Latest on Patrick Kane, Jamie Benn, Cody Franson, Patrik Elias, R.J. Umberger and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NBC SPORTS: There’s conflicting reports about whether Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane will attend training camp. Kane is currently facing a grand jury investigation for sexual assault, which will determine if charges will be filed against him. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports it sounds as though Kane will attend, as there’s no logistical reason preventing him from doing so, seeing how he hasn’t been charged yet. However, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus claims the Blackhawks still haven’t confirmed this. Dreger believes we’ll learn for certain in the next 24-48 hours.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Kane attends the Blackhawks training camp, his presence will only draw attention to his investigation. If he doesn’t, his absence will raise questions about his future.
ESPN.COM: Speaking of the Blackhawks, center Marcus Kruger’s agent is hopeful his client will be rewarded with a longer-term deal after this season. Kruger recently re-signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal.
STARS INSIDE EDGE’s Mark Stepneski reports via Twitter Dallas Stars GM Jim Nill is doubtful forwards Jamie Benn and Ales Hemsky to skate in the club’s first four or five exhibition games. Both had offseason hip surgery, and Nill is hopeful both could participate in the final two exhibition games. He stresses, however, they’ll play it by ear and won’t return to action until they’re completely ready to do so.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A wise decision. Benn emerged as an NHL superstar last season by winning the Art Ross trophy despite playing through the pain that necessitated his hip surgeries. Hemsky was plagued for most of last season by a bad hip. Rushing them would be detrimental to their recovery and the club’s playoff hopes this season.
YAHOO! SPORTS: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Cody Franson isn’t blaming his agent, Gerry Johansson, for his long free-agent nightmare this summer. Considered by pundits among this summer’s top free agents, Franson waited two months for a new contract before accepting a much-lesser deal (two-years, $6.65 million) than expected.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears Franson and his agent misjudged this summer’s UFA market, but to be fair, so did most observers of his situation. I never expected him to receive a six-year, $36 million deal he was rumored seeking in early-July, but I thought he’d eventually get a four-year contract worth between $4-$4.5 million per season.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Long-time New Jersey Devils star Patrik Elias isn’t interested in regaining the captaincy he lost eight years ago, claiming he didn’t handle the role as well as he should have.
PHILLY.COM: Flyers winger R.J. Umberger is hoping to redeem himself after his career-worst performance last season.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER’s Eric Stephens reports via Twitter the Anaheim Ducks have invited Sheldon Brookbank and Vitaly Vishnevski to training camp.
TVA SPORTS: reports Simon Gagne is expected to officially announce his retirement as an NHL player today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gagne attempted a comeback last season with the Boston Bruins but left partway through to be with his father, who eventually died of cancer. In his fourteen NHL seasons, Gagne scored 291 goals and 601 points in 822 regular season games, along with 37 goals and 59 points in 109 playoff contests, most of those with the Philadelphia Flyers. He had nine seasons with 40-plus points, including four with 66-or-more points.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: The Sharks saw a decline in season-ticket renewals, from 89 percent last season to 85 percent this season. Missing the 2015 playoffs contributed to the decline.
ESPN.COM: Don’t expect a decision on NHL expansion to come from the meeting of team owners on Sept. 29. A recommendation is likely to emerge from the December board of governors meeting.
TSN.CA: The NHL will employ independent concussion spotters at all games this season.
OTTAWA SUN: Former NHL enforcer Rudy Poeschek received a conditional sentence, 45 days in jail and a $1,500 fine for separate assault and driving offenses in British Columbia.