Category Archives: Florida Panthers Store

Frank Vatrano Jersey

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Following a breakout 2018-19 season for the Florida Panthers, forward Frank Vatrano is continuing to thrive on Florida’s third line.
The 25-year-old native of Massachusetts was previously acquired from the Boston Bruins during the 2017-18 NHL season for only a third-round draft pick. As a member of the Florida Panthers, Frank Vatrano has produced consistent numbers on the offensive end, earning a permanent role on the top-nine forward unit.

The undersized winger has seemingly developed into a reliable sniper and 5-v-5 weapon for Florida. While participating in 81 regular-season games during the 2018-19 campaign, Vatrano recorded career-high marks in goals (24), assists (15), points (39), penalty minutes (38), and games played (81).

More impressively, Frank Vatrano recorded 22 even-strength goals, providing the power-play reliant Cats with a much-needed 5-v-5 goal-scoring option. Furthermore, Vatrano also developed into a dependable two-way winger on Florida’s third line, playing a proficient game on the defensive end, too.

While averaging roughly 15 minutes of ice time per game, Vatrano recorded a whopping 139 hits as well as 74 blocked shots. As well, he even registered more takeaways (33) than giveaways (30) on the season. While things didn’t necessarily work out with Vatrano’s hometown Bruins, the Panthers certainly found themselves a diamond in the rough.

Vatrano’s contributions during the 2019 NHL season earned himself a well-deserved three-year contract extension. The extension carries an annual average salary of $2.53 million per season. Considering he’s already established himself as a polished top-nine scoring weapon, GM Dale Tallon locked up “Frank the Tank” for an absurd bargain price.

The 2019-20 season has been a pretty good one for the consistent producing Vatrano. While participating in 18 games, the durable Vatrano has already recorded 6 goals and 3 assists for 9 total points, averaging approximately 0.50 points per game.

In addition, Vatrano has seemingly gained the trust of new bench boss Joel Quenneville, playing a career-high of nearly 16 minutes of ice time per game.

As well, Quenneville has given the versatile, speedy Vatrano with opportunities on the power-play and penalty kill units. Despite producing mostly during 5-v-5 action, Vatrano has already recorded one goal on the PP and one goal on the PK, thus far.

On the defensive end, Vatrano has continued his brilliance in his own zone. The lightning-quick winger has produced 16 blocked shots as well as 14 total hits, along with more takeaways (5) than giveaways (3) on the season.

Essentially, Vatrano has been a crucial component in Florida’s race for a top-three seed in the Atlantic Division this season. Moreover, the feisty Vatrano has provided the Panthers’ third line with stability, forming excellent chemistry with speedy linemate Denis Malgin.

In essence, Frank Vatrano has unquestionably provided a positive impact on the Panthers, helping the Cats win a majority of games by embracing a more significant role on the team.

He’s arguably been one of the most underrated and underappreciated players on this team, as he always brings maximum effort and hustle on a nightly basis.

Anton Stralman Jersey

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The sudden winner is always a sweet one.

The grin on Elias Pettersson’s face, as wide as it gets for the young Swede, as we finished up talking about his game winner on Thursday night, told the whole story.

It wasn’t far off from the grin he flashed last season after breaking Pavel Bure’s rookie scoring record.

Winning hockey is better than anything.

“I always go with my first thought, if I think two times or doubt my abilities, the play might be gone,” he said of the crazy moment.

Working on picking up loose pucks isn’t necessarily something he does specifically in practice, but it’s something teams work on all the time. Just this week in a practice, skills coach Glenn Carnegie had the Canucks working on collecting loose pucks that had caromed off obstacles placed in front of the crease.

The read Pettersson made when the puck didn’t skip over the lost stick — it was Jaccob Slavin’s — was lightning fast. No shock there.

And the shot was as tough a shot as you can get off. It looked like Mrazek was caught off guard by it.

“I feel comfortable with getting pucks up high from short range,” he said, again with modesty. “I’m very happy with the win.”

Brock Boeser said he knew the loose stick was there but knew he didn’t have many options, so it was just about getting it near his star centre.

“Unreal,” he said of the shot that Pettersson pulled off.

Worries about Brock?
Big picture, kids, big picture. The missed breakaways stung him. But he’s healthy. The goals will come back.

Did you notice?
It’s not often your top ice-time man is a forward, but it was on this night: J.T. Miller’s 22:08 eclipsed Quinn Hughes’s 22:00.

Who wouldn’t want a top-six winger?
I did chuckle a little when Jim Benning said he’s after a top-six winger. It wasn’t earth-shattering more than it was confirmation of something you’d expect to hear from a GM who has ambitions of sending his team not just into the playoffs, but deep into the postseason party.

So, of course, he’s after a winger who would make an impact. Every GM should be.

But as you know, the Canucks’ roster has some wrinkles to it. As it stands, the only way to really add another winger to the roster would be if it works out that Micheal Ferland is out long-term. As yet, that’s not clear.

He’s dealing with post-concussion symptoms, it seems, though the team’s medical staff is still investigating.

If he’s out long-term, the Canucks could park him on LTIR, which would allow them to add a player whose cap hit comes in at about $3.6 million — while he’s on LTIR, anyway.

If he were to recover and play, there would be other moves to make, of course.

But in the summer, things would be pretty hairy.

Pondering free agents
Beyond the numbers we can see publicly at places like CapFriendly, there are undisclosed cap penalties that teams carry around from time to time. It’s well known among league personnel and capologists that in rare instances clubs have had cap charges for contract-related settlements not publicly known.

Add the interest in adding another winger to the not-surprising news that Benning would like to retain Jacob Markstrom — I mean, think about it, it makes sense, you need two NHL goalies anyway and there are two years between now and the Seattle expansion draft, and while some might argue that going ride or die with two young goalies next year in Thatcher Demko and Mike DiPietro would be worth the risk — we must think about the whole picture.

The Canucks’ No. 1 is pulling in $3.6 million this year. Assuming he carries forward with his solid play, he’s going to be after a raise. Think about it: Jake Allen is making more than he is. Freddy Andersen makes $5 million and he’s younger and probably better. A raise, maybe not a big one, but a raise nonetheless.

Is Semyon Varlamov, who makes $6 million, a comp? It does seem unlikely he goes that high.

Josh Leivo: An unrestricted free agent next summer, he’s on pace to post career highs in points. That said, this is his first full NHL season. He signed a one-year, $1.5-million show-me deal last summer and he’ll be after some kind of raise, that’s for sure.

Adam Gaudette: The next face in the 10.2(c) contract wars, the sophomore centre is set for a breakout season. But he also has no leverage. Brock Boeser missed training camp before he signed last fall. Will Gaudette wait that long before signing on for a small raise over $916,000?

Tim Schaller is making $1.9 million this season and may be a coach’s favourite, but it’s going to be hard to keep him around if there are raises elsewhere. Surely he’ll go back on the unrestricted free agent market.

Tyler Motte will be an unrestricted free agent, making $975,000 this year. He’ll surely be retained, especially if there isn’t room for Schaller.

Chris Tanev is making $4.45 million. If he finally stays healthy for a full season, it seems a safe bet the Canucks will look to re-up with him. He’s three years younger than Anton Stralman, who signed for $4.5 million this summer, but they feel like reasonable comparables.

