As the old adage goes, “like father, like son.”

Mike Foligno, a member of the Buffalo Sabres for a decade that spanned most of the 1980’s, was and still is a popular figure in the city. Receiving five consecutive Frank Eddolls Memorial Trophies at one point, which went to the team’s favorite player, the fans certainly appreciated him.

Unafraid to barge to the net or fight for teammates, Foligno was a scrappy forward who was willing to put himself in danger for the greater good of the club. His 1,450 penalty minutes are second-highest among all Sabre players.

More than that though, the Sudbury native had a great scoring touch, evidenced by his 247 goals with Buffalo. After each one, he’d show his enthusiasm by leaping in the air in celebration. Read the rest of this entry »

Nicklas Lidstrom does not need an introduction. If anything, people are likely running out of superlatives to describe him with.

Put together on one sheet of paper, everything he’s achieved is nothing short of remarkable. Four Stanley Cups, seven Norris Memorial Trophies, one Conne Smythe award, 12 All-Star Game inductions and one Olympic gold medal place him amongst the legends of the sport.

The Calder Trophy was one of the few awards he failed to claim, but that was because his competition was one of the most electrifying players of all time in Pavel Bure. In a dual between a natural scorer and an unflappable defenseman, the scorer was voted as top rookie. It just goes to show you, even a performer with the pedigree of Lidstrom can’t win them all.

Steve Yzerman’s introduction signaled the start of something special in Detroit and Lidstrom is a huge factor in its continuity. Two decades have flown by since the veteran was first positioned into the line-up, during which the Red Wings are yet to come up short of reaching the postseason. Few matters are automatic in this day and age, like someone being fairly suspended by Brendan Shanahan for intolerable violations. One thing you can count on though is that Lidstrom’s name is synonymous with success. Read the rest of this entry »

The 2003 NHL Entry Draft, perceived as one of the best in league history, churned out a bundle of cornerstone players in the first round–a few were also snagged in round two. And to think, such a coveted collection of players was forced to be put on hold for one year due to the lock-out. That distinction should have went to the class of 1999.

Going No.1 overall, Marc-Andre Fleury was chosen to fill the void in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ net. Ask, and you shall receive. The 27-year-old has decently done what he’s supposed to–the Philadelphia Flyers beg to differ– after a rookie season that saw much trial-and-error experimenting within the club.

As the second player to have his name called, Eric Staal went straight to work with the Carolina Hurricanes by amassing 100 points as a sophomore and sparking the group towards a Stanley Cup. Florida picked up Nathan Horton and while he wasn’t exactly a leader, he wasn’t a bust either. Nikolai Zherdev, as talented as they come offensively, didn’t solidify his selection with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Read the rest of this entry »

Zero.

As of this moment, that is how many suspensions Matt Cooke and Steve Downie have served together this season. No, it is not a typo and there should not be a one added to it. Suggesting, prior to the regular season, that neither player would be forcefully withdrawn from a game or involved in a serious incident from October to April would be classified as a pipe dream.

Lo and behold, it is now a reality. Cooke and Downie, both of whom got their Ontario Hockey League start-up with the Windsor Spitfires, toned down their physicality and adjusted their playing styles. In contrast to some of their previous on-ice choices, they couldn’t have timed this one any better. Read the rest of this entry »

Wrong guy, wrong place, wrong time.

This, or something along the lines of it, is the thought that races through the brain of anyone who Niklas Kronwall has caught with their head down. Unsuspecting of any danger, they look at the puck to collect it. Then, in a matter of seconds, No.55 lines them up and lays them out emphatically.

While the legendary Scott Stevens mainly put the hurt on forwards in the open ice, Kronwall’s heaviest and best-known hits have occurred close to the side boards. The puck will go around the net or there will be an outlet pass, which is when the target waits for the puck, glances downwards or both.

That first pass for the ongoing rush must be tape-to-tape, otherwise the player is destined for a thundering collision and a dizzy state that prevents them from regaining their feet immediately. If one did stand up and skate away unscathed, they should always consider themselves lucky. Read the rest of this entry »

For years, the Buffalo Sabres have built from within. One peek at their roster reveals a team that places extreme importance on drafting players and properly preparing them for the future. For better or for worse, it is a strategy that both the general manager Darcy Regier and head coach Lindy Ruff have stood by.

Strangely, and perhaps in desperation, Buffalo broke away from that tradition at this season’s trade deadline. Involved in two separate deals on the rather underwhelming day, their second one grabbed the headlines and was perceived to be the major transaction of them all. Before the deal in its entirety was shared, the two confirmed names that switched sides were Cody Hodgson of the Vancouver Canucks and Zack Kassian. Read the rest of this entry »

Some players, no matter how hard they try or how well they constantly perform, go through their careers as under-appreciated and overlooked athletes.  While the same superstars hog the spotlight year in and year out, their media attention is in stark contrast to others who silently finish their shifts on a positive note.

Take Kimmo Timonen for example, a defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers who is lauded by teammates and opponents alike. It’s his 13th year in the National Hockey League and yet he is still somehow hidden from the microphones and televisions too routinely. Maybe it’s his 5-foot-10 frame that makes him hard to find in a crowded dressing room. Maybe the reporters want to interview those with last names that do not have to be double-checked for spelling. We can’t all have fancy, simple names like Mike Richards and Bobby Ryan.

Although he may not mind his underrated label, it is unjust for a hardy veteran to be so overshadowed by better-known players. Perhaps Zdeno Chara will have improved Timonen’s publicity after he was the first rearguard to be hand-picked by the Slovakian’s team in this year’s All-Star Fantasy Draft. But the Finn is merely one of many.

Then there is Ray Whitney. Read the rest of this entry »