberg’s classic cross-body move. I’ve never seen anyone go five-hole with their off-hand with the stick’s momentum going the other way. Hats off to Texier.
Our next goal is courtesy of Artyom Galimov, an Anaheim Ducks draft pick currently playing for Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL. Check it out.
Holy shit Artyom Galimov just pulled a goal and a half pic.twitter.com/O5tb34m7Gz
— Spittin’ Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) January 30, 2021
Again, I’ve never seen a goal like this. The closest thing I could think of when I first saw it was the Alexander Ovechkin goal. Yes, this one.
The between-the-legs to no-look behind the back are words that belong in an NBA Slam Dunk contest, not during a hockey game. This is one of the best goals I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t quite nip Ovechkin, but it’s amazing nonetheless.
I’ll even give Galimov’s goal the edge over Texier’s. I appreciate both of them for providing us with awesome content in what was a pretty boring week.
5. Hoffman Signs with St. Louis
IT’S OFFICIAL! @MHoffy68 is a Blue.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) January 11, 2021
After signing a PTO with the Blues, Mike Hoffman finally landed a guaranteed deal with the club. The contract is one year in length and will pay Hoffman $4 million. Hoffman struggled to get offers this free agency even after coming off a season where he scored 29 goals and notched 30 assists.
The Blues needed a player like Hoffman after losing captain Alex Pietrangelo and leader Alex Steen to free agency and retirement this offseason. The 31-year-old Hoffman has scored at least 22 goals in the last six seasons with Ottawa and Florida.
I’m not sure why Hoffman didn’t fetch more in free agency. He’s relatively young and has been very productive over the last few years. I would have expected him to sign a 4-5 year deal with a $5 million – $5.5 million AAV. The Islanders were one of the teams interested and they definitely missed out.
Regardless of Hoffman’s inability to sign a larger contract, this is a huge get for the Blues. They needed scoring, bad. Especially after Vladimir Tarasenko went down with an injury. If Hoffman can put up his usual numbers, he’ll earn every penny of the $4 million he’s being paid this season. ■