NHL ProteauType: Dept. of Player Safety Is Toothless, In Need of Repair
A milestone night for Alex Ovechkin and Patrice Bergeron, Dougie Hamilton suffers a serious leg injury, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin’s hat trick carried his club to a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Ovechkin tied Mike Gartner by starting his NHL career with 15 consecutive 30-goal seasons. He also needed four stitches after being clipped in the mouth by a high stick from Devils winger Miles Wood in the first period. With 689 goals, Ovechkin is one shy of Mario Lemieux for 10th on the all-time list.
Patrice Bergeron tallied his 20th goal of the season as the Boston Bruins beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1. Bergeron has reached 20 goals in seven straight seasons. Bruins defenseman Torey Krug got into a rare tussle by dropping the gloves with Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist. Sidney Crosby tallied the lone goal for the Penguins. Earlier in the day, the Bruins placed goaltender Tuukka Rask (concussion) on injured reserve.
The Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on a late goal by captain Nick Foligno. Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton left the game in the second period with an apparent left leg injury that coach Rod Brind’Amour said doesn’t look good.
Pete DeBoer got his first win as head coach with the Vegas Golden Knights as they doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2. Golden Knights winger Mark Stone had a goal and an assist in his first game in Ottawa since getting traded to Vegas last February.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice, Carey Price made 40 saves, and Tomas Tatar collected three points as the Montreal Canadiens downed the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1. Canadiens sophomore Jesperi Kotkaniemi also got into the first fight of his career.
The Calgary Flames picked up their sixth win in seven games by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1. Flames goaltender David Rittich made 35 saves for the win as teammate Matthew Tkachuk scored the only goal in the shootout.
Sam Montembeault made 23 saves coming off the bench to replace sidelined Chris Driedger as the Florida Panthers held on for a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Anze Kopitar had a goal and two assists for the Kings.
Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark made 28 saves as his club defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1. It’s the Sabres fifth win in their last seven contests. Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
Philipp Grubauer had a 27-save shutout as the Colorado Avalanche blanked the San Jose Sharks 4-0. It’s the Avs first win in five games.
The Vancouver Canucks picked up their 10th win in their last 13 games by beating the Arizona Coyotes 3-1. Jacob Markstrom made 34 saves while Elias Pettersson collected two assists.
A late power-play goal by Chris Kreider lifted the New York Rangers over the New York Islanders 3-2. Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev kicked out 38 shots.
The Anaheim Ducks snapped a four-game losing skid by upsetting the Nashville Predators 4-2. Rickard Rakell and Josh Manson each had a goal and an assist. The Predators have dropped seven of their last 10 games and sit six points out of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
The Minnesota Wild held on for a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning for their first win in five games. Nikita Kucherov scored both Lightning goals.
IN OTHER NEWS…
TSN: Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet will replace Gerard Gallant as coach of the Pacific Division at the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star Game. Gallant was fired earlier this week as head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights.
MLIVE.COM: Gallant’s firing raised questions about Jeff Blashill’s future as bench boss of the Detroit Red Wings. Blashill remains unconcerned and is focused on trying to find solutions to help his club.
THE SCORE: As expected, the NHL is talking to the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers to ensure the next two games between the clubs don’t get out of hand. Senior VP of Player Safety George Parros will attend the Jan. 29 game in Edmonton. Tensions were raised after Oilers winger Zack Kassian received a two-game suspension for an on-ice altercation with Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk.
Winnipeg Jets center Mathieu Perreault is incensed that Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen won’t be suspended for elbowing him in the face during a recent game between the two clubs. “Player safety, my ass!,” he told a Winnipeg Sun reporter. “This is literally an elbow to the face of a guy that didn’t have the puck,” Perreault added he could take measure into his own hands the next time a rival player does that to him. “I’m the smallest guy (on) the ice so I can’t really fight anybody. The only thing I can do to defend myself is use my stick, so the next guy that does that to me is gonna get my f—— stick. And I better not get suspended for it.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I have a feeling Perreault is going to get a phone call from Parros over his comments.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Blackhawks placed center Dylan Strome (right ankle sprain) on injured reserve.
