Updates on the Sabres, Panthers and more in this morning’s collection of notable NHL headlines.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: It’s possible the Sabres could start next season without Evander Kane and Ryan O’Reilly. Kane is expected to face non-criminal harassment charges stemming from a recent incident in a Buffalo bar, while O’Reilly is headed to court this week in Ontario on charges of impaired driving and failing to remain at the scene filed last summer. Following the conclusion of their hearings, league commissioner Gary Bettman could fine, suspend or even terminate their contracts.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Everything depends upon the outcome of Kane’s and O’Reilly’s court proceedings. I doubt Bettman will terminate their contracts, but a fine or suspension could be in order.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes the Florida Panthers’ recent re-signings of Aaron Ekblad and Vincent Trocheck to expensive, long-term deals when they’ve only spent a short time in the NHL indicates the short-term “bridge contract” is a thing of the past.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If not a thing of the past, the bridge contract could become increasingly rare for talented players. Some general managers will continue to employ this leverage tactic for players coming off their entry-level contracts. Stars, such as Ekblad or Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, obviously weren’t going to get bridge contracts. It’s the lesser lights, or those promising players who’ve yet to fully establish themselves as rising NHL stars, who’ll continue getting those two- or three-year deals.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Noting the AHL’s implementation of new rules to curb fighting, Pat Leonard recently opined for the NHL not to await the outcome of the minor league experiment and install its own rules to do the same.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Commissioner Bettman seems to catch flak from both sides of the fighting issue. He’s either accused of trying to stamp out hockey fights or not doing enough to remove it from the NHL game.
Ultimately, its the changing style of the NHL game that’s lead to the slow but steady demise of hockey fights. NHL coaches prefer to roll four lines now, meaning there’s no room in the game anymore for players whose sole claim to fame is their pugilistic ability. Growing concern over head trauma is also making people question the need for fighting in hockey.
THE BOSTON GLOBE: Las Vegas hockey fans shouldn’t expect to see much fighting when their NHL expansion franchise arrives in 2017-18.
PHILLY.COM: Big, promising defenseman Sam Morin hopes to crack the Philadelphia Flyers roster next season, but he could still be a year away from making the club on a full-time basis.