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Off the Top of My Head

As if there hasn’t been enough to like about Zach Hyman since he arrived from the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, he had nothing but good things to say to Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland about Jack Campbell – some positive inside intel — on the way to getting a five-year deal worth $25 million done.

Hyman, 30, who endeared himself to fans by scoring 27-27-54 last season in the first year of a seven-year deal with the Oilers, played with Campbell in Toronto, as did Cody Ceci and Tyson Barrie. When Holland had questions about Campbell beyond what stats and game clips could tell him, Hyman offered his take.

“Anytime you play with somebody who is on the radar the GM will probably ask you about him, so I had nothing but good things to say about Soup,” Hyman said. “I think first and foremost you want to be around guys who are just fantastic individuals and have high character.

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“Everyone here knows how highly respected he is in the locker room, among the media, among the fans. I made that clear first and foremost. Then, he’s such a great goalie so I spoke pretty highly and I’m happy it ended up working out.”

The feeling is mutual: “Zach’s got such great integrity and he’s such a great person and human being,” Campbell said. “Obviously, what he does on the ice is special too, and to see him do it and talk to him hearing the excitement in his voice, he’s just somebody you trust and can count on every single day.”

ABOUT EVANDER

Jun 4, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Evander Kane (91) battles Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram (4) for position in from of goaltender Pavel Francouz (39) in the first period in game three of the Western Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

As the author of multiple children’s books and owner of Eleven Holdings Corp., an e-sports company, it’s obvious Hyman is a sharp guy. I wonder if there might be a hockey management job in his future when his playing days are done — there likely is if he wants it. Hyman, at an event for the Marner Assist Foundation in Toronto, also chimed in on Evander Kane.

“He was lights out off the ice as well as on the ice,” Hyman said. “From everything we saw, he just really matured from what, I guess, you probably heard he had a lot of things that were kind of looming with him, I would say. He kind of came in with a positive attitude and it was well accepted by everybody. He did everything the right way, so it’s great to have him back.

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“He’s a great player obviously. He just had another baby so he’s a family man now. It’s nice that both sides were able to come to a deal. He’s a big part of the team.”

DUES PAID

Campbell’s contract is a big stack of dough, but there’s no question he paid his dues to get here. Drafted 11th overall by Dallas in 2010, Campbell played two seasons in the OHL with Windsor and the Soo Greyhounds 2011-12. Campbell then spent three seasons with the Texas Stars of the AHL before getting into his first NHL game with Dallas on Oct. 20, 2013. It didn’t go well.

Facing the Ducks in Anaheim, Campbell got lit up for six goals on 47 shots as the Stars coughed up a 3-1 lead in a 6-3 loss. Campbell would toil in the minors, including two ECHL stints with the Idaho Steelheads, before his next NHL game. That came in 2016-17 with the Los Angeles Kings. Campbell stopped all five shots he faced mopping up in a 4-0 loss to the Ducks.

All told, between draft day in 2010 and the end of the 2016-17 season, Campbell got into two NHL games. In that span, he played 91 games in the OHL, 27 in the ECHL and 174 in the AHL. He has 135 regular season NHL games on his resume now.

LONG OVERDUE

It took the threat of lost government funding and private sponsorships, but Hockey Canada is reopening a third-party investigation into the 2018 case of an alleged sexual assault of a woman by eight members of Canada’s World Junior team and the subsequent hush-hush settlement of a lawsuit.

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“We know we have not done enough to address the actions of some members of the 2018 national junior team or to end the culture of toxic behavior within our game,” Hockey Canada wrote in an open letter Thursday. “For that we unreservedly apologize.

“We know we need to do more to address the behaviors, on and off the ice, that conflict with what Canadians want hockey to be, and which undermine the many good things that the game brings to our country.”

Twelve or 13 players took part in the initial investigation, but participation was not mandatory at the time. It is mandatory now and anybody who does not participate will be banned from all federation games and activities. 

Perhaps the most significant news is that the woman who filed the initial lawsuit intends to participate. The NHL has opened an investigation as well because some of the players from the 2018 team in question are in the league now.

GET OVER IT

Contrary to the moaning and groaning coming out of Calgary, UFA Johnny Gaudreau had every right to sign wherever he wanted for as much or as little as he wanted. Gaudreau chose Columbus. It’s not your money he left on the table, it’s his.

Previously by Robin Brownlee