‘WORKING THE CORNERS’ WITH DAREN MILLARD: No More Nylander, @EK65, Tkachuk, Cancer, MacKinnon And Its Trivia Time!

Daren Millard Nov 19, 2018


Did you know seven current NHL head coaches have won the Stanley Cup?  (can you name them? answer at the bottom) Only Mike Sullivan and Randy Carlyle are with the team they led to an NHL championship.  Note, Carlyle is his second tour with the Ducks.   I refuse to accept the Penguins would follow Chicago by making a change behind the bench.   Pittsburgh is only one season and two months from celebrating back to back titles.   Jimmy Rutherford likes to make things happen, but without anyone running away with the division, the General Manager can take an extra breath.   Columbus might be the best club in the Metropolitan right now.   Let’s see how the team handles all the speculation around pending unrestricted free agents Goalie-Bob and the Breadman when January arrives and chatter about the trade deadline ramps up.

Corey Schneider has not won a game this season.  The once undisputed number one netminder of the New Jersey Devils does not have a victory in 2018.   Schneider’s recent effort was a tight 2-1 loss against Carolina on Sunday, allowing both goals in the game’s opening thirty seconds. He stopped the next twenty-three shots, but the hole was too deep.   The winless drought now includes four games this season and Schneiders final twelve starts a year ago.     His last win was December 27th, 2017  against Detroit.  Want an explanation for the slump?  Try a save percentage over .900 in only three of the sixteen defeats.   It isn’t fair, but sometimes a goalie has to win a game on his own.   In battling injury and confidence, the Devils ginger has not been able to do that.


Happy Birthday to my buddy Patrick from Chicago.   Patrick Kane is 30 years old on November 19th.    A few years ago Blackhawks PR told me how Patrick would make Sportsnet’s Hockey Central at Noon part of his game-day routine when Chicago played at home.   I asked Kane about it when he was on the show and he confirmed the story of how he leaves the morning skates in time to have lunch and watch the show which airs at 11 am local time on the NHL Network in the United States.   Thus became a great relationship which culminated in a surprise in-person appearance a few days after our studio ceiling caved in.

With Chicago in Toronto to face the Maple Leafs the next day, Patrick walked onto the show unannounced wearing a hard hat and safety vest while carrying a ladder, perfectly disguised as building maintenance.  He even climbed up a few steps as Kane stayed in character.  I swear Gord Stelleck didn’t realize it was Kane for the first few minutes.  Of course, who expects one of the top ten players in the NHL to stroll onto your noon hour hockey show.   Kane displayed a side of himself that few ever expected.

If the Sutters are hockey’s first family, who is second?   I would suggest the Howes with Gordie playing long enough to suit up the Mark and Marty.
I thought the Reinharts were going to give it a nice go but Paul’s sons Sam, Griffen, and Max have not made the impact expected by their draft positions.
The Stromes have been on the radar for a few years and have three potential NHL’ers in the mix.   Ryan was dealt to the Rangers last week while Dylan is finding his rhythm with Arizona this season.   Matthew, a fourth-round selection by Philadelphia in 2017 is in his fourth year in the Ontario Hockey League.

Up next are the Tkachuks and Hughes.  Brady has had an impact in his rookie season with Ottawa while Matthew is making a bid to become the Flames best player.
Last year Quinn Hughes was a first-round selection by Vancouver and had a good camp before the seventh overall selection returned to Michigan.   The diminutive defenceman’s younger brother Jack should be the first name called at the 2019 draft in Vancouver next June.


Dad is Jim, who was director of player personnel in Toronto for a few years after stints as a head coach in both the AHL and KHL.      There is also a third Hughes boy on the way.  Luke is 15 and plays midget hockey with the Little Caesars program in Detroit.   He has committed to Michigan for the 2021-2022 campaign.  The Hughes and Tkachuk combination is going to be very good for USA Hockey for the next decade.

We are just passing the first significant mile-marker of the NHL season.   With American Thanksgiving coinciding with the quarter pole of the schedule, I thought I would look at the impact of the Ottawa and San Jose swap that sent two-time Norris Trophy winner Eric Karlsson to the Sharks.
Karlsson has not been dominant in his opening twenty games, in fact, the silky Swede just scored goal number one.   His twelve points are below expectations.
The form displayed by Ottawa’s return in the deal has surprised some.   Dylan Demelo is with Thomas Chabot on the Senators number one D pairing and has scored a couple of times to go with a plus-eight rating.  Part of Demelo’s increased production is thanks to logging about three minutes more ice time above his career average.  (Karlsson is minus six btw)   Chris Tierney has been more than solid skating on a line with Bobby Ryan and Ryan Dzingal.   The pivot is well on his way to passing his career high forty point total from last season, helped by almost an extra four minutes.


