Sean Leahy

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor of Puck Daddy since the blog started in April 2008. Having covered Stanley Cup Finals, NHL All-Star Games and NHL Drafts, his highlight might have been getting blown out playing Ryan Kesler in NHL2K11 on Nintendo Wii. That, or coercing an All-Star Game goal judge to let him control the goal light for a period. He currently resides on Long Island.

  • Devils ready to use Stanley Cup defeat for motivation

    Getty ImagesUNIONDALE, N.Y. -- It was a long off-season for David Clarkson and his New Jersey Devils teammates. The memories of their loss to the Los Angeles Kings in last June's Stanley Cup Final lingered a few extra months thanks to the NHL's 113-day lockout.

    For Clarkson, there were a lot of "What ifs?" floating in his head, while visions of falling behind 3-0 to the Kings and eventually having to watch them lift the Cup eventually became a source of motivation.

    "It's probably the hardest thing I've been through," said Clarkson after the Devils' morning skate on Saturday before their season opener against the New York Islanders.

    "You sit at home and think what I could have done different or if I would have hit that open net. But at the end of the day, I think when something like that happens to you, you try and find a positive from it and learn from it and get better. I think we'll take the experience of making it to the Final and put it under our hat. We've got guys in here that have been there and won. As tough as it was to swallow I think it's behind me and we've got to move forward."

    Forward they will move, but not without some missing pieces who were key in the Devils' run to the Final.

    Gone is Zach Parise, their captain, who scored 8 goals and 15 points during their playoff run. Gone is Alexei Ponikarovsky, who scored the overtime goal against the Philadelphia Flyers to give New Jersey a 2-1 second round series lead. Gone is Petr Sykora, who returned to the team after a 10-year absence by winning a job in training camp.

    "You're missing Sykie, you're missing Poni, you're missing some guys that logged a lot of third line minutes," said Clarkson. "But we've got the same D corp; we've got two of the best goalies, in my opinion, in the game; and we've got a great locker room. We lose Zach, that's a big loss, but we've got to move forward and continue to get better."

    In a condensed 48-game season, teams who have strong goaltending tandems enter with an advantage. The Devils are one of those teams. With 40-year old Martin Brodeur and 39-year old Johan Hedberg, New Jersey might have one of the oldest creases in NHL history. But to Head Coach Peter DeBoer, age won't be a factor in how he maps their playing time for the season.

    "We have an advantage, I believe, because I have two goalies that I think are starting goaltenders," said DeBoer. "It's going to be awful tough to ride one guy through a 48-game condensed schedule. We're going to need both guys and it's a great luxury for a coach to have both those guys like that."

    The Devils will travel the shortest distance this season -- just 11,659 miles -- but they are one of seven teams who are playing double digit back-to-backs. Even with light travel, that can take a toll on a team.

    "It's a unique situation ... short season with this many games in this many nights," said DeBoer. "There's not a lot of room for error."

    DeBoer and the Devils have gotten over the disappointing ending of last season and are ready to turn the page, but not without those memories acting as a carrot in front of their heads.

    "It's definitely a motivating factor," said DeBoer. "You get a taste of it like we did, you want to get back there and get the whole thing. I think it's a great motivator. The fact that we had this lockout and a little extra time eliminates any hangover excuses they might of had. The guys are hungry to start."

    Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

    Read More »from Devils ready to use Stanley Cup defeat for motivation
  • Puck Daddy’s 2013 NHL Opening Night Drinking Game!

    Getty ImagesHey! We made it! After a 113-day lockout, the NHL has returned and will drop the puck for the first time since June 11 when the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup.

    We're all excited to have the NHL back in our lives. Our nights through June are now booked and we can go back to debating headshots instead of disclaimers of interest. Now we have excuses to drink except for, well, you know, the normal ones.

    Your friends at Puck Daddy would like to enhance your Opening Night experience, especially since it's going to be an all-day one with games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET and going all the way until early Sunday morning. Stock up the fridge, gather 'round some pals and settle into your couch and favorite La-Z boy chair.

    After the jump, what to keep an eye out for today to help increase your beverage-to-hand ratio.

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  • NHL 2013 Preview: Pacific Division

    After previewing the Atlantic, Central, Northeast, Northwest, and Southeast, Puck Daddy turns its attention to the Pacific Division, starring the defending champion Los Angeles Kings and their royal subjects.

    The Pacific was ruled by the Sharks for four years in a row until the Coyotes ended their streak last season with a 97-point campaign (the lowest point total for the division champion since San Jose's 99 in 2001-02). But it was the Kings who, thanks to a strong second half, grabbed the eighth spot and ran with it to their first title.

