NHL Could Face A Reckoning on CTE
Hurricanes push Islanders to the brink of elimination while the Stars tie their series with the Blues. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes have the New York Islanders on the brink of elimination following a 5-2 victory in Game 3 of their second-round series. They hold a 3-0 lead and can finish the series with a win in Game 4 on Friday.
A costly turnover by Isles goalie Robin Lehner led to Hurricanes captain Justin Williams snapping a 2-2 tie in the third period. Carolina goaltender Curtis McElhinney made 28 saves, becoming the oldest netminder in NHL history to make his first career postseason start. Teuvo Teravainen scored twice and Sebastian Aho had a goal and assisted on Williams’ game-winner.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a close game up until Williams’ goal, after which the Hurricanes bottled up the Islanders for the rest of the third. The Isles managed to score twice but it still wasn’t enough to beat the plucky Canes. They’ve done a fine job cashing in on their opportunities in this series.
The Dallas Stars doubled up the St. Louis Blues 4-2 to square their second-round series at two games apiece. Stars goalie Ben Bishop kicked out 27 shots while Tyler Seguin, Alexander Radulov, and Mats Zuccarello each collected two assists.
This game was a chippy affair. Blues winger David Perron whacked Bishop in the back and Blues netminder Jordan Binnington chopped at Bishop and took a swing at Stars captain Jamie Benn following the second period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues frustration likely stemmed from the Stars dominating the play, especially in the second period. It’ll be interesting to see if the rough stuff in this game spilled over into Game 5.
DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon tied Peter Forsberg’s Avalanche playoff points streak (seven games) in Tuesday’s Game 3 loss to San Jose.
BOSTON HERALD: Center David Backes could return to the Bruins line for Game 4 tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jackets hold a 2-1 series lead.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin underwent minor surgery to repair a fractured nose. Drouin suffered the injury earlier in the season but played through it before seeking surgery.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres interviewed Dave Tippett for their head coaching position. Tippett is the former coach of the Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes.
THE SCORE: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told a Canadian parliament subcommittee on sports-related concussions he feels outlawing hits to the head would lead to the decline of bodychecking in the game. His reasoning is larger players would be penalized for inadvertent headshots on smaller players. He also reiterated his long-held belief that there’s insufficient evidence to link hockey concussions to the brain condition CTE.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The National Football League, meanwhile, banned helmet hits to the head and it didn’t adversely affect their game. After much stonewalling, the NFL also acknowledged the link between CTE and playing football in 2016.
SPORTSNET: Vancouver hockey writer and broadcaster Jason Botchford has passed away from heart failure at age 48.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Botchford’s family, friends, and colleagues. I didn’t know him but followed his work over the years and found him an insightful, thought-provoking hockey reporter. I may not have always agreed with him but I certainly respected his work.
Latest on Joel Ward, Kyle Okposo, Jaromir Jagr and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks winger Joel Ward isn’t ruling out the possibility of taking a knee during the national anthem in an upcoming Sharks game.
“I’ve experienced a lot of racism myself in hockey and on a day-to-day occurrence. I haven’t really sat down to think about it too much yet, but I definitely wouldn’t say no to it.”
Ward points out such protests aren’t disrespecting the flag but simply to raise awareness of police brutality toward the black community. Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer said he would support Ward if he decides to take a knee during the anthem this season.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Sabres winger Kyle Okposo said he won’t kneel for the anthem but supports those athletes exercising their First Amendment rights. He also wishes people would spend more time listening to each other and less time yelling.
“To be honest with you, I think every little thing is getting so magnified now and people are starting to talk about every little bit and piece that we’re kind of forgetting what brings us together as Americans: That’s togetherness and being together and working to help out one another.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ward and Okposo are among the 30 black players in the NHL. I believe Ward has the right to take a knee during the anthem if he wants. His team obviously supports him if that’s what he wants to do. I also agree with Okposo that folks should listen more instead of shouting at each other.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Free agent winger Jaromir Jagr will play for Kladno (his hometown team) in the Czech second division this weekend.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jagr is still angling for a National Hockey League contract. As the NHL regular season hasn’t started yet, playing for Kladno during the upcoming weekend won’t affect those efforts.
THE ATHLETIC: Los Angeles Kings forward Jordan Nolan, Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Frankie Corrado and Dallas Stars center Brian Flynn were among the notables hitting the NHL waiver wire yesterday. Others included Calgary Flames forward Hunter Shinkaruk and Kings goalie Jeff Zatkoff.
NBC SPORTS: There’s a chance that an early breakthrough in CTE testing can be conducted on living athletes. The condition is currently identified only by studying the brains of deceased athletes. Should such testing be available to active NHL players, however, they could be reluctant to undergo the process as it could threaten their playing careers.
Latest on Artemi Panarin, David Pastrnak, Mike Ribeiro and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Having been dealt by the Blackhawks in June to the Columbus Blue Jackets, winger Artemi Panarin is out to prove himself without Patrick Kane on his wing. “Nobody remembers how I played prior to the last couple of years. I am used to it and I am not paying attention to it. I get a little bit angry at it,” said Panarin.
Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said he acquire the skilled Russian winger in part to bolster his club’s offense after they struggled to score against the Pittsburgh Penguins in last spring’s playoffs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panarin is likely slotted to skate on the Jackets’ top line alongside center Alexander Wennberg. If the duo play well together it should sufficiently address the club’s need for additional offensive punch.
BOSTON HERALD: Bruins president Cam Neely said there hasn’t been much dialogue of late with agent J.P. Barry, who represents restricted free agent winger David Pastrnak. Barry said the two sides will speak again today, saying his client is interested in an eight-year contract. Neely mentioned there’s been no talk yet of a shorter term bridge deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this summer, the Bruins reportedly pitched offers of six or seven years for around $6 million annually to the Pastrnak camp. Talk of a bridge deal has originated from pundits musing over what it might take to get a deal done. If talks remain stalled as training camp nears, perhaps the two sides will consider a short-term contract.
NBC SPORTS: Mike Ribeiro’s NHL career is over as he continues to struggle with substance abuse. “He doesn’t train anymore and he doesn’t go out on the ice anymore. He’s going to retire,” said Perno. He adds no NHL or European team has attempted to contact the 37-year-old center regarding a contract.
Perno said Ribeiro has stopped training, is estranged from his wife and apparently dropped out of sight. He spent last season split between the Nashville Predators and the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. In 2015, Ribeiro settled a sexual assault case filed against him by a former nanny of his children and entered the NHL’s substance abuse treatment program.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ribeiro’s playing career may be over but he still has the rest of his life ahead of him. I don’t condone his actions but I hope he gets the help he obviously needs.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild invited former NHL forward Ryan Malone to training camp on a tryout offer. The 37-year-old Malone last played in the NHL in 2014-15.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers signed former Nashville Predators forward Harry Zolnierczyk to a professional tryout offer.
ESPN.COM: Professional hockey players remain reluctant to donate their brains for posthumous concussion studies. Only 19 players have done so thus far, of which nine were found to have suffered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). All six of those from NHL players were found to have CTE.
In today’s collection of notable NHL headlines, the latest on expansion, salary cap & more. (more…)