Oscar Fantenberg has been fine as a depth option at $850k, but surely he’s a placeholder for Olli Juolevi?

Which brings us to restricted free agent Troy Stecher . He’s making $2.325 million this year and could push for an arbitration case. That’s if the Canucks qualify him.

A former Eastern Conference exec told me Stecher’s agent would likely go in asking for No. 4 d-man money, which would take him to the doorstep of $4 million. A team will argue that he is what he’s been used as this year, more like a No. 5, which should be valued at $2.75 million.

“Defensive defencemen don’t get points and that’s OK,” is the classic agent argument, vs. the team argument: “Points is how D get measured.”

“But you can basically argue a guy like this is worth $2.5 or $4.5,” he said.

It may be hard to keep Stecher this summer. Could he be trade bait before then?

Jake Virtanen is in a similar boat to Stecher in that he’s got arbitration rights if he doesn’t agree to his qualifying offer. But he’s also making “just” $1.25 million this year. He doesn’t kill penalties, the exec noted, and doesn’t get a lot of power-play time. But he has, nonetheless, been putting up points. Counting stats are good for your case.

“If he keeps scoring he has a case. Also could post best plus/minus of his career,” he said. “His arb profile will be between $1.75 and $2.1m. Really no leverage there unless agent convinced team he’s a 40+ point power forward for good now and he signs for term at closer to $3m.”

So there you go, there are some raises to be had. It’s going to make for another tight salary cap next year.

And this is without getting into the cap challenges posed by the performance bonuses Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and even Adam Gaudette could acquire this year. Much of that money could get applied to next year’s salary cap.

Call it by my name
Smythe Division. Let’s make it great again.

Standings etc.
It’s a log-jam, folks.

Good news: the Canucks have games in hand on the three Smythe Division teams above them. The nervous news: those Preds, lurking below.

Could do some serious damage to opposition hopes this weekend, but that Sunday tilt in Vegas is scary scheduling.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

Denis Malgin Jersey

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Thursday night, the Cardiac Cats made their dramatic return, erasing their second 4-0 deficit in a matter of two weeks in a 5-4 OT win over the Anaheim Ducks.
Let’s be clear, the Florida Panthers were nowhere near their best. The comeback win was very impressive, but it’s not a game that this team can play consistently and expect to pull off results.

It’s highly improbable, there have only been four games in which a team has overcome a four-goal gap to earn a win. The Florida Panthers have done it twice.

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It came with logical lineup changes and some selfless passing, but Florida somehow got the job done, scoring five goals in a span of 24:00 to defeat the Ducks on home ice. For the first 36:00, however, the Panthers should not be proud of how they played.

It was a kind of game that Anaheim wanted to play, and Joel Quenneville‘s team were surprisingly being not just out-played, but out-coached. The game was very narrow, neither team really spreading the puck out in the neutral zone, but rather staying condensed, patient, defensive. This is not how the Florida Panthers win games, but for the Ducks, they were quite content with the pace.

It showed on the scoreboard, too. Four goals unanswered left Florida in a deep hole with less than 2:00 to go in the second. Brett Connolly‘s quickfire two goals might’ve been the spark of the comeback, but it wasn’t anything different from how the Panthers had been playing. The real change came coming out of the locker room, heading into the final 20.

In previous years of coaching, the Florida Panthers have been very gung-ho to making drastic changes when facing a huge lead. Tom Rowe and Bob Boughner are both equally as guilty to messing with all four lines over one intermission. Players like Mike Hoffman would go through three lines in one game in an effort to make something work.

Now, Joel Quenneville knows what he has in his players, and knows how to get the best out of them. Instead of trashing the first line because they’d been held scoreless by putting someone like Connolly on it, Quenneville made just one change; Frank Vatrano to line two, Mike Hoffman to line three.

The change didn’t seem too meaningful but was a stroke of genius. While he didn’t get any points in the 3rd period or OT period, Vatrano was electric in this comeback. Vatrano laid hit after hit and started chasing the pucks deep in the Anaheim zone, something Florida did very little of in the first two periods.

Anaheim’s first goal of the game came off an extended shift in which the Panthers’ forwards eventually lost focus and left Max Jones wide open at the side of the net. Florida’s 2nd, 3rd, and 4th goals all came on extended shifts, moving around in the zone, and catching the Ducks napping.

Before we get too much into the goals, two players deserve some immense credit for keeping the Ducks at bay; Mike Matheson and Sergei Bobrovsky.

Matheson, who is usually to blame on a nightly basis for a goal, was really impressive at getting back in defense. He made a great play on Derek Grant in the second period (even though Denis Malgin would trip Grant seven seconds later, leading to ANA’s third goal) to poke the puck free on a potential breakaway. In the third, he did that same thing, stripping Troy Terry of the puck when he could have iced the game.

For Bobrovsky, it’s pretty straightforward. Look at the stats tonight, you’ll think he struggled again, but see how three of the four goals really weren’t his fault (Jones wide open in the slot, Jakob Silfverberg screening the goalie on Rickard Rakell‘s power-play goal, and Keith Yandle‘s giveaway leading to Ondrej Kase‘s unassisted goal). Yet again, Bobrovsky was immense in the fourth period, saving all 12 shots on goal to keep Florida alive.

For certain, however, this comeback does not happen without Aaron Ekblad. He has been, to put it lightly, fantastic under Joel Quenneville. His defense looks improved, he’s smarter with the puck, and he finally got to flash some of his two-way value, getting two goals and a primary assist to lead the Cats’ charge.

He won the first star of the night, getting the game-winning goal and primary assist to Dominic Toninato‘s game-tying goal, but it still just doesn’t say enough about his game. He was great defensively, the only time he gave up a goal was Yandle’s giveaway, he kept multiple plays alive with his effort, and was rewarded handsomely. Also, the celebration on the game-winner was sick.

It all comes with one thing: confidence. Under Rowe, Ekblad suffered a bad concussion, in which he was rushed back into the lineup, and played well below his standard. Under Boughner, Ekblad was constantly put into bad situations and really began to lack courage on a nightly basis.

Now, Ekblad has transformed back into 2015-16 all-star Ekblad. 23:30 of time on ice, the most amongst all Panthers, two blocks, three shots on goal (two goals, one which led to a goal), two blocks, three points, arguably the best game of his career.

As I said in the beginning, the Panthers cannot continuously play like this. Coming back from 4-0 down is so improbable, there have only been four seasons in which teams have come back from 4+ goals more than three times. This is the first time of this century there have been four 4+ goal comebacks.

The Panthers, however, deserve some massive praise for this. For a team to play as bad as they did, yet still find a way to win isn’t just the sign of a good team, but a sign of champions.

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With three jersey changes, two frightening medical diagnoses and a lot of hospital visits, it’s been a whirlwind couple of years for Brian Boyle and his family. But through it all the Panthers forward has gained a new perspective both on and off the ice.
DAN FALKENHEIMDEC 5, 2019
panthers-brian-boyle-cancer-remission
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In a three-rink complex 45 minutes southwest of his hometown in Hingham, Mass., Brian Boyle practiced with the South Shore Kings. No one had offered him a contract over the summer—a bottleneck of restricted free agents froze the market for veteran players—so he worked in with his former junior team, where he had at least 10 years on the current club’s oldest player.

