I was pretty sick over the past seven days, so I didn’t get to publish Snap Shots for last week. Therefore, this week’s edition will take a look at the top 10 stories from past two weeks in the world of hockey. But don’t worry — this will be a quick read, I promise 🙂
1. Canadiens’ Legend Guy Lafleur Passes Away at 70
For the second time in two weeks, the hockey world mourned the loss of another legend. On Friday, April 22, Guy Lafleur passed away at age 70 after a three-year battle with lung cancer. This comes just one week after Mike Bossy also died from lung cancer on April 15. That’s two NHL Hall of Fame members and all-time greats who succumbed to lung cancer in two weeks.
Guy Lafleur was THE face of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1970s. Yes, the Habs that decade were stacked with talent, as it won five Stanley Cup Championships that decade. But “The Flower” was the teams most-popular player, much like Rocket Richard in the 1950s or Jean Beliveau in the 1960s. Lafleur led the Canadiens in scoring for six straight seasons and was the first NHL player to record six straight seasons with 50 or more goals. He was also playoff MVP in 1977 and led the NHL in scoring three times.
What cemented Lafleur’s legacy as an all-time great is the comeback he made in 1988. Lafleur retired in 1984, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988 — and then made a comeback later that fall with the Rangers. He then played two more seasons with the Quebec Nordiques. Only two other players — Gordie Howe and Mario Lemieux — have made successful NHL comebacks after being elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Further Reading: Guy Lafleur passes away at the age of 70
2. The NHL Playoffs Brackets are Finally Set
Much of the seeding for the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs was up in the air until Friday, which was technically the last day of the regular season. (The Jets and Kraken played a makeup game on Sunday, but it had no bearing on the playoff brackets.) Here are the first round matchups for the 2022 NHL Playoffs:
Florida Panthers (A1) vs. Washington Capitals (WC2)
Toronto Maple Leafs (A2) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (A3)
Carolina Hurricanes (M1) vs. Boston Bruins (WC1)
New York Rangers (M2) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (M3)
Colorado Avalanche (C1) vs. Nashville Predators (WC2)
Minnesota Wild (C2) vs. St. Louis Blues (C3)
Calgary Flames (P1) vs. Dallas Stars (WC1)
Edmonton Oilers (P2) vs. Los Angeles Kings (P3)
Further Reading: Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round schedule
3. Ducks Use Emergency Backup Goaltender
It took all season, but we finally got to see an EBUG (Emergency Backup Goaltender) play in an NHL game this year. Both Anaheim Ducks goalies, John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz, went down with injuries in their road game against the Dallas Stars on April 29. Starting the third period for the Ducks was Tom Hodges, who played high school and college hockey in Texas, and one game in the ECHL. Hodges is on the Stars payroll and sometimes practices with the team; thus, all his goalie gear is green, which clashed a bit with the white Ducks road jersey.
Hodges made one save and allowed one goal — which ended up being the game-winning goal — in a 3-2 loss. It is always a bit of bad luck (for the injured goalies) and good luck (for the EBUG on duty) when something like this happens. What makes Hodges’ story so remarkable is that he lost sight in his left eye at age 12, which derailed any hope of an NHL career. Yet, he still got to live out his dream for an entire period of an NHL game.
4. Injured Goalie Subban Sings Anthem for Sabres
Buffalo Sabres’ goaltender Malcolm Subban, who has been injured since January 11, stepped on the ice for the Sabres last game on Friday night. But it wasn’t to play, but rather to sing the Star-Spangled Banner before the Sabres-Blackhawks game. The idea originated as a joke among Subban and his Sabres’ teammates, but became a reality. Both Subban’s current teammates on the Sabres and former teammates on the Blackhawks seemed to get a kick out of him singing the anthem, which he performed quite admirably for an amateur singer. You can watch the video of Subban signing the anthem in the video above.
Further Reading: For Subban, singing national anthem special experience
5. NHLPA to Replace Executive Director Fehr
This little tidbit may have flown under fans’ radar, as it was announced on Friday evening. The NHL Players Association stated that it is searching for a replacement for Executive Director Donald Fehr. He will retain his position until his successor is named. According to an ESPN article, the push to replace Fehr is not because of the NHLPA’s supposed mishandling of the Kyle Beach case. Rumored successor to Fehr include former NHL defenseman Mathieu Schneider and former NHL netminder Glenn Healy.
6. Andrew Ladd Plays in 1,000th Game
Arizona Coyotes winger Andrew Ladd played in his 1,000th game on April 20. He has played 16 seasons in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Thrashers, Winnipeg Jets, New York Islanders, and Coyotes. During that time, he has scored 256 goals and 294 assists for 550 points. Ladd was the captain of the Thrashers for the team’s last season, and then the captain of the Jets for its first five seasons after relocating from Atlanta. He also won Stanley Cup Championships with the Hurricanes in 2006 and Blackhawks in 2010. Ladd was honored by the Coyotes two nights later with a short video (above), which included shout-outs from many of his former teammates.
Further Reading: Andrew Ladd reaches 1,000th career game
7. Ryan Getzlaf Retires
Ryan Getzlaf played his last game on April 24. The Ducks center, who has played his entire career in Anaheim since his rookie year in 2005-06, wanted his last game to be a Ducks’ home game. And what a game it was! The team honored Getzlaf before the game (video of that here).
Then in the closing moments of the game, a 6-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues, Getzlaf got his final point, when he assisted on Adam Henrique’s goal with a nice, behind-the-back pass. Getzlaf scored 282 goals and 737 assists for 1019 points in 1157 regular season games.
After the game, every Ducks — and even Blues — player shook hands with the longtime Anaheim team captain, who then addressed the crowd. Video of that can be seen above.
8. Matthews First in 10 Years to Score 60 GoalsMaple Leafs’ center Auston Matthews has won his second consecutive Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the NHL in goals. Matthews scored 60 goals this season, and is the first player to reach the 60-goal mark since Steven Stamkos did so in 2012.
Further Reading: Auston Matthews Wins Second Rocket Richard Trophy with 60 Goals
9. Dustin Brown Will Retire At End of Playoffs
L.A. Kings winger Dustin Brown will retire once the Kings’ playoff run is finished. Brown has been a member of the Kings for his entire career, stretching back to his rookie season of 2003-04. He was the Kings’ team captain from 2008 to 2016, and was a big part of the team’s two Stanley Cup Championships in 2012 and 2014. Anze Kopitar, who has been the Kings’ captain since 2016, briefly ceded team captaincy to Brown for the Kings’ April 28 game against Vancouver, so that Brown could again serve as team captain for his final regular season game.
10. Rick Jeanerette Calls Last Game
Rick Jeanerette, the longtime voice of the Buffalo Sabres, called his last game on April 29. He is the second play-by-play announcer to retire this year; two weeks ago, Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley called his last game. Coincidentally, Jeanerette’s last game was the Sabres against the Blackhawks, and fortunately for him, it was a Sabres win in overtime. You can watch his last call and an abridged version of his postgame speech in the video above. You can watch his full postgame speech here.
Further Reading: Sabres roar back, win in OT to give Rick Jeanneret thrilling sendoff
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■