    Dallas added some veterans. Anaheim has to decide what to do with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Los Angeles returns virtually the same. Is the window still open for San Jose? Can Phoenix once again stay under the radar and "surprise" everyone again?

    Read More »from NHL 2013 Preview: Pacific Division
  • Getty ImagesWade Redden hasn't played a game in the NHL since April 11, 2010. That was the infamous game where Olli Jokinen missed a shootout attempt for the New York Rangers, eliminating them and sending the winning Philadelphia Flyers to the playoffs.

    So, yeah, it's been a while.

    Redden's toiled away after having himself and his $6.5 million cap hit banished to the AHL by the Rangers in 2010. Now, thanks to accelerated compliance buyouts that were agreed upon by the NHL and NHLPA this week, he has his freedom and has inked a prorated 1-year deal with the St. Louis Blues.

    From the Blues:

    St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced the club has reached a deal in principal with defenseman Wade Redden.

    Terms of the contract are one-year and $800,000.

    “Wade is a solid two-way defenseman,” said Armstrong. “We believe his experience will complement and add stability to our defensive core.”

    Redden, 35, has spent the past two seasons with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Connecticut Whale. Last year, he posted 20 points, including 4 goals and 16 assists in 49 games.

    TSN's Bob McKenzie adds that a potential games played bonus could be worth as much as $200,000 extra to Redden. Due to these new buyout rules, the Rangers will still have his $5.6 million (post buyout) cap hit on their books for this season.

    According to the team, Redden will take his physical on Sunday, which means he could be in the lineup for the team on Monday or Tuesday.

    Now it's Scott Gomez's turn. His buyout was finalized on Thursday by the Montreal Canadiens and there's no doubt going to be some interest in the 33-year center on a short-term deal, much like his bought-out compadre Redden.

    Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

    Read More »from After buyout, Wade Redden lands with St. Louis Blues on 1-year, $800K deal
  • NHL 2013 Preview: Southeast Division

    After previewing the Atlantic, Central, Northeast, and Northwest, Puck Daddy turns its attention to the Southeast Division, starring a who's who of "are they really a playoff team this year?"

    Last season, after ten consecutive seasons of missing out on the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Florida Panthers, turnover and all, won their first division title in franchise history, edging the Washington Capitals by two points. The Southeast was the tightest of the six divisions, with a 12 points difference between the champs (Florida) and the cellar dwellers (Carolina).

    But, my, how a summer could change things. Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford promised to spend money to compete and he did acquiring Jordan Staal and signing Alex Semin. Winnipeg added Olli Jokinen up front. Tampa signed Matt Carle for the blueline and acquired Anders Lindback to take over in goal for the departed Dwayne Roloson. Meanwhile, the Panthers lost Jason Garrison, a 16-goal scorer from the blue line, replaced him with Filip Kuba, and also signed George Parros.

    Will a summer of turnover in the division mean a different outcome come April? We'll find out.

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  • NHL uses full-page ad in newspapers to apologize to fans (PHOTO)

    Anyone that’s been in a long-term relationship understands that profuse apology is inseparable from seismic, unending guilt.

    By our count, the NHL is now on its third major apology to fans for the lockout: Commissioner Gary Bettman's "I'm sorry" speech on Jan. 9; various pleas of contrition (and kickbacks to fans) from the 30 teams; and now, a full-page advertisement in major newspapers in every NHL market and national publications in the U.S. and Canada dropping Thursday and Friday:

    (P.S.S. You have eight years until the opt-out is available. Enjoy it while you can.)

    "2012-13 season?" Pardon? There is no 2012 part of this season. We spent the 2012 part of this season talking about revenue sharing and contract terms and PR battles. There are no awards for those to be given out in Las Vegas. Unless Frank Luntz is receiving one for all of his hard work in helping to craft this carefully constructed apology.

    These apologies likely won't be the last efforts to get back in the good graces of fans. Even after the puck drops for real on Saturday, players, teams and the league will need to continue to repair their relationship with the fans. Outreach to the community will be vital because after a second lockout in eight years, there are still plenty of hard feelings.

    Though, judging by the attendances at some training camps this week, not too hard.

    Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

    Read More »from NHL uses full-page ad in newspapers to apologize to fans (PHOTO)
  • Alex Ovechkin will be Sochi 2014 Olympics torchbearer (VIDEO)

    YouTubeThe 2014 Sochi Olympics are set to begin 387 days from now. Ice Hockey will again be a sport during the two weeks of events, but the question still to be answered is if NHL players will be participating.

