Chris Snow's legacy, Bedard ready to get on with it, and 5 other NHL items
There's a 13-second video of Chris Snow that, in its simplicity, reveals a lot about a man whose heartbreaking and inspirational battle with ALS will leave a lasting impact.
Four years into his fight, Snow, the vice president of hockey operations and assistant general manager for the Calgary Flames, is seen checking a chore off the to-do list.
"Chris has almost no use of his hands and arms, but here he is today, mowing the lawn after he got home from work. Where there's a will …" Snow's wife, Kelsie, wrote as she shared the video on X, previously Twitter, on July 20.
Earlier this week, Snow went into cardiac arrest and suffered a catastrophic brain injury caused by a lack of oxygen. The 42-year-old father of two is on life support while organ donation is being arranged, Kelsie said Thursday.
"Chris is the most brilliant, beautiful person I'll ever know, and doing life without him feels untenable," she wrote Wednesday. "Hug your people."
Snow's legacy will start with his children, Cohen and Willa, and their impact on the world. It'll extend to the ALS community, which has witnessed Snow undergo experimental treatment and live three years beyond the 12-month prognosis he was given after being diagnosed in 2019.
"I can no longer drink any liquids. Can't bathe myself. Can't dress myself. Can't drive. Can't speak above a whisper," Snow wrote in June. "And yet I'm as energized as ever and the healthiest I've been since last summer. I've come to view health and disability as two very different things."
But the Massachusetts native's legacy will reach even further, stretching to hockey fans and anybody else across the world who read, watched, or listened as the Snow family courageously documented the crushing setbacks and moments of optimism. Snow, who joined the Flames in 2011 after time with the Minnesota Wild and years as a sports journalist, taught us about the fragility of life.
He taught us about priorities. About bravery. About hope in bleak times.
"Never heard him complain once about this," Flames general manager Craig Conroy said through tears Thursday at a press conference announcing Mikael Backlund as captain.
"It doesn't seem right not to have Snowy here with me," Conroy added. "I was fortunate enough to bring Cohen. Little Snowy's here, and that means more than you know."
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family. You can donate here.
Can Graves be valuable safety valve?
After the dust settled on the Erik Karlsson trade, many wondered how Pittsburgh would deploy him and Kris Letang on power-play. So far, both are skating on the top unit.
Next was the topic of pairings for the offensively minded wild cards. So far, it's trusty Marcus Pettersson with Karlsson and trusty Ryan Graves with Letang.
Graves, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound specimen, is a low-key signing on the back end. Pittsburgh inked the former Devil to a six-year, $27-million contract because he profiles as a model safety valve for Letang (or Karlsson).
Safety valve doesn't mean plodding or surly. Graves isn't overly physical. He prefers to use his length and strong skating to efficiently retrieve pucks for the breakout, and while defending the rush, close gaps and create turnovers.
"A good stick, good feet, and long range is really hard to play against," Graves explained in a recent interview. "It can be frustrating for opponents. So that's where I'm at - that's what brings me the most success, as opposed to going out there and running around and being a big bruiser.
"I try to play tough in front of my own net. I want people to think it's going to be hard to come into the crease. But, no, I'm not going to be a guy who's running around looking for big hits all the time. It's usually counterproductive."
What outsiders might not realize about NHLers of Graves' size is that the smooth skating doesn't come naturally. It's been a progression - from uncoordinated as a junior to satisfactory as an early pro to explosive now.
"It's been a grind for me to get to this point," Graves said of his skating. "I was clumsy at a younger age, where I was tall, lanky. It took a lot of hours of power skating and really working on technique to get to where I am now. There were a couple of long summers of working on skating mechanics, with no pucks on the ice. Like, really working at it, drill after drill, day after day."
The work has paid off. And while the preseason hasn't been entirely smooth for Graves-Letang, there's potential in that pair. Pettersson-Karlsson, too.
Zadina's big bet on himself
Amid an offseason of high-profile trades, signings, and firings, Filip Zadina quietly placed a career-defining bet on himself. On July 7, Zadina and the Red Wings mutually agreed to terminate the final two years of his three-year deal.
The forward walked away from $4.56 million in guaranteed money to become an unrestricted free agent and, at 23 years old, pick his next home.
Zadina went on to sign a one-year, $1.1-million deal with the rebuilding Sharks. The 2018 sixth overall pick has a chance to earn a top-six role and time on the power play's first unit. Zadina, who suffered a minor injury in preseason action Wednesday, told Sportsnet in August that he was "in a circle" in Detroit, with injuries and AHL demotions causing several false starts.
