Detroit WHA Entry to be Known as “Gladiators”

Detroit’s World Hockey Association franchise set to begin play this fall announced today that they will go by the name “Detroit Gladiators.”

The name was chosen in the second round of a “Name the Team” survey. The top two fan-submitted names from the first round of voting (“Demons” and “Cougars”) joined “Gladiators,” “Dynamos” and “Speed” as options in the second round.

Senticore, Inc., owners of the Gladiators’, unveiled the team name and logo through their web site (www.senticore.com) late in the afternoon on Wednesday.

The Gladiators’ logo uses the colors black, white and gray/silver. It features a helmeted warrior visible from the chest up waving a sword-like hockey stick in the air and carrying a shield in front of him. Below the gladiator is a logotype bearing the words “Detroit Gladiators.” In the wordmark, “Detroit” appears over “Gladiators,” with both words arched and in stylized fonts. The “T” in “Detroit” and the “I” in Gladiators are created by a sword sticking “through” the wordmark.

The Gladiators are the first team to officially release a team name and logo, although the prospective team in Toronto has been referred to as the “Toros” and the team in Quebec has been called the “Nordics.” A Toronto Toros logo has been circulating around the Internet but as the team has not yet secured a lease, they have not officially released the logo.

The World Hockey Association will begin play in October. It currently exists of the Detroit Gladiators, Halifax, Quebec and Dallas. Toronto and Hamilton have been granted franchises but not yet secured leases while groups from Cincinatti and Orlando are also reportedly interested in owning teams.

The Gladiators will play their 40-game home schedule at the Pontiac Silverdome.

Wings Bring Back Rivers, Mowers

The Detroit Red Wings signed two of their key depth players from the 2003-04 season before allowing them to become unrestricted free agents. Defenseman Jamie Rivers agreed to a two-year deal while forward Mark Mowers signed a one-year deal with a player option for a second year.

As per club policy, financial terms were not disclosed.

Rivers signed with the Red Wings last summer to provide them with depth and a veteran presence with the Grand Rapids Griffins, their American Hockey League affiliate. He spent less than a month with the Griffins before being called up when Derian Hatcher was injured in the third game of the season. Rivers went on to play 50 games with the Red Wings. He was solid defensively, earning a +9 plus-minus ranking, and scored seven points.

Mowers signed with the Red Wings in the summer of 2002 and was an early-season call-up when injuries began to hit the Red Wings. He played 52 games before suffering a foot injury with four games remaining in the season that kept him out through the playoffs. He had three goals and added eight assists on the season.

With Mowers and Rivers resigned, the Red Wings’ potential unrestricted free agents include Brendan Shanahan, Chris Chelios, Kris Draper and Mathieu Schneider.

Former Wing Hull Reportedly Injured at Charity Event

ESPN 103.3FM in Dallas reports that former Red Wing Brett Hull has suffered a serious calf injury during warm-ups for a charity baseball game over the weekend. Hull was to be one of the top stars at the event, which raises money for the Mike Modano Foundation.

Details about the injury are currently unavailable but it is reportedly a career-threatening injury.

In early June, the Red Wings informed Hull that they would not bring him back next season. He was rumored to be planning to sign with the reborn World Hockey Association which begins play this fall. Hull ended those rumors when he announced that he hoped to retire as the NHL’s second-leading scorer of all-time.

Hull was previously named to the United States’ entry in this summer’s World Cup of Hockey, along with Modano and Red Wings Derian Hatcher and Chris Chelios.

Wings Focus on Forwards at Entry Draft

Centers and wings made up six of the Detroit Red Wings’ eight selections at the NHL Entry Draft this weekend. Detroit also selected two defensemen and no goalies after picking University of Maine standout goaltender Jimmy Howard with their first pick in last year’s draft.

The Red Wings’ first selection came with the second-to-last pick of the first day of the draft, 97th overall at the end of the third round. Detroit selected 24-year-old center Johan Franzen of Linkoping in the Swedish Elite League. The 6-foot-2, 207 pound role player could contribute for the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s AHL affiliate, immediately and earn a roster spot with the Red Wings later.

In the fourth round, the Red Wings picked 18-year-old center Evan McGrath from Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot, 181-pounder has all the tools to be a star in the NHL but didn’t put up the numbers expected of him last season in Kitchener. The Wings hope he will get back on track in the OHL next season.

Siarhei Kolasau was the Wings’ first defensive selection, made in the fifth round with the 151st overall pick. At 6-foot-4 and 187 pounds, he is a punishing blueliner in the mold of former Red Wing Vladimir Konstantinov. Unfortunately, the 18-year-old’s game is still undeveloped and he needs to spend more time in Europe before the Red Wings will bring him to North America.

