Matthews, Laine and Werenski are Calder Trophy finalists
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews, Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Zach Werenski and Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine are the finalists for the Calder Trophy for NHL rookie of the year.
The league announced the top three in voting Thursday night.
Matthews is the front-runner after scoring 40 goals and leading all rookies with 69 points. He was the best rookie on a young Maple Leafs team that also had Calder contenders William Nylander and Mitch Marner.
Laine missed nine games with a concussion but still finished with 36 goals and 28 assists.
Werenski led all rookie defencemen with 47 points on 11 goals and 36 assists.
The winner will be announced at the NHL awards show June 21 in Las Vegas.
Matthews said he was honoured to be a finalist.
“There are so many great rookies in this year’s class,” Matthews said. “I’ve been fortunate to play with a lot of great teammates this season and have had a blast playing in Toronto.”
Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz has had a blast watching Matthews and the rest of the rookie class this year. He said the 23-and-under Team North America at the World Cup was a taste of what was to come this season, and that panned out.
“We’re in a window where the next generation of players are exceptionally talented, their skillset and their ability to do things at a high rate of speed, their skillsets are off the charts,” Trotz said Thursday. “The skill of these young players is off the charts and as a hockey fan, even as a coach you see some of these young players come in and I had that whole sort of thought process at the World Cup watching the young team is that, ‘Oh my lord, this is scary good, the young players.’ ”
NEW YORK — David Stern hasn’t left the NBA far behind. Just a few blocks, actually.
His office these days is located in a building near the one he had as commissioner, the job he left in 2014 after 30 years in which he helped turn a struggling league into a $5 billion annual behemoth.
For the most part, he likes the direction of the league the last three years.
“In addition to the talent, I’m in awe of the shooting skills of Steph Curry, of Klay Thompson, of a (Russell) Westbrook and a (James) Harden, et cetera,” Stern told The Associated Press by phone. “But I’m also in awe of the potential the league has both digitally and globally. So the game is strong, the attendance is at a record, the future is extraordinary internationally and the league is a leader under Adam (Silver) in the digital sphere.
“So it’s really a wonderful opportunity for the owners, for the players, and for my former colleagues at the team and league level.”
Stern, as would be expected, is keenly aware that it hasn’t been smooth sailing for Silver and the league. The NBA is still searching for solutions to some problems that were vexing under Stern, such as tanking and healthy players sitting out games.
He talks with Silver, but won’t comment on their discussions about those issues or anything else.
“That would involve the commissioner-slash-commissioner-emeritus privilege,” he said.
Stern, 74, is more businessman than sportsman now, advising venture capital firms from his position atop DJS Global Advisors and investing in a number of startups, some of them in sports technology. He still watches plenty of games, and the viewing process helps guide his investment strategies.
The league that once begged for a television presence — the NBA Finals that were sometimes shown on tape delay into the early 1980s — now has national TV deals that are worth more than $2.6 billion annually. But fans aren’t just watching games on TV anymore, and Stern believes their viewing habits will change even more in the coming years.
“The fans are going to want to be able to see what they want to see, when they want to see it and on any device they want to see it on,” he said.
Stern believes viewers will favour streaming services and virtual reality, with output from wearable technology to provide statistical data to augment what they’re watching. So this week he and a group of partners that includes Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim announced the launch of SportsCastr.Live , a streaming platform that allows users to be colour commentators and to select which sportscaster they wish to have call, recap or make predictions on a game.
That adds to previous investments that include ShotTracker, in which sensors send real-time data to coaches’ smart devices, and LiveLike, a virtual reality platform to watch sports.
“The key catchword is personalization,” Stern said. “So I’m going to want to watch the visiting feed in virtual reality, which the NBA has one game a week now, with realtime stats that are going to be on my smart device because ShotTracker is going to bring it to me.”
That sounds like it would be a good fit for his new lifestyle.
The businessman doesn’t miss being basketball’s biggest decision maker, a job he held from Feb. 1, 1984 — a few months before Magic Johnson and Larry Bird first met in the NBA Finals and Michael Jordan was drafted — until Silver, his former assistant — took over. But when he stepped down as commissioner, he refused to let staffers call his departure a “retirement” as he prepared to move out of his former home just off Fifth Avenue.
Stern still takes some trips overseas on the NBA’s behalf.
“I’m as busy as ever, but not at night,” Stern said. “Nobody calls, nobody goes into the stands, nobody goes after their coach, nobody bumps an official. My life has been purified.”
“I haven’t cut down on vacation,” he added. “I think I’ve increased them and I love being busy and I love that my work brings me in contact with the sport that I’m such a huge fan of and that I have devoted so much of my life.”
Former NBA commish David Stern is more businessman than sportsman now.