When Boyle, on the edge of turning 35, went unsigned as NHL training camps started ahead of the 2019–20 season, he had to make some adjustments. Longtime trainer Brian McDonagh upped anaerobic exercises to maintain strength, while Boyle replicated the rhythms and rigors of the league’s schedule by biking hard on game nights and turning in strenuous early workouts to mimic morning skates.

Two weeks into the season, the call came. The Panthers officially signed Boyle to a one-year, $940,000 contract. Joining his third team in nine months, Boyle said, “I’m not expected to be a cheerleader—I want to make a difference for the team on the ice.”

At 6’6” and 245 lbs, Boyle has carved out a role as a bottom-six grinder even as teams turn to speedier, skilled players on their third and fourth lines. He’s fought to stay in the league, just two years after he fought for his life, after it was upended by cancer.

“It scared the s*** out of me,” Boyle remembers. “I had my daughter, who was four months old, and my son [who] was not even two-and-a-half yet. It’s scary to hear those words.”

Before the preseason in August 2017, Boyle felt fatigued, so much so that he wondered whether his hockey career was coming to a close. When he underwent routine blood tests at the start of the Devils’ training camp, the results were unexpected: Boyle had chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), an uncommon cancer of the bone marrow. He started treatment early, giving him the chance to return to the ice, as former NHLer Jason Blake had done before with CML.

But the whirlwind continued: Two weeks after Boyle was diagnosed with cancer, he and his wife, Lauren, took their two-year-old son, Declan, to the doctor to get his englarged, fragile chin examined. “It used to be like an eggshell,” Boyle says.

At first, the doctor thought Declan could have Ewing’s Sarcoma, an extremely rare tumor that forms in bone or soft tissue. But after a CT scan and an MRI, results showed that Declan had an arteriovenous malformation of the jaw. Instead of cancer, Boyle’s son had a rare condition where blood vessels form abnormally and arteries and veins become tangled, disrupting normal blood flow. As Boyle battled his way back onto the NHL ice, only missing 10 games and later earning an All-Star selection, Declan underwent multiple surgeries back in Boston.

“I’m not downplaying what I was diagnosed with,” Boyle says. “This is like a million times worse. We go to the Children’s Hospital in Boston and we see so many families in there and it’s the most unfair thing there is. It’s a scary thing, as a parent, you’d trade places in a minute.”

Boyle finished his 2017–18 season with 13 goals and 23 points, and was honored with the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his perseverance and dedication to hockey. In just over a year, Boyle had experienced the birth of his first daughter, a brush with cancer, the learning of his son’s medical condition, and his own subsequent return to the rink. But life didn’t slow down. Boyle announced his cancer was in remission in October 2018 and Lauren was announced as a Hockey Fights Cancer ambassador soon after. A few months later, he was moved to the Predators for a second-round pick at the trade deadline. Nashville lost in six games to the Stars in the first round.

Boyle says Declan’s condition is progressing, but before Thanksgiving he had another procedure to return normal blood flow by dissolving some veins. Lauren flew up to Boston while her husband played on the road against the Capitals, with his family providing a 24/7 support system in Florida and Massachusetts.

“It’s tough for us. We thought we were over and it came back,” Boyle says. “Maybe we were starting to drive on our goal line and then we drove into red zone. Now we’re back in field goal range. We took a sack.

“It’s a lot better than it was a couple of years ago. [Declan] is great. He’s healthy, he’s eating, he’s a big boy. He’s been inspiring—that’s the best way I can put it.”

***

“When it comes to cancer, people don’t always want to talk about it. Unfortunately, it’s often a sad story. But it can also be an inspiring story about people who are fearless in times of adversity, people who have battled and people who are not afraid to put up a fight.” —Brian Boyle, 2014

Boyle could as well have said this about himself, but he wrote this for ESPN about someone else. One of thirteen children, Boyle wasn’t the first member of his family to overcome cancer. Artie, his father, was diagnosed with kidney cancer when Brian was 14, and eight months later it metastasized to his lung. With six months to live, Artie made pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, an unofficial Catholic holy site since the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared to six teens in 1981. When he returned home, a CAT scan showed the cancer was gone.

“You’re a person that’s fighting this thing and that mental aspect of it is a huge, huge, huge thing,” Boyle says. “[Artie] talks about those dark days. You get depression, really, because you know you’re mortality is right there in front of you.”

While his cancer remains in remission, Boyle continues to take medication twice a day, but is relatively unaffected by it. In the two years since his diagnosis, he’s made visits to kids at Boston Children’s Hospital and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. He says he wants to do more—switching jerseys three times in the span of a year can get in the way—but he and Lauren have helped out with fundraisers and have met with cancer patients and survivors through community outreach efforts. He says he goes into the visits trying to talk about their interests, not their illnesses.

On the ice, Boyle hasn’t changed. He’s scored four goals and eight points and has won 57.5% of his faceoffs while centering the Panthers’ fourth line. Boyle’s leadership and veteran presence within the locker room has never wavered, and his diagnosis hasn’t affected his performance on the ice. In his 13th NHL season—and with a four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter, Isabella, at home—Boyle says he feels good and that he’s going to play “until they tell me I can’t anymore.”

“I get to have a little bit more fun with it again and, if it doesn’t go right one night, I’ll still be angry, it will still be tough to go to sleep,” Boyle says. “But it’s a little easier when I get home, the kids give you a hug and they’re happy to see you, after all we’ve been through.”

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Last week, we tried to identify the top 10 best Canucks jerseys to own.

We took into consideration the logo as well as the player in question for that exercise, and we’ll attempt to do the same thing for the top 10 worst Canucks jerseys to own.

Is this going to be a little harsh? Perhaps. But we couldn’t revel in celebrating joy for too long, it’s just not how we’re wired.

Here are the top 10 worst Canucks jerseys to own.

And we’re very sorry if you’ve got one of these in your closet. Hopefully it stays there.

10. Any nickname jersey

A Jake Virtanen jersey? Sure. Might not look great in a couple years, but right now it’s a fine buy.

A Jeff Cowan jersey? Um, OK. Rare and kind of cool in its own right, as it brings back the improbable hot streak the forward went on in 2007 (and the bras that followed).

But when it comes to “Shotgun Jake” on a sweater, or “Brabarian”, we are completely, 100 percent out.

It’s not funny, or original, just so you know.

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9. Loui Eriksson white “Vancouver” orca

It’s hard to imagine now, but there were big expectations for Eriksson in Vancouver. After all, he had just scored 30 goals with the Boston Bruins and had experienced success playing with the Sedin twins on the international circuit.

We know how it played out. Wearing an Eriksson jersey unironically these days is tough. Maybe even impossible.

8. Erik Gudbranson blue “Vancouver” orca

Like Eriksson, this might not have been a terrible gamble at the time.

After all, some defensive stalwarts were able to find a decent amount of popularity in the city. Look at Dan Hamhuis, Willie Mitchell or even Chris Tanev.

But Gudbranson couldn’t find his game in Vancouver and likely goes down as one of the least popular players of the last five years.

7. Your own name

Unless you’re a kid, it’s just not a good look.

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6. David Booth blue “Vancouver” orca

The rare jersey that gets even worse after a player retires.

Booth was expected to do big things in Vancouver after some solid averages in Florida.

