Bad news for those of you who really loved refreshing your Twitter feeds & TSN.ca for labor updates: tonight, the NHL regular season gets underway with three games. The Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks get to raise their damn banner on-time again (lucky you) when they host the Washington Capitals (5 pm PST, NBCSN). Meanwhile, lucky Canadians get hockey on broadcast TV on a Tuesday in October, as CBC has a double-header with the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Montreal Canadiens (4 pm PST) & the Edmonton Oilers welcoming the Winnipeg Jets to the Western Conference (7 pm PST).
It'll be a slightly longer wait to see our Los Angeles Kings get back on the ice, as they open up their season with a back-to-back: first at Minnesota (5 pm PST, NBCSN) on Thursday, then off to Winnipeg (5 pm PST, FSW) on Friday. We'll have to wait even longer to see their home opener, as they'll host the New York Rangers on Monday night (7:30 pm PST, FSW). Those of you with long memories may recall that the Rangers were originally supposed to be the Kings' opponents in their banner-raising game last October, before #BettmanLockoutIII put a stop to that. It couldn't have gone any worse than the actual banner-raising game went, I guess.
Anyway, as you might expect given the season is about to begin and all, the Kings' roster is pretty much set. That topic among others will be a focus of today's edition of Kings Links, so let's get to it.
Los Angeles Kings
-As you've probably already heard, the last round of cuts came a few days back with forwards Tanner Pearson, Linden Vey, and Tyler Toffoli all being assigned to the AHL Manchester Monarchs. Along with newly signed defenseman Jeff Schultz being placed on waivers (which he eventually cleared and was also assigned), that basically sets the Kings' roster. As usual, Jon Rosen over at Kings Insider was all over it, with multiple quotes and well-founded speculation. Toffoli's assignment to the Monarchs may come as a shock to some, but he had a very pedestrian preseason (held pointless in four exhibition games) and the fact that (unlike a lot of other Kings forwards) he didn't have to be exposed to waivers to be sent down probably put it over the top. I like Rosen's comparison to the Slava Voynov situation in 11-12 a lot: just like Slava, he would have been highly unlikely to be sent down if he hadn't been waiver-exempt, and he has a very high chance of being called back to the NHL club at some point this year and then sticking with the team. (LA Kings Insider)
-Over at The Royal Half, #TeamTRH has a bunch of predictions about the 2013-14 season to share with you. I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn they involve two things: lots of GIFs and lots of people predicting the Kings to win the Stanley Cup again. Sounds good to me! (Royal Half)
-Back to Kings Insider for a second, as newcomer Ben Scrivens successfully held off former Kings goalie Mathieu Garon (who was in on a professional tryout deal if you've forgotten) to claim the backup job behind Jonathan Quick this season. Scrivens was more than solid in that role with a far less defensively sound Maple Leafs squad last season, posting a .915 sv% in 20 games with Toronto last year. He'll probably enjoy facing far less rubber with LA than he did last year, as the Kings were 3rd in that category in 2012-13 (25.0 SA/G) while Toronto was a miserable 27th (32.3 SA/G). (LA Kings Insider)
-So we know what the Kings roster will look like to start the season (and as far as lines go, well, we'll discuss that in great detail in an upcoming post so STAY TUNED~), but there were changes made behind-the-scenes as well. Our corporate overlords at AEG had a major shakeup, as former President & CEO Tim Leiweke left to take that same position with Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment (I know, them again???). His replacement is Dan Beckerman, who was serving as COO & CFO of AEG and was basically bumped up to fill Leiweke's seat. I know, promoting from within, just like at a Burger King, that's nice I guess. Gann Matsuda has more details for you, should you actually really care about this. (Frozen Royalty)
-The big news out of the league in general recently was the NHLPA approving hybrid icing for this season, which came as quite a shock after numerous reports that the PA was unlikely to approve it this year following the exhibition training run. I guess they came to their senses in the end, probably by watching this horrific footage of Kurtis Foster breaking his leg on a simple icing race over and over again. Anyway, it's a thing that's happening for this year and it will probably really annoy you for the first few weeks or so until you realize how little it actually matters. This article also contains a full list of other rule changes to the NHL in the 2013-14 season, including their full-scale war on that well-known scourge of the National Hockey League called "jersey tucks". About damn time. (NHL.com)
-Hey, I don't think we've mentioned the Toronto Maple Leafs enough in this post, so let's do it one more time: the big news out of today was star forward Phil Kessel agreeing to an 8-year, $64 million dollar extension with the Leafs. He's really good at hockey, which is usually frowned upon in the Leafs' front office (hi Mikhail!), so this came as a bit of a shocker. (Puck Daddy)
-A little further south, Thomas Vanek was named co-captain of the Buffalo Sabres, despite rampant speculation that he won't last with the rebuilding team past this year's trade deadline (maybe someone finally took a look at his contract, I dunno). Who was he named co-captain with, you ask? Why, our old friend from the Dallas Stars, Steve Ott of course! If we could somehow get an Odd Couple-style faux-reality sitcom thing about Vanek & Ott trying to get along I would be so, so happy. Also I am sad they couldn't pose for the big picture with those lovely new third jerseys of theirs. (Puck Daddy)
-Finally, Justin Bourne over at the Backhand Shelf has an excellent little primer for you on day 1 of the NHL season. You probably already know all or at least most of this stuff already, but hey, you're sitting behind a computer at work with hours to go. What are you supposed to do? Work? Hah! (Backhand Shelf)
As always, feel free to share any additional links of your own in the comments. And rejoice people, because the greatest sport in the world is back tonight, and soon the greatest team will be back too! Hurray!