Dennis Wideman suspension reduced, no charges against Evander Kane and more in today’s collection of NHL headlines.
Notable Game Recaps.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Jason Spezza scored in his fifth straight game to help the Dallas Stars to a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, moving the Stars into first place in the Western Conference.
STLTODAY.COM: Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice to give the St. Louis Blues a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks, setting the stage for a showdown on Saturday night with the Dallas Stars for first place in the Central Division.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 350th career NHL win backstopping the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was a costly win, however, as center Evgeni Malkin left the game with an apparent left arm injury. He will be evaluated today.
YAHOO SPORTS: An independent arbitrator reduced the 20-game suspension of Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman for checking linesman Don Henderson to 10 games, considering the original punishment too excessive. There’s talk the league could seek an appeal via federal court. It was also revealed Columbus Blue Jackets forward Gregory Campbell was the recipient of a text Wideman sent complaining about the “stupid refs and stupid media” over why he was going through the suspension process. Campbell is the son of Colin Campbell, the NHL’s Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wideman returned to action last night with the Flames, but this messy situation doesn’t appear to be finished yet. The league is unhappy the arbiter overturned their initial ruling (upheld on Wideman’s appeal by league commissioner Gary Bettman), but dragging this out when the arbiter’s ruling is supposed to be the final say by going to court over it smacks of pettiness.
Meanwhile, some critics are taking the arbiter to task for his ruling, noting Henderson remains hampered by career-threatening concussion symptoms. The Flames also faced some criticism over their handling of Wideman, who was supposedly suffering from the effects of a concussion and wasn’t aware of his surroundings when he struck Henderson. The fact Wideman’s text message to Campbell wound up in league hands and was used to uphold his 20-game suspension has also raised eyebrows. In other words, we may not have heard the last of this story.
NBC SPORTS: The St. Louis Blues re-signed defenseman Carl Gunnarsson to a three-year, $8.7 million contract. That’s an annual salary-cap hit $2.9 million per season with a no-trade clause.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gunnarsson was eligible for UFA status this summer. There was talk out of Toronto and Ottawa earlier this season speculating he was on the trade block but that chatter soon fizzled into nothing, obviously because the Blues valued his contributions. He’s become a good depth defender and a solid penalty killer in St. Louis.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres winger Evander Kane has been cleared of wrongdoing following an investigation into a sexual encounter last December.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban was released from hospital Friday after suffering a neck injury against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. Though he suffered what the team called a “non-serious neck injury”, Subban won’t be playing in tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers have activated center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from injured reserve. He missed 24 games to a hand injury.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS: recently announced forward Brandon Prust will miss the remainder of the season recovering from an ankle injury.
ROLLING STONE: A look at New York Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle’s tenure touring as a roadie with Faith No More.
TSN: Lawyers for the more than 100 former players involved in a concussion lawsuit against the NHL are asking a judge to reject the league’s request that its own doctors should examine those players to confirm the existence of their head injuries.