Women’s hockey debate rages in Minnesota Duluth
Minnesota Duluth head coach Shannon Miller essentially built the women’s hockey program at the college. After winning a silver medal coaching Team Canada in the 1998 Olympics, Minnesota Duluth invited her to start a program. In her 16 years with the school, she coached 26 Olympians and led the school to five national championships. She’s now been told that her contract will be terminated at the end of this year’s season. The supposed reason for the termination is budget cuts- the athletic department is losing roughly 5-6 million dollars in funding, and Miller is the highest paid NCAA Division I women’s hockey coach- but Miller says she was willing to renegotiate her contract, and believes that her gender and sexual orientation were also a factor in the decision. Miller has hired two lawyers to sue the school for gender discrimination, and her story just adds to the pile of women’s college coaches firings. For more information and a look at the bigger picture, the link below provides a very thorough take. Hopefully, this isn’t the last we hear about one of the greatest women’s coaches of all time.
AHL moves 5 teams to California; helps grow game; approves ‘Pacific Division’
The American Hockey League has turned a few heads with its recent announcement of a Pacific Division, with five minor league teams relocating to California. The Oilers, Flames, Sharks, and Kings are relocating all of their teams to California, while the Ducks franchise is purchasing the Norfolk Admirals as their new AHL team and relocating them to California as well. The move is seen as a step towards growing the game more on the west coast, as well as making the traveling for call-ups easier for the NHL and AHL teams.
West wins All-Star game in AHL
While the NHL swept headlines with their All-Star game (which Team Toews won, 17-12), the AHL has having their own All-Star game as well. Held in a different format than the NHL game, the minor league pitted the best of the West against the beasts of the East, and it was the western team that emerged victorious in a 14-12 contest. While the East took home the victory in the skills competition on the 25th, they couldn’t contain the West on Monday evening. Led by forwards Mark McNeil, Charles Hudon, and Brendan Leipsic, each player scored a hat trick to help pace the West in the highest scoring All-Star game in AHL history. For the East, Shane Prince also knotted a hat trick, but the team wasn’t able to secure the victory.
#BellLetsTalk takes hockey twitter by storm
#BellLetsTalk is a mental health initiative created by Bell, a telecommunications company in Canada. The point of the project is to bring more awareness to mental health initiatives, as well as to provide more support and resources to those programs that look to help those who need it. For every tweet and retweet using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk, picture shared on FaceBook from the page, and text received from people using Bell service, the company donated five cents to mental health initiatives. The hockey community has adopted it as its own, and on January 28th, hockey players, executives, and prominent members of the community like Patrick Burke, president of You Can Play, helped promote and spread the word about the project. All in all, the program raised over six million dollars. How’s that for something great to talk about?
Blake Bolden breaking barriers in CWHL
In a recently published article on the CWHL site, Blake Bolden discusses being the first and only player of African-American descent to participate in the first ever CWHL All-Star game. Bolden, a defensemen for the Boston Blades, is in her first year playing in the CWHL and currently has two goals and six assists for the Blades.
Stan Mikita diagnosed with dementia
Sad news coming out of the Chicago Blackhawks organization, as Stan Mikita was reportedly diagnosed with suspected Lewy Body dementia. The disease, which is misdiagnosed in one in four cases, can cause memory loss and problems with motor skills, among other symptoms. Mikita is one of the Hawks’ most visible ambassadors, immortalized in bronze along with Bobby Hull in statues standing outside the United Center. Mikita was a part of the team that won the Stanley Cup in 1961, the last time Chicago won the prize until 49 years later, when Patrick Kane secured the trophy in 2010. With the news breaking in the same week where fellow Chicago legend Ernie Banks passed away, it’s been a rough few days for fans in the Windy City.
And, because we don’t want to leave you on a sad note, here’s a great look at what Stan Mikita has done for the game of hockey and part of the legacy he left with the Blackhawks:
NHL Milestones: Iginla, Fisher, and Kunitz
In our ‘feel good’ part of the show, Pittsburgh Penguin forward Chris Kunitz and Nashville forward Mike Fisher both scored their 500th career NHL point, and Colorado Avalanche winger Jarome Iginla scored his 1,200th career point, which ties him with Dino Ciccarelli for 46th on the all-time points list. Stick taps for everyone!
World Cup of Hockey announced
In a move that has been rumored for several months, the NHL officially announced that the World Cup of Hockey will return in 2016. The cup will be held in Toronto prior to the 2016-17 season, and eight teams will compete: USA, Canada, Finland, Sweden, Russia, the Czech Republic, a team complied of the remaining top European players, and a ‘Young Stars’ team featuring players from North America 23-years old or younger. The tournament will start on September 17th, 2016, and players will report to their respective training camps on September 4.
After nearly two decades on the ice, one of the NHL’s most influential goaltenders has decided to hang up his skates for good. After a two-week leave of absence from the St. Louis Blues, Martin Brodeur announced his official retirement on January 29th. Brodeur won three Stanley Cup, two Olympic gold medals, and four Vezina trophies, along with countless other NHL records, and played nearly the entirety of his career with the team that drafted him, the New Jersey Devils. He has now taken a position in the front office of the St. Louis Blues for the remainder of the season.
Should junior players get paid minimum wage? Lawsuit mirrors NHL debates.
In an under-the-radar post on ESPN, junior hockey players are currently fighting to earn minimum wage as employees as their hockey teams. The CHL argues that the players aren’t employees, but student-athletes who receive a stipend as part of their pay. The members of CHL teams receive college scholarships at the end of their terms with the teams, but certain players in the lawsuit received only partial compensation after a shortened season, prompting the argument that is now scheduled to go to a class certification hearing in February.