The Vegas Golden Knights have fired Gerard Gallant, the franchise's first head coach, and his assistant Mike Kelly to allow the team to "reach its full potential".

Gallant, who was appointed when the Golden Knights launched as a NHL expansion franchise in 2017, has been replaced by former San Jose Sharks boss Peter DeBoer. 

The Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup finals in their first season under Gallant's stewardship, losing in five games to the Washington Capitals.

Vegas again made the playoffs in 2018-19 but bowed out in the first round to DeBoer's Sharks across seven games.

DeBoer oversaw four successive playoff appearances for San Jose, leading them to the Stanley Cup finals in 2016. The Sharks were beaten by the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.

However, he was fired last month having won only 15 of 33 games in the 2019-20 campaign.

The Golden Knights are 24-19-6 after 49 games and still firmly in contention for a wild card berth.

But, in a statement, general manager Kelly McCrimmon said: "In order for our team to reach its full potential, we determined a coaching change was necessary.

"Our team is capable of more than we have demonstrated this season. We would like to thank Gerard and Mike for their service to the Vegas Golden Knights.

"They were both instrumental to the success we have enjoyed in our first two-plus seasons and we wish them all the best moving forward.

"In Peter DeBoer, we have a proven, experienced head coach who we believe can help us achieve our ultimate goal.

"We are excited to welcome Peter and his family to the Vegas Golden Knights organisation. We look forward to a strong finish to the 2019-20 season with Peter at the helm and a successful tenure in the seasons to come."

Pekka Rinne became the first goalie to score in the NHL since 2013 as the Nashville Predators defeated the Chicago Blackhawks.

Predators goaltender Rinne accomplished the feat with 22 seconds remaining in Nashville's 5-2 win over the Blackhawks in Chicago on Thursday.

It was Rinne's first career goal as he became just the 12th goalie in NHL history to find the back of the net, while he is the second oldest goaltender to do so at 37 years and 67 days.

"For sure [it's a dream come true], I'm not going to lie," said Rinne, who scored an empty-net goal. "I obviously understand it might be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so I really enjoyed it.

"It was an awesome feeling seeing the puck go in… But I'm trying to see it and then [Roman Josi] and [Nick] Bonino, I think they were going nuts, and it was pretty cool. I just threw my hands up in the air tried to try to act as cool as I can."

The Predators became the first franchise in NHL history with two goaltenders to score after Rinne joined Chris Mason in the record books.

Drafted by the Predators in 2004, Finnish veteran Rinne is a four-time All-Star and Vezina Trophy winner.

The evolving world of sport means a new decade is likely to see widespread change.

With superstars like Lionel Messi, LeBron James, Roger Federer and Lewis Hamilton unlikely to be plying their trades in 2030, the stage is set for new names to come to the fore.

Omnisport's team of writers have tipped 20 20-year-olds to do just that over the next 10 years.

 

Men's football: Joao Felix

A €126m move from Benfica to Atletico Madrid made Joao Felix the second most expensive teenager in football history. His career in LaLiga is yet to truly ignite but the forward's lavish gifts are beyond doubt as he faces up to the decade when Cristiano Ronaldo will leave the stage for their native Portugal. Joao Felix is the anointed heir.

Basketball: Luka Doncic

The 2018 EuroLeague MVP and 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year, Doncic's incredible rise has continued unchecked this season – he is averaging 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 9.0 assists for the Dallas Mavericks. He should earn a first All-Star appearance this season and make his bow in the playoffs, where you would expect to see him featuring regularly in the coming years.

Cricket: Prithvi Shaw

Opening batsman Shaw became the youngest Indian to score a Test hundred on debut in 2018 and followed that up with a half-century in his second appearance. However, last year was one to forget for Shaw, who had injury problems before serving a six-month doping ban having taken a substance typically found in cough syrups. A first-class double hundred last month suggests he is ready to make up for lost time.

Tennis: Marketa Vondrousova

Although she was unable to win a title on the WTA Tour in 2019, Vondrousova was the runner-up at the French Open – one of three final appearances last year – and having risen to 16th in the world rankings she looks set to break the top 10 soon. The Czech's unorthodox playing style and penchant for drop shots makes her a particularly entertaining watch.

Formula One: Lando Norris

Norris enjoyed an excellent debut season in Formula One, helping McLaren to an impressive fourth place in the constructors' championship. After landing three straight points finishes to end the year, he carries momentum into 2020 and looks capable of challenging Charles Leclerc and Max Verstappen over the next 10 years.

