NHL GM of the Year Finalists: Bob Murray vs. Glen Sather vs. Steve Yzerman

Winning the NHL’s General Manager of the Year Award doesn’t always bode well for your future. Two of the five winner’s in the short history of the award were fired by their respective teams not long after being chosen. Mike Gillis was canned three years after he won, while Ray Shero was shown the door less than twelve months after he was was given the honor.

On Friday night, the NHL announced its three finalists for the 2015 award: Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks; Glen Sather of the New York Rangers; and Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

From NHL.com:

Why Bob Murray deserves to win

Murray crafted a Ducks team that posted the top record in the Western Conference for the second consecutive season, captured its third straight Pacific Division title with the second-best record in franchise history (51-24-7, 109 points) and has reached the Conference Finals for the first time since its Stanley Cup win in 2007. Murray acquired center Ryan Kesler in a draft-day trade last June and defenseman Simon Despres at the trade deadline in March, adding to a roster whose core was built through the draft (forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, defensemen Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen, goaltender Frederik Andersen). Murray is a finalist for the third consecutive season; he finished second in voting in 2012-13 and captured the award in 2013-14.

Why Glen Sather deserves to win 

Sather assembled a roster that went 53-22-7 (113 points) during the regular season to set franchise records for wins and points in capturing the third Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history. The Rangers also led the NHL and set club records for road wins (28) and points (58). With a successful mix of 25-and-under standouts (Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan), veteran draft picks (Carl Hagelin, Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal), trade acquisitions (Derick Brassard, Kevin Klein, Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, Keith Yandle) and free agents (Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi), the Rangers have advanced to the Conference Finals for the third time in the past four seasons. Sather is a finalist for the first time since the award was introduced in 2009-10.

Why Steve Yzerman deserves to win

After leading Tampa Bay to the Conference Finals in 2010-11, his first season in charge, Yzerman oversaw the rebuild to a roster that has returned to the final four with just two holdovers from the 2011 squad, cornerstone center Steven Stamkos and defenseman Victor Hedman. Bolstered by key acquisitions through the draft (Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat), via free agency (Brian Boyle, Valtteri Filppula, Tyler Johnson, Anton Stralman) and trades (Ben Bishop, Ryan Callahan, Jason Garrison), the Lightning set franchise records with 50 wins and 108 points during the regular season. They also led the League with 262 goals and 32 home wins. Yzerman is a finalist for the award for the second time, finishing second in balloting in 2010-11.

Voting was conducted by all 30 NHL general managers and a panel of league executives, print and broadcast media at the end of Round 2.

Maybe you could make a case for Nashville Predators GM David Poile to be a finalist, but the biggest oversight has to be Garth Snow of the New York Islanders. He upgraded in goal, on defense and up front, saw his team improved by 22 points and come within a Game 7 win of advancing to the second round. Not sure what else he needed to do to be included. 

Who Should Win: Garth Snow.

Who Will Win: Steve Yzerman. Overhauled his roster and raided the Stanley Cup finalist Rangers, while keeping his core intact, which includes extending two-thirds of the “Triplets” line and Alex Killorn. Also bolstered defense at the trade deadline with the acquisition of Braydon Coburn.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!


Rick Nash scores twice as Rangers even series with Lightning

A pair of second period goals from Chris Kreider and Keith Yandle 1:48 apart propelled the New York Rangers to 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final. The series is now tied 2-2 with Game 5 Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

After allowing six goals in each of the past two games, the Rangers found their defense again, holding the Lightning to a single Steven Stamkos goal in the second period. Henrik Lundqvist was kept busy and was back in form, finishing with 38 saves.

New York opened the scoring late in the opening frame when Rick Nash powered his way to his first goal in five games: 

Stamkos would tie the game midway through the second period, but that was quickly answered by the Rangers.

Chris Kreider regained the lead for New York after a Brendan Morrow defensive zone turnover led to an eventual rebound opportunity for the Rangers forward, which he pounced on for his seventh of the postseason. The lead would double 108 seconds later when a lucky bounce went in favor of the visitors as Keith Yandle’s shot from the point deflected off Victor Hedman’s leg and by Ben Bishop:

New York’s pair of quick goals in the second ended a period in which Tampa dominated everything but the scoreboard, outshooting the Rangers 19-6, but failing on two power play opportunities and leaving the ice with only one goal to show for it.

In the third period, it was an old friend of the Lightning who put the game out of reach. Martin St. Louis made it 4-1 with his first of the playoffs thanks to a great cross-ice pass from Derick Brassard: 

Nash would add his second of the game late in the third period as New York made it 5-1.

“It’s frustrating when you can’t help your team out offensively when you’re supposed to score goals,” Nash told NBCSN’s Brian Engblom afterward. “It’s not going in, you feel like you’re letting your team down. But I’m trying to help out in any area I can and tonight, finally, a couple went in.”

It was Nash who set up a private screening of the “Entourage” movie during the team’s day off on Thursday. After two goals and an assist in Game 4, and knowing how superstitious hockey players can be, might we suggest “Mad Max: Fury Road” for Saturday night? It’s really, really good.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!


