I didn’t have as much time as usual to focus on this week’s edition of Snap Shots. So, here is a very quick rundown of the top five hockey stories over the past week.
1. Backstrom Scores 1,000th Point
Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom scored his 1,000th-career point on Wednesday night when he assisted on a goal by T.J. Oshie. It was fitting that Backstrom’s milestone point came on an assist; he is the Caps’ all-time leader in assists with 737. Backstrom is the 93rd player in NHL history to score 1,000 points and just the sixth Swedish player to do so. And at just 34 years old, Backstrom will move up the all-time scoring leaders chart quite a few spots before his career is done. Backstrom could pass four more players before the 2021-22 season is over. He needs five points to pass Brian Propp (1,004), seven points to pass Lanny McDonald (1,006), 13 points to pass Steve Larmer (1,012), and 14 points to pass Pat Lafontaine.
2. NHL Unveils New Stanley Cup Logo
On Tuesday, the NHL revealed a redesign of the Stanley Cup logo that will be used during the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Stanley Cup Final. This new logo uses typography inspired by the NHL’s own history, as explained in this graphic here.
The “Playoff” logo is seen on the ice during the playoffs, and the “Final” logo is on the ice and sewn to players’ uniforms during the Stanley Cup Finals. This is the first overhaul of the Stanley Cup Playoffs/Final logo since the 2013 playoffs. The NHL started using a Stanley Cup logo during the 1989 Stanley Cup Final.
3. Wild Retire Koivu’s Number
Another 2000’s-era expansion team retired a jersey number this past week when the Minnesota Wild retired number 9 to honor Mikko Koivu. He is the first player to have his number retired by the Wild. The Finnish-born center played 15 of his 16 NHL seasons with Minnesota, and is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. Koivu was also the Wild’s team captain from from March 2009 to August 2020. The Wild honored Koivu with a 40-minute pregame ceremony on Sunday prior to the Wild’s game against the Nashvill Predators. You can watch the video above; skip to the 18-minute mark to hear Koivu’s speech.
4. Jack Eichel Returns to Buffalo
Sure, many NHLers play in their “first game back” against their old team, usually receiving a video tribute and standing ovation from the home crowd. But things played out a little differently for Jack Eichel Thursday night in his first game back in Buffalo since the Sabres traded him to the Vegas Golden Knights. While he did receive some applause, Eichel was mainly booed by the Sabres fans Thursday night. Fans booed Eichel whenever he touched the puck, and during a video tribute that the Sabres played to honor his six seasons with the Sabres, including three as team captain.
After the game, Eichel had this to say:
“It’s the loudest I’ve heard this place ever. Really. It only took seven years and me leaving for them to get into the game. It was a nice tribute. There was plenty of people here that were supporting me, and there was plenty of people that were booing me. They must just be booing me because they wish I was still here, I don’t know.” (via ESPN)
Although Eichel did not have a point in Thursday’s 3-1 loss to the Sabres, Eichel scored a goal in each of his next two games. He currently has nine points in 13 games for the Golden Knights this season.
5. Sabres Beats Leafs in Heritage Classic
Another month, another outdoor game. Yesterday, the Buffalo Sabres beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 in the Heritage Classic outdoor game, hosted in Hamilton, Ontario. This is the third outdoor game of the 2021-22 season and the 35th outdoor game the NHL has held since 2003 (not counting exhibition games), as per NHL.com.
The Sabres wore retro-esque, cream-colored jerseys that eschewed a vintage feel. The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, wore jerseys meant to resemble Toronto Arenas jerseys from the 1918-19 season. (The team was originally called the Arenas from 1917-18 to 1918-19, then renamed the St. Pats from 1919-20 to 1926-27, and then finally the Maple Leafs prior to the 1927-28 season.)
The 2022 Heritage Classic had a sold-out attendance of 26, 119. Vinnie Hinostroza was the game’s first star, with two goals and an assist for the Sabres.
NOTE: Next week’s Snap Shots will be published on Tuesday, March 22 to include news from the NHL Trade Deadline.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■