But it never came to fruition for Booth as a Canuck. And a number of his more recent comments and actions have garnered some (not exactly positive) attention in the aftermath.

5. Keith Ballard white “Vancouver” orca

One of the worst trades in Vancouver Canucks history, it’s best to try and forget Keith Ballard’s time as a Canuck, if possible.

The veteran defenceman was brought to Vancouver as the Canucks loaded up in 2011 to try and become a Stanley Cup contender.

But it was an ill-advised deal that sent a first-round pick, Steve Bernier and Michael Grabner to Florida for Ballard’s services.

The rearguard didn’t deliver—he was a frequent health scratch with the Canucks and was eventually the target of one of the team’s compliance buyouts.

4. Vladimir Krutov black skate

A recurring theme with the list will be “veteran star who comes to Vancouver and doesn’t live up to the grand expectations.”

And despite what you may have heard about a certain bald Lays Potato Chips advocate, Krutov is the best example of that in Canucks history.

The Russian legend came over to North America with fellow countryman Igor Larionov in 1989 to play for a Canucks team desperate for some offensive firepower.

But Krutov battled weight issues during his one season with the team and was general ineffective.

Sadly, Krutov passed away in 2012 at the age of 52.

A less sensitive person would make the joke that if you’re going to get a Krutov jersey, you better make it a XXL.

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3. Cody Hodgson stick in rink alternate

Buying a Cody Hodgson jersey in 2010 probably seemed like a great idea.

The team’s number 10 overall pick in 2008 was projected to do big things in the NHL. For years, he was Vancouver’s top prospect and showed decently in his first game action in 2010-11. He also scored 33 points in 63 games with the Canucks the next season.

But things went downhill quickly. He was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for Zach Kassian, and though he started out pretty well with the Sabres, he was out of the NHL at the age of 25.

It’s something of a sad story, and it’s hard to blame Canucks fans for taking the shot on a Hodgson jersey. But it just didn’t work out.

2. Mats Sundin blue “Vancouver” orca

Look, Mats Sundin was fine during his one year with the Vancouver Canucks.

He scores 28 points in 41 regular season games and added eight in as many playoff contests.

But a Canucks Sundin jersey just never seemed right, and still doesn’t. Sundin is a Toronto Maple Leaf, and a Canucks Sundin jersey feels like a waste.

1. Mark Messier white orca

Not much of a surprise here.

If you know anything about Vancouver Canucks history, you know that Mark Messier is without a doubt the most hated player in team lore. Just check the team’s Reddit page.

It doesn’t need to be rehashed, but in case you’re a glutton for punishment:

stole a Stanley Cup from the Canucks while with the New York Rangers
wore a number previously retired for a dead person
took the captaincy from Trevor Linden
was a waste of money on the ice.
If you wear a Messier jersey in Vancouver, don’t expect to be received warmly.

It’s not the worst Canucks jersey in history though. That honour belongs to this beauty.

Stick tap to Sportnet’s Justin Morissette for going down a rather dark rabbit hole.

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Tomas Vokoun Jersey

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Tomas Tatar’s 10th goal of the season ended Tristan Jarry’s franchise-record shutout streak and sparked the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night.

Jarry’s shutout run ended at 177:15 on Tatar’s power-play goal 12:24 into the second period that tied the game. Joel Armia beat Jarry less than four minutes later to put the Canadiens in front to stay and Shea Weber’ scored with just 15 seconds left in the period.

Montreal won for the fourth time in its last 12 meetings with the Penguins.

Carey Price surrendered Jake Guentzel’s 17th goal just 2:59 into the first period but quickly settled down to outduel Jarry. Price finished with 33 saves as Montreal won for the third time in four games following an eight-game winless streak.

Jarry began the night leading the league in goals-against average and save percentage thanks to a surge that included back-to-back shutouts against St. Louis and Arizona last week. A point-blank stop on Nick Cousins early in the second period helped Jarry slip past the Tomas Vokoun’s shutout mark of 173:06 set in 2013, but Jarry’s luck ran out shortly after he surpassed Vokoun in the team record book.

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Some sloppy play in front of Jarry helped the Canadiens finally break through. Pittsburgh was on the penalty kill in the second period when defenseman John Marino and forward Brandon Tanev whiffed on clearing attempts. Montreal’s Phillip Danault grabbed the loose puck, slipped a pass to Brendan Gallagher to set up a two-on-none. Gallagher set up Tatar, who beat Jarry to the short side. It was the first goal Jarry allowed since the second period of a loss to Columbus on Nov. 29.

LIGHTNING 2, PANTHERS 1

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn scored to lead Tampa Bay over Florida.

Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27 shots for Tampa Bay.

Evgenii Dadonov had the goal for the Panthers. Sergei Bobrovsky made a season-high 46 saves in his third straight start.

SABRES 5, BLUES 2

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Jack Eichel scored two goals to extend his NHL-leading point streak to 14 games, and Buffalo beat St. Louis.

Sam Reinhart, Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons each had a goal and an assist as the Sabres won their second straight. Linus Ullmark made 28 saves.

Troy Brouwer and Alex Pietrangelo had goals for the Blues, who have lost three in a row following a four-game winning streak. Jake Allen stopped 28 shots.

JETS 5, RED WINGS 1

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Blake Wheeler, Andrew Copp and Patrik Laine scored in a two-minute span in the second period and Winnipeg dealt Detroit Red its 12th straight loss.

Wheeler began the barrage at 16:43 of the second when he beat Eric Comrie, who was making his first start in goal since Detroit acquired him in a trade with Arizona on Nov. 30.

Copp and Laine followed with goals 11 seconds apart, boosting the score to 4-1 by the 18:43 mark.

Adam Lowry scored a first-period, short-handed goal and Mark Scheifele added his team-leading 14th of the season on the power play at 5:04 of the third. Copp and Wheeler also each had an assist for the Jets (19-10-2).

Christoffer Ehn scored his first goal of the season for the Red Wings (7-22-3), who are 0-10-2 during their skid. Detroit has the worst record in the NHL at 7-22-3.

PREDATORS 3, SHARKS 1

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Calle Jarnkrok had a goal and an assist in the third period, Juuse Saros made 24 saves and Nashville beat slumping San Jose.

Nick Bonino and Ryan Johansen also scored in the third for the Predators, winners of two straight.

Timo Meier scored and Martin Jones made 28 saves for the Sharks, who have lost five in a row.

DUCKS 3, WILD 2, SO

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Rickard Rickell and Max Comtois scored in the shootout and Anaheim beat Minnesota for its first win in six road games.

Rakell and Cam Fowler scored for the Ducks in a dominant first period during which they had a 14-1 advantage in shots on goal and the Wild lost center Eric Staal to an injury.

Ryan Hartman put the Wild on the board in the second and Ryan Donato tied the game early in third.

Donato had a breakaway early in overtime that Ryan Getzlaf thwarted with a tripping penalty, and the Wild failed to convert on the power play for the fifth time.

John Gibson denied Parise in the shootout. Kevin Fiala went wide right with his attempt.

STARS 2, DEVILS 0

DALLAS (AP) — Ben Bishop made 26 saves, 16 in the third period, and Dallas beat New Jersey, hours after the Stars fired head coach Jim Montgomery.