The draft choices and prospects are where the trade will eventually be judged.  Rudolfs Balcers had a great start to the AHL season in Belleville before cooling off. The Latvian is the type of player who could make Pierre Dorian, and in turn, the Ottawa scouts look great.    Balcers must still get stronger and address inconsistency that not only impacts stretches of the season but inside individual games.    I am watching with great interest to see when the big club gives Balcers his first taste of NHL action, although, given the route the twenty-one-year-old took to the Senators, it wouldn’t be shocking if management leaves him in Belleville for the season.
Josh Norris has been outstanding at Michigan,  already equalling his goal total from his freshman year.  The Sharks first round selection in 2017 has eight goals in eleven games for the Wolverines.
When combining the average individual performance of Karlsson with the early season records by San Jose and Ottawa, the Senators are holding their own in this swap.   The initial stage of this evaluation is acknowledged, but  I  also admit I never thought the comparison would be this balanced.  Enjoy it while you can Sens fans.

One of my favorite new game day promotions comes from Chicago.   For the last couple of seasons, the Blackhawks will bring back a former player for what they call One More Shift.

On Hockey Fights Cancer night at the United Center, Sunday marked Ed Olczyks turn.   There was Edzo in full uniform taking the ceremonial faceoff against Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu before standing on the blueline for the American anthem.   Olczyck had some fun on the puck drop by tapping Koivu’s stick out of the way so he could win the draw easier.   Later in the broadcast, which featured a much needed Chicago victory over the Wild, Ed explained he never won a faceoff against Mikko’s older brother Saku when the two squared off in the dot, so he wanted to make sure on this special occasion.   It was great.

It may be a sin to admit this but every time I watch the Avalanche Nathan MacKinnon impresses me with his speed.   Maybe it is just because of his big body, or I am used to goalies wearing twenty-nine.   MacKinnon owned the rink against Anaheim and was even better in OT where after three near misses, he set up Mikko Rantanen for the game-winner on the power play.

The goal was scored with one second left thanks to Rantanen winning an offensive zone faceoff against Adam Henrique who had been brilliant in the dot all night. Rantanen cleanly beat the Duck who fell to eleven and four in the faceoffs and watched the bonus point vanish with hardly anytime on the clock.

By the middle of next month, the Vancouver Canucks will be halfway through their entire road schedule.    Four straight losses have brought the club back to earth but considering Travis Green’s club has played twice as many road games as those at Rogers Arena, the club is doing alright.   Forget having to grind through this workload through all the injuries.    In the New Year, the Canucks will enjoy a five-game homestand to go along with six and seven game versions.    Can they hold it together through the holidays and make things interesting in the second half?  I don’t know.


Breaking news from 30 NHL dressing rooms.  The rest of the NHL has grown weary of listening to all the William Nylander reports.    A western conference player sent me a note saying, “I would love the guy on my team, I’d like the thing settled even more than that. Enuf!!!”
At the time of this posting, the reporting cycle had reached the point where the Maple Leafs are said to be considering letting Nylander sit out the entire NHL season if they can’t get a contract done by December 1st.   I am on record as saying this would be a terrible decision considering how much of an asset Nylander would be in acquiring roster depth.    I have not been told myself that the Leafs are leaning this way.


Kyle Dubas won’t find any deals on the asking price for defencemen right now.   Boston’s blueline is decimated by injury, and the Ducks played a game last week with four rookies on the blueline.   The two teams got caught up in a massive crush of injuries that swept across the National Hockey League.

Before I go, here is the list of current NHL coaches who have won the Stanley Cup.

John Tortorella
Claude Julien
Randy Carlyle
Mike Babcock
Peter Laviolette
Mike Sullivan
Barry Trotz

Daren Millard

Daren has interviewed Tiger Woods to a “C” Flight winner at a local small town golf tournament and more than a 1000 in between. He is a career broadcaster from Manitoba and spent 20 years at Rogers Sports net where he ascended to the role of national host of the NHL. As one of the first announcers hired by Sports Net in 1988, Millard was assigned to such events as the PGA Tour, ATP and WTA Tennis, Memorial Cup tournaments and the Olympic Games. His early career in radio helped refine a skill set that put Millard in front of a coast to coast Canadian audience for two decades. Career highlights include hosting the Hockey Panel at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver; heading up Toronto Maple Leafs broadcast on Sports net for 15 seasons and hosting Wednesday Night National NHL games for four years. He also had appearances on Hockey Night in Canada and Daren conducted the only broadcast interview after Tiger Woods hit his famed 6 iron bunker shot that helped him win the 2000 Canadian Open at Glen Abbey. Daren is married and lives in Markham with his wife and two adopted daughters.

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