Toronto’s Tyler Bozak enjoys centering ex-Flyer James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel. He says that playing with JVR has been a lot of fun for the surprising Maple Leafs this season.
Heading into the weekend, van Riemsdyk was sixth in the NHL with eight goals, which was also a team-high for Toronto.
“I've been playing with him for the last little while and it's awesome,” Bozak said this past week when the Flyers visited.
“Especially with him and Phil on both sides. Both have great shots. They're great guys to play with. He's scoring goals. He gets to the dirty areas.”
Van Riemsdyk has finally found the courage to go inside those “dirty” areas as Ken Hitchcock used to call them, to score goals, ala Scott Hartnell and Mike Knuble.
That’s what the Flyers always envisioned him becoming – a power forward. Now the Leafs think he’s more of a stallion on the wing who’s going to score off the rush. No question, JVR is far faster than a Hartnell or even Knuble in his prime.
Part of new success, JVR says, is that he’s gotten more ice time as a Leaf – 18 minutes a game which is three minutes more than even his best year as a Flyer (see full story).
Kekalainen hired as GM of Jackets
To most NHL observers, the biggest question this week wasn’t when the Blue Jackets fired general manager Scott Howson, but why it took so long.
Yet the biggest surprise to come from it, was the man Blue Jackets hockey ops exec John Davidson tapped to replace Howson: Jarmo Kekalainen.
The Finn just become the first European GM of an NHL club in league history.
Kekalainen has been in Europe serving as GM at Jokerit.
He worked under Davidson in St. Louis as an assistant GM and director of scouting from 2006-10, even though he was there before Davidson arrived as far back as in 2002.
Under him, the Blues drafted T.J. Oshie, David Backes and Alex Pietrangelo (see full story).
Cooke taking heat for Karlsson's injury
The outrage coming out of Ottawa could be felt all over North America.
It’s one thing to lose a player for the season to injury.
It’s another when that player is among the super elite, a Norris Trophy winner, and when the injury is potentially career-altering, and the player who inflicted the injury is known throughout the sport as a dirty hockey player.
That said, Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke doesn’t deserve the vitriol being directed at him for accidentally slicing the left Achilles tendon of Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson.
It was an accident. Watch the replay over and over and there is no other conclusion which is why the NHL league office took no disciplinary action. It wasn’t warranted (see full story).
Associated Press, Columbus Dispatch, National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa Sun and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette contributed to this story.