Latest Conference Finals news, Sabres hire Dan Bylsma as head coach, plus updates on Nicklas Backstrom, Johan Franzen, Paul Kariya and more.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: While the Tampa Bay Lightning are a promising young team, they cannot let this opportunity to advance to the Stanley Cup Final slip away.
NEW YORK POST: New York Rangers captain skipped practice again yesterday but is expected to suit up for Game Seven against the Lightning. Winger Mats Zuccarello (concussion) remains day-to-day but could be ready to rejoin the lineup if the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Lightning and Rangers is tonight in New York.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks could benefit from an extra day of rest prior to Game 7 of the Western Conference Final.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Anaheim Ducks hope to snap a 0-3 streak in their last three Game 7s in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks and Ducks face off tomorrow night in Anaheim for Game Seven of their Western Conference Final.
NHL.COM: The Buffalo Sabres yesterday officially announced the hiring of former Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma as their new bench boss. The Penguins will receive a third-round pick in 2016 as compensation.
THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom underwent arthroscopic hip surgery on Wednesday. He’s expected to be fully recovered in time for training camp in September.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom claiming he wasn’t banged up during the playoffs, but it’s obvious now his performance suffered during the playoffs because of injury.
MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings believe winger Johan Franzen (concussion) is making progress and expect to see him on the ice next season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t believe that’s a good idea. Franzen’s concussion history dates back to 2006. He missed half of this season to concussion symptoms. While I appreciate his desire to continue his playing career, he runs the risk of serious, perhaps permanent, brain damage. Retirement is the best option, but that’s up to him.
NBC SPORTS: Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene didn’t appreciate the Russian players leaving the ice before the anthem following Canada’s gold-medal win over Russia at this year’s World Championships.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was horrible sportsmanship by the Russians. Nothing justifies it. If the roles were reversed, the Russians would be understandably upset. Their actions made them look like sore losers.
NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero could provide no update as to winger Ryane Clowe’s status and his future with the club. Clowe missed most of this season to a concussion.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Franzen, Clowe is risking permanent brain damage by continuing his playing career.
TSN.CA: Former NHL star Paul Kariya was recently inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame. In a rare interview, Kariya admitted he still misses the game and said he hasn’t played since his retirement in 2011. He said he has no interest in coaching or a front-office job, and dodged a question about the Anaheim Ducks perhaps one day retiring his number. He still lives in Southern California and currently enjoys surfing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kariya looks healthy and happy. He certainly seems to be enjoying his life away from the game. Perhaps I’m reading too much into his response about being honored by the Ducks one day, but it’s curious that his number hasn’t been retired, especially considering he was their first superstar. Maybe he’s just not into retirement ceremonies.
SPORTSNET’s Damien Cox reports winger Simon Gagne, who played part of last season with the Boston Bruins, will be training this summer in hopes of landing with an NHL club next season.
NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets re-signed defenseman Cody Goloubef to a two-year contract extension.