Can you believe there’s only a month left in the regular season? Will Boston make the cut? How hard can the Panthers and Senators push to the finish line? There will be some great games in the next few weeks.
1. It was Military Appreciation Day at PNC Arena for the Canes and Oilers game. The talon robot was pretty cool. It acts a a set of eyes, ears, and hands for troops. One of the best parts of the night was interviewing Joe Liles, brother of John-Michael Liles, who will be re-stationed to Hawaii. This was the last game he got to enjoy with his family. How perfect!
2. Rasmus Rissanen made his NHL debut! He had 8 hits in his first game and said he even surprised himself with that (team-high) number. He said adjusting to the speed was the biggest adjustment from the AHL to the NHL. His parents flew in for the week all the way from Finland. They said they hardly got any sleep because almost as soon as they heard the news of he debut, they had a 15-hour plane ride. Rissanen said he had a bunch of family and friends reach out to him, one of them being his junior team’s GM who he was happy to reconnect with.
3. Nick Foligno is trying to make people aware of a procedure that helped to save his daughter. Milana was born October 2013 with a serious heart complication and had a 7-hour experimental surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital that only 13 babes had ever had. She’s happy and healthy now but Foligno said this changed his life and helped him grow a a person and as a player because he said it really puts life in perspective. The coolest part of being a dad was watching Milana see all the ‘firsts’ as a child that we as adults take for granted. She got very excited seeing snow for the first time and put her face in it but then wiggled away. All the small moments make life great!
4. Lindy Ruff has been an NHL coach since 1997. Lots has changed since that year with salary cap, culture, roles, etc. I asked Ruff what he thought has changed the most since his early coaching days, he said he really puts a focus on building individual relationships with each player. If you scratch or bench a player you have to make sure you explain it. Communication with video and our modern minds has changed the game in a lot of ways.
5. Trade Deadline can be exciting and interesting to media and fans, right? Except players have family, and teammates that they leave behind. Very few speak out about the harsh truths of this business but this story is a must-read. Jane Macdougall on her marriage and the messiness of being a hockey with to Kirk McLean.
6. I LOVE this idea for a competition- Following the crazy night when the Panthers had two goalies injured in a game versus the Leafs that created a lot of confusion about who should then dress as a third-string net minder, Florida created the ‘Goal of a Lifetime’ contest. 1,500 contestants submitted their name, tape and bio but the competition has been reduced to 50 hopefuls. The two finalists will then go head to head in a shootout competition during a Panthers’ intermission and the winner get to practice as the back-up goalie in an upcoming practice, tickets for the rest of the season and some street credit. How cool?!
7. Some parting words…