    We know how much Russian NHLers want to go play and represent their country at home. One of the more vocal leaders of this charge has been Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. Remember his quotes to ESPN's Scott Burnside in 2009? "Nobody can say to me, 'You can't play for your country in the Olympic Games ... If somebody says to me, 'You can't play,' see ya."

    Whatever happens, Ovechkin will be part of the Sochi games as on Wednesday he was named one of the torchbearers of the 123-day, 65,000 kilometer relay that will see it go through 2,900 towns, 83 parts of Russia and nearly 14,000 people's hands, according to Inside the Games. Coca-Cola, a sponsor of the Olympics, unveiled a promotion on Tuesday featuring Ovechkin that allows anyone to enter a contest to be part of the relay:

    It's the sugar rush that Coca-Cola gives you that allows you the strength and energy to participate in the relay, you see? You can see a few other short Ovechkin spots on the Coca-Cola Russia YouTube page.

    We're hoping the Coca-Cola execs have plans for an Olympic-themed singing spot for Ovi, because he's had to improve his pipes since the infamous Eastern Motors commercial, right?

    Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

    Read More »from Alex Ovechkin will be Sochi 2014 Olympics torchbearer (VIDEO)
  • Getty ImagesThe saga of Lubomir Visnovsky is coming to a head.

    The 36-year old defenseman, who is currently property of the New York Islanders, has already been suspended by the team for his failing to show up for the start of training camp this week and leaving two empty seats on an airplane bound for the Big Apple.

    Visnovsky was considering a contract with HC Slovan for the remainder of this season earlier this month, but had yet to play a game with them since the NHL's lockout officially ended on Saturday. On Tuesday, HC Slovan plays their first game since that news and Visnovsky traveled with the team expecting to play.

    With the Islanders and NHL fighting it, the KHL announced on Tuesday that they are denying Visnovsky's request to sign that deal.

    For the meantime, he cannot play for the team while representatives from the KHL and NHL discuss a potential solution.

    Read More »from KHL rejects Lubomir Visnovsky’s contract until conflict with NY Islanders is resolved
  • No, NHL Center Ice nor GameCenter Live will be made free for this shortened season.

    That was the thought of many as a way for the league to say "We're sorry" and extend an olive branch to fans after missing the first three months of the season. You will indeed be paying for both services this year, but at a discounted rate.

    So why no freebies? While on WFAN's Boomer and Carton radio show this morning, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman explained that it's not just up to the league:

    “We have partners in that business, so we don’t have the luxury of just giving it away,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is get it to a place where we think it’s certainly a very good offer, but it’s something that the business partners … can live with."

    Pricing for NHL Center Ice will be $49.99 for the season, if you're ordering from an inDEMAND system. For DirecTV users, it will be $59.96, broken down into four payments of $14.99. A free preview can be seen from opening night on Jan. 19 until Jan. 31.

    Center Ice will once again feature the multi-screen mosaic channel, same day replays, dual feeds (if possible), stats channel, and HD games (the number will differ depending on your provider). According to inDEMAND, there will be approximately 40 games to be seen on Center Ice per week.

    The NHL announced Monday that GameCenter Live will be $49.99, streamable via your computer and various devices like Playstation 3, XBOX 360, Roku, smartphones and tablets.

    Because the entirety of the NHL playoffs in the U.S. are now broadcast via NBC's networks, all subscriptions for Center Ice and GameCenter Live will include just the regular season.

    (For our friends overseas who have been able to watch the playoffs in the past, contact GameCenter support to confirm whether or not the postseason is included.)

    Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

    Read More »from How much NHL Center Ice and GameCenter Live will cost you for the 2013 season
  • NHL 2013 Preview: Atlantic Division

    Only the Atlantic and Central Divisions boasted four of five teams finishing with over 100 points last season. Annually one of the most competitive divisions in the NHL, it's shaping up again to be another battle, with a crown that offers a top-3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

    A shortened 48-game season will mean plenty of miles on a much more frequent basis for some teams, but for the five clubs in the Atlantic, they'll face the shortest travel of any division in the NHL, according to Dirk Hoag of On the Forecheck's fantastic Super Schedule. How much will we be hearing about that come late April?

    So who will take home the Atlantic crown in 2013? The Rangers added Rick Nash after falling short in their Cup quest last year. The Penguins will hopefully have an entire season of a healthy Sidney Crosby. Ilya Bryzgalov is promising a better performance in Year 2 for the Flyers. New Jersey lost Zach Parise, but at least Ilya Kovalchuk decided to come back from Russia. And the slow build continues for the Islanders, but can they make a little noise in the division?

    After the jump, our team-by-team look at the Atlantic Divison.

    Read More »from NHL 2013 Preview: Atlantic Division

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