Hello, Puck Junk readers! I know it has been over a month since I last wrote my Snap Shots column. Yes, we all get busy — but I was crazy busy. Crazy busy enough that I even used bold and italics at the same time! Between my work as a teacher and setting up at a three-day card show recently, I was in a time crunch. Something had to give, and unfortunately, it was this site for a little while. But now I’m back!
Anyway, enough about me. A lot happened in hockey over the past week. Naturally, we must start with the Colorado Avalanche winning the 2022 Stanley Cup Championship.
1. Colorado Avalanche Win Stanley CupIt was a battle between two forces of nature: the Colorado Avalanche vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning. Appropriate monikers for two dominant teams that — much like an electrical storm or a landslide — overwhelmed their opponents during the regular season and the playoffs. The big question would be if the Lightning could win their third Stanley Cup Championship in a row.
The Avalanche had other ideas. Colorado was that team that should have been in the Cup Finals the past two years, instead of the Dallas Stars (2020) or Montreal Canadiens (2021). The ‘Lanche made the most of their opportunity in the Finals, including a 7-0 drubbing of the Lightning in Game 2, as well as overtime wins in Games 1 and 4.
Defenseman Cale Makar led the Avalanche with 29 postseason points and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP. Last week, Makar also won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman. The Avalanche have 14 players signed through next season, including Makar, captain Gabriel Landeskog, and leading scorers Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon, so Colorado seems like an easy favorite to be the next team to win back-to-back titles.
2. Chicago Wolves Win Calder CupFor the first time since 2019, the Calder Cup was awarded to the best team in the American Hockey League when the Chicago Wolves defeated the Springfield Falcons in five games. Wolves winger Josh Leivo, who scored 15 goals and 14 assists in 18 playoff games, won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as playoff MVP. The Wolves are the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Calder Cup Playoffs were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last time the Calder Cup was awarded in 2019, it was won by the Charlotte Checkers who — coincidentally — were then affiliated with the Carolina Hurricanes. And the team that the Checkers beat was — also coincidentally — the Wolves, who were affiliated with the Vegas Golden Knights at the time. Several players who were on the Checkers in 2019 were also on the Wolves in 2022.
This is the Wolves third Calder Cup Championship and fifth league title since the team was founded in 1994. The Wolves previously won the Calder Cup in 2002 and 2008. Prior to that, the Wolves were a part of the International Hockey League and won Turner Cup Championships in 1998 and 2000.
Further Reading: Chicago is Calder City again
3. Matthews Wins 3 Awards, Seider Wins CalderThe NHL named its annual award winners last week. Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews won the Hart Trophy as the league’s most-valuable player. Matthews also won the Ted Lindsey Award, given by the NHL Players’ Association to the league’s most-outstanding player. Completing the hat trick of awards, Matthews won the Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league with 60 goals.
Red Wings rookie defenseman Moritz Seider took home the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year. Seider led all rookies with 42 assists and was fourth-overall in scoring among rookies. (The top three rookie point scorers were forwards.) Seider became the first Red Wings player to win the Calder Trophy since Detroit goaltender Roger Crozier won that honor in 1965. Seider also set a franchise record with a 12-point scoring streak, which is the most for a Red Wings rookie d-man.
Other 2022 NHL Award winners:
Norris Trophy (best defenseman)
Selke Trophy (best defensive forward)
New York Rangers
Vezina Trophy (best goaltender)
Lady Bing Trophy (sportsmanship)
Bill Masterton Trophy (dedication and perseverance)
P. K. Subban
New Jersey Devils
King Clancy Trophy (humanitarian contributions)
Los Angeles Kings
Mark Messier Leadership Award (leadership)
Frederik Andersen & Antti Raanta
Jennings Trophy (goaltending duo with lowest goals-allowed average)
Art Ross Trophy (most points)
Jack Adams Award (coach of the year)
The Tender Bridge Foundation
Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award
Further Reading: 2022 NHL Award Winners
4. New Coaching Hires
Several teams that did not make the playoffs, or a deep playoff run, were busy firing their coaches for not being good enough — only to hire a coach who had just been fired by another team. (The league really does love to recycle its coaches.) These six teams recently hired new coaches.
The Florida Panthers hired Paul Maurice, who replaces interim coach Andrew Brunette, who was the temporary replacement for Joel Quenneville, who was fired midseason. Maurice resigned as the Winnipeg Jets head coach midway through the 2021-22 season.
The Philadelphia Flyers hired John Tortorella, who returns after a one-year hiatus. Tortorella last coached for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2020-21. He replaces Flyers interim head coach Mike Yeo, who replaced Alain Vigneault, who was fired by the Flyers midway through the 2021-22 season.
The Dallas Stars hired Peter DeBoer, who was recently fired by the Vegas Golden Knights. DeBoer replaces Rick Bowness, who stepped down as the Stars head coach after the team lost in the first round of the playoffs.
The Vegas Golden Knights hired Bruce Cassidy, who was fired by the Boston Bruins earlier this month. Cassidy replaces Peter DeBoer, who was fired by the Golden Knights last month.
The Chicago Blackhawks hired Luke Richardson, who replaces ‘Hawks interim head coach Derek King, who replaced Jeremy Colliton when he was fired 12 games into the 2021-22 season. This is Richardson’s first NHL head coaching job, so hooray for someone new finally being added to the mix of otherwise recycled coaches. Richardson most-recently was an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens. He was also a head coach of the AHL’s Binghamton Senators for four seasons.
Meanwhile, two teams promoted interim head coaches to full-time head coaching positions:
Jay Woodcroft is now the Edmonton Oilers’ official head coach. Woodcroft was promoted from the AHL to become Edmonton’s interim head coach when the Oilers fired Dave Tippett in February.
Martin St. Louis, who had no prior coaching experience until last season, is now the Montreal Canadiens head coach. He replaced Dominique Ducharme, who was also fired in February.
Finally, Bruce Boudreau agreed to return to the Vancouver Canucks next year. Boudreau was hired by Vancouver on December 5 after the team fired head coach Travis Green. It was a two-year contract, with Boudreau having the option to stay in Vancouver for a second season or move on. After taking over the bench in Vancouver, the team went 32-15-10 and nearly made the playoffs. Fortunately for the Canucks, “Gabby” will stick around for another season.
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■