It was Bishop’s first shutout this season and 32nd of his career in Rick Bowness’s first game as interim head coach.

Radek Faksa and Joe Pavelski scored in the first period against Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, who made 33 saves.

The Stars won their third straight game.

HURRICANES 6, OILERS 3

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Sebastian Aho scored two goals and Carolina beat Edmonton.

Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Dzingel, Jordan Martinook and Dougie Hamilton also scored for the Hurricanes (19-11-1), who have won three straight.

Zack Kassian scored twice and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added a goal for the Oilers (18-11-4), who have lost three of their last four.

FLAMES 5, COYOTES 2

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Sean Monahan scored for the fourth straight game, Cam Talbot stopped 46 shots and Calgary extended its winning streak to six straight games under interim coach Geoff Ward with a win over listless Arizona.

Calgary played the night before, but had the early jump, scoring two goals on its first four shots in the opening 4:03. The Flames kept on scoring, improving to 7-0-1 following a six-game winless streak (0-5-1).

Michael Frolik and Zac Rinaldo each had a goal and an assist. Johnny Gaudreau and Milan Lucic also scored for Calgary.

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The game got off to a rough start as both sides were displaying chippy behavior early on. Mike Hoffman and Erik Karlsson both exchanged shoves and words in their first meeting since playing together back in Ottawa.

The Florida Panthers decided to get away from the physical play and instead, play their game by getting on the board first. After Frank Vatrano drew a hooking call, the Panthers immediately cashed in on the first power play of the game as Evgenii Dadonov redirected Keith Yandle’s point shot.

Shortly after, the Panthers doubled their lead after Dadonov and Aleksander Barkov both connected for a goal. Dadonov beautifully fed Barkov with a golden-platter pass, which Barkov just had to tap in to record his tenth of the season, tying Stephen Weiss for most goals in franchise history (145).

Unfortunately, the Panthers’ two-goal lead didn’t last long as the Sharks trimmed their lead on the power play. After Aaron Ekblad took an ill-advised penalty, Kevin Labanc wasted no time putting his side on the board, snapping a shot past Sergei Bobrovsky.

The Cats would continue to press throughout the remainder of the first but were unable to beat Martin Jones, heading into the locker room up by a goal (2-1) after twenty minutes of play.

To start the second, Jones denied Vincent Trocheck on a partial breakaway which caught the Sharks by surprise early on.

Moments later, Evander Kane went after MacKenzie Weegar, following the hit that he took prior to their fight. Kane approached Weegar, exchanged some shoves, and the two went for a little dance which Kane got the better of.

Because of Kane’s excessive behavior during the incident, the Sharks forward received two minutes for instigating, five for fighting, and a ten-minute misconduct, which resulted in a Panthers power play.

Immediately after the man advantage expired, Mike Matheson grabbed his first of the season after firing a shot through Jones’ five-hole to regain the Panthers’ two-goal lead (3-1).

There were a couple of good minutes where the Sharks completely controlled play in the Panthers’ end, as a result of Yandle’s turnover at the blue line. Thankfully, Bobrovsky was sharp and denied every shot that came his way.

Things started to heat up as both teams exchanged high-danger chances at either end of the ice. Barkov and Huberdeau both raced down the ice on a 2-on-1, which resulted in Brent Burns breaking up the play, while Bobrovsky was forced to come up big as the Sharks countered back the other way for a scoring chance of their own.

After forty minutes of play, the Panthers still remained in the lead, this time with a two-goal advantage next to their name.

In the final frame, the Cats were faced to kill off an eighteen-second 5-on-3, which they handled with ease. After Ekblad and Hoffman got out of the box, the Panthers went back to controlling the game.

On a four-minute power play, the Panthers cashed in fairly quickly through Brett Connolly – who pounced on a loose rebound and stuffed the puck home to give the Cats a three-goal cushion.

The Sharks then pulled their goalie with a couple of minutes remaining in an attempt to slice the Panthers’ lead but failed when Vatrano threw a shot from his end towards the empty net, signaling the end of the hockey game. The Panthers would go close the game out in comfortable fashion, 5-1.

In short, the Panthers were nothing shy of solid throughout the evening match, showcasing determination from the very start to win the two points in regulation. Bobrovsky’s 29-save effort certainly helped guide the Cats through easy water, as Florida closed out the weekend with the much-needed four points.

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Earlier this week, the New Jersey Devils sent Cory Schneider to the minors in a move that many viewed as the final act of Goalie Confidential. And maybe it was. Maybe we can finally close the books on the saga that consumed this market for two years. Maybe we should just let it go.

But what’s the fun in that?

While there’s a certain finality to Schneider’s demotion, this one act doesn’t quite account for all the intrigue and drama, the what-ifs and what-was that played out between Schneider, Roberto Luongo, the Canucks, the Toronto Maple Leafs and, finally, the Florida Panthers.

It speaks volumes, in fact, that six years after the Canucks traded Schneider to the Devils, it’s hard to write a defining conclusion to this story; and if you don’t believe me, here are three words to consider:

Cap frickin’ recapture.

So, yes, there’s a bottom line here and, yes, the Canucks did very well in the end. But that doesn’t quite tell the whole story, so let’s hop in the way-back machine and try to tell it.

For our purposes, the soap opera starts at the end of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, when Luongo first requested a trade. In that series, the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks were ousted in five games by the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings. Luongo started the first two games of that series, dropping a pair of 4-2 decisions on home ice.

Schneider, who had impressed the previous two seasons in a backup role, started the final three games, losing Game 3 in L.A. 1-0, and winning Game 4 before losing the deciding Game 5 at home 2-1 in overtime. His line in that series: four goals against in three games and a .937 save percentage.

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Luongo, then 33, decided the Canucks had become Schneider’s team and requested a trade that off-season. There were just two problems. One, he had nine years and US$48 million left on his infamous contract and, two, he had a no-trade clause.

Note the wording of that second item. It will become important.

That off-season, then-Leafs general manager Brian Burke expressed a strong interest in the veteran goalie. One story out of Toronto reported then-Canucks GM Mike Gillis was looking for a package that included Tyler Bozak, Jake Gardiner, a first-rounder and, of course, Matt Frattin.

Burke, rightly, rejected that deal but continued negotiations with Bozak as the centrepiece of a potential trade. Just before training camp, talks had evolved to the point that Luongo was informed of the pending deal.

I have a no-trade clause, he said.

Fine, said the Canucks, but you don’t have a no-movement clause, and we can put you on waivers where Edmonton will have the first pick. Do you like that better?

The Canucks believed they could have leveraged Luongo into waiving his no-trade clause; but, wouldn’t you know it, that was about the time the NHL locked out the players and instituted a freeze on player moves. The deal died there, Burke was fired in January 2013 and Schneider took over as the No. 1 goalie in Vancouver, going 17-9-4 in the shortened season with a .927 save percentage.

At the deadline, the Leafs came calling again, this time with Dave Nonis, another former Canucks GM, in the big office. Again, the two sides were close and, again, a deal fell apart at the last minute when Nonis demanded the Canucks eat a portion of Luongo’s salary.

The Canucks, however, believed they were being played by Nonis, who was fired by the Aquilinis and replaced by Gillis, and didn’t have warm feelings toward either party. Whatever the motivation, the result was the same. Luongo went before the TV cameras, proclaimed his contract sucked, and remained with the Canucks.

