The Denver Post Mike Chambers column

2018-02-11 | Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, Calif.)

Feb. 10--The very reason Dominic Toninato refused to sign with Toronto is why the Minnesota native is not eligible to play for Team USA at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The Leafs only offered Toninato an American Hockey League contract last summer, so he chose to play the "college card" and become an unrestricted free agent Aug. 16.

Toninato, a four-year Minnesota-Duluth standout who served as team captain last season as a senior, eventually signed his NHL entry-level contract with the Avalanche, a move that eliminated his Olympic eligibility. At the time, Toninato wasn't thinking ahead to the Olympics. He was all about playing in the NHL.

"Didn't even cross my mind," he said of the Olympics. "I'm happy with the situation I'm in. I couldn't ask to be on a better team and I'm very happy with the opportunity I've been given. I like where I'm at."

For the first time since 1994, active NHL players aren't participating in the Winter Olympics. Only European professionals and those on North American minor-league contracts, as well as amateurs like University of Denver junior Troy Terry of Highlands Ranch, are eligible. Toninato, who opposed Terry and the Pioneers in the 2017 NCAA championship game in Chicago, turned down that opportunity, although there was no guarantee he would have been selected by USA Hockey.

"It's definitely a dream of mine to play in the Olympics. I think that's any kid's dream," said Toninato, 23. "It's the world's stage....but I guess I didn't even think about it last summer. Definitely would have been an incredible experience. But we're here now. We'll just have to watch it and enjoy it from here."

Toninato could have been like Chris Bourque, the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque. Chris Bourque, 32, is with Team USA in PyeongChang as the leading scorer of the AHL's Hershey Bears. Bourque is on an AHL-only deal -- same as Stockton Heat's Cody Goloubef, the former Avalanche defenseman who is playing for Team Canada

Canada has four other former Avs on its Olympic team: forwards Wojtek Wolski (playing the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League) and Rene Bourque (Sweden) and defensemen Stefan Elliott (Sweden) and Karl Stollery (KHL). In addition, defenseman Maxim Noreau (Swiss league) was on an NHL/AHL contract with the Avs in 2015-16.

The Olympic rosters for all the gold-medal-worthy teams are filled with former NHL players who are past their prime or never managed to stick in the world's best league. But for three weeks in PyeongChang, the NHL rejects and amateurs like University of Denver junior Troy Terry of Highlands Ranch will be hockey's most envious players.

Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog, a 2014 silver medalist for Sweden, certainly wishes he could be playing in PyeongChang.

"It's disappointing. And it's frustrating," Landeskog said. "Any hockey player wants to play for their country and as far as playing for your country the Olympics is the biggest thing you can do. It's disappointing but our focus is on the season that we have over here and I'll make sure I'll support the Swedish troops from here."

NHL Spotlight on Tomas Plekanec, C, Montreal Canadiens

When: The Avalanche hosts the Canadiens on Wednesday in a Valentine's Day game at the Pepsi Center.

What's up: Plekanec, 35, is Montreal's highest-paid forward at $6 million and taking the brunt of the blame for the Habs' struggles. He had just five goals in 54 games entering the weekend and Montreal was tied for third-worst in the Eastern Conference with 50 points.

Background: Plekanec is from Kladno, Czech Republic, and was selected by Montreal in the third round (71st overall) of the 2001 draft. He has never played for another NHL team and is on pace to reach 1,000 games late this season. Heading into Saturday, he had played 975 games and Montreal had 28 games remaining. Plekanec is 14th among Czech-born NHL scorers with 601 points.

Chambers' take: Plekanec is among Montreal's high-profile trade prospects, but here's hoping he remains a Canadien beyond the March 1 deadline and he reaches 1,000 games played with the same organization.

COLORADO AT BUFFALO, 5 p.m. Sunday, ALT; 950 AM

Spotlight on: Sam Reinhart. The third-year Sabres forward, 22, scored the game-winning goal with 4:14 remaining in the third period Thursday in a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders, snapping Buffalo's four-game losing skid. Reinhart also had two assists in that game and entered Saturday's game at Boston with 11 goals and 26 points in 54 games. More offense is expected from the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft, but he has 13 points (four goals) in his past 10 games. Since producing 23 goals as a rookie in 2015-16, Reinhart slipped to 17 last season -- a number he might not reach this year.

Popular In the Community

Sponsored

Sponsored

With free agency and draft looming, Broncos face tough choices in manipulating salary cap

Mathlete

12h

But our goals have not changed for the Denver Broncos and what we want to do -- and that's to compete for world championships.Then why did we retain VJ?

Kiszla: Can Vail skier Mikaela Shiffrin become the Michael Phelps of the Winter Olympics?

Jeff Miller

9h

We don't get to choose our parents, and those of us who win the lucky sperm lottery don't often make the most of it. This young lady has, and it has taken a lot of hard work, dedication, commitment, determination, and character. Stick your class envy where the sun don't shine. She could have wasted her youth on social media and playing video games, and trying to be popular by conforming with her peers.I'll never forget the words of my sophomore class Advanced Math teacher, Mr. Strube, at Natrona County High School in Casper, who told the class: You're all special. Make the most of your God-given talents. Mikaela has done that.

