Blackhawks

Blackhawks and Central lose first game, Metropolitan wins NHL All-Star Game

Blackhawks and Central lose first game, Metropolitan wins NHL All-Star Game

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Wayne Simmonds scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:58 to play, and fill-in coach Wayne Gretzky led the Metropolitan Division to a 4-3 victory over the Pacific Division on Sunday in the final match of the revamped NHL All-Star Game.

Columbus' Cam Atkinson scored the tying goal for the Metropolitans in the four-team, 3-on-3 divisional tournament format introduced to the midseason classic last season. Washington goalie Braden Holtby then made several big saves to secure the win for his 11-man team, which will split a $1 million prize.

Simmonds, the Flyers' first-time All-Star, was named the game's MVP after he put the Metropolitans ahead. The goal completed a hat trick for the former Kings forward, who is still well-liked in Los Angeles after he was traded to Philadelphia in 2011.

Simmonds and Atkinson, a late addition to the team, scored three goals apiece.

But the game was secondary when the NHL's best gathered on a 72-degree day in Hollywood. A sellout crowd at Staples Center cheered the first All-Star Game for Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine and a host of young talent.

It was also just the second All-Star appearance by Sidney Crosby, who hadn't been healthy for the game since 2007. Crosby and Alex Ovechkin were played together by Gretzky, who stepped in to coach the Metropolitan team when Columbus' John Tortorella couldn't attend the weekend festivities due to an ailing dog.

The Great One even played a significant role in the outcome: Gretzky challenged an apparent goal by the Pacific in the final minutes and got it successfully taken off the board when McDavid was ruled offside.

The All-Stars got an additional thrill before the game when roughly half of the 100 greatest players in NHL history stood in a line on the ice and shook hands with the current players during introductions. The greats then dropped a ceremonial first puck for each of the 44 All-Stars.

The Pacific beat the Blackhawk-dominated Central Division team 10-3 in the first 20-minute semifinal, and the Metropolitan team beat the Atlantic 10-6 in the second. Jonathan Toews scored and Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford also represented the Blackhawks.

The Pacific won last year in Nashville in the first edition of the open-ice format designed to inject excitement and goal-scoring a sometimes staid exercise. The formula worked again at Staples Center, but the two finalists tightened up their defense with real money on the line in the final minutes.

Crosby and Ovechkin, the long-standing rivals with parallel careers in Pittsburgh and Washington, were teammates on the Metropolitan team for the first time in a decade since they teamed up in the 2007 All-Star Game.

McDavid scored one of the afternoon's best goals early in the third when he slipped behind the Metropolitan defense, got a pinpoint long pass from Anaheim's Ryan Kesler and beat Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky's poke check with a nimble stop and a push shot while falling to his knees.

While Crosby and Ovechkin are arguably hockey's two biggest stars, their supporting cast got the job done. The Metropolitans scored three goals in 19 seconds during their semifinal, including two goals five seconds apart by Seth Jones and Taylor Hall.

The Atlantic Division team won Saturday's Skills Competition and got to choose its opponent for Sunday, but choosing the Metropolitan didn't work so well. Even pulling goalie Tuukka Rask with 2:55 to play and a three-goal deficit only led to an empty-netter by Atkinson, the last All-Star picked after Evgeni Malkin dropped out.

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

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AP

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

The second wave of Blackhawks defensemen is on the way. That's exactly where all the attention was when prospect camp opened up Monday at MB Ice Arena.

Nicolas Beaudin. Adam Boqvist. Henri Jokiharju. Ian Mitchell. Call it the Big Four. Where are they all at in their development? When will they be ready to make an NHL impact? Who's the most pro ready? 

Lots of questions. Those will slowly start to get answered and it begins now.

While there may not necessarily be an open competition among the group right away, there's certainly a desire to make a strong first impression in front of the upper brass that included Stan Bowman, John McDonough and Joel Quenneville watching on Day 1.

"Every NHL team has a lot of good defensemen prospects, so I mean obviously when you want to go out there you want to showcase yourself as best as you can," Mitchell said. "Obviously you want to be the best defenseman here so that's my goal going into this, I want to prove to everyone that I'm a good defenseman, I deserve to play at the next level. Obviously there's lots of good players here, but you're trying to all succeed."

Said Beaudin: "There's a lot of competition. There's a lot of good, young defensemen. I think you just need to be different when you play when you show what you can do."

Said Boqvist: "I'm trying to be better every day. Of course I will play in the NHL one day and win Stanley Cups, so that's my mindset."

The theme? Focus on your own game, take what you learn out of this week and apply those tools in your game when advancing your development next season. The rest will take care of itself.

Mitchell will go back to Denver for his sophomore campaign to continue his development. Beaudin is expected to return to the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Boqvist signed with the OHL's London Knights, where he will look to get accustomed to the North American style of play.

For Jokiharju, the goal is different. This is his second development camp. He signed an entry-level contract in June. Making the big club is a real goal and a legitimate possibility for a Blackhawks team looking for young, impact defensemen immediately.

"I think if Henri has a really good summer of training, comes into camp, I certainly thinks he gets a good look," Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley told NBC Sports Chicago last month.

Jokiharju showed poise and confidence with and without the puck during drills, like someone who knows this is only the first step towards that ultimate goal.

"Yeah," Jokiharju responded when asked if the expectation is to make it to the NHL this season. "You want to set the bar high, you don't want to set the bar too low. I want to dream big and that's the dream."

That's the dream for everyone. When that happens, it's up to them. This week is a chance to set an early tone.

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was identified as the victim in an early morning drowning on Sunday at the Hamilton Harbour, Hamilton Police confirmed. He was 35.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Emery and his friends jumped in the water around 6:30 a.m., but Emery never resurfaced. His body was recovered later in the afternoon.

Emery played in the NHL for 11 seasons, two of which came with the Blackhawks from 2011-13, where he served as a backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.

In 2013, he teammated up with Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender(s) with the fewest goals against in a single season, before going on to capture his first Stanley Cup. During that season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts.

The Blackhawks issued this statement following the confirmation:

The Chicago Blackhawks organization was deeply saddened to hear of Ray Emery’s passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. The Blackhawks will fondly remember Ray as a fierce competitor, a good teammate and a Stanley Cup champion.

The hockey community took to Twitter to offer their condolences when news began to spread: