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Dan’s Daily: The Cup! McDavid Snubs, a Big Trade, & Penguins Pressure

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Florida Panthers, Stanley Cup. Sam Reinhart. NHL trade rumors, Pittsburgh Penguins pressure.

The season is finally over. The Florida Panthers are Stanley Cup champions, while losing captain Connor McDavid snubbed the Conn Smythe Trophy. Whoops. Just before Game 7, the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators finally made the big trade for Linus Ullmark. The Arizona Coyotes are officially defunct, and there’s now a great deal of pressure on the next five days for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

OK, let’s tackle the Conn Smythe Award controversy. I’m loathe to criticize my colleagues, but in this case, I’ve got a little chip. You may have seen Mark Messier and P.K. Subban on ESPN state that the winner of the award should come from the winning team. Of course. Except in extreme circumstances, that’s the way it should be. You can debate Sasha Barkov or Sergei Bobrovsky, but I don’t think McDavid created an extreme circumstance that demanded a member of the losing team win the award.

It seems like the McDavid idea snowballed after Game 5, and no one noticed that McDavid was held in check for Games 6 and 7. A lot of voters wanted to give it to McDavid. And, delicately, hockey is Canada’s game. But the awkward postgame fallout in which McDavid didn’t return to the ice for the trophy was just another reason why a winner should get the trophy.

But what a special moment it was to watch Paul Maurice’s moment with the Stanley Cup.

Two years in a row, a very media-friendly coach has lifted the Cup. Bruce Cassidy and Maurice are coaches who don’t mind answering hockey questions, who occasionally but gently chastise players, admit mistakes, and have some fun with the media process because they know that, ultimately, we’re the window to the public. Good on Maurice. Guys like him make the game better for fans.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Hockey Now: We turn the page to next season, the 2024-25 Penguins preseason schedule.

We do turn the page and can officially call 2023-24 “last season.” That’s what makes the next seven days crucial. In fact, what happens this week at the NHL Draft and then the start of free agency could come to define the Penguins and president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas.

Pittsburgh Baseball Now: OK, the Reds pummeled the Pirates 11-5 in the series opener, so we’re going to skip past that. Instead, John Perrotto brought the big bat, which the Buccos rarely do. John writes that it’s time for a change to the Pirates coaching staff.

Steelers Now (+): For subscribers, new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith has been making tweaks and changes and creating new packages for presumed backup quarterback Justin Fields. Now, there is a schematic change. Is he bringing back the fullback to the Steelers’ offense?

NHL Trade Talk, Stanley Cup, & National Hockey Now

Florida Hockey Now: They did it. They somehow, someway, dug deep, and despite the tidal wave of momentum for Edmonton and against the best player in the world, the Florida Panthers are Stanley Cup champions.

My favorite story–our George Richards has covered the Florida Panthers forever. I don’t even know when his first year was, but he’s been covering FLA longer and better than anyone. And he got to cover the best moments–on the ice with the Stanley Cup.

Now, the sad part of the late-season conclusion is that free agency starts in a few days. The championship parade might not happen until after the start of free agency. Can you believe that? Players might sign elsewhere and then have a parade in their honor. Awkward. The chief free agent who might exceed Florida’s budget is Sam Reinhart, who scored 57 goals this season, but he told Florida Hockey Now–“I don’t want to leave.” Here’s Sam Reinhart’s own words.

George and his protege, Colby Guy, have provided outstanding coverage. When the newspapers abandoned the Panthers, when local TV stations couldn’t find their way to the arena, and when even the league reporter wasn’t around, Florida Hockey Now was.

Boston Hockey Now: The other shoe finally dropped. After New Jersey made the big splash for Jacob Markstrom, the Ottawa Senators were on the clock. They got perhaps the next best option, if not the better option when they swiped Linus Ullmark from the Boston Bruins.

Ottawa Sun: This was written before the big trade last night. Jakob Chychrun is available, and Ottawa has a couple of young players who have not panned out that Garrioch believes could be had cheaply on the NHL trade block. Ottawa is open for business.

NYI Hockey Now: Avoid, avoid. To break out of the middle, the New York Islanders may have to gamble a little bit, but Russel Macias writes the three free agents who will not help the Islanders.

It’s finally over. Now, Florida Panthers fans, you’ve experienced the greatest moment a fan can experience. You haven’t always shown up or stuck around. We expect you to start telling your friends about hockey. Start bringing your friends to hockey games. And start filling the arena, not just showing up for parades and playoff games, aight?

Go PHNX: What terrible timing. Literally, as the minutes ticked down on a drama-filled Game 7, news broke that the Arizona Coyotes owner was walking away from efforts to build a new arena, thus officially ending any chance that the Coyotes would reconstitute.

For all of his words and chest pounding, it all fell apart, and he quit … with a billion dollars in his pocket. Not bad work if you can get it.