UFC: Chase Hooper

Featherweight Hooper was awarded a development deal after winning the second season of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series in 2018 and is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster. He improved his unbeaten mixed martial arts record to 8-0-1 by stopping David Teymur in the first round of a thoroughly impressive UFC debut in December.

American football: Trevor Lawrence

The NFL is blessed with talented young quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson, but the potential star of the 2020s will not enter the league until 2021 at the earliest. Clemson's Lawrence possess the size, skill and nerve to succeed at the next level. He is still yet to lose a game in college and is one win away from back-to-back National Championships.

Sport climbing: Janja Garnbret

Sport climbing will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 and Garnbret is a favourite for success. She successfully defended her bouldering and combined titles at last year's world championships and added gold in the lead discipline. The Slovenian's tally of 14 International Federation of Sport Climbing titles is unprecedented.

Rugby league: Tom Flegler

Front-rower Flegler enjoyed a hugely promising breakthrough year with Brisbane Broncos in 2019, featuring 23 times in his maiden campaign. He has reportedly knocked back a host of lucrative offers to remain with Brisbane in 2020 and will now aim to make an even bigger impact.

Women's football: Georgia Stanway

Vastly experienced for her age, Stanway joined Manchester City from Blackburn Rovers and made her Women's Super League debut at 16 in 2015. She won her second FA Cup with a goalscoring player-of-the-match display as City beat West Ham 3-0 in 2019's Wembley final and was the youngest member of an England squad Phil Neville led to the World Cup semi-finals. If the Lionesses are to take the next step over the coming decade, expect Stanway to play a vital role.

Rugby union: Marcus Smith

Harlequins fly-half Smith is knocking on the door for full England selection after an impressive first two years of his club career. He was man of the match in last July's win over Barbarians, which fans of Eddie Jones' side will hope is a sign of things to come over the next decade.

Golf: Matthew Wolff

The PGA Tour welcomed a host of talented rookies in 2019, but Wolff may just be the best of the bunch. A standout college player with an unorthodox swing that generates enormous power, he won last July's 3M Open in only his third professional start.

MotoGP: Fabio Quartararo

After Jorge Lorenzo, the only man to defeat Marc Marquez in a MotoGP world championship, retired, and with Valentino Rossi nearing the end of his career, fans are looking to the next generation. That group looks set to be led by Quartararo, who will ride a factory-spec Yamaha for 2020 after claiming six pole positions and seven podiums in a magnificent rookie season.

Golf: Nasa Hataoka

Already fifth in the women's world rankings, Hataoka has claimed three LPGA Tour titles in the past 18 months, after becoming the first amateur to win a major on the Japan LPGA Tour back in 2016.

Baseball: Vladimir Guerrero Jnr

Guerrero has a lot to live up to but has already shown enough to suggest he may follow his father into baseball's Hall of Fame. Having signed for the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent in 2015, Guerrero served his time in the minors before making his debut in the Major Leagues last April. He spent the rest of his maiden season displaying the kind of power that has marked him out as a star of the future, hitting .272, mashing 15 home runs and knocking in 69 RBI. By the end of the next decade, his may well be the face of baseball.

Ice Hockey: Quinn Hughes

Hughes, who could not even debut for the Vancouver Canucks until he recovered from an ankle injury in March, is an elite defenseman who also sat top of the rookie assist chart in late December.

Swimming: Michael Andrew

This year is an Olympic one and for the first time since the 1996 Games, Michael Phelps will not be in the pool. The United States needs a new swimming hero, and the hope is that Phelps' namesake can be the next star. Andrew was the youngest US swimmer to ever turn professional when he did so at 14 and, having finished fourth in the 50 metres butterfly at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships, he appears primed to be a breakout star in Tokyo.

Tennis: Denis Shapovalov

Shapovalov finished 2019 at a career-high ATP ranking of 15th, having won his first title in Stockholm. Expect his threat at the 2020 majors to be very real.

Athletics: Sydney McLaughlin

At the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, gold in the 4x400 metres relay followed silver in the 400m hurdles for McLaughlin. Only a Dalilah Muhammad world record was enough to deny her the victory.