NEWSDAY: Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has asked the NHL to consider moving all Islanders games to Nassau Coliseum next season before they open their Belmont Park arena in 2021.
Latest on Ryan Ellis, Nick Bonino, Cody Franson and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis could be sidelined for the first two or three months of the upcoming NHL season because of knee surgery he underwent back in June. General manager David Poile said the usual timeline for recovery is four to six months and it appears Ellis will be out for the full six months. He anticipates Ellis’ return could be late-December.
New Predators center Nick Bonino isn’t expected to play with his new club during preseason. He’s still recovering from a broken left tibia suffered during this year’s Stanley Cup Final. It’s believed he’ll be ready to play when the Predators open the season on Oct. 5.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators anticipated Ellis’ absence would be a lengthy one. That’s why they acquired defenseman Alexei Emelin from the Vegas Golden Knights on July 1. Still, the Preds will feel Ellis’ absence. He’s a key part of their defense corps.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks signed free-agent defenseman Cody Franson to a professional tryout offer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not a surprising development. It was reported in July that Franson could join the Hawks on a PTO contract.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils signed free-agent blueliner Tim Erixon to a PTO contract.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: An ankle injury could prevent Oilers forward Anton Slepyshev from participating in training camp.
NBC SPORTS: The NHL announced former enforcer George Parros as the new senior vice-president of its Department of Player Safety. Parros vows to crack down on slashing and will seek longer suspensions for non-hockey infractions.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With all due respect to Parros, I’ll believe it when I see it. The NHL Department of Player Safety is a joke. Few folks take its pronouncements seriously.
TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired former defenseman Stephane Robidas as an assistant director of player development.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cynics will consider this Robidas’ reward for not kicking up a fuss when the Leafs buried him for salary-cap relief during the final two years of his contract. However, since 2016 he was in a consulting role for the Leafs, working with their AHL affiliate.
Mark your calendars, folks. TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie yesterday reported the 2018 NHL trade deadline is 3 pm ET on Monday, February 26, 2018.
OTTAWA SUN: After suffering the embarrassment of reduced attendance numbers and empty seats at Canadian Tire Centre last season, the Senators are reducing their seating capacity from 18,500 to 17,000.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If you can’t fill your building, reduce your seating. What a novel way to address the issue. You know, if an American Sun Belt team did that, some pundits and fans would be calling upon the league to relocate that club to a better hockey market.
World Cup of Hockey updates, Predators name Mike Fisher captain & more in your NHL morning headlines.
USA HOCKEY: Team USA named San Jose Sharks center Joe Pavelski its captain in the upcoming World Cup of Hockey tournament. Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter and Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane were named the alternates.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators will name center Mike Fisher their new team captain today. He replaces Shea Weber, who was dealt in late-June to the Montreal Canadiens for P.K. Subban.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a sensible choice. The 36-year-old Fisher is among the Predators’ longest-servicing active players. He was the alternate captain for the past four years and is well respected by his teammates.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Goaltender MIchael Leighton returns to the Carolina Hurricanes on a one-year, two-way contract. He spent parts of three seasons with the Canes from 2007 to 2009.
VANCOUVER SUN: The Canucks hired former player Manny Malhotra as a development coach.
TORONTO STAR: Former NHL enforcer George Parros has joined the league’s department of player safety.
NBC SPORTS: The NHL announced the anthem protocol for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. For Team North America, comprised of 23-and-younger players from Canada and the United States, the anthems of both nations will be played before their games. No anthem will be played before Team Europe’s games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Damn! I was hoping Team Europe’s anthem would be “The Final Countdown“.
WINNIPEG SUN: Tickets are on sale for the Heritage Classic between the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets.
PHILLY.COM: Former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman and two-time NHL All-Star Bob Dailey passed away Wednesday at age 63 following a long bout with cancer. He played nine NHL seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and the Flyers before injuries cut short his career in 1982.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: At 6’5 and 220 lbs, Dailey was one of the biggest defensemen in the NHL at that time. He was also talented, netting 325 points in 561 regular-season games and 46 points in 63 playoff games. If not for the injuries that hampered his career, he could’ve been among the dominant blueliners of his era. My condolences to his family and friends.