There’s a soft side to John Tortorella of which many of his friends and family are aware, but which has been hidden from the public. One of the Rangers coach’s favorite projects is the taking care of animals, especially stray dogs. In that regard he has worked closely with the Westchester Shores Humane Society and other organizations for the humane treatment of animals. This soft side of Torts will be evident on September 9 at Riverside Park in New York City, where he’ll be hosting a Dog Walk fundraiser.
• One possible victim of an NHL work stoppage would be the somewhat-ballyhooed exhibition game at Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center on October 2nd. Pitting the Islanders vs. the Devils, the game would provide a showcase for the rink as a hockey venue. Our sources indicate that the NHL does not favor a big-league club in Brooklyn, but an AHL sextet is possible. If the October game must be canceled, it’s questionable when another NHL exhibition will be played there.
• Several NHL cities such as Detroit—Hockeytown, USA—link themselves to a pseudonym that connotes the area’s passion for the ice game. Buffalo’s Sabreland is right up with the most intense of them. For proof positive, there’s the excellent work of Sabres’ owner Terry Pegula. He seems to be bolstering the ice game in western New York in every way. Pegula’s proposal includes the construction of two rinks as part of an entertainment center including a hotel and restaurants. The rinks will be enclosed indoors and will have hundreds of seats for spectators, including a hotel to attract vacationers and hockey tournaments. Their competitor, developer Carl Paladino, led a team that is proposing a $64 million plan which will be focused on apartments, restaurants, retail and office space.
• With little fuss or fanfare, Lou Lamoriello has been adding to his roster. The end game is replacing Zach Parise's production. Recently-acquired Bobby Butler may not be the answer, but he's yet another foot soldier who could fit neatly into the Devils game plan. Replacing the 31 goals and 69 points that Zach created will not be an easy challenge, but it is one that coach Pete DeBoerwill be ready to face. Butler had six goals and ten assists last season with the Senators, however he will be counted on to play a bigger role this upcoming year with the Devs, meaning an increased work load and more ice time.
• Sports-betting site Bovada released the latest Stanley Cup odds for the 2012-13 season. Pittsburgh leads the list with eight-to-one odds as the early season favorite to win it all with the Rangers taking a close second at nine-to-one. Some other noteworthy odds include the Bruins, sitting at 16-to-1 and the revamped Hurricanes, at 22-to-1; the kind of dark horse picks that may deliver the best bang for your buck.
• Two more ice rinks are being planned in Israel. One is slated for the metropolis of Tel Aviv and the other in the country's Southernmost resort city of Eilat. Currently, the only Olympic-sized rink in the nation is located in Metulla, right on the Lebanese border. Dubbed the Canada Centre, it has been funded by Canadian-Jewish benefactors who've backed learn-to-play hockey programs for boys and girls from the age of five up.
• The passing of Boston Red Sox legend, John Pesky hit close to home for the entire New England area. Pesky made an impact beyond baseball and was liked by all. Former Bruin and current Hall of Famer, Milt Schmidt recalls his time with Johnny Pesky: “John was a great pal and great friend...one of my best friends that I have come across during my stay here in Boston. We were very, very close and I think we became close because he was such a great hockey fan. What a great man he was to know.”
• USA Hockey is holding a National Hockey Coaches Symposium in Washington D.C. from August 23-26. Capitals vice president and general manager George McPhee, Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette, and Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma are among the notable speakers during the four days.