By the time the draft rolled round that summer, there was considerable pressure from ownership on Gillis to resolve the situation. The Devils came calling for Schneider with the ninth overall pick, the deal was consummated and the Canucks took Bo Horvat.

And the story didn’t end there.

Luongo actually had a good season in 2013-14 but dropped five straight games before the Olympic break. Upon returning from Sochi, he discovered Eddie Lack had supplanted him as the Canucks’ No. 1 and the Canucks, seemingly, were right back where they started.

Except this time the Panthers rode to the rescue. Again, there was backroom drama and the Aquilinis had to be convinced it was a swell idea to eat US$800,000 a year of Luongo’s contract. But they eventually signed off on a deal that brought back Jacob Markstrom, Shawn Matthias and a third-rounder, even if they weren’t happy about it.

In a roundabout way, this brings us back to this week’s news about Schneider. The Canucks, after all this time, have Horvat and Markstrom (Cole Cassels was the third-rounder) which, considering their position, is a huge haul.

But the really fun part of this exercise is considering what might have been had things transpired differently. If the Bozak trade goes through with Toronto, does that extend the shelf life of the Canucks’ Presidents’ Trophy team? Does Burke keep his job in Toronto? What about Nonis?

Then there’s Gillis. You can easily make the case he lost the confidence of ownership with his handling of the Schneider-Luongo file. Where would the Canucks be if he stays? Do they still fall off the grid for four years or was all this necessary to bring them to the place they now occupy?

You have to admit. Those are weighty questions and yet it’s still not over, or it won’t be, as long as the Canucks are absorbing three-plus-million in Luongo’s cap recapture over the next three years.

The scribes who covered the Canucks at the time used to call Goalie Confidential the gift that keeps on giving. Six years later, it still gives.

That’s quite a gift.

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There is something to say for longevity. In professional sports, longevity typically means one thing more than any other – it means relevancy. A player needs to be good enough at his/her craft, willing to adapt and adjust over the years, keep healthy, and be relevant to their sport and to their team in order to compete for a considerable length of time. Winger Ray Whitney certainly possessed relevancy throughout his entire NHL career.There is something to say for longevity. In professional sports, longevity typically means one thing more than any other – it means relevancy. A player needs to be good enough at his/her craft, willing to adapt and adjust over the years, keep healthy, and be relevant to their sport and to their team in order to compete for a considerable length of time. Winger Ray Whitney certainly possessed relevancy throughout his entire NHL career.

The Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta native played 22 seasons in the league. He suited up for eight different NHL teams for a total of 1,330 regular season games. Whitney even won a Stanley Cup in his 14th season. He was relevant enough to have been around for 14 seasons prior to being a vital cog for a team achieving the pinnacle of NHL success – and then he went on to maintain that same relevance for another eight seasons after that.

And Whitney was talented enough to do it.

Ray Whitney #13 of the Phoenix Coyotes
Ray Whitney played 22 seasons in the NHL and won a Stanley Cup during the 14th season of his career (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images).
Primarily seeing play as a left winger, he was also capable of playing center or even the right side if needed. Whitney’s tremendous playmaking and passing abilities earned him the nickname of “The Wizard”. Never generating a 100-point season in his career, Whitney still managed to assemble seven seasons of at least 40 assists. The first of those 40-assists seasons came after his first eight campaigns in the NHL. By the time all was said and done, Whitney scored 1,064 career points. That was due to his longevity – and his relevancy – as opposed to any prolificacy.

22 seasons is a very long time to play in the NHL. Most hockey players never even come close to such a number. While Whitney lasted in the league longer than the vast majority of his contemporaries, there was one season – his 20th – when he gave a performance that exceeded most players, some half his age. Even at 39 years old, Whitney was good enough to earn the only individual accolade of his NHL career and was in consideration for numerous others. He also put a bit of icing onto his own cake too.

We look back now at Ray Whitney’ 2011-12 season with the Phoenix Coyotes. Leading the “Desert Dogs” on a very improbable playoff run, it became his one for the ages season.

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Breaking Into the League With the Sharks
When Whitney announced his retirement from hockey on Jan. 21, 2015, he did so as the sole remaining member of the inaugural 1991-92 San Jose Sharks. San Jose made him the first selection of the second round for the 1991 NHL Draft. Whitney had previously made a big name for himself during his junior career with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He led the entire WHL in scoring during the 1990-91 season when he scored a whopping 67 goals, 118 assists and 185 points in 72 games. Whitney ultimately led the Chiefs to that season’s Memorial Cup championship as well.

The Sharks took notice of his talents, and made sure that he was going to be a part of their expansion team’s future. Whitney would end up playing more NHL games than any other player selected in the 1991 Draft. It is somewhat shocking that he was not chosen until the second frame. Fortunately for San Jose, Whitney was still on the table after they used their opening round selection – and second pick overall – on winger Pat Falloon. Whitney and Falloon were teammates together with Spokane, and the Sharks hoped that combining the two together in San Jose would lead to a natural scoring dynamic. Unfortunately, it would not work out that way.

The expansion Sharks were a very interesting team. 45 different players would suit up in the teal uniforms during San Jose’s first season. The team’s captain – 34-year-old defenseman Doug Wilson – was one of the final helmetless players in NHL history. They also possessed a colorful collection of players including Brian Hayward, Craig Coxe, Jeff Odgers, Arturs Irbe, Brian Lawton, and the rather notorious defenseman Link Gaetz.

Whitney would spend the bulk of the season in the IHL playing for the Sharks’ minor affiliate, the San Diego Gulls. In 63 games to start his professional career, he scored 36 goals and 54 assists for 90 points. The Sharks would call Whitney up at the very end of the 1991-92 regular season. He would play his first two NHL games on Apr. 15, 1992 against the Calgary Flames and Apr. 16 against the Winnipeg Jets. Whitney would record points in both games and ended up with three assists in two games total.

San Jose Would Be a Slow Start for Whitney
The Sharks’ young prospect would play six seasons with the organization. Unfortunately though, these first six campaigns were not indicative of a player who would last a total of 16 more to follow. Whitney’s time with San Jose was limited due to injuries and stints in the minors to give a really slow start to his NHL career.

In 200 career games for the Sharks, he managed to score 121 points off of 48 goals and 73 assists. Certainly decent numbers for a player who was not yet 25 years old. However, the fullest season that Whitney ever played for the Sharks was 1993-94 when he played 61 games. Across the six seasons with San Jose, he averaged playing just slightly more than 33 games a season. Hard to surmise that he would eventually play over 1,300.

Whitney’s best offensive season with San Jose came in 1995-96. Appearing in 60 games, he wound up scoring 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points that season. Also worth noting is that in this early portion of his career, two of Whitney’s San Jose teammates were the Russian greats Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov – both eventual Hockey Hall of Fame inductees. Both tremendous players that were capable of imparting tutelage to youngsters like Whitney and Falloon.

Numerous Stops Around the League
The Sharks and Whitney would ultimately pursue different paths. On Oct. 1, 1997 he signed with the Edmonton Oilers to start his seventh professional season. Whitney’s time with the team would last a mere nine games in which he scored a single goal and added three assists.

