Welcome to Snap Shots! This week, we look at a trade that was voided, another third jersey — would that make it a second third jersey or a fourth jersey — for the Maple Leafs, and a team that went from hero to zero in less than a year.
1. Evgenii Dadonov Trade is Voided
Imagine getting fired from your job, but then your boss says “just kidding, you still work here…now get back to work” the next day. That’s kind of what happened to Vegas Golden Knights’ RW Evgenii Dadonov, who was traded to the Anaheim Ducks at last week Monday’s trade deadline, only to have the deal cancelled by the NHL on Wednesday because it violated Dadonov’s contract, which had a no-movement clause in it.
When the Knights acquired Dadonov from the Ottawa Senators in 2020, the Sens did not disclose that Dadonov had a list of 10 teams that he could not be traded to, including Anaheim, as per ESPN. That fact came to light after the Knights tried to unload Dadonov and his $5 million cap hit to the Ducks, so that Vegas could move Alec Martinez or Mark Stone off the injured list and back into the lineup.
Dadonov has scored two goals in two games for the Golden Knights– including an overtime, game-winning goal against Chicago on Saturday — since being “un-traded” from the Ducks. Even though the Knights were trying to move him, Dadonov may be what the team needs to clinch a playoff berth. The Knights are currently clinging to a wild card spot, but have played four more games than the Dallas Stars, who is just one point behind Vegas in the standings. At this point in the season, every goal counts, and Dadonov is currently second on the team in goals.
2. Former NHL President Gil Stein Dies
Gil Stein, who served as President of the NHL from 1992 to 1993, died on Thursday at age 94. Stein worked a long time in hockey. He was the NHL’s Vice President and General Counsel for 15 years. When the NHL fired longtime league president John Ziegler in 1992, Stein was hired as an interim replacement until Ziegler’s true successor — which would be a “commissioner” and not a “president” — could be hired. Stein’s tenure as NHL President was short-lived, as Gary Bettman was hired as NHL Commissioner in February of 1993.
Stein was also the center of some controversy in his short time as league president. He pushed for the Hockey Hall of Fame to change its balloting process, and was subsequently elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. After allegations that he manipulated the voting process to engineer his own election, Stein rescinded his election to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Stein was also at the helm when the NHL granted franchises to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Florida Panthers in December of 1992, and pushed for NHL players to participate in the 1994 Winter Olympics. Although the latter did not happen in 1994, the idea was continued by Bettman when he took over, with NHL players participating in the 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014 Winter Olympics.
3. Leafs’ Wear Bieber-Designed Jerseys
Last Wednesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs debuted yet another alternate jersey. The “Next Gen” jersey is a collaboration with Canadian pop superstar Justin Bieber and his fashion brand Drew House. This is the Leafs’ second “third jersey” this season; the other being its Heritage Classic uniform that it wore two weeks back.
The Next Gen jersey is reversible: one side is black with a blue Maple Leafs’ logo, blue striping and black letters and numbers — legibility be dammed! — while the other side has yellow detailing and the Drew House “smiley face” logo incorporated into the Leafs’ crest. It is the first reversible NHL jersey.
(I remember in high school, we had reversible shirts that were black on one side and gold on the other side so that we could easily make teams “on the fly” for in-class scrimmages. It was like wearing two shirts, and I sweated an awful lot in them. I wonder if these Next Gen jerseys have the same problem.)
Anyway, while I am not particularly a fan of these jerseys, I do like that the NHL is going to outside sources for some inspiration. The league and most of its teams usually like to look to the past whenever it launches a new alternate jersey for a special event, such as the Leafs’ Heritage Classic jerseys which were based on the team’s look in 1918 — over 100 years ago!
How can the NHL or its teams make anything truly new if it keeps on rehashing ideas from last century? It cant. So, bringing in new ideas from someone hip and popular like Justin Bieber — who is also a die-hard Maple Leafs fan — can only help the league appeal to potential new fans.
4. Habs Won’t Make Playoffs This Year
While half of the NHL — 16 out of 32 teams — does not make the playoffs, it is surprising when a team goes from Stanley Cup Contender to one of the worst teams in the league in just a season. And that’s exactly what has happened to the Montreal Canadiens.
A year after making it to the Finals, and losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games, the Canadiens have been mathematically eliminated from making it to the playoffs in 2022. After being only three wins away from its first Stanley Cup Championship since 1993, the Habs looked poised to be a contender again. But a combination of on-ice and front-office problems have hampered the Habs all season long.
Midway through the season, the team fired GM Marc Bergevin and replaced him with Jeff Gorton, who in turn fired head coach Dominique Ducharme and replaced him with Martin St. Louis on an interim basis.
But front office upheavals don’t happen unless the team is doing poorly on the ice, and that has been the case for the Canadiens all season. The Habs are dead-last in the Eastern Conference with a record of 18-37-10 through its first 65 games. The loss of goaltender Carey Price (knee surgery and then substance abuse), captain and defensive stalwart Shea Weber (foot and ankle injury), and top-four d-man Joel Edmonson (back injury, COVID-19, and personal reasons before returning on March 12) have largely contributed to the Canadiens’ downward spiral.
By losing two of their best defensemen and their top goaltender, the Canadiens have the worst goal differential in the league at -77. The team has allowed 244 goals against, which is second-worst in the NHL, but has only scored 167 goals through Saturday, which is the third-least amount of goals.
Price has returned to practicing with the team. Weber most likely won’t play again, but the Canadiens also have 14 picks in the upcoming NHL draft. The Habs also have two bright stars in Nick Suzuki, who played in the All-Star Game this year, and Cole Caufield, who is second to Suzuki in scoring for the Canadiens.
All of that may not turn things around for the Canadiens in one season, but what’s the rush? Sometimes, it’s better to be a really bad team and rebuild the right way then apply a few band-aids to squeak into the playoffs.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■