It’s been a rough few months for Ottawa Senators fans, but their level of misery seems to have taken a serious turn over the last few hours.
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard, by now, that the Senators traded Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks for a less-than-stellar return. But now, there’s even more bad news. Forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau tore his achilles tendon in his right leg while training yesterday. Pageau underwent surgery last night and he’s expected to miss at least six months of action.
Not having Pageau is less of a blow to the roster than trading Karlsson, but it just seems like bad news is pilling up.
The 25-year-old had 14 goals and 29 points in 78 games last season. He’s also just three years removed from a 19-goal and 43-point season.
There now appears to be a clear opening for Chris Tierney, who the Senators acquired as part of that trade with the Sharks yesterday afternoon, on the second line. Tierney put together his best season as an NHLer last year, as he had 17 goals and 40 points in 82 games last year.
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Jack Eichel was in such an upbeat mood upon reporting for the start of training camp Thursday, the Buffalo Sabres star center felt comfortable enough to engage in some humorous banter with reporters.
Asked if the numerous offseason additions management made to upgrade an underachieving roster eliminated any excuses for the Sabres from showing marked improvement this year, Eichel winked and said: ”There’s always going to be excuses. We’re professional complainers.”
The room then erupted in laughter when Eichel was playfully asked when he began developing a sense of humor.
”Ho, ho,” the second player selected in the 2015 draft responded with a smile. ”I’ve had it. I just don’t have one with you guys.”
Whatever cloud of negativity darkened Eichel and many of his teammates’ demeanors in finishing last in the standings for the third time in five years appears to have been lifted.
In its place is what Eichel and others contend is a belief things might finally be looking up for a team in the midst of a franchise-worst seven-year playoff drought.
For Eichel, it took a long summer of self-reflection and open lines of communication between players and coaches to settle whatever differences there might have been in a bid to get everyone pulling in the same direction.
”Last year, we want to put that behind us at this point,” Eichel said. ”There’s a lot of new people in here. I think there’s a new mindset. There’s a new standard and I think you’ll see different group of guys with the way we conduct ourselves, the way we handle ourselves.”
He credited coach Phil Housley for nurturing the discussions, and being open to input.
”He’s done a lot of communicating with us in terms of seeing our side of things and trying to figure out what management can do, coaches can do to make our relationship mend better,” Eichel said. ”Obviously, you’re not going to agree on everything, but as I said, we’re taking a lot of right steps.”
Housley in turn credited his leadership group in engaging in frank discussions, including being open to criticism.
”We talked about change at the end of last year, right? There’s a lot of people in that locker room, a lot of players that needed to change, and this is myself included,” Housley said entering his second season. ”If you are going to make a difference and you want to change the direction of this franchise, we have to change as people.”
Time will only tell whether this offseason-long cleansing takes hold.
That said, something needed to change in Buffalo after last season ended with now-former Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly suggesting he had at times lost his passion for playing, and that a losing culture crept into the locker room.
This was a team with a high-priced lineup that wilted in the face of adversity. Buffalo endured losing streaks of four or more games seven times in going 25-45-12 and becoming the NHL’s first team to finish 31st following the addition of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
O’Reilly was traded to St. Louis in July, in one of many moves general manager Jason Botterill made to change the team’s makeup. He also acquired two-time Stanley Cup winner Conor Sheary in a deal with Pittsburgh and playmaking forward Jeff Skinner in trade with Carolina.
And that doesn’t include an expected influx of youngsters, headed by 18-year-old Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin , the first player selected in the 2018 draft.
”I can only speak from this day that there’s a different vibe going on in that room,” Housley said. ”There’s an excitement. Obviously, we haven’t been tested, and we have a lot of work to do. There’s going to be adversity. It’s going to be really interesting to see how we handle that.”
UNSIGNED: Forward Sam Reinhart, a restricted free agent, is the only Sabres player not signed. Botterill on Monday said both sides continue to talk, and he’s hopeful a deal will be reached. Reinhart spent much of the past two weeks skating with his teammates in Buffalo.
CAPTAIN MY CAPTAIN: Housley says he’s going to spend the next month evaluating whether he’ll name a captain this season. The Sabres have not had a captain since Brian Gionta was not re-signed after the 2016-17 season.
IMPORTANT DATES: The Sabres open their preseason at Columbus on Monday, before returning home to host Pittsburgh the following day. Buffalo opens the regular season hosting Boston on Oct. 4.
After months of speculation, Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland made it official on Friday: Henrik Zetterberg‘s playing career is over.
A degenerative back issue is causing the 37-year-old Zetterberg stop playing, a big announcement to make as the Red Wings opened their 2018 training camp. Holland said that doctors in New York who were consulted on the issue said there’s no treatment that would allow him to continue playing.
“I think he wants to play, but he can’t,” he said.
Zetterberg, the 210th pick in the 1999 NHL Draft, was unable to train this summer and Holland said last month that the Red Wings captain was unable to practice during the final two months of the 2017-18 season — he only played games.
“It is emotional,” Zetterberg via Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. “It’s been 15 years here and even though I knew that I was on my last couple years, I wish that I could play a little bit longer.”
There’s still three years left on Zetterberg’s contract, which carries a $6.083M cap hit. He’s not going to officially retire, of course; that would mean forfeiting the remaining $5.35M owed to him through the 2020-21 season. The Red Wings will get some cap relief by placing him on long-term injury reserve, as CapFriendly notes.
The 37-year-old Zetterberg broke in with the Red Wings during the 2002-03 season and was named captain of the franchise in Jan. 2013 after Nicklas Lidstrom retired. He was a major presence in the dressing room and had a notable influence on many young Red Wings over the years.
