The Tampa Bay Lightning’s incredible 2021 Stanley Cup run gave Ross Colton his first Stanley Cup in just his first try, however it wasn’t the rookie’s first time at a Stanley Cup Final. The New Jersey native grew up a huge fan of the New Jersey Devils, and in speaking with NJ.com’s Ryan Novozinsky, discussed his fandom, which included attending every home game of the Devils’ 2012 run to the Stanley Cup Finals. When approached with the idea of playing for his hometown team one day, Colton said “[t]hat would obviously be so cool.”
As much as the prospect of a New Jersey native and Devils fan playing for the team would be, Colton did pump the brakes on the narrative a bit when speaking to NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman, saying he would like to spend his entire career with Tampa Bay, but acknowledged the business-end of the sport, with players needing to be paid and teams having to conform to the salary cap. Colton is entering the second year of a two-year, $1.125MM AAV contract that will leave him a RFA for one more year ahead of his 2024 UFA status. Considering Tampa’s cap issues over the past few seasons, the gritty Colton could be a luxury they can’t afford, however the organization has shown a willingness to get creative in order to keep as much of their core as they are financially able to.
- Speaking on TSN, and relayed by The Athletic’s Corey Pronman, IIHF President Luc Tardif said Belarus and Russia will be suspended for the next year, and that decisions on whether to permit the countries to participate in IIHF events will be made year-by-year going forward. Pronman adds that this “next year” would likely refer more specifically to the 2022-23 hockey season. Being suspended for at least that length will cost the countries the ability to participate in IIHF-sanctioned events, including most notably the World Junior Championships and the World Championships. The two countries were suspended by the IIHF in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.
- Sticking with the topic of IIHF tournaments, TSN’s Gord Miller reports that the 2026 World Juniors will be held in the United States. Miller adds that a likely destination would be Las Vegas, Nevada, a location he notes was a dream of the late Director of USA Hockey, Jim Johansson. Putting the tournament in Las Vegas would be a feat not only for USA Hockey, but the NHL, whose expansion into the area, as well as other warm climates, was met with skepticism. A successful 2026 tournament in Las Vegas, should it happen, would no doubt be a testament to the growth and success of ice hockey throughout North America and could lead to continued growth and exploration in other non-traditional markets.
- Since abruptly stepping away from his duties as General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins just a few games into the 2020-21 season, fans and media alike have been trying to figure out what exactly made Jim Rutherford leave the organization so suddenly. Many speculated that his departure had to do with disagreements over the direction of the team, but as the now-Canucks executive told Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that was not the case. Carefully wording his response, Rutherford explained that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, being largely confined to his home took a toll on him, which left him without the necessary mental toughness to handle his duties. He added that he didn’t believe he necessarily had any mental health issues, but that things he could generally shake off as typical of the job, began to stick with him. It’s an interesting response, and not as dramatic as a feud with upper management like many had thought, but is surely relatable to the experience of many during the height of the pandemic. As much as owners, executives, coaches, and players may feel super-human or not-so-tangible to fans, Rutherford’s experience shows their experiences are just as human as that of their fans.