Brewers’ Will Smith tossed for having foreign substance on his arm

(Getty Images)

Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Will Smith was ejected in the seventh inning of Thursday’s 10-1 loss to Atlanta after umpires found a foreign substance on his non-throwing arm.

Smith had just entered the game and hit the first batter he faced, Pedro Ciriaco, with a pitch. The Brewers left-hander then threw a strike to Jace Peterson when Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez asked the umpires to check on Smith. Crew chief Jim Joyce obliged and Smith was promptly ejected when Joyce discovered the shiny substance on the lower part of Smith’s forearm.

According to Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Brewers beat writer Tom Hadricourt, Smith did not react well to being tossed:

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After the game Smith identified the goop on his arm as a mixture of sunscreen and rosin:

Based on precedent, additional discipline for Smith is on the way. Last year we saw Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda suspended 10 games for having a glob of pine tar on his neck during a start against the Red Sox.

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Israel Fehr is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at israelfehr@yahoo.ca or follow him on Twitter.

Ducks shake off triple OT letdown in Game 3 win over Chicago

The Anaheim Ducks showed no let-down or exhaustion in their 2-1 Game 3 Western Conference Final win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Ducks punched early, got the first goal of the game to settle them down and scored late in the second to pick up the win and a 2-1 series lead.

The previous game went almost the entirety of three overtimes before Chicago’s victory and there were questions about whether Anaheim could come back and produce with a win at Chicago in Game 3.

“We just move forward, the whole playoffs is about that motion going forward,” Ryan Getzlaf told NBC Sports Network after the game.

 After the loss Tuesday in Anaheim, the Ducks needed to score first, and they did on a Patrick Maroon tip-in at the 12:55 mark of the first.

Chicago’s Patrick Kane countered with his first goal of the series at the 19:03 mark of the first to knot the game at 1-1. It was touch-and-go for both teams from that point on until Simon Despres fired home a Getzlaf feed at the 19:05 mark of the second for the game-winner.

It must continue to be noted that Anaheim flat-out stole Despres for Ben Lovejoy from Pittsburgh at the trading deadline.

Though much was made of Marcus Kruger’s game-winner in Game 2, and Andrew Shaw’s header for the Hawks, they won that game in part of two power play goals. The Ducks overcame a Hawks third period power play – which is never easy up a goal in a hostile building – and a four-minute double-minor by Jakob Silfverberg in the first.  The Hawks were 0-for-5 on the power play for the game while the Ducks were 1-for-1 with the man-advantage.

Chicago nearly tied it up in the final seconds when Kane slipped through the Ducks defense, but just missed on a partial breakaway to end the game. 


Wow that was close. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!


Bryce Harper ejected for second time in eight days

Since launching three home runs against the New York Mets on May 6, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has been baseball’s hottest hitter. Over a 12-game stretch that began that afternoon leading up until Wednesday’s game against the New York Yankees, Harper hit .535/.630/1.349 with 10 home runs and 23 RBIs over 54 plate appearances.

Unfortunately, his sizzling stretch at the dish isn’t the only thing that’s taken center stage. During his time in the spotlight, which goes back to his days in high school in Las Vegas, Harper’s also earned a reputation at times for being a hot head, which has now in some way contributed to two ejections during that same stretch.

The first came on May 13, when Harper’s temper clearly got the best of him following a strikeout in Arizona. Following the ejection, Harper launched into a heated tirade against home-plate umpire Rob Drake

A similar scene played out on Wednesday, when Harper was again ejected in the thrd inning of Washington’s 3-2 win against the New York Yankees after protesting umpire Marvin Hudson’s strike call and then apparently taking too long to return to the batter’s box. 

Though not as heated initially, Harper clearly objected to the low strike call. Hudson then became engaged with Washington’s bench and presumably manager Matt Williams, before turning back to Harper and apparently hurrying him back into the box. More words were exchanged and then Hudson gave Harper the hook. 

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The funny thing is, Harper was in the box until Hudson went after Arizona’s bench. Either way, it doesn’t seem like nearly enough to warrant an ejection, but Hudson clearly took Harper’s maneuvering as a dismissal of his authority. 

At that point, Harper launched into a more heated discussion with Hudson and was quickly joined by manager Matt Williams, who concluded his tirade by kicking some dirt on home plate. 

It some ways, it was a good old-fashioned player-manager-umpire confrontation. In others, it was a reminder of how sensitive umpires have become and has led some to question why Hudson couldn’t exercise a little more patience with one of baseball’s top attractions. 

Among them, Bryce Harper himself. 

Well, that won’t endear Harper to the umpires, but the sentiments were echoed everywhere.

The reputation of both proceed them, and those reputations both played into the result. Unfortunately for those who paid good money to watch Harper, and unfortunately for the Nationals, who lost their best hitter far too early in the game, Hudson was the man wielding all the power. 

In this case, Hudson could have easily squashed the problem without letting it escalate. By the same token, Harper may have baited a bit by not just getting back in the box. You can find fault in how both men handled the confrontation, but here’s hoping both will be wiser the next time they’re in this position. 

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!