“He’s a true professional. He’s a great player, great guy,” said Dylan Larkin during the NHL Player Media Tour earlier this month. “It’s definitely going to hurt not having him. When he speaks in the room everyone listens.”
He would help them to win the 2008 Stanley Cup and finishes his NHL career with 337 goals and 960 points in 1,082 games played. Along with the Cup, part of his trophy cabinet includes the 2008 Conn Smythe Trophy, 2015 King Clancy Memorial Trophy, gold medals from the 2006 Olympics and 2006 IIHF World Championship, and two silvers from the 2003 Worlds and 2014 Olympics.
Zetterberg is also one of 28 hockey players in the “Triple Gold Club,” having won the Cup and gold at the Olympics and Worlds.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — As the New Jersey Devils arrived for the start of training camp Thursday, there was a sense of optimism for the first time in a while.
The Devils were 44-29-9 last season and finished with 97 points and the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
Although the team was ousted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, it was the team’s first postseason appearance in six seasons.
Making the postseason last season is the main reason for the upbeat attitude among the team as new season begins.
”I think we were all looking forward to getting back here,” said forward Taylor Hall, the reigning NHL Most Valuable Player who had 39 goals and 54 assists last season.
”We created a buzz and excitement here. We had a little success under our belts. Getting everyone back again is exciting. There’s a lot more interest in us. I think it’s my job to get the younger guys ready to take the next step.”
One of the young guys that Hall is referring to is center Nico Hischier, the former No. 1 draft pick overall by the Devils in 2017.
Hischier had 20 goals and added 32 assists last season as a rookie, mostly playing on the same line with Hall. The 19-year-old Hischier was a contender for the Calder Award as rookie of the year, an award captured by Mathew Barzal of the New York Islanders.
”I’m definitely excited,” Hischier said. ”I think we all want to keep how we finished last year. I just have to play my game. I just want to be stronger this year and improve my shot. I definitely know all the guys here. I didn’t know them last year. That definitely helps. It’s going to be a tough training camp, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Hischier is also looking ahead to a preseason trip to his native Switzerland Oct. 1.
”That should be fun,” Hischier said.
Although the Devils reached the playoffs last season, it isn’t the ultimate goal of this young team.
”We want to be better,” said veteran defenseman Ben Lovejoy, who begins his 10th NHL season and third with New Jersey. ”We want to be better than eighth place in the conference. It starts with having a good training camp. We need to have a successful training camp. We were embarrassed the year before and came out last year, working hard in training camp. We’re going to continue to get better.”
At this point last season, veteran center Brian Boyle was feeling a little fatigued and went off to have blood tests that revealed he had chronic myeloid leukemia, a rare form of bone marrow cancer.
The 33-year-old Boyle received medication to treat the cancer, but did not return to the ice until November. He managed to finish the season with 13 goals and 10 assists and was the recipient of the Masterton Trophy for his perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport of hockey.
Boyle begins training camp this year with the illness in the rearview mirror.
”It’s a nice feeling to know that I don’t have to think about it and it’s in the past,” Boyle said. ”I’m feeling good and I’m excited to be back. We’re not satisfied with just making the playoffs. Yes, that was an accomplishment, but we want more.
”We want to finish higher in the standings and win in the playoffs. I look forward to every training camp. I hope I get about seven or eight more. I love doing this and I want to do it for a long time to come.”
Boyle’s contract is up at the end of this season.
Another prominent member of the Devils is goaltender Keith Kinkaid, who was the team’s starting goalie when Cory Schneider went down with an injury. Kinkaid responded by posting a 26-10-3 record and a 2.77 goals-against average.
While Schneider’s availability in training camp remains a question, the 29-year-old Kinkaid is now a proven commodity for the Devils.
”I want to pick up where I finished the season,” Kinkaid said. ”I’m very confident right now. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. Everyone has to buy into getting better. I’m pretty confident that nothing is going to get past me.”
Devils coach John Hynes said that he has one goal in mind with the start of training camp.
”We want to build a solid foundation,” said Hynes, who begins his fourth season as head coach. ”We want to work on fundamentals. Every training camp is the same. We have to work every day to establish that foundation. The guys we have in camp are expected to come here and work. It has to get to a point where they believe. I think we all have a long way to go.”
The Devils begin the season Oct. 6 against Edmonton in Sweden and their home opener is Oct. 11 against defending Stanley Cup champion Washington.
• A photo of the Winnipeg Jets’ new third jersey was leaked before the team got to announce it. (Icethetics)
• The San Jose Sharks proved that they’re all in by making a trade for Karlsson. It’s all about winning right now for GM Doug Wilson and his team. (NBC Sports Bay Area)
• The Senators didn’t appear to get much in return for their former captain, so The Hockey News argues that there’s no hope in Ottawa until Melnyk sells the team. (The Hockey News)
• Will Artemi Panarin and/or Sergei Bobrovsky re-sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets before they become free agents next summer? Let’s just say they aren’t tipping their hand just yet. (Columbus Dispatch)
• The NHL announced that the New Jersey Devils will take part in a new all-access series titled “Behind the Glass: New Jersey Devils Training Camp”. The four-part series will begin on Sep. 26. (NHL.com/Devils)
• The Minnesota Wild have brought back a lot of players this season, but they’ll have to get used to new GM Paul Fenton. (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
• Good news if you’re a hockey fan in Seattle. No one wrote up a challenge on the environmental review of the Seattle Center arena project. (King5.com)
• Steve Yzerman stunned many when he left his GM job in Tampa, but he was just doing what was best for himself and the organization. (Raw Charge)
• Several young players on the Calgary Flames are in line for a bigger role heading into this season. (Flames Nation)