Monday was a light schedule in the NHL as the focus of the night was on the induction of the 2019 class into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Hayley Wickenheiser led a class that included Sergei Zubov, Guy Carbonneau, Vaclav Nedomansky, Jim Rutherford and Jerry York.
The Wayne Gretzky of women’s hockey, Wickenheiser spoke about her struggle to be accepted in a game that was “for boys”. How the women on the Canadian National team took her in at 15-years old and made it possible for her to be accepted in the game she loves.
Now, coaching with the Toronto Maple Leafs as she works her way through medical school, Wickenheiser is an icon for little girls around the world to look up to.
“They [girls] can walk into a rink anywhere in Canada with a hockey bag and a hockey stick over their shoulder, and nobody’s going to look twice,” she said. “They don’t have to cut their hair short and run into the bathroom and try to look like a boy like I had to do to blend in. The road is just a little bit easier.”
As is evident with the current fight for equality being perused by the PWHPA, there is still a long way to go before women’s hockey is stable at the highest level. That said, said, thanks to Wickenheiser and the women of her generation, the road is a lot easier for little girls like my daughter who love hockey.
In other Hall of Fame news, the ECHL announced Monday that Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar will be inducted into their own hall next year.
Jared Bednar had a 15-year association with the ECHL as a player, assistant coach and head coach. He was the first person to win three Kelly Cup titles, capturing titles as a player with South Carolina in 1997 and 2001, and one as the Stingrays’ head coach in 2009. A rugged defenseman as a player, he suited up in 434 career games with Huntington and South Carolina, totaling 173 points (43g-130a) and 1,210 penalty minutes. After retiring following the 2001-02 season, he joined the Stingrays’ coaching staff in 2002-03, and was named the team’s head coach prior to the 2007-08 season. In two seasons as South Carolina’s head coach, he went 89-45-9, leading the Stingrays to the 2008 American Conference Finals before winning the Kelly Cup title the following season. Bednar led Lake Erie to the American Hockey League Calder Cup championship in 2016, joining Bruce Boudreau as the only coaches to win both an ECHL and AHL title. He is currently in his fourth season as head coach of the National Hockey League’s Colorado Avalanche.
In far less exciting Avalanche news, we also learned Monday that Altitude Sports is set to file an antitrust lawsuit against Comcast. The Avs broadcast provider is alleging “illegal use of monopoly power to drive Altitude out of business and overcharge customers in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and seven other states.”
After reaching a deal with DirecTV last month, Altitude’s claim was that they wanted to work with Dish and Comcast to get Avalanche and Denver Nuggets games back on as many televisions as possible. This is not the update fans wanted to hear. The two sides are obviously at an impasse and this latest news points to the fight getting a lot dirtier before anything is resolved.
In one of the few games on the ice last night, things got ugly between the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks. After a scrum on the ice and a couple of fights, Erik Gudbranson and Garnet Hathaway got tied up with a linesman. As things looked to be calming down, Gudbranson sucker punches Hathaway who in turn spat in the face of Gudbranson. Hathaway got a match penalty for it and is likely to face some supplementary punishment.
As ugly as the Matt Calvert play Saturday night was, fans shouldn't hold their breath that the league is going to change the rule any time soon. The NHL always takes things more seriously in the playoffs, so when this happened last May, you’d think they’d take a look at the rule:
If a player takes a puck to the head and stays down, the whistle should go automatically. As the rule is written, the call is subjective and a ref can allow the play to continue. The league needs to change the rule to eliminate this subjectivity. If they care about player health, the NHL should err on the side of safety and blow the play dead the second a player get hit in the head - regardless of possession.