Nicholas J. Cotsonika

  • Like
  • Follow
Author

Nicholas J. Cotsonika is the NHL writer for Yahoo! Sports. He previously worked for the Detroit Free Press, where he covered the Red Wings, Lions and several other subjects. He has written three books, including "Hockey Gods: The Inside Story of the Red Wings' Hall of Fame Team."

  • Kings skate into NHL playoffs with lofty goal of repeating as Stanley Cup champs

    The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup as an eighth seed last year.

    The Kings went on an unprecedented playoff charge en route to the Stanley Cup last year. (AP)How many times have you been reminded of that leading up to the playoffs this year? From how many people? For how many purposes? For the favorites, it’s a warning. For others, it’s an inspiration.

    “I guess,” said Kings center Anze Kopitar, “we’re the perfect example of squeaking in and then going all the way.”

    Anything can happen.

    “That is kind of pervasive now throughout the league, that whole sentiment,” said Kings general manager Dean Lombardi. “Just get in.”

    But what does that mean to the team that set the example, the team that cemented the sentiment? The Kings don’t want anything to happen now, unless, of course, the anything that happens is a repeat championship.

    What the Kings did last year was unprecedented, and what they’re trying to do now is unprecedented in its own way.

    No one has repeated since the NHL introduced the salary cap in 2005-06. Only one champion has even returned to the final, the Detroit Red

    Read More »from Kings skate into NHL playoffs with lofty goal of repeating as Stanley Cup champs
  • NHL Playoff Power Rankings: Respect the favorites, but Stanley Cup chase is wide open

    In another league, in another sport, the Pittsburgh Penguins would be the runaway favorites entering the playoffs. They have the best player in the world and the reigning most valuable player, and they aren’t the same guy. They had an all-star supporting cast, and they added to it, anyway.

    Sixteen teams skate into the NHL playoffs, all hoping to take a group photo at the end. (Getty)But this is the NHL, and this is playoff hockey, and you don’t need to be the runaway favorite to run away with the Stanley Cup. The Los Angeles Kings went on a spectacular 16-4 run last season – as an eighth seed. For some, it’s a cautionary tale. For others, it’s inspiration. What matters is not who you are or what you’ve done, but what you do now. Right now.

    As we offer our annual playoff power rankings, listing the 16 teams in order of their chances to endure four grueling rounds, we will not necessarily stick to the regular-season standings or the playoffs seeds. But we will not try to anoint some version of the 2012 Kings, either.

    The favorites are the favorites for a reason – because of how

    Read More »from NHL Playoff Power Rankings: Respect the favorites, but Stanley Cup chase is wide open
  • 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs will bring back the chills and thrills despite the shortened regular season

    L.A. Kings center Mike Richards(USA TODAY Sports)Mike Richards stands in the dressing room, anticipating the playoffs, preparing to defend the Los Angeles Kings’ Stanley Cup championship. He is a player. He sounds like a fan.

    “Every time I see a commercial on TV about it,” he says, “it gives you chills.”

    It is hard not to notice the word “commercial.” After the latest NHL lockout, it is hard to forget that this is a business and the Mad Men are giving people chills to sell them stuff. Toronto and Montreal are back in the field, and as much as it’s about history and tradition, it’s about HRR and escrow. Have you seen the ticket prices?

    But this is why they can charge what they charge. This is why the customers pay what they pay for tickets and TV packages and jerseys and goodness knows what else, like NHL Santa Claus dolls and toasters that burn NHL logos into bread.

    Chills are chills. And for the first time since Richards and his teammates held the Cup over their heads at an arena named for an office supply store, the customers can

    Read More »from 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs will bring back the chills and thrills despite the shortened regular season
  • Three Periods: Trophy-worthy turnaround by Oates & Ovechkin; Bruins' bad timing; dogged Doan

    This week’s Three Periods column by Nicholas J. Cotsonika: Adam Oates’ Jack Adams argument; Bruins’ struggles down the stretch; Shane Doan’s sales pitch for Coyotes; what is really impossible about Wings’ 21-season playoff streak; plus, the cost of Sidney Crosby’s injuries and the overlooked story of Martin St-Louis.

