Hello, everyone. It’s Dan Mount with another edition of Three Periods. We’re one month away from the World Cup of Hockey, so the news will be picking up. This week I’ll talk about the New York Rangers landing Hobey Baker Award winner Jimmy Vesey, the delay in re-sizing of goalie pads and I’ll pay tribute to the Tragically Hip. (They’ll most likely be playing their last show in Kingston, Ontario after lead singer Gord Downie’s terminal brain cancer diagnosis. Let’s drop the puck.
The New York Rangers managed to land themselves a player with a lot of upside in Harvard College forward Jimmy Vesey. He’s the son of a former NHLer, Jim, who is a scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs. His brother, Nolan, was also drafted by Toronto. Jimmy Vesey hasn’t flown under the radar the last few seasons as he was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the third round of the 2012 NHL Draft. However, he wanted to finish school and then make a decision on his future. He decided to spurn the team that drafted him despite all intentions that he would get an immediate shot at being on one of the top three scoring lines. Vesey had four years to sign his entry-level deal, but he refused and became a free agent. Vesey was courted by seven teams, but landed with the Rangers because he wanted to play in a larger market close to home. The move gives the Blueshirts some low-cost depth and to get a young player despite trading away another first-round pick when the team got Keith Yandle last trade deadline. I understand Vesey wanted to maximize his value and he used the loophole to get to a team that wants. However, you have to feel for Nashville who did everything in its power to keep him. I even feel for the Sabres, who wasted a third-rounder to get the negotiating rights. He does have a lot of ability, but he might be overconfident. I have a feeling he might have to answer the bell and drop the gloves against Nashville and probably more teams.
The NHL’s plan to streamline goaltender pads may be delayed by an entire year. The league and the players’ association have failed to agree on making it happen. An agreement was supposed to be in place for next month’s World Cup, but nothing has been finalized. Most of the NHLPA is on board for reverting to the pads seen in the Ken Dryden days, but there are a small group of netminders that have slowed the negotiations down. They are arguing that it will take for them to adjust to the new equipment. Commissioner Gary Bettman is confident that a deal will be reached by the start of the regular season if one isn’t ready by the start of the WCOH. However, former NHL goalie and league goalie supervisor Kay Whitmorehas been away and wasn’t able to reached by Sportsnet of Canada. At least the NHLPA is not being adversarial to the process and knows that shrinking the pads will increase scoring. It’s a hard balance to keep goalies and forwards both happy, but this should be done for the good of the game. Let’s hope this gets done, but the goalies get adequate time to prepare.
Third PeriodLastly, I wanted to take this time to reflect on the last show of a band that embodies Canada and hockey, The Tragically Hip. The Kingston, Ontario based group will mostly likely hold its last show Saturday at the hometown K-Rock Center in their hometown. It will be the last shows because lead singer Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer on May 25. The frontman and the band symbolized the Great White North. A lot of artists from there like Bryan Adams, Shania Twain and others have crossed over, but the Hip never did. However, that never stopped them from being arguably Canada’s greatest band. They were who they were and they weren’t going to change, and that included their love of hockey Downie would mix in references to Bobby Or, Paul Henderson and Bill Barilko and his music was loved by players and fans alike. New York Islanders defensemen Travis Hamonic joked that the Hip was always on in the dressing room when he was coming up in the junior ranks. Logan Couture said that Canadians bonded over the band because they were so beloved. The band was ingrained into the sport so much that TSN and NBC analyst Bob McKenzie penned a letter to them talking about how much they mean to the country. In fact, their concert will be streamed and broadcast on CBC. The concert will take precedence over the network’s Olympic Games coverage. Gord Downie has a lot of living left to do, but he will be missed when he does pass. Internet goodness: Keeping with the Hip, here is a video that shows how much the band meant to hockey. CBC video guru Tim Thompson has made game previews and often used the band to amazing results. Here’s my favorite from the Boston Bruins-Montreal Canadiens series prior to Game 5 of the 2014 playoffs. The song is “Nautical Disaster” and it’s a favorite of mine. That’s it for this week. Take care and keep fighting, Gord. Dan Mount is a producer for Spadora on Sports. He’s also a writer for NHL on the Ice, the Nashville Predators beat reporter for The Hockey Writers and a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times in Watertown, NY. He can be found on Twitter @DanMountSports.