Kiszla: What a difference a dog can make in skier Lindsey Vonn's last shot at Olympic glory

mxer

1d

I can't wait for this attention whor e to retire....ugh.And Lindsey Vonn too.

Essentials in Macy's new fashion line aimed at Muslim women

MahatmaJeeves

26m

How easy can this be! I've got a couple of sets of old sheets (cotton) that would take black dye well. I'll be on E-bay shortly!

ATM "jackpotting" comes to Colorado -- and the U.S. -- as alleged thieves trick machines into giving up $328,200

AlexZander

1d

It's okay though. They didn't breaking any laws because they are 'immigrants.'

Nancy Pelosi shares former CU Boulder student's story during 8-hour DACA speech

Mathlete

22h

It's disingenuous for DACA supporters to focus SOLELY on outliers like Marco when those individuals are the exceptions rather than the rule when it comes to the kind of illegals we typically receive, especially illegals from south of the border.Illegals have a net COST to U.S. taxpayers of over $100 BILLION -- annually. Enough is enough!

As domestic abuse claims roil White House, Trump says lives are being ruined "by a mere allegation"

John012357

3h

The sympathetic response made no mention of accusers or victims of sexual harassment or abuse, or the professional or personal harm that can come to those -- usually women -- who come forward.Trump is a moral degenerate.The sooner he answers for his crimes against women and against our country, the better.

Colorado snow totals for Feb. 10, 2018

Donald Blows

26m

It's colder than Melania was after hearing about Stormy Daniels. Believe me!

Colorado State suspends interim basketball coach Steve Barnes

rich7837

7h

It's a shame when the cream puff players on a team can run off two coaches in one week! Shame on the players and shame on CSU for fostering a climate of cowardice!

How to make the housing crunch worse

Chris Mannhood

1d

ya gotta love the DPEB and don't forget President Barack Obama's insane $8,000 tax credit per home giveaway to first-time homebuyers that cost the federal government more than $12 billion. somehow spending a paltry $12 billion dollars in the middle of a recession is insane, yet, going into debt for another $1.5 Trillion dollars WHEN TIMES ARE GOOD , because.proving we cannot afford anything, except going into debt to subsidize rich people.

Kratom is hailed as a natural pain remedy, assailed as an addictive killer. The U.S. wants to treat it like heroin.

Joe0062

32m

I'd like to know more about this, from someone other than the U.S. government. I think we should always be open to learning about new things, and I generally believe people should be able to form their own opinions. Anything can be harmful if taken in sufficient quantities. Instead of reacting to anecdotal stories, I would like to see our government perform independent studies, but most in the government fear anything new. I remember when we Americans embraced innovation. Heck, even Tylenol can be lethal.

A mother called Denver police for help with her son. He ended up being shot to death.

ItzAllGood

1d

He had a knife. A big knife. And he had a history- he was previously charged with attempted murder, but the case was dismissed when witnesses stopped cooperating. ( I do NOT blame the witnesses!) He used a weapon in that incident. And this call was a burglary-in-progress call. Also per 7 News, Duran has a lengthy criminal history in Colorado, according to state court records. He also has separate convictions on assault and theft charges out of Walsenburg over the past 10 years. This is NOT a nice sounding guy. Her son, yes, and I am sure she loves him but again, the guy was a Bad Guy. For society's sake and safety, this is no loss. For his mom, it will be.www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/man-shot-and-killed-by-denver-police-tuesday-was-previously-charged-with-attempted-murder

The Girl Scouts have changed their business philosophy this cookie season

MahatmaJeeves

28m

Come to our house to sell your cookies, and we will buy them. Bought $24.00 so far, and will buy more if they come SELLING them. This is an important part of a youngsters life: interacting with adults, and making their case (selling). I support that (although 4H has this in spades over the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts), in the city, Scouts are what there is, and they should be encouraged to interact with non-family adults to get a head start in life's dealings. If you are insecure with the adults in your area...that's your poor choice in a living area!Mmm, coooookies!

Thieves nab more than 180 puffers in Denver during past three months

RBradley.2

10h

Another in the long twisted line of ridiculous ordinances.The Denver ordinance limits letting vehicles idle for more than 5 minutes in any one-hour period unless the temperature has been less than 20 degrees every hour for the previous 24-hour period or the temperature is less than 10 degrees.I wonder how they monitor this important detail?

Donald Trump's true believers, part two

Minuteman9505

1d

Making the argument Jesus wouldn't have done that is a complete waste of time with these people. These evangelicals are not Christian. They belong to the church of white supremacy, bigotry, and hatred whose only goal is to use their religious freedom to unilaterally abrogate the civil rights and freedom of other people they don't like.It is important to remember there are many real Christians in this country who follow Christ who help people in need, are not judgmental, and show compassion for their fellow man whether they are Christian or not. Unfortunately, these people don't get media attention.