The Denver Pioneers lost a good thing last week, when it was confirmed that men’s hockey head coach Jim Montgomery was headed for the Dallas Stars as the team’s new bench boss.
Montgomery, like the last head coach in Dallas, has ties to the northern Texas team. Unlike Ken Hitchcock - who coached the team to their only Stanley Cup win to date - though, his history is through a whopping nine games played for the team at the NHL level in his final two seasons of play in the show.
At the coaching level, though, he’s made a much bigger name for himself than he ever did on the ice. He’ll join the Stars with two Clark Cups while head coach of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, NCHC Tournament Championships in three of his five seasons at the helm for Denver, and one National Championship for the Pioneers. For a 48-year-old coach who didn’t hang up his skates until he was 36, that’s a lot to take in.
There should be a learning curve for him, as there almost always is for a coach that makes the jump from league to league - and heading from level to level like this is certainly no walk in the park.
His replacement in Denver, though, could end up being in a similar boat. Although there’s no official word yet, it’s rumored that David Carle could take over at the helm after making waves as an assistant coach with the program.
Carle, initially a highly sought-after prospect, cut his career abruptly short just ahead of what would have been his freshman season with Denver out of Shattucks-St. Mary’s Prep due to a heart condition. He immediately went into coaching, though, joining Denver as a student assistant and then spending two years coaching post-grad in the USHL before returning to the Pioneers in 2014.
He won’t be the youngest head coach in team history - Neil Celley almost certainly holds that title after becoming head coach the year after he graduated from Michigan - but he’ll likely be the first ginger head coach, which is just as nerve-wracking to consider. [Mile High Hockey]
In case you missed it, we’ve also got some odds and ends to clean up from around the world of Avalanche hockey.
The lovely folks over in Leafs Land also gave Mikko Rantanen a brief mention in their weekend wrap-up for the IIHF Worlds, which we haven’t done - so you might as well give it a read! [Pension Plan Puppets]
Now, for what’s left of the playoffs! Here’s my favorite stat of the weekend:
Crazy stat: for the first time since 2010, a team from California will not appear in the NHL western conference finals.— FOX5 In The Field (@FOX5Photogs) May 7, 2018
Also, let’s dive right into this story:
Ya’ll play around too much pic.twitter.com/xnACOF962s— Bar South N Celly™ (@BarSouthNCelly) May 6, 2018
For those who don’t know what happened, Brad Marchand licked someone again (!!!).
Let me be perfectly clear here: I am an admitted revenge licker. If you lined up all the people whose hands I’ve licked in their efforts to silence me or take my food over the years end-to-end, you’d probably be able to cover at least the length of a football field.
I’m also a noted Brad Marchand fan, because shitheads attract other shitheads and I’m perfectly fine with most of his antics en route to some pretty excellent scoring seasons.
That being said I find the fact that he keeps licking players mid-game to be, if at first somewhat amusing, now very incredibly gross at best and unsportsmanlike as hell at worst.
The NHL has finally confirmed that players who lick someone will be subject to punishment:
#nhljets and #preds were warned this morning that licking an opponent may result in a 10-minute misconduct. Rule 75.4 (iii): "Any player who persists in any course of conduct designed to incite an opponent into incurring a penalty." I can't believe this is a thing I am tweeting.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) May 5, 2018
This is like the Avery rule, but far weirder and significantly less sanitary. Which, of course, leads us to the fact that Sean Avery himself - whom I fondly referred to on Saturday as the Prime Minister of Pest Nation (yes, I also own one of his shirts) - cannot begin to imagine what spurred Marchand to do this.
“Brad has to stop licking,” [Bruins head coach Bruce] Cassidy said. “That’s the end of the story.”
Avery was dumbfounded to hear a coach even utter those words.
“The fact that he even said the word licking is bizarre,” Avery said when informed of Cassidy’s comments. “Why he didn’t just say Brad needs to shut up and play, I can’t even believe he said the word licking.“
Absolute madness. When Sean Avery tells you that you’re doing it wrong, my dude, take note. [Sporting News]
For those who missed it, this happened in the Nashville-Winnipeg series on Saturday:
Also, the Vegas Golden Knights are now just the third team to win multiple playoff rounds in their first season in the league, which is absolutely bananas when you realize that one of them was the St. Louis Blues - who came into the league during a time when the NHL really outdid itself in stupidity with expansion rules (read more on that here, I beg you, it’s amazing) - and the TORONTO ARENAS, WHO STARTED LEAGUE PLAY IN 1917.
When you think about it, that means that in 100 years, the only teams to have immediately won multiple rounds in the NHL playoffs their first season were a team that played 22 games in a four-team league, and one that played in an entire division full of expansion teams. Just wild to think about.
Finally, a reminder not be a racist piece of garbage. None of us should need this reminder, but this piece is a good reminder of why we all still need to hear that - and accept that many still don’t get it - now and again. [Winging It In Motown]