Connect with us


Notebook: Matheson Mature in Montreal; Boston … Penguins?



Mike Matheson

Mike Matheson was a mess when the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired him from Florida on Sept. 24, 2020.

He had gone from earning an eight-year contract worth $39 million after his first full season in the NHL  to becoming a virtual afterthought — or worse — for the Panthers.

But Penguins associate coach Todd Reirden revitalized Matheson’s game and, in the process, restored his confidence. Sure, Matheson still had an occasional misadventure in the defensive zone, but his speed and offensive abilities allowed him to get back on his original career trajectory.

And his intangibles seem to have kept pace with his talent.

Montreal acquired him, along with a fourth-round draft choice. from the Penguins for Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling last summer, and while Petry and Poehling already have moved on, Matheson appears to be settling in for a long run with his hometown Canadiens.

Despite injuries that limited him to 48 games in 2022-23, Matheson was Montreal’s highest-scoring defenseman, with eight goals and 26 assists. (That’s 14 more points than the runner-up, David Savard, had in 62 games.)

Stats aside, perhaps the most revealing commentary on the state of Matheson’s game came this week, when Canadiens management selected him to serve as an alternate captain.

Montreal is constructing a talented, but decidedly youthful, lineup, and veteran leadership in the locker room and on the ice will be critical to helping that group reach its potential.

That the people running the team determined that Matheson, 29, should have a prominent role in pursuing that objective is testimony to how far his game has come during the past three years.

Penguins, Bruins overlap

There is a definite Pittsburgh Penguins flavor to the Boston Bruins’ “Historic 100” players announced Tuesday, a month before that club plans to reveal its 20-member “All-Centennial” club.

No fewer than a dozen of those 100 spent time on the Penguins’ payroll, all but one of them as a player.

The exception was Eddie Johnston, who had stints as coach and GM here.

The other 11 were Don Awrey, Leo Boivin, Andrew Ference, Stan Jonathan, Phil Kessel, Glen Murray, Barry Pederson, Mark Recchi, Derek Sanderson, Gregg Sheppard and Charlie Simmer.

Per the Bruins, the “Historic 100” were chosen by an “independent committee of journalists and media members, historians and members of the hockey community.”

Tweaking some rules

It will be interesting to see if the NHL pays attention to — and possibly even adopts someday — a few rules changes that are being introduced in Europe’s Champions Hockey League, which begins play Oct. 10.

They are:

*** Minor penalties must be served in full, regardless of whether the team with the man-advantage scores a goal.

*** If a team gets a shorthanded goal, the penalty it is killing ends immediately.

*** Penalties will be assessed even if the team that is going to get the man-advantage scores a goal before play is blown dead.

All of those adjustments obviously are intended to generate more offense, something in which NHL officials have occasionally expressed interest.

For the record, there was a time when the NHL required that the full two minutes of minor penalties be served, but it changed that rule in 1956 because Montreal’s power play was so prolific.