A little more than month after he had signed with Edmonton, the Florida Panthers came calling and claimed Whitney off of waivers. Whether it was the warmer weather or a fresh start, he simply exploded upon his arrival in South Florida. In 68 games Whitney would end up being the Panthers leading scorer for the 1997-98 season as he fired away for 32 goals, 29 assists and 61 points. He suddenly was generating the numbers which teams had long hoped he would.

From 1997-98 through 2003-04, Whitney would play for four different NHL teams – the Oilers, Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings. On five different occasions he eclipsed the 20-goal mark. In both 1997-98 and 1998-99 with Florida and then 2001-02 and 2002-03 with the Blue Jackets, he was his team’s leading scorer. Whitney would earn the only two All-Star Game appearances of his career in 2000 with the Panthers and 2003 with the Blue Jackets. He signed with the Red Wings as a free agent in July 2003 with aspirations of winning a Stanley Cup, but it never materialized.

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However, it would not be much after this that his name would eventually end up inscribed upon Lord Stanley’s chalice.

An NHL lockout cancelled the 2004-05 season in its entirety. Following the cancelled season, Whitney would sign with the Carolina Hurricanes as a free agent on Aug. 7, 2005. Combining him with a slew of savvy veterans such Rod Brind’Amour, Doug Weight, Glen Wesley, and Bret Hedican, along with up-and-comers including Eric Staal, Cam Ward and Andrew Ladd, the 2005-06 Hurricanes would go on to win the Stanley Cup in seven games over the Edmonton Oilers.

Further rejuvenated upon achieving a childhood dream – he had been a former stick boy for the Oilers during their dynasty years in the 1980s – Whitney produced the best offensive seasons of his career from 2006-07 through 2011-12. After winning the Cup with the Hurricanes he remained with the team for four more seasons, before signing with the Coyotes on Jul. 1, 2010. Between those aforementioned seasons, Whitney scored totals of 143 goals and 270 assists for 413 points in 466 games. The top point total of Whitney’s career came in 2006-07 when he scored 32 goals and 51 assists for 83 points in 81 games.

A Veteran in the Valley of the Sun
Following four straight 20-goal seasons in Carolina, Whitney took up residence in the Valley of the Sun. 38 years old at the time that he signed with the Coyotes, he was still generating points and setting up goals. Whitney fit in with the Coyotes’ proclivity of assembling a particular type of roster. For much of the 2010s, Phoenix – eventually adjusting their team name to Arizona starting with the 2014-15 season – collected NHL cast-offs, raw prospects, and silver-haired veterans to be the bulk of their team. The recipe seemed to work. With head coach Dave Tippett at the helm from the 2009-10 season through 2016-17, he was able to get blood out of what many perceived to be a proverbial stone.

In eight seasons under Tippett’s leadership, the Coyotes posted a winning record five times. During Whitney’s first season with the team he finished third in team scoring with 17 goals, 40 assists and 57 points in 75 games. Combining his passing ability with 10 other Coyotes besides himself reaching double digits in goals that season, the assists added up for Whitney.

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Tippett did the best that he could with the roster that was afforded to him. The Coyotes with Whitney were in many instances overachievers. They may not have been the most talented team in the league, but they were undoubtedly the hardest working. The 2011-12 season would see that culminate into the franchise’s greatest success since being in Arizona.

Let us take a closer look at the composition of the team aside from Whitney, as it is indeed interesting:

The Coyotes’ team captain was the beloved Shane Doan who was in his 16th of his 21 seasons with the franchise. Radim Vrbata was Phoenix’s sniper with 35 goals on the season. Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson was in his sophomore season and his first full one in the NHL. Daymond Langkow, Michal Rozsival, Derek Morris and the bullet-shooting Adrian Aucoin were all well into their 30s. Anchoring the rise was the goaltending duo of Mike Smith and Jason Labarbera.

Add into the mix quality players like Taylor Pyatt, Keith Yandle, Lauri Korpikoski, and Raffi Torres to help round out the squad, and the Coyotes were in some ways a rag-tag group of upstarts that legitimately cared for each other and worked for one another.

Whitney’s 2011-12 NHL Season
On top of all that, you had Ray Whitney leading the team in scoring. Playing in all 82 regular season games, he scored 24 goals and led the team outright in assists with 53 and points with 77. The 53 helpers not only tied Whitney’s own career high, but were fourth most in the entire league that season.

Quietly but steadily, Whitney had also been working towards 1,000 career points. Posting some of the best numbers of his career, even as he was only months away from the age of 40, he would reach and surpass the pinnacle points plateau during the 2011-12 season as well.

Whitney helped the Coyotes to a record of 42-27-3-10. Such a record amounted to 97 points in the standings and won them the Pacific Division.

Because of this tremendous performance in the twilight of his career, Whitney came into close consideration for a number of NHL awards during this time. With the season coming to a close, he finished 15th in voting for the Lady Byng Trophy for his sportsmanship, 16th in consideration for the Hart Trophy as the league’s Most Valuable Player, and 12th in voting for the Selke Trophy as the top defensive-forward.

While none of those trophies would be bestowed upon him, Whitney would receive one significant honor that season. One that he earned outright and is forever marked in the annals of NHL history. Based upon his superb individual performance in leading the Coyotes, Whitney was named to the NHL’s Second All-Star Team. Only 12 players each season are named either a First or Second Team All-Star, and very few players ever receive the nod at all.

We take a look now at some of the finer moments from Whitney’s 2011-12 NHL season:

Oct. 15, 2011:
Whitney had his first multi-point game of season in only his fourth game. After three games on the road, the Coyotes had their home opener against the Winnipeg Jets. Whitney earned the primary assist on Langkow’s opening tally of the game, and the Coyotes would be up 3-1 by end of the second period. Whitney removed any potential of a Winnipeg-comeback when he scored a power play goal from Martin Hanzal and Doan at 6:43 of the third. The goal would be his second of the season, and the Coyotes would go on to take a decisive 4-1 victory.

Dustin Brown battles Ray Whitney
The Coyotes’ Ray Whitney (#13) and Boyd Gordon (#15) try to pinch the Kings’ Dustin Brown off of a loose puck ( Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE).
Oct. 27, 2011:
The Coyotes hosted New Jersey in the desert , and ended up firing 42 shots on Devils’ goalie Johan Hedberg. This would be Whitney’s only 2-goal game of the season as he would help lead Phoenix to a 5-3 victory. After the Coyotes Patrick O’Sullivan opened the scoring, New Jersey would score two straight to take a 2-1 lead. Whitney’s power play goal at 11:24 of the second period from Vrbata and Yandle would tie the game. The Coyotes would then score three straight – one from Torres, Hanzal and a second from Whitney – and would never look back. Whitney would also get the primary assist on Hanzal’s goal to have a 3-point night.

Nov. 29, 2011:
On the road in Chicago, Whitney would have another 3-point performance, against the Blackhawks this time. The Coyotes would cruise to a 4-1 victory as they scored four straight before the Blackhawks even got one. Whitney set up the first and third goals of the game – one from Langkow and one from Vrbata. He then beat Chicago goalie Corey Crawford to get Phoenix’s fourth, with assists from Hanzal and Vrbata. Whitney’s four shots on goal were the most for all Coyotes and tied for the most among both teams.

