Hooked on Hockey Magazine takes a closer look at some of the NHL’s top headlines for Trending Tuesdays.
First, it was John Stevens of the Los Angeles Kings, and then Joel Quenneville with the Chicago Blackhawks; both coaches were the first bench bosses to be “relieved of their duties” for the 2018-19 campaign.
Now, in less than 24 hours, the next two victims are Mike Yeo (St. Louis Blues) and Todd McLellan (Edmonton Oilers). It’s a fair argument to say that Yeo and McLellan were expected to be let go by their respective teams before Stevens and Quenneville, but either way four NHL head coaches have been relieved before the Thanksgiving Holiday arrived.
So Ken Hitchcock un-retires. I spoke with Darryl Sutter yesterday about his retirement from coaching and whether he'd re-consider. Sutter said he's happy with his decision and isn't contemplating a return.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) November 20, 2018
The plot twist — is that Ken Hitchcock was hired by Edmonton. Hitchcock, 66, last coached the Dallas Stars (2017-18) and only for one season. The former Stanley Cup winning head coach (Dallas Stars, 1999) was planning on retiring on two occasions since 2016-17, but has managed to make his way to the bench and with a new challenge.
Yes, the Oilers have Connor McDavid, but the team’s perennial struggles haven’t disappeared.
Sounds like another coach casualty as sources suggest Ken Hitchcock is replacing Todd Mclellan on the Oilers bench.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) November 20, 2018
This is most likely a short-term hire and one that could benefit the Oilers and McDavid for the better moving forward.
Atlantic Division Competition
No, the Toronto Maple Leafs are not the NHL’s hottest team entering the Thanksgiving holiday. In fact, it’s the Buffalo Sabres who have been the Cinderella Story to date. Buffalo has won six games in a row, and on Monday night the Sabres completed a comeback from being down 4-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
From being down 4-1 to a 5-4 victory in @EASPORTSNHL OT.
— NHL (@NHL) November 20, 2018
Buffalo hasn’t appeared in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since the 2010-11 season, and it seemed that the Sabres may never get back to the postseason anytime soon. Yet, Buffalo continues to find ways to win — even if its best hockey has yet to be played.
The Atlantic Division should make for madness come playoff time in April.
You heard it here first.
Under the Radar
The Detroit Red Wings have flown under the radar all season.
Still, Hockeytown has won 8 out of its last 10 games and have collected two points in the standings in that span in various ways — just about every which way a team can win.
Detroit will be better than expected, but a tough Atlantic Division as noted above — doesn’t help an up and coming Wings squad in 2019.
Hoffman’s Welcome Back To Ottawa
Surprisingly, forward Mike Hoffman received a warm welcome and ovation back to Ottawa last night.
Hoffman and his new team, the Florida Panthers, skated into Canadian Tire Centre with a potential not-so-warm welcome back for No. 68.
Nobody scored more @Senators goals than Mike Hoffman over the last 4 years.
He left the nation's capital under nasty circumstances.
So how should Sens fans greet him tonight? #mikehoffman #floridapanthers #7elevencanada #ThatsHockey @FlaPanthers @TSNHockey @7ElevenCanada pic.twitter.com/vRBkCslWJn
— Gino Reda (@GinoRedaTSN) November 19, 2018
Yes, Hoffman spent parts of seven seasons with the Senators while recording 230 points (107g-123a); however, the former fifth-round draft pick was dealt from Ottawa this offseason for numerous reasons. One of which more than likely had to do with the fact that his girlfriend was caught harassing Erik Karlsson and his wife via social media.
It was not a pretty story…
Mike Hoffman buries against his former squad to extend his points streak to 16 games ?
— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) November 20, 2018
Though, Hoffman received a nice round of applause and managed to find the back of the net en route to a 7-5 victory against a Karlsson-less Senators team.
Heating Up In The Pacific
There’s no questioning that a few teams are heating up in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division, but the Calgary Flames are the squad that has kept the fire burning…
Calgary is 7-3-0 in its last 10 games, and has portrayed that it could be a dark horse come playoff time. The Flames’ 69 goals for is good for third in the west, and let’s not forget Calgary erupted to score five goals in the first period last night vs. the Vegas Golden Knights.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) November 20, 2018
There’s a good mix of veterans and youthful skaters on the roster, plus their size and speed cannot go overlooked.
Goaltending is the one question mark holding back Calgary, but perhaps a deal could be made with an Eastern Conference squad to change those matters between the pipes at the “C” of Red.