Smallish center Tyler Haskins of the OHL’s St. Michaels Majors was Detroit’s second pick of the fifth round at 162nd overall. The 18-year-old has everything but size, at 6-foot-1 and only 177 pounds, he will need to bulk up if he hopes to put his skills to use.

Role players Anton Axelsson and Steven Covington were selected in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively. Both have shown an inability to finish that left them overlooked through the early rounds of the draft. If they can bulk up in the next several years, they may get a shot at making the AHL or the NHL.

The Red Wings’ selected Gennady Stolyarov in the eighth round at 257th overall. The 17-year-old is projected to be a long-term project for the Red Wings. He has decent offensive skills and at 6-foot-4, 187 pounds, he has some size, but how he matures will determine how far he goes in the Detroit organization.

Detroit’s final pick in the draft, 290th overall in the ninth round, was long-shot defenseman Nils Backstrom. Backstrom celebrates his 18th birthday this week and has plenty of time to develop but only time will tell what chance he has of ever coming to North America from Europe.

Lewis Signs Contract Extension

Detroit Red Wings head coach Dave Lewis signed a one-year contract extension at the NHL Entry Draft Saturday, ensuring that two early playoff losses in two years will not cause him to be replaced this summer.

Since Lewis took over head coaching duties from Hall-of-Famer Scotty Bowman in the summer of 2002, the Red Wings have had little success in the playoffs. In 2003 they were eliminated in the first round by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and in 2004 they fell in the second round to the Calgary Flames. Both seasons, the team that eliminated them advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing in seven games.

“We’ve talked about some of the areas that hasn’t been as good in the playoffs,” said general manager Ken Holland, specifically mentioning a need to get bodies in front of the net. “We need to focus on scoring those ugly goals.”

Associate coach Barry Smith and assistant coach Joe Kocur are expected to return to the bench alongside Lewis next season but their contracts have yet to be worked out.

Draper Wins Selke Trophy as NHL’s Best Defensive Forward

Detroit center Kris Draper was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy at the NHL Awards Thursday night. The award, given annually to the league’s best defensive forward, is the first individual NHL award Draper has won in his career.

Draper joins Detroit captain Steve Yzerman and former Red Wing Sergei Fedorov as the only three Red Wings to win the trophy.

“I’m in some unbelievable company to win the Selke Trophy,” Draper said. “Obviously one of the biggest thrills is knowing that my friend and teammate Steve Yzerman has his name on this trophy, and now we have that in common. It’s definitely special. It’s something that’s going to mean a lot to me.

New Jersey Devil John Madden and San Jose Shark Alyn McCauley were the other finalists for the award. Detroit’s Kirk Maltby, to whom Draper credited much of his success, finished seventh in voting.

“It seems that every time I’m on the ice, he’s on the ice with me,” Draper said of Maltby. “We’ve obviously created a very special relationship on the ice, and I know he was pulling for me. He’s a huge part of this.”

Draper had a career season statistically. He scored 24 goals and 40 points, in addition to having a 56.9 faceoff percentage and a plus-22 plus-minus rating.

He will skate alongside Red Wings teammates Yzerman and Maltby as part of Team Canada at the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

Former Wings Coffey, Murphy Named to Hall

The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee announced Wednesday that former Detroit Red Wings Paul Coffey and Larry Murphy, along with former Boston Bruins captain Ray Bourque, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in November.

Coffey spent parts of four season with the Red Wings after starting his career with the Edmonton Oilers, where he won three Stanley Cups. He added another championship with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 but was unable to claim victory in the Stanley Cup Finals with Los Angeles in 1993, Detroit in 1995 and Philadelphia in 1997. Coffey retired as a Bruin during the 2000-01 campaign, having played 1409 NHL games and amassed 1531 points.

The slow-skating Murphy came to the Red Wings at the trading deadline in 1997 and immediately helped them claim the Stanley Cup. After a repeat in 1998, Murphy stayed with Detroit until retiring after the 2000-01 season. He played 1615 NHL games and scored 1216 points in his career, during which he also spent time in Los Angeles, Washington, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Toronto. In addition to the Stanley Cups in Detroit, he claimed two with Pittsburgh.

Bourque was the leader of the Boston Bruins for twenty years before requesting a trade to a contending team, hoping to win a Stanley Cup before the end of his career. He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche at the trade deadline in 2000 and claimed a championship with the team in 2001. Bourque then retired, ending his career with 1612 NHL games played and 1579 points scored.

