Hey there. Happy Wednesday. Well, one team from the NHL Class of 1970 will play in the Stanley Cup final. The other one will ceremoniously demolish its dressing room today. Get those hammers out, Buffalo ...
*Kevin Bieksa called it an ugly goal, the Vancouver Sun writes. But really, for the Vancouver Canucks and their long-suffering fans, it was a thing of beauty.
Never mind the puck took a fortuitous bounce off the glass and somehow ended up in the middle of the ice where Bieksa managed to flutter a shot past startled San Jose goalie Antti Niemi at 10:18 of double overtime to send the Canucks to the Stanley Cup final.
"I just tried to put it on net," Bieksa said in a joyous Canucks dressing room after their 3-2 Western Conference series-clinching win in Game Five. "That's the first thought. When it went in, I just yelled out 'let's go to the Cup.' It's a good feeling."
*The only worse way to lose an elimination playoff game in hockey would be ... well, frankly, there might not be a worse way, writes the San Jose Mercury News.
The Sharks didn't go down easy Tuesday night. They did go down emotionally and gallantly and weirdly. They lost their series to the Vancouver Canucks, 3-2, in a double-overtime Game Five on the most cruel, fluky goal imaginable.
*The Tampa Bay Lightning are once again hitching their hopes of blocking Boston's path to the Stanley Cup finals on goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
Down 3-2 to the Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals, coach Guy Boucher said the 41-year-old Roloson is "the guy that took us here," so he'll be in net for Game Six tonight when the Lightning try to even the best-of-seven series.
*Grant Ledyard was there for the beginning, Bucky Gleason writes, when the Winnipeg Jets joined the World Hockey Association in 1972. He was 11 years old when he and his friends rode their bicycles downtown to Portage Avenue and Main Street for their first look at the great Bobby Hull after the Jets signed him away from the NHL.
For years, hockey fans in Winnipeg and across Canada pleaded for the NHL to give them another franchise. True North Sports & Entertainment was founded and came up with the financing for a 15,000-seat arena that can be expanded in three months. True North is now moving toward buying the Thrashers and moving them to Winnipeg.
Ledyard, knowing the impact they can have back home, is hoping they return.
(And Bucky and Mike Harrington can fight about who gets to go there on the Sabres' first road trip. I have no desire. Maybe I'll take that day off and go visit the fine folks in Georgia. I guess I'll have to go someday, though, since I've covered games in all 30 NHL cities and would like to keep the 100 percent visit rate going.)
*The Atlanta Thrashers' sale and move to Winnipeg is not yet official, but Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed talked on Tuesday as if losing the team is inevitable.
*Brayden McNabb's defense partner seemed hesitant at first to discuss the Buffalo Sabres' prospect, a sheepish grin showing when his good friend popped into his mind. Once Hayden Rintoul got going, however, the compliments flew faster than a slap shot.
McNabb is stellar at playing defense and providing offense, Rintoul said, will deliver big hits and hard shots, can jump in the rush and make passes to start them, stands up to lead in the dressing room and is a really nice guy away from the rink.
OK, anything else?
"He's pretty much the deal," Rintoul said.
*The reeling Kootenay Ice felt they deserved a break. They caught a big one that kept their Memorial Cup chances alive. Matt Fraser scored in overtime as the Ice defeated the Saint John Sea Dogs 5-4 on Tuesday.
The Owen Sound Attack and the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors wrap up round-robin play tonight. The winner of the matchup of OHL rivals will clinch a spot in Friday's semifinal, while loser will face the Ice in a third-place tiebreaker Thursday.
*Chicago Blackhawks Hall of Famer Stan Mikita says he has been diagnosed with stage 1 oral cancer.
*New York Islanders team captain Doug Weight will announce his retirement at a team news conference Thursday, according to an ESPN New York source familiar with the matter. The Detroit Red Wings have announced they will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. today in Joe Louis Arena, where it's expected defenseman Brian Rafalski will announce his retirement.