Dec. 20 and Dec. 21, 2011:
In less than 24-hours time Whitney would generate four points for the Coyotes. He would have a goal and an assist on Dec. 20 against the Florida Panthers, and then repeated the performance the next day against the Carolina Hurricanes. Both 2-point games would end up in victories for the Coyotes. Whitney was nearly a one-man show against the Panthers. He scored the first goal of the game on the power play when he beat Jose Theodore. Whitney then set up the game-winning goal from Vrbata as Phoenix won the game 2-1.

When they faced the Hurricanes the next day, Whitney was again the difference maker. The Coyotes only mustered 19 shots on goal, but they made them count. Whitney’s power play goal opened the scoring when he converted from Ekman-Larsson and Hanzal. The Hurricanes then stormed back to take a 3-1 lead. Cal O’Reilly and Rostislav Klesla scored to tie the game for Phoenix. Then Whitney and Morris combined to set up the game-winning score from Korpikoski. The Coyotes would take the 4-3 win.

Feb. 4, 6 and 7, 2012:
For three games in a row Whitney generated a pair of assists in each game. Subsequently, the Coyotes earned victories on Feb. 4, 6 and 7 against the San Jose Sharks, Detroit Red Wings and Dallas Stars respectively. These particular games were also part of an 8-game point streak from Whitney. Against the Sharks, he would help spark a 5-3 victory. Whitney set up Phoenix’s third goal of the game which came from Hanzal, and then earned the primary assist on Vrbata’s empty-net insurance goal with one second left in the game. Two days later the Coyotes hosted the Red Wings at home and defeated them 3-1. After Boyd Gordon scored unassisted for the team’s first goal, Whitney set up Hanzal for both the game-winner and an empty-netter. The very next day the Coyotes found themselves on the road against the Stars. In a relatively simple 4-1 victory for Phoenix, Whitney again fed Vrbata for the game-winning tally in the second period. Then he and Vrbata combined to set up Morris for the fourth goal of the game.

Mar. 14, 2012:
Whitney would put forth a 3-assist night for Phoenix as the team earned a hard fought 5-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Vancouver actually out-shot the Coyotes 43 to 33. Alexandre Burrows and Ryan Kesler put the Canucks up 2-0. That is when Whitney went into action. He helped generate three Coyotes’ goals in a row – earning the secondary assist on tallies from Klesla, Doan and Ekman-Larsson. The two teams would trade goals the rest of the way, but it was Phoenix’s power play score from Antoine Vermette in the third which would hold up to be the decisive mark. The three assists were Whitney’s 42nd, 43rd and 44th of the season.

Ray Whitney finished his NHL career having scored 1,064 points during the regular season. His 1,000th point came as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes (Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE).
Mar. 31, 2012:
This was an extra-special night for Whitney. Not only would the Coyotes earn a 4-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, but he would join a select club that only 78 players before him had ever been a part of. With the Coyotes already on the power play from Anaheim’s Corey Perry getting an instigator penalty from a fight with Phoenix’s Gilbert Brule, the “Desert Dogs” had the puck hemmed in the Ducks’ end.

Whitney had moved back to the point where he could better orchestrate play, and Vrbata positioned himself to the right of goalie Jeff Deslauriers. The two Coyotes exchanged a bit of a give-and-go. Vrbata saucered a pass, skimming the ice from the side of the Ducks’ net to Whitney at the opposite point. Immediately after receiving the puck, Whitney put a hard pass straight back to Vrbata. The Czech winger one-timed the pass to cleanly beat Deslauriers. With Whitney picking up the primary assist on the goal, it would be the 1,000th point of his NHL career. Vrbata scooped the puck out of the net as an obvious keepsake for Whitney.

An exclamation point was added when the Coyotes fourth and final goal of the game was scored by Whitney himself late in the third period to up him to 1,001 points.

The Playoff Success of the Coyotes
The 2011-12 Coyotes would turn the NHL on its ear by shockingly making it all the way to the Stanley Cup semi-finals. This still marks the only time in the team’s history since they have played in the state of Arizona that they made it beyond the first round.

Phoenix would eliminate the Chicago Blackhawks in the opening round by defeating them in six games. A rather staggering five of the six games went to overtime in the series – all but the decisive Game Six which the Coyotes won 4-0. They would move onto the second round where they faced the Nashville Predators. The Coyotes would make relatively short work of them, winning the series in five games. Whitney scored the overtime game-winning goal in Game One of the series against Nashville.

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It would not be until the semis where they faced the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings that Phoenix would finally be halted. The Kings took a 3-0 lead in the series, and although the Coyotes won Game Four and forced overtime in Game Five, they would eventually be eliminated when L.A.’s Dustin Penner scored the series-winner in OT.

Antoine Vermette – a trade deadline acquisition for Phoenix – was the team’s only player to score double digits in points during the playoffs. Meanwhile, Smith manned the nets for each of the team’s postseason contests. Whitney played in all 16 of the Coyotes playoff games. He ended up scoring a pair of goals and five assists. It would be the third and final time that he would play in a Stanley Cup semi-final.

Wrapping up His Career
Ray Whitney, Dallas Stars
Ray Whitney finished his NHL career with the Dallas Stars for two seasons (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports).
Ray Whitney would play two more seasons in the NHL after his All-Star season with the Coyotes. On Jul. 1, 2012 he would sign as a free agent with the Dallas Stars – a two-year deal worth $9 million. Quite the lucrative contract for a hockey player who had just turned 40 years old.

An NHL lockout abbreviated the 2012-13 season to just 48 games. Whitney’s was even shorter at just 32 games due to injury. Still, he scored at nearly a point-per-game pace as he generated 29 points off of 11 goals and 18 assists. Those 29 points tied him for second in Stars scoring with Loui Eriksson who had played the full 48 contests.

In what would be his final NHL season, Whitney’s numbers dropped to a modest nine goals and 23 assists for 32 points in 69 games in 2013-14. He would play in five of Dallas’ six playoff games in what would be the final postseason play of his career.

While it is unlikely that Ray Whitney will end up in the Hockey Hall of Fame, he still checked off a number of the right boxes. A Stanley Cup and over 1,000 career points, namely. Whitney’s 1,064 points were comprised from 385 goals and 679 assists – both above-average numbers of their own.

Throwing his one for the ages season into the mix – when as a 39 year old he showed he could still be an All-Star caliber hockey player – and one could make a fairly decent argument for induction.

Above all else, Ray Whitney has relevancy in his corner and that speaks volumes.

More ‘One for the Ages’ Stories:

1968-69 Doug Harvey, St. Louis Blues
1970-71 Charlie Hodge, Vancouver Canucks
1970-71 Roger Crozier, Buffalo Sabres
1972-73 Alex Delvecchio, Detroit Red Wings
1972-73 Bill ‘Cowboy’ Flett, Philadelphia Flyers
1973-74 Bill Goldsworthy, Minnesota North Stars
1979-80 Dave Keon, Hartford Whalers
1979-80 Jim Schoenfeld, Buffalo Sabres
1981-82 Billy Smith, New York Islanders
1983-84 Tom Barrasso, Buffalo Sabres
1985-86 Mats Naslund, Montreal Canadiens
1993-94 Sergei Zubov, New York Rangers
1995-96 Wayne Gretzky, St. Louis Blues
2002-03 Steve Thomas, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim

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