Phoenix Coyotes’ general manager Cliff Fletcher will also be inducted into the Hall in the Builder Category.

Lightning Strike in Game Seven: Tampa Bay Claims Stanley Cup

Monday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning completed their comeback from a 3-2 series deficit to the Calgary Flames after five games of their Stanley Cup Finals matchup, claiming Game Seven by the score of 2-1 after forcing the deciding game with a 3-2 double-overtime win in Game Six. It was the only time in the series that a team won two games in a row.

Ruslan Fedotenko, injured earlier in the series but back on the ice, scored both goals for the Lightning, giving Tampa Bay an early lead and putting pressure on the Flames to make risky plays.

Fedotenko opened the game’s scoring on the power play 13:31 into the game. Fredrik Modin fought for the puck along the boards and sent it out to Brad Richards – the eventually Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP – at the right point. Richards fired a shot that was stopped by Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff but Fedotenko picked up the rebound and put it into the net for his 11th goal of the playoffs.

Tampa Bay went up by two with 5:22 remaining in the second when Fedotenko took a beautiful pass from Vincent Lecavalier and fired a shot over Kiprusoff’s glove.

Calgary cut the lead in half on a power play at 9:21 of the third. With Nolan Pratt in the penalty box on a strange interference call, Craig Conroy sent a shot through a screen and past the glove of Lightning netminder Nikolai Khabibulin.

Both teams had their chances as the Flames turned up the pressure in the game’s final minutes.

Tampa essentially clinched the game when Andrew Ference high-sticked Martin St. Louis and was called for charging at 18:59 of the period. Tampa Bay captain Dave Andreychuk went to the box for tripping with 23 seconds left in the NHL’s season but Calgary’s momentum was already gone and the Flames failed to force overtime.

Richards, who led the NHL in the postseason with 26 points and set a new NHL postseason record with seven game-winning goals, was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy following the game.

Lightning Force Game Seven

Tampa Bay Lightning playoff hero Martin St. Louis scored 33 seconds into the second overtime period to give the Lightning a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames and force a Game Seven in their Stanley Cup Finals matchup. This is the second consecutive year and third of the last four that seven games will be required to determine a Stanley Cup Champion.

St. Louis picked up a rebound as he skated in at the Calgary net. He lifted a shot over the shoulder of Flames’ goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and gave the Lightning the win.

Martin Gelinas had almost won the Cup for Calgary in the first overtime when a puck deflected off his skate and appeared to cross the goal line before it was kicked away by Tampa Bay goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. The scoring chance was not reviewed and play continued.

After a scoreless first period, the Lightning opened the game’s scoring on the power play when Brad Richards beat Kiprusoff for the first of his two power play goals.

Chris Clark tied the game before Richards’ second goal put the Lightning back in front. Marcus Nilson scored before the end of the second to tie the game again.

Both teams were held scoreless on seven shots in both the third period and the first overtime period. St. Louis’ goal came on the second shot of the second overtime.

Khabibulin stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced while Kiprusoff made 24 saves on 27 shots. Tampa Bay went 2-for-4 on the power play as Calgary was held without a goal on three chances with the man-advantage.

The Stanley Cup will be awarded in Tampa on Monday night to the winner of Game Seven.

Flames One Away from First Cup in Fifteen Years

Calgary forward Oleg Saprykin scored 14:40 into overtime of Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals to lift the Flames to a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning and give Calgary a 3-2 lead in the series. The Flames can finish off the Lightning at home and claim their first Stanley Cup since 1989 on Saturday.

Saprykin’s goal came off the rebound of a shot by Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, who had been on the ice for a shift that lasted over 90 seconds. Iginla fired from the left of Tampa Bay goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who made the save but left a rebound for Saprykin. Saprykin put the puck between Khabibulin’s legs to win the game.

Twice the Lightning fought back from being a goal down but they were unable to pick up the win on home ice.

Calgary’s Martin Gelinas opened the scoring just 2:13 into the game on a Flames power play. Tampa Bay forward Martin St. Louis evened things up with 34 seconds remaining in the period to put the score at 1-1 at the end of the first.

Iginla gave the Flames their second lead of the game with 4:50 remaining in the second but Fredrik Modin lifted the Lightning back into a tie 37 seconds into the third, just 6 seconds into a power play.

Khabibulin stopped 33 of the 36 shots he faced between the pipes for the Lightning, while Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff made 26 saves on 28 shots. Each team went 1-for-2 on the power play.