Training camp for the Tampa Bay Lightning begins today. While the on-ice competition for the three or four open roster spots doesn’t actually get under way until tomorrow, but for the first time since the end of the season the gang is back together under one roof. Wednesday will be an exciting day of fitness testing, medical check-ups, and media interviews.
Unlike the last couple of preseason camps there is likely to be a little more media access to the players so expect to see interviews start posting throughout the day. We’ll try and collect all of the relevant ones and re-post them as they become available.
While today marks the beginning of this season, yesterday marked the end of some rather remarkable careers. First it was Zdeno Chara who announced his retirement. He’s going to sign a one-day contract with the Boston Bruins so he can officially retire with the team where he won a Stanley Cup and became a legend in the league. After 14 seasons, 1,680 games, 209 goals, 471 assists, and countless big (mostly legal hits) one of the most intimidating players to ever lace them up is done.
Shortly after that news broke, another defenseman, one who played an entirely different style from Chara, also announced his retirement. P.K. Subban may not have had the longevity that his rival did, but he backed in a ton of highlights in his 7-year career. He spent time with three teams - the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, and New Jersey Devils - and logged 115 goals and 352 assists in 834 games.
Younger fans may not realize how much fun it was to watch Subban when he first came up with the Habs as a smooth skating defenseman. As a 23-year-old he won the Norris Trophy in the lockout shortened 2012-13 season with 38 points (11 goals, 27 assists) in 42 games. He had a few good seasons after a blockbuster deal sent him to Nashville (he finished third in the Norris race in 2017-18) before finishing things off in New Jersey.
Keith Yandle was a steady presence on the blue line for 16 seasons (long enough that he began with the Phoenix Coyotes). While he put up a respectable 619 points (103 goals, 516 assists) in 1109 games with the Coyotes, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, and Philadelphia Flyers, it was his durability that became his calling card. Last season Yandle became the league’s iron man as he set the consecutive games played record of 989 games. He also called it a career on Tuesday.
It wasn’t all about retirements yesterday, though. After the dust settled, more NHL news broke across the news wire. Nathan MacKinnon, star center of the most recent Stanley Cup champions, signed an 8-year extension worth $106 million. The $12.6 million average annual value makes him the highest paid player in the league as he eclipsed Connor McDavid’s $12.5 million.
MacKinnon also has a full no-move clause that kicks in this year (the extension starts next year) meaning he’ll likely be a member of the Colorado Avalanche for the foreseeable future. Much like the Lightning, the Avs now have their core players locked up for multiple seasons. The question will be if they can find the periphery players that make a championship team.
Excellent hockey news day.