The Sharks offer a soft landing that could benefit the player and the team.
"I see a determined hockey player," Sharks forward Logan Couture told theScore last week of Zadina. "He looks like he's in great shape. I think he's got something to prove. He did it for an opportunity."
When we talked, Couture hadn't spoken at any great length with Zadina about what transpired in Detroit. Even without insider knowledge, the longtime Shark and captain thinks there's a glass-half-full perspective.
"If you play up to your abilities and you believe in yourself, you'll make the money back in a contract down the road anyways," Couture said of the rare move to walk away from guaranteed money. "I'm sure that's probably crept into his mind or something that he's thought about as well."
Zadina was a prolific goal-scorer during his draft year, potting 44 in 57 QMJHL games. His final stat line with Detroit: 28 goals and 40 assists in 190 games.
Bedard ready to get on with it
Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, and Connor Bedard were in Las Vegas for a preseason media event earlier this month. It may have been the first time all three generational talents were in the same building at the same time.
Nobody except Crosby and McDavid can truly relate to what Bedard has experienced over the past year. Like Bedard, they went through the lottery, combine, and draft as the guaranteed top pick. Like him, they got pulled in every direction for press conferences, photoshoots, and endorsements. Like him, their rookie point projection was a popular subject on sports-talk radio.
It's a lot of hype and not a lot of playing hockey. "People are probably getting sick of seeing me all the time. I would be," Bedard, 18, said in Vegas.
McDavid, now 26 and entering his ninth season, remembers that feeling well.
"You just want to start playing," the Oilers captain recalled. "The longer it goes, the longer you're thinking about it. I know for me I was starting to have doubts in terms of, 'Why is there all this (hype)?' You feel good about your game, you know you're a good player, but it's like, 'This feels like this is a little bit above and beyond,' and I'm sure he's gotten to that point as well."
Luckily, Crosby and McDavid have passed down a pearl or two of wisdom.
"You've gotta say no sometimes," said Bedard, who picked up two points Thursday in his preseason debut. "You've gotta focus on hockey - which is not a problem for me. They've given me some good advice. They're guys who have gone through a similar thing up until this point. So it's good to hear from them on that."
Captain figures: It's looking like the season will start with 27 team captains. Anaheim, Arizona, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seattle are the only clubs without one. (You'll notice a trend: Aside from Seattle, those teams aren't ready to win.) Of the 27 captains, five are new, including Boston's Brad Marchand, while five have worn the 'C' for at least a decade. Crosby, in Year 17 as Pittsburgh's leader, is two seasons from tying Detroit's Steve Yzerman for longest-serving captain ever. It's amusing talking to NHLers about the importance of having a captain. Generally, if a player is on a team with a captain, they'll say it's an amazing and necessary component of team culture. If a player is on a team without a captain, they'll say it's mostly symbolic and the room is filled with unofficial captains anyway.
Kingly depth: Los Angeles doesn't have the NHL's best center or the best one-two punch down the middle. What the Kings do boast is the best one-through-four depth, with Anze Kopitar, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Phillip Danault, and Blake Lizotte filling the lineup card. Kopitar is a brilliant two-way player, Dubois injects scoring punch and size, and Danault is the defensive specialist. Meanwhile, Lizotte is the perfect fourth-line center for the modern game. The undrafted 25-year-old pursues pucks like his life is on the line. Lizotte has enough skill to chip in offensively and is a force on the penalty kill. "He's like a little bee out there. He never stops," Dubois said recently. "Never stops" would be a fitting label for the Kings' center depth. Look out, Pacific Division.
Tick, tock: It's Sept. 29, and two of the four remaining unsigned restricted free agents play for the same team. The Ducks, who have $16.6 million in salary cap space despite overspending on role players in free agency, continue to negotiate with 22-year-old forward Trevor Zegras and 21-year-old defenseman Jamie Drysdale. Neither player has much leverage (no arbitration rights; Drysdale missed all but eight games last year), so I understand why GM Pat Verbeek would try to "win" these negotiations. But dragging them on might do more harm than good. Doesn't Anaheim want to take a step forward in its rebuild this year? Find a way to bridge both guys and move on.
Takes, Thoughts, and Trends is theScore's biweekly hockey grab bag.
John Matisz is theScore's senior NHL writer. Follow John on Twitter (@MatiszJohn) or contact him via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).