Pre-game reading: Brent Sopel credits rehab for saving his life
-- Up top, an interview with Vegas GM George McPhee, who’s attending the NHL general managers meetings in Florida. McPhee expects to be plenty busy ahead of the expansion draft, but the craziness won’t really begin until seasons start ending for the other 30 teams.
-- Another good piece from The Players’ Tribune. This one’s about Brent Sopel and his undiagnosed learning disorder that he believes “led directly” to alcoholism. The former NHL defenseman credits going to rehab for saving his life. He writes: “I’m not the same person I was before I went, and I never will be. Rehab helped me to understand what my life is now. I learned how to meditate, how to find peace. But there was one lesson that resonated with me more than any other. To some, accepting yourself for who you are may sounds like words, but it’s a mindset. It’s a way of life.” (The Players’ Tribune)
-- Former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is convinced that Henrik Zetterberg’s leadership and competitiveness will have a positive effect on youngsters like Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha. “They watch it. They see him train and understand how competitive he is when the game is on the line. And the other thing is, when things go bad in a game, he goes and makes a play. So it’s not what you say, it’s what you do in big moments. And that’s why he’s got a Cup and a Conn Smythe.” (Detroit Free Press)
-- To increase scoring, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma thinks players should have to serve the full two minutes of their penalties, regardless of whether a goal is scored on the power play. “If we had more power plays and the guy had to sit in [the penalty box] no matter what for two minutes, kind of like a five-minute major, you’d give the power play more opportunities and you’d have more goals. I’m all for having more goals in the game.” (WGR 550)
-- Andrei Vasilevskiy has been excellent for the Lightning since Ben Bishop was traded to Los Angeles, and the 22-year-old netminder knows the Bolts have granted him a big responsibility. “I don’t want to say, ‘Bish is gone, I’m 100 percent No. 1,’ I’m not going to (mess) around. I will work even more and show everybody that I deserve to be here and deserve to be the starting goalie.” (Tampa Bay Times)
-- A Q&A with Flames GM Brad Treliving, whose team has won seven games in a row. “I really believed in our group. Chemistry and mix often get overlooked. I think those are real critical things. It’s a group that gets along and it’s a group that likes each other. So that’s No. 1.” (NHL.com)
Enjoy the games!