    FIRST PERIOD: Ovechkin for MVP, Oates for coach of the year

    Much of the credit for Alex Ovechkin's return to form should go to Caps coach Adam Oates. (USA Today)If not for Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals would not have made the playoffs. He scored 21 goals in 19 games as they went 15-3-1 and clinched their division. He drew “M-V-P!” chants Tuesday night in D.C.

    “He’s pulled us along,” said Capitals coach Adam Oates, “and all 20 guys have gotten better because of it.”

    But if not for Oates, the Great Eight would not be great again. Oates pulled Ovechkin along, and all 20 guys got better along the way. Oates deserves the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year whether Ovechkin wins the Hart Trophy or not, for putting Ovechkin back in the discussion and turning the

    Read More »from Three Periods: Trophy-worthy turnaround by Oates & Ovechkin; Bruins' bad timing; dogged Doan
  • Red Wings' 21-season NHL playoff streak: An 'impossible' run that isn't over yet

    DETROIT — To appreciate the streak – how long it has been, why it is incredible, what is at stake – stand inside the hallway that leads to the Detroit Red Wings’ dressing room and the Joe Louis Arena ice.

    The last time the Red Wings missed the playoffs was the 1989-90 season.Lining the walls are simple wooden plaques and team pictures screwed into the cinderblock, one for each edition of the Wings since Mike Ilitch bought the franchise in 1982. Each plaque lists the season and the names of the executives, coaches, players and trainers. The bottom line is the record.

    Start at 1989-90, the last Wings team to miss the playoffs. Walk past the door to the training room. Count 18 plaques in a row on the left (including the 2004-05 season erased by a lockout), and keep going. Keep going past the door to the dressing room, turn around at the entrance to the ice and come back up the other side. Count four more plaques.

    The Wings are riding a 21-season playoff streak, the longest in pro sports. And now, for the first time in more than two decades, they are fighting

    Read More »from Red Wings' 21-season NHL playoff streak: An 'impossible' run that isn't over yet
  • Keith Yandle to give 'Martin Richard' jersey to family of 8-year-old bombing victim

    Keith Yandle will not auction off the Phoenix Coyotes jersey he wore in warm-ups Saturday night to honor Martin Richard, the 8-year-old hockey fan who died in the Boston Marathon bombings last week.

    Keith Yandle has had the words "Pray For Boston" on his skates since the bombing.The family has reached out to say it would rather have the jersey itself.

    Yandle hopes that one day, when the Coyotes’ season is over and he’s back home in Boston, he will be able to deliver the jersey to the family personally. He hopes to go with his wife’s uncle, Sean O’Brien, a Boston fire lieutenant who was on the scene of the bombings, and O’Brien’s 9-year-old daughter, Ava, a classmate and close friend of Richard’s.

    “It’ll be tough,” said Yandle on Monday. “But it’ll be something they wanted, and it will be special giving it to them.”

    Yandle wanted to do something, anything. He is the grandson of a Boston firefighter. He has a child himself and another one due soon. He grew up in Milton, maybe 20 minutes from the marathon finish line, and returns every summer. When he speaks

    Read More »from Keith Yandle to give 'Martin Richard' jersey to family of 8-year-old bombing victim
  • Three Periods: Crosby MVP quandary; Rangers running out of time; Mason's surprise; Shark watch

    Nicholas J. Cotsonika’s weekly Three Periods column will appear on Thursdays. This week’s topics include Sidney Crosby’s MVP chances; Rangers’ lack of desperation on the bubble; Steve Mason’s calm and confidence in an unlikely place; NHL and NHLPA’s partnership with You Can Play; plus, Sharks’ speed, Habs’ slide and Preds’ busy summer.

    FIRST PERIOD: The BPITW might not be the MVP this season

    Sidney Crosby's MVP charge was derailed by a broken jaw. (Reuters)Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins captain reaffirmed that this season. After playing only 28 games in more than two years because of concussion problems and a lockout, he came back and separated himself from his peers the same way he did before he was injured. When he got hurt again, suffering a broken jaw March 30, it only bolstered his status as the BPITW.

    Crosby still had a three-point lead in the NHL scoring race with 56 points entering Thursday night, even though he hadn’t played in more than 2-1/2 weeks, even though he had missed eight games.

    Read More »from Three Periods: Crosby MVP quandary; Rangers running out of time; Mason's surprise; Shark watch
  • Outdoor overload? When it comes to the Winter Classic experience, more is better

    Now that the NHL is planning six outdoor games for next season, it needs a new marketing campaign. It needs something like those TV ads for that wireless carrier, where the guy in a suit sits on the floor of a classroom with some kids.

    The biggest risk is the possibility of losing the unique atmosphere that surrounds outdoor games. (Getty)“Who thinks more is better than less?” he asks.

    Hands go up.

    “OK, why?”

    A little girl explains.

    “We want more! We want more!” she says. “Like, you really like it, you want more.”

    “I follow you,” he says.

    “It’s not complicated,” the voiceover says. “More is better.”

    It’s not complicated. More is better, as counterintuitive as that might seem in this case. Teams really like outdoor games, and fans really like outdoor games, and so the NHL is giving them more. Too much of a good thing? We’ll see, but not necessarily. Depends how you look at it.

    TSN broke the news Tuesday night: First, as previously announced, the NHL will stage the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day – Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings at Michigan

    Read More »from Outdoor overload? When it comes to the Winter Classic experience, more is better
  • Changed man or suspension-in-waiting? Raffi Torres keeps it clean one year after Marian Hossa hit

    No one in Chicago will feel sorry for Raffi Torres. No one should.

    Raffi Torres knocked both himself and Marian Hossa out of the 2012 playoffs with this hit. (AP)It was a year ago Wednesday when Torres jumped and crashed his shoulder into the head of an unsuspecting Marian Hossa at high speed, sending the Blackhawks star flying through the air, knocking him flat on his back and out of the playoffs. Hossa was strapped down and carted off, an official holding his hands as they lay folded atop his body. He suffered a concussion.

    Torres, a repeat offender, ended up serving a 21-game suspension. He missed the rest of the Phoenix Coyotes’ run to the Western Conference final. He missed the start of this season. He deserved every second of it.

    But now a year has passed, and Torres has done his time. He has been traded to the San Jose Sharks, and the playoffs are approaching again, and he needs to earn another contract as a pending unrestricted free agent. As he reflected on what happened then, what has happened since and what needs to happen in the future, he sounded, well,

    Read More »from Changed man or suspension-in-waiting? Raffi Torres keeps it clean one year after Marian Hossa hit
  • Same old Oilers: Edmonton hands GM job to Craig MacTavish

    Kevin Lowe tried to be lighthearted as he listed the qualifications of the Edmonton Oilers’ new general manager. He mentioned Craig MacTavish had worked in the media, then said he wasn’t so sure that was a qualification after all. He paused. Awkward silence.

    Craig MacTavish takes over as the fifth GM in Oilers history. (AP)“That’s a joke,” he said.

    That drew polite laughter. But that wasn't the joke at Monday’s news conference. Lowe had helped mismanage the team. Now he had misread his audience and left people wondering whether he had made another mistake, even though Steve Tambellini’s firing was overdue and MacTavish generally told Oilers fans what they wanted to hear.

    Lowe has been a player, coach and GM for the Oilers. He has been their president of hockey operations since July 2008, when Tambellini became their GM. They finished 21st, 30th, 30th and 29th in the 30-team NHL the next four seasons. They entered Monday ranked 23rd, headed for a seventh straight season out of the playoffs when they were supposed to be finally on the rise.

    Read More »from Same old Oilers: Edmonton hands GM job to Craig MacTavish

Pagination

(896 Stories)