Boxing: Joseph Adorno

Currently plying his trade in the lightweight division, Adorno was brought up in Puerto Rico and his thunderous left hook has drawn comparisons to Miguel Cotto – the great four-weight world champion hailing from that boxing-mad island. Promoters Top Rank will look to step up Adorno's level of opposition in 2020, although anyone climbing into the corner opposite a young man boasting a 14-0 record with 12 knockouts should make sure they get well paid.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev underwent surgery to repair a severed artery and tendons in his wrist, the NHL team announced on Saturday.

Mikheyev is facing at least three months on the sidelines following the gruesome injury suffered against the New Jersey Devils on Friday.

The 25-year-old rookie, who is expected to make a full recovery, was cut by the skate of the Devils' Jesper Bratt in the third period.

Mikheyev left a trail of blood on the ice as he immediately exited the rink in a scary moment for the Maple Leafs, who won 5-4 in overtime.

The Russian has scored eight goals and supplied 15 assists for 23 points this season.

The Dallas Stars have fired head coach Jim Montgomery for "unprofessional conduct".

Montgomery was hired by the Stars in May of last year and led them to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, losing to eventual champions the St. Louis Blues in seven games.

Dallas have made a strong start to the 2019-20 campaign, posting a 17-11-3 record through 31 games, but announced the shock decision to dismiss Montgomery on Tuesday.

A statement from general manager Jim Nill read: "The Dallas Stars expect all of our employees to act with integrity and exhibit professional behaviour while working for and representing our organisation.

"This decision was made due to unprofessional conduct inconsistent with the core values and beliefs of the Dallas Stars and the National Hockey League."

Nill was later quizzed on the nature of the incident that led to Montgomery's exit in a media conference, but refused to divulge any details "out of respect for those involved".

He said he was made aware of a "material act of unprofessionalism" over the weekend and that there was no connection to any players past or present.

The GM added there was no criminal investigation involved and that there is no timeline for the appointment of a new head coach.

Assistant Rick Bowness will take interim charge of the team, who host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

The Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) is looking into how best it can help the country’s men’s ice hockey team chase for a historic place at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, in 2022.

The New Jersey Devils fired head coach John Hynes on Tuesday after a slow start to the NHL season.

Appointed in 2015, Hynes was fired with the Devils holding a 9-13-4 record.

Alain Nasreddine was appointed interim head coach and Peter Horachek an assistant.

"John played an integral role in the development of this team in establishing a foundation for our future and we are grateful for his commitment, passion and unmatched work ethic," Devils executive vice-president/general manager Ray Shero said in a statement.

"John is a respected leader, developer of talent and friend which makes this decision difficult. We are a team that values and takes pride in accountability to the results we produce.

"We are collectively disappointed in our performance on the ice and believe changes were needed, starting with our head coach.

"I have been consistent in my desire to build something here in New Jersey that earns the respect of teams throughout the league and pride in our fans. That is not where we were heading and for me to tolerate anything less was not acceptable."

Hynes finished with a 150-159-45 record at the helm of the Devils, leading them to the playoffs in 2017-18.

He ranks second in the Devils' history for games coached, wins and points.

Bill Peters has resigned as the Calgary Flames coach following an accusation he racially abused one of his former players a decade ago.

Earlier this week Nigerian-born Akim Aliu, who previously played for the Flames in the NHL, claimed Peters "dropped the N bomb several times towards me" when he was a minor league player "because he didn't like my choice of music".

The NHL released a statement calling the alleged comments "repugnant and unacceptable" and the Flames launched an investigation.

On Wednesday, TSN published a letter from Peters to Flames general manager Brad Treliving in which the coach apologised for "offensive language I used in a professional setting a decade ago".

In the letter, he also wrote: "Although it was an isolated and immediately regrettable incident, I take responsibility for what I said. The statement was made in a moment of frustration and does not reflect my personal values."

Aliu later called that letter "misleading, insincere and concerning".

Treliving conducted a press conference on Friday in which he revealed Peters, Calgary's coach since April 2018, had vacated his post.

"This morning I received a letter of resignation from Bill Peters, which I accepted," Treliving said.

"Effective immediately, Bill Peters is no longer a member of the Calgary Flames organisation."

The Toronto Maple Leafs sacked head coach Mike Babcock, the NHL franchise announced on Wednesday.

Toronto axed Babcock with the Maple Leafs struggling for form this season, and promoted Toronto Marlies coach Sheldon Keefe.

