All-Star weekend is over and the NHL returns to action tonight. The teams whose bye weeks began before the All-Star will be back on the ice in the next day or two, before the rest of the teams, like the Islanders, pick up game play at the end of this week.
Our All-Star, Mathew Barzal, had himself a good weekend, even if the division he represented did not. And, most importantly, he didn’t get hurt. I still have flashbacks of Rick DiPietro mic’d up at the 2008 All-Star Skills Competition cursing about his hip, the first of many injuries that ultimately derailed his career.
- Mathew Barzal is the NHL’s fastest skater in 2020, breaking Connor McDavid’s three-year streak on Friday night. It was fun to see. His time was 13.175, .03 off Dylan Larkin’s record. And Larkin got a running start, so... [LHH | Newsday | Islanders]
- Then, he lined up with T.J. Oshie and John Carlson for the 3-on-3 scrimmage on Saturday night. The Metro lost to the Atlantic in the first game, but Barzal had two assists. [Islanders]
- VIDEO: He had a lot of good things to say about his experience in St. Louis. [Islanders]
And he had more to say here:
“It’s always fun being here. You come out and try to entertain the fans and have a good time, that’s really it. The whole weekend has been great.” - Mat Barzal— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 26, 2020
⭐️ Hear more from our All Star here: ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/NjOozK7Tq0
- In which Brett Cyrgalis makes an unsourced, unsubstantiated, and probably untrue claim that Barzal likes the idea of going back to Seattle when the NHL expands there. The NY Post has always been a rag desperate for attention and this kind of topic “swirling” rumor-stoking fits their mold. [NY Post]
- LISTEN: Carey Haber replaced the honeymooning Michael Leboff on this week’s Islanders Anxiety, where Carey and Dan discussed the Islanders’ play of late and who might be out there on the trade market. [LHH]
- According to court filings, the Belmont arena plan was hatched long before the RFP, which would’ve made the RFP an illegal formality. But the state’s and ESD’s lawyers aren’t too worried about it. [LIBN]
- Speaking of arenas, Gary Bettman is still noncommittal about more Islanders games at the Coliseum until Belmont opens. [Newsday]
- The Sound Tigers entered the AHL All-Star Break by getting spanked 6-2 by Springfield. Cole Bardreau and Grant Hutton had the Bridgeport goals, and they took 43 shots, but couldn’t solve Samuel Montembault with any regularity. [Sound Tigers]
- Still reeling from the Gritty scandal, the Flyers have decided to go in a different, smoother direction, with their new mascot, Smoothie. [LHH Zeitgeist]
- The amazing story of Sam Kim, who once worked as Sparky the Dragon and is now working as a video coach for the Oilers’ AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors. [The Athletic]
The Atlantic beat the Metro 9-5; the Pacific beat the Central 10-5. And in the final, the Pacific topped the Atlantic 5-4.
- An excellent new addition to the lineup was a 3-on-3 scrimmage between the Canadian women All-Stars and the American women All-Stars; the Canadians won 3-2 in a tightly-contested game. [TSN]
- Long-time St. Louis Blues defenseman Al MacInnis came out with his wooden stick and clocked 100.4 mph on the gun, or so the graphic would have us believe. Still, though, he had plenty to say about his wooden stick. [The Athletic]
- T.J. Oshie arranged for his father, stricken with Alzheimer’s, to come to St. Louis for the festivities. [NHL]
- The Winnipeg Jets are at a crossroads this season, having entered the break on a skid and needing to settle into their game. [JetsNation]
Not Hockey, But...
On Sunday in California, the sports world tragically lost a giant. Kobe Bryant, along with his 13 year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, were killed when Bryant’s helicopter went down in Calabasas.
Bryant had a checkered past, to say the least, but he was one of the greatest talents the NBA ever saw and was a household name throughout the U.S. and the world.
He was also a father to four daughters, one of whom was just born this past June. He was only 41, and he touched the lives of many. Our thoughts and prayers go out his loved ones and anyone else affected by this tragedy.