Ever since the Vegas Golden Knights unveiled their name the week of Thanksgiving, the team has been in the news often, and not for anything related to their efforts in scouting and planning for next summer’s expansion draft when the team begins play in the fall of 2017. We take a look at the situation in Vegas, a couple of teams playing some great hockey in recent weeks, controversy over a big hit, and one team’s key injuries in this week’s edition of Around the NHL.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS’ TRADEMARK DENIED
For the second time since Vegas unveiled their name, their use of the Golden Knights moniker has come under fire. Last week, it was the U.S. Army saying they were going to review the use of the name Golden Knights, which is also the name used by the U.S. Army Parachute Team. This week, it was the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, who rejected the team’s trademark request for the name Golden Knights because they deemed the name and logo as being too similar to the NCAA’s College of St. Rose Golden Knights. While this seems like a huge hassle for the team (not to mention how they didn’t get this all taken care of before the name unveiling), in the end, it’ll probably be just a blip on the radar. The team released a statement to Sports Illustrated essentially saying that this isn’t a rare obstacle when obtaining a trademark:
“There are countless examples of college sports teams and professional sports teams with coexisting names, including Vegas Golden Knights and Clarkson Golden Knights, UCLA Bruins and Boston Bruins, U of Miami Hurricanes and Carolina Hurricanes, etc. We will plan on making these arguments and others in our detailed written response to the office action which must be filed by June 7, 2017.”
“Office actions like this are not at all unusual, and we will proceed with the help of outside counsel in preparing a response to this one.”
In other words, the Golden Knights will probably have to work out a deal with the College of St. Rose and pay them some money, as there’s no indication that the team plans to change its name. But it’s another early obstacle for an expansion franchise that hasn’t even taken the ice yet.
HALL-LARSEN HIT A SCARY MOMENT
During a game at the Prudential Center on Tuesday night between the Vancouver Canucks and New Jersey Devils, Canucks defenseman Philip Larsen was knocked unconscious by a clean, but vicious hit from Devils forward Taylor Hall while the two were pursuing the puck. What appeared to knock Larsen out was when his head hit the ice after the collision. The hit sparked a melee between the two teams in which several players’ feet and sticks ended up hitting Larsen in the head while he was prone on the ice, prompting Canucks players Markus Granlund and Jacob Markstrom to push the scrum away from their fallen teammate to prevent any further harm. Larsen was taken away from the game on a stretcher and spent the night in a New Jersey hospital before being discharged and sent back to Vancouver. Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said that he talked to Larsen, who was in good spirits and had full movement in his extremities, even going as far as to say there’s a chance he could come back at some point during Vancouver’s current five-game road swing, a trip in which they are 1-1-0 so far after Thursday’s 5-1 victory in Tampa Bay.
CANADIENS LOSE A PAIR OF KEY PLAYERS FOR 6-8 WEEKS
The Montreal Canadiens have spent the majority of the season on top of both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, thanks in large part to the efforts of goalie/superhero Carey Price and defenseman extraordinaire Shea Weber. Unfortunately for the Habs, they’ll be without their two top centers, Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais, after each of them recently suffered knee injuries that will keep them out for 6-8 weeks. Injuries played a huge part in Montreal’s downfall a season ago, most notably when Price went down for the season in November of that year. Galchenyuk was having a very good season up to the point of his injury, leading the team in goals (9) and points (23). Having both players out will be a blow for the Canadiens, as missing two key centers would be detrimental to any team, but as long as Price stays healthy, the Canadiens should be able to survive the losses. Montreal will need a lot more from veteran center Tomas Plekanec, who has always been a solid two-way player, but only has two goals and nine points so far this season. He’s on pace for a career-low in points if he continues at his current rate. Free agent acquisition Alexander Radulov has been a revelation for the Habs, and they’ll also need him to up his production in Galchenyuk and Desharnais’s absences.
FLYERS AND FLAMES ON A ROLL
About a week-and-a-half ago, both the Philadelphia Flyers and the Calgary Flames were teams having mediocre seasons through Thanksgiving. As of this writing, both teams have surged up the standings, with the Flyers having won their last seven, including a thrilling 6-5 come-from-behind win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night. Much of that has to do with the efforts of Steve Mason, who has won his last six starts between the pipes, compiling a save percentage of .928 save percentage during that time. Philadelphia has held the opposition to two goals or fewer in five of the seven games in their current streak. Meanwhile, the Flames have gone 8-2-1 in their last 11, including wins in their last five games that have put them in a tie with Edmonton for first place in the Pacific Division. Goaltending has also been a catalyst for Calgary, as Chad Johnson has been the hot hand between the pipes, taking over for the struggling Brian Elliott and going 10-2-0 in his last 12 starts. Johnny Gaudreau returned after missing 10 games with a broken finger and has tallied two goals and four assists in the three games he’s played since then. Gaudreau has 17 points in 20 games so far this season.
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