The Maple Leafs (9-10-4) decided to make a change amid a six-game winless streak following Tuesday's 4-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

"Over parts of the last five seasons, Mike has played an integral role in changing the direction of our franchise," Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said in a statement.

"Mike's commitment and tireless work ethic has put our organisation in a better place and we are extremely grateful and appreciative of the foundation he has helped us build here.

"At this time, we collectively felt that it was best to make a change to Sheldon Keefe. Sheldon's record with the Marlies in terms of development and on-ice success during his time in our organisation has compelled us all to feel that he is the right person to take us to the next stage in our evolution."

Babcock arrived in Toronto amid much hype in 2015, having led the Detroit Red Wings to Stanley Cup glory seven years earlier.

However, Babcock – who reportedly became the highest-paid coach in NHL history at the time of his arrival – was unable to deliver success.

The Maple Leafs made three consecutive playoff appearances heading into 2019-20, however, Toronto never advanced past the first round.

"I'm disappointed," Babcock said in a statement to TSN. "We didn't have the start to the year we wanted and that's on me. I want to thank the fans. I want to thank the media. I want to thank the city.

"It was spectacular. I loved every second of it. And I wish the new group nothing but success. Morgan Rielly has been here the whole time. I can't thank him enough. And all the players I got an opportunity to coach, it's been fantastic and I wish them nothing but success."

Five months on from the Raptors' stunning NBA Finals triumph in Oakland, the city of Toronto will hope to be celebrating further success after the MLS Cup final.

The Raptors defeated two-time defending champions the Golden State Warriors for their first title, and Toronto FC can add another championship by beating Seattle Sounders on Sunday.

Toronto and Seattle are facing one another in the season decider in MLS for the third time in four years, winning a title apiece at BMO Field before this showdown at CenturyLink Field.

Victory would cap a sensational 2019 for sports in Toronto, but other cities have similarly been able to hail two or more major championships in the same year previously. We take a look at the seven most recent examples.
 

1998: CHICAGO - Bulls (NBA), Fire (MLS)

Michael Jordan's NBA dominance with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s gave the city's other sports teams plenty of opportunities to complete a double. In 1998, two years after the introduction of MLS, early force Chicago Fire were able to deliver.

Jordan ended his final season in Chicago a champion once again, the MVP and Finals MVP as the Utah Jazz were beaten 4-2 in June. Fire then defeated DC United 2-0 at the Rose Bowl in October, capping a fine year for the Windy City.
 

2000: NEW JERSEY/NEW YORK - Devils (NHL), Yankees (MLB)

The sports teams in the greater New York area brought in the millennium in real style as both the New Jersey Devils and the New York Yankees were able to clinch championships.

The second of the Devils' three Stanley Cup successes to date came against the Dallas Stars in June's Game 6, before a New York victory at the World Series was guaranteed as the Yankees faced the Mets four months later. The Yankees won inside five games for a third straight title.
 

2002: LOS ANGELES - Lakers (NBA), Galaxy (MLS), Angels (MLB)

Few cities have enjoyed a year as dominant as Los Angeles did in 2002, with the Los Angeles Lakers, LA Galaxy and Anaheim Angels all triumphing.

The Lakers won the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year in June, crushing the New Jersey Nets 4-0, before October brought double delight for the city's sports fans, with Galaxy beating New England Revolution 1-0 as the Angels began their World Series campaign, ultimately edging out the San Francisco Giants in seven games.
 

2004: NEW ENGLAND/BOSTON - Patriots (NFL), Red Sox (MLB)

It should have surprised no one to see the New England Patriots win the Super Bowl, their second of three in four years, but it was a far bigger deal to see the Boston Red Sox come out on top in the World Series.

Tom Brady earned his second ring as the Carolina Panthers were edged out in a dramatic fourth quarter in February, before neighbours the Red Sox ended the 'Curse of the Bambino' and an 86-year wait for a championship by thrashing the St Louis Cardinals in October, having earlier come from 3-0 down against the Yankees.

2009: PITTSBURGH - Steelers (NFL), Penguins (NHL)

Pittsburgh sports fans have had plenty to celebrate since the turn of the century. The Pirates have largely toiled in MLB, but the NFL Steelers and NHL Penguins have each seen success - and did so in the same year in 2009.

The Steelers became the first franchise to win six Super Bowls when they held off a fourth-quarter fightback from the Arizona Cardinals in February, while the Penguins avenged their 2008 Stanley Cup defeat to the Detroit Red Wings against the same team in Game 7 in June.
 

2012: LOS ANGELES - Kings (NHL), Galaxy (MLS)

If Toronto can win a second MLS Cup in three years, they will then hope to kick on and pursue Galaxy's record of five titles - the fourth of which came in December 2012, six months after the Los Angeles Kings broke their Stanley Cup duck.

Playing just the second Finals in their history, the Kings dealt established winners the Devils a six-game defeat. Galaxy, far more accustomed with success, then defeated Houston Dynamo for the second year running in the MLS Cup final.


2014: LOS ANGELES - Kings (NHL), Galaxy (MLS)

Having waited so long for a first triumph, the Kings wasted little time at all to double their tally - much like Toronto FC, the Reds will hope.

Another New York outfit, the New York Rangers, were dispatched 4-1 in June, setting up another magnificent double with Galaxy when Bruce Arena's men beat New England thanks to an extra-time Robbie Keane strike in December.

Petr Cech got his ice hockey career off to a winning start as his crucial save saw Guildford Phoenix overcome Swindon Wildcats II in overtime.

Former Premier League goalkeeper Cech – a technical advisor at Chelsea after he left Arsenal at the end of last season – officially signed for Guildford on Wednesday.

The 37-year-old made his debut on the ice on Sunday, starting in net for Guildford against the Wildcats and, ultimately, proved decisive in clinching the victory.

Cech had little to do until the Wildcats struck to make it 1-1 after hosts Guildford had gone ahead, with the visiting side then taking a 2-1 lead.

The Phoenix hit back to force overtime and penalties, with Cech coming out on top in the shoot-out.

Swindon's penalty taker attempted to thread a low shot under the ex-Chelsea star, but Cech displayed plenty of experience, albeit from a different sport, to stand his ground and make an instinctive, match-winning stop with his pads.

Former Chelsea and Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech has signed for ice hockey team Guildford Phoenix.

The 37-year-old ended his football career after making his final appearance as the Gunners lost the Europa League final 4-1 to Chelsea in May.

Cech has wasted little time in getting back into competitive sport, though, having agreed a deal to turn out for Guildford Phoenix in his debut season.

Speaking to his new side's official website, Cech said: "I am delighted to have the opportunity to play with the Phoenix to get match experience.

"I hope I can help this young team to achieve their goals for the season and try to win as many games as possible when I have the chance to play.

"After 20 years of professional football, this is going to be a wonderful experience for me to play the game I loved to watch and play as a kid."

Head coach Andy Hemmings added: "The signing of Petr is massive for the Phoenix. He is a great guy who trains hard and I cannot wait to see him make his debut."

A four-time Premier League champion and a Champions League winner with Chelsea, Cech is the most-capped player in the Czech Republic's history, with 124 senior appearances.

He won the FA Cup with Arsenal after spending four years with the Gunners following his exit from Stamford Bridge.

Cech rejoined Chelsea after his retirement to take up the role of Technical Advisor.

St Louis Blues star Brayden Schenn has signed an eight-year contract extension worth $52million with the Stanley Cup champions.

Schenn, who would have become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, will remain in St Louis through the 2027-28 campaign.

The 28-year-old center posted 54 points in the regular season and 12 points in the playoffs to lead the Blues to their first Stanley Cup title.

"The organisation, management and coaches have shown faith in me moving forward here. When they're gonna do that, you want to buy in," Schenn said after Friday's practice. "You see how good the team is here, how good we were last year, how good we can be, it only makes you want to stay.

"Over the period of the contract, the team is going to change. But the one thing that doesn't is the city. It's a great city to live in, a great organisation to play for. I'm looking forward to it."

Schenn arrived from the Philadelphia Flyers in 2017, and the Canadian had a career-high 28 goals and 70 points in his maiden season for St Louis.

Since being drafted by the Los Angeles Kings with the fifth pick in 2009, Schenn has appeared in 588 regular-season games, amassing 372 points – 154 goals and 218 assists – while he has recorded 26 points in 50 postseason games.

"Getting 'Schenner' signed was a priority for us over the summer," said Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. "To get this behind us is very comforting knowing we're one game into the season and we don't have to have this on our radar moving forward."

The MLB playoffs have begun as the Washington Nationals won a dramatic wild-card game over the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Oakland Athletics convincingly.

Now the true drama begins.

Meanwhile, the NHL season started and another NFL star appears keen to change teams.

All that and more on this week in US Sports.

