Brandon Manning hopes fight signals end to dispute with Connor McDavid, Oilers

Brandon Manning hopes fight signals end to dispute with Connor McDavid, Oilers

EDMONTON, Alberta — They slashed at him, poked him, even chided him from the bench when he was on the ice.

At some point, you knew Brandon Manning was going to have to do something. Patrick Maroon became his date with destiny.

The 230-pound Maroon, who has 25 pounds and two inches on the 6-1 Manning, jumped on him after a second-period faceoff.

To his credit, Manning took a beating but never went down, answering the many blows he endured (see video).

All of this a final crescendo to the entire Connor McDavid fiasco which began over a year ago, when McDavid fractured his clavicle against the Flyers. The 2015 No. 1 overall pick carried the puck past Manning when he lost a skate edge and fell, crashing into the boards with the Flyers' defenseman on top of him. As a result, McDavid missed 37 games and a chance at Rookie of the Year, while the chirping and nastiness over the hit all continued right into this week.

“It didn’t bother me,” Manning said of his ordeal during the Flyers' 6-3 loss to the Oilers on Thursday night (see game story). “I’m not scared of fighting. It’s just a matter of time. I picked my spot. I wasn’t too worried.”

Manning said he didn’t want to fight at the wrong time. It was a close game early, then Edmonton blew it open at 4-1 (see feature highlight).

Manning and Maroon were talking in the circle when they dropped gloves.

“To go out and fight just for the sake of fighting is not what I’m about,” Manning said. “We’re down 4-1, there’s an opportunity there and Maroon was willing, [so] you take it.”

Is this the end of the McDavid flap?

“Let’s hope so,” Manning laughed. “I’d love that. No, Connor didn’t say a word on the ice today. Even their guys, Patrick said ‘good job’ afterward. We would do the same thing if one our superstars got hurt. I understand it.”

Manning’s teammates gave him praise.

“It happens sometimes,” Wayne Simmonds said. “The way Manning plays, he plays hard. He finishes his checks, he’s a tough player.”

Added Jakub Voracek: “To fight a guy like Maroon, he’s a big boy and [Manning] did a great job.”

Players said the team intentionally did not speak about it before the game. Why? The focus was how important this trip is in terms of playoff standings and getting points, not appeasing the Oilers for a pound of flesh.

From the points standpoint, it’s been a dismal failure as the Islanders pulled ahead of the Flyers, dropping them further out of the wild-card chase. The Flyers only hope to salvage two points Sunday night in Vancouver.

Incidentally, McDavid quietly had a three-point game (one goal), giving him six points in four games against the Flyers.

Power play
Dave Hakstol promised “adjustments” to the power play after Wednesday’s disastrous five-minute power-play meltdown.

Ivan Provorov replaced Voracek on the first unit during one power play but Voracek was on the first unit again for the third power play in which he assisted on Brayden Schenn’s goal.

Matt Read replaced Jordan Weal on the second-unit power play once Weal was injured (see Instant Replay).

NHL Notes: Marc-Andre Fleury leads expansion draft selections

NHL Notes: Marc-Andre Fleury leads expansion draft selections

LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights finally have some players to put on the desert ice this fall.

Stanley Cup-winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, defensemen Marc Methot and Alexei Emelin, 30-goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault and forwards David Perron and James Neal are among the veterans selected by the Golden Knights in the NHL expansion draft Wednesday night.

Golden Knights owner Bill Foley and general manager George McPhee announced their choices during the NHL's annual postseason awards show at T-Mobile Arena, where Vegas will begin play in the fall.

Fleury took the stage in a Golden Knights jersey to wild cheers from his new home fans. The three-time Cup winner lost his starting job with the back-to-back champion Penguins, but he'll get to start over in the desert with two years on his contract.

The picks included defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk and Brayden McNabb, forward Oscar Lindberg.

The Golden Knights also announced additional acquisitions of a handful of veterans and free agents, including Anaheim defenseman Shea Theodore and Florida forward Reilly Smith.

The NHL wrote its draft rules to give the Golden Knights more opportunities to compete early in their existence, and their expansion draft choices certainly appear to form a solid core that could make noise in the Pacific Division.

"They're way past getting off the ground," Nashville general manager David Poile said. "I think this is by far the best expansion team ever" (see full story).

Oilers: 20-year-old McDavid wins Hart Trophy
LAS VEGAS -- Connor McDavid has won his first Hart Trophy. Hardly anybody in hockey believes it will be his last.

