Canada

Some NHL old guys are still going strong

5 Mins read

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Some old guys still got it

The NHL is, mostly, a young man’s league. Since the salary-cap era began in 2005-06, the average age of a scoring champion is 25. In that time, only two players have won the Art Ross Trophy in their age-30 season or later: Daniel Sedin (age 30 in 2010-11) and Martin St. Louis (37 in 2013). There’s a bit of a disclaimer on St. Louis because he did it in a lockout-shortened 48-game season, but it’s still one of the more impressive scoring titles ever. He was three years older than the next-most-senior Art Ross winner, 34-year-old Gordie Howe in 1962-63.

We’re currently in another shortened season, but it looks like a young guy is going to win the scoring title this time. Connor McDavid, 24, has built a nine-point lead over his 25-year-old Oilers teammate (and reigning scoring champ) Leon Draisaitl. But in third place, five points behind Draisaitl, is a guy with some miles on him: 32-year-old Patrick Kane, who recently played his 1,000th NHL regular-season game.

Some other NHL greyhairs worth noting right now:

Alex Ovechkin: It looked like the 35-year-old literal greyhair might finally be slowing down when he scored just eight times in his first 21 games this season. But he’s exploded for 10 goals in his last nine games and now trails Rocket Richard Trophy front-runner Auston Matthews by just four. Ovechkin, who has 724 career goals, has already jumped Mike Gartner and Phil Esposito this season to reach sixth on the all-time list. He’ll take down Marcel Dionne (731) soon. And, at the rate Ovechkin is going right now, he might even put a scare into Brett Hull (741) before the end of the season. For a fun look back at a younger Ovechkin, check out the latest episode of Rob Pizzo’s “I was in net for…” series. Former Lightning goalie Mike McKenna shares his memories of what it was like to give up the goal that led to Ovechkin’s controversial “hot stick” celebration. Watch the video here:

In episode 15, Rob Pizzo speaks to former Lightning goalie Mike McKenna about the goal celebration that had the whole hockey world talking. 6:57

Patrick Marleau: The 41-year-old Sharks forward is set to play in his 1,757th regular-season game tonight. That would move him past Mark Messier for sole possession of second place in NHL history, and within 10 games of matching Gordie Howe’s record. If you’ve ever wondered how Gordie played pro hockey for so long, this photo of him fishing without a shirt should answer that question.

Zdeno Chara: The NHL’s oldest player turned 44 on March 18, and he’s still holding his own. In his first season with Washington after spending the past 14 in Boston, Chara has suited up for all 34 of the Capitals’ games. He has nine points, ranks second on the team with a plus-15 rating and is averaging close to 19 minutes of ice time a game. Washington is tied with Tampa for the league lead with 50 points. 

Joe Thornton: The only other over-40 player in the league is also enjoying his new home. After spending the past 14½ seasons in San Jose, 41-year-old Jumbo Joe has 12 points in 22 games for the North-leading Leafs. Thornton broke into the NHL as an 18-year-old in 1997-98. How long ago was that? Well…

Quickly…

Canada missed the Olympic men’s soccer tournament again. A team of under-24 Canadian players lost 2-0 to Mexico last night in the semifinals of the CONCACAF regional qualifier, where the final two spots in the Tokyo men’s tournament were on the line. Canada hasn’t qualified a men’s team for the Olympics since 1984. Surprisingly, the United States hasn’t done so since 2008, and that drought was extended by their 2-1 loss to Honduras in yesterday’s other semifinal. In other men’s soccer qualifying news, Canada’s second qualifying match for the 2022 World Cup was postponed yesterday because its opponent, the Cayman Islands, didn’t meet COVID-19 testing requirements. The match was rescheduled for today at 6 p.m. ET.

Bianca Andreescu is into the round of 16 at her latest comeback tournament. Coming off a five-week layoff to recover from two tournaments in Australia, which were her first in 15 months, Andreescu won two matches over the weekend at the Miami Open. She’ll face a tougher opponent tonight in Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who’s ranked 13th in the world. Andreescu is ranked ninth, but only because the current points system allows her to keep dining out on her stellar 2019. The betting odds for the match give us a truer sense of who’s the better player at the moment. They imply Andreescu has about a 1 in 3 chance of winning. The only other Canadian left in the singles draws in Miami is Milos Raonic, who reached the round of 16 today by beating France’s Ugo Humbert.

And in case you missed it…

A few other things from the weekend that you should know about:

Canadian figure skaters Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier reached the world-championship podium for the first time. The ice dancers put up a personal-best score in Stockholm to take bronze — their first medal in eight trips to the worlds and the only one for Canada at this year’s event, where Russians won three of the four disciplines. Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov took the dance, Anna Shcherbakova led a Russian sweep of the women’s podium, while Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov won the pairs. The only event Russia didn’t own was the most-talked-about one. American Nathan Chen won his third consecutive men’s world title by rallying from third place after the short program to beat rival Yuzuru Hanyu. The two-time Olympic champion fell from first place to the bronze medal, while fellow Japanese skater Yuma Kagiyama got the silver. Read more about the men’s and dance competitions and watch highlights here.

The National Women’s Hockey League crowned a champion. The Boston Pride knocked off the top-seeded Toronto Six 6-2 in the semifinals and then went on to defeat the defending champion Minnesota Whitecaps 4-3 Saturday night to win the Isobel Cup. Boston and Minnesota were supposed to meet in the final last year until it was cancelled because of the pandemic. It looked like there might not be an Isobel Cup winner again this year when the NWHL suspended its playoffs on the eve of the semifinals back in February. But the league and its players got it done, and next season the NWHL is set to welcome a Montreal expansion franchise as its seventh team. Read more about the long-awaited Isobel Cup final and watch highlights here.

The longest game in NCAA men’s hockey tournament history happened. Minnesota Duluth scored a little over two minutes into the fifth overtime Saturday night to beat North Dakota 3-2 and earn a spot in the Frozen Four. The game lasted 142 minutes on the clock, smashing the 21-year-old record by almost a full period. Minnesota Duluth’s quest to become the first team since 1953 to three-repeat as NCAA men’s hockey champions contines April 8 when the Frozen Four opens in Pittsburgh. Read more about the Bulldog’s five-OT win and watch the dramatic goal here.

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