 

1. MLB divisional round set

The best part of the baseball season is upon us as the divisional round matchups are set.

In the National League the Los Angeles Dodgers will take on the Nationals and the Atlanta Braves will face off with the St. Louis Cardinals. In the American League the Houston Astros will deal with the Rays and the New York Yankees will be challenged by the Minnesota Twins.

All of these series have some sort of intrigue as the Yankees and Twins combined for more than 600 home runs, the Astros and Rays have two of the best pitching staffs in MLB, the Dodgers and Nationals match up supremely well and the Braves and Cardinals are two up-and-coming rosters looking to restore past glory.

The NLDS starts with two games on Thursday and will continue with two more on Friday. The ALDS starts on Friday.

 

2. Stefon Diggs wants out of Minnesota

Vikings wide receiver Diggs stirred up some rumours by skipping practice on Wednesday with no explanation given. Some speculated he wanted out, but that was all purely a guess.

That is until Diggs said on Thursday: "There's truth to all rumours. I won't get into that."

The Vikings are a disappointing 2-2 to start the year and Adam Thielen has already publicly criticised quarterback Kirk Cousins for his play. 

Maybe we should have seen this coming.

 

3. NHL regular season kicks off with two historic nights

The NHL kicked off its regular seasonon   Wednesday and one young gun shined again while a veteran just kept on doing what he does.

In the Toronto Maple Leafs' win over the Ottawa Senators, Auston Matthews scored twice, giving him a goal in his fourth straight season opener.

Alex Ovechkin netted in the Washington Capitals' 3-2 defeat of the defending champion St. Louis Blues. Ovechkin now has 11 goals in 15 season openers, which is the most among active NHL players.

Ovechkin is 41 goals away from 700 in his career. He would be just the eighth player to reach that mark.

 

4. California passes Fair Pay to Play Act

This is a big step in amateur sports in the US as California essentially made it legal for college athletes to be paid. As it stands now a player cannot be paid for anything and if they are they lose their amateur status and can be punished by being ruled ineligible for games.

But California's Fair Pay to Play Act made it legal in the state for players to profit off of use of their name, likeness and image. This is step one in college athletes being able to be paid, but it is something that remains illegal in the NCAA, which is the major governing body of college sports.

There is still a long way to go, but this could have a ripple effect that could either force the NCAA to change or result in the expulsion of players in California who do get paid for their likeness. A standoff has begun.

October is about more than pumpkins and playoff baseball.

The NHL returns on Wednesday as defending Stanley Cup champions the St Louis Blues prepare to raise their banner and open the regular season against the Washington Capitals.

But St Louis' battle for a repeat will not be the most intriguing narrative to watch unfold.

Here are three storylines to follow heading into the 2019 NHL season.

 

How will Lightning rebound after disastrous exit last season?

The Tampa Bay Lightning tied the league record for the most wins in a season with 62, averaged 3.96 goals per game – the highest mark since 1996 – and tallied an impressive 30 road victories to dominate the regular season. But a shocking first-round exit from the playoffs after being swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets left Tampa Bay dismayed and confused. The Lightning had previously been eliminated in Game 6 and Game 7 in the Eastern Conference finals at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and the Capitals in 2018. Still, expectations remain high for the Lightning with Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman locked in. The team just need to find a way to overcome their postseason woes.

Can Canada-based teams stay relevant amid Stanley Cup drought?

It has been a while since Lord Stanley took a trip north of the border. In fact, it has been more than 25 years since the Montreal Canadiens last won the championship in 1993. But Canadian teams have showed signs of progress in recent years, and just last season the Calgary Flames won the Western Conference regular-season title, the Winnipeg Jets finished second in their division and the Toronto Maple Leafs finished with 100 points while also making the playoffs. There is reason to believe all three teams could return to the postseason and perhaps even be joined by the Canadiens or the Vancouver Canucks.

What's next in Seattle expansion?

The NHL's newest team will not hit the ice until the 2021-22 season, but there is plenty of work to be done before then. The club were recently awarded an AHL expansion franchise in Palm Springs, California, and general manager Ron Francis added Ricky Olczyk as the club's assistant general manager to compliment director of hockey administration Alexandra Mandrycky. Francis also announced the addition of several scouts, including Cammi Granato, who became the NHL's first female scout. But the team still need to add more personnel while the arena at Seattle Center undergoes redevelopment. Oh, they also need a name.

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