The Edmonton captain claimed the award as the NHL's most valuable player Wednesday night at the league's postseason awards show at T-Mobile Arena, the new home of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

The league also revealed the results of the Golden Knights' expansion draft to an arena filled with new fans of the NHL's 31st franchise.

McDavid also won the Ted Lindsay Award, given to the league's most outstanding performer in a vote of his fellow players.

The honors capped a remarkable sophomore season for the 20-year-old center, who won the scoring title and led the Oilers back to the Stanley Cup playoffs after an 11-year absence. The former No. 1 pick beat out fellow finalists Sergei Bobrovsky of Columbus and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.

"I'm so proud to be in Edmonton," McDavid said. "I'm so proud to be an Oiler, and so proud to play with the guys."

McDavid is the third-youngest player to win the award. Only Crosby and Wayne Gretzky claimed the Hart as teenagers (see full story).

NHL: Home openers announced; Golden Knights’ 1st game in Dallas
The expansion Vegas Golden Knights will make their regular-season debut on the road in Dallas on Oct. 6 and host the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 10 in the first home game in franchise history.

NHL teams announced their home openers Wednesday with the full, 1,271-game schedule for the 2017-18 season set to be released Thursday.

Vegas will play its first two games on the road, visiting Arizona on Oct. 7 before the second leg of an early back-to-back for coach Gerard Gallant's club.

The Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins will raise another banner and begin their quest for a three-peat Oct. 4 against the St. Louis Blues. The Penguins visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 5 in a matchup of the only teams to win the Cup three times in the salary-cap era.

The Western Conference-champion Nashville Predators open the season Oct. 5 at Boston. Nashville celebrates the longest playoff run in franchise history at home Oct. 10 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Philadelphia opens Oct. 4 at the San Jose Sharks, who have the longest active season-opener winning streak at seven. The first night of the season also includes the Calgary Flames at the Edmonton Oilers and the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Winnipeg Jets, a matchup of the top two picks in the 2016 draft, Auston Matthews against Patrik Laine.

The Detroit Red Wings host Minnesota on Oct. 5 in the first NHL regular-season game at the new Little Caesars Arena.

The back-to-back Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington Capitals open their season at Ottawa on Oct. 5 and host the Montreal Canadiens in their home opener Oct. 7

Vegas selects Flyers' Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in expansion draft

Vegas selects Flyers' Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in expansion draft

Updated: 9:15 p.m.

The Frenchman has left the building.
 
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, the first player from the city of Paris to ever play for the Flyers, was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL expansion draft on Wednesday night.
 
The 32-year-old centerman was left unprotected by the Flyers last weekend.

Among the potential candidates on the Flyers' unprotected list, Bellemare and Michael Raffl were the most attractive forwards left exposed at very reasonable salaries.

Bellemare received a new two-year contract last March and was named an alternate captain after Mark Streit was traded to Pittsburgh at the deadline.

He was one of coach Dave Hakstol's favorite players.

What makes Bellemare attractive to Vegas is his ability to play throughout the lineup, his solid work as a penalty-killer and especially his $1.45 million cap hit for this season and 2018-19.

That's bargain money for a player who averages 13 minutes a night as a fourth-line center. Bellemare was expected to move to left wing this fall after the Flyers signed college prospect Mike Vecchione in the spring with the intention of using him as a fourth-line center.

Bellemare signed as free agent in June of 2014. He had 17 goals and 34 points in 237 games over three seasons with the club.

He was among the most affable, likeable players on the Flyers' roster, a consummate gentleman on and off the ice.

With Oskar Lindblom, Jordan Weal, Vecchione and either draft prospects Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier, and perhaps Scott Laughton, Bellemare's departure opens up a roster spot and ice time for other, much younger players in need of such.

Now that Bellemare is gone, the Flyers can't lose another player.

The really good news there is they won't lose veteran goalie Michal Neuvirth, who was left exposed so the Flyers could protect prospect Anthony Stolarz.

Weal update
J.P. Barry's discussions with Las Vegas apparently have piqued his interest in waiting a little longer on the Flyers and talking to more teams.

"There are too many variables but the Flyers are still a strong option," Barry said of Jordan Weal's re-signing here.

The last thing general manager Ron Hextall wants is for Weal to go into free agency and have this become a bidding war. Bellemare's selection by Vegas may prompt Hextall to sweeten his offer and end this before FA begins.