Breathe easy Caps fans, division title in hand

Well, it was a fight all the way down to the wire but the Washington Capitals have pulled off what many thought would be far from an easy accomplishment: winning the Southeast Division title. The division win also gives the Capitals an automatic playoff spot, so that’s another hurdle overcome.

Now we can all just move on; it was a tough battle but the Capitals found a way to pull it off.

I don’t know how big of a win the division crown really is; there’s a good chance that the Capitals are the only team from the Southeast Division to make the playoffs. The East in general has not been a very good conference top to bottom, but the disparity between Washington and the other teams in the conference is a bit jarring.

The Capitals were able to clinch the playoff spot due to the Atlanta Thrashers’ loss to Columbus tonight. The Thrashers are actually fighting for a playoff spot, and the addition of Chris Chelios did little to stop the bleeding from a tough losing streak. Atlanta is having major scoring issues, especially with Evander Kane out, and a loss to Columbus is not exactly a good sign for their chances.

As for Chelios? Well, he was just a guy out there on the ice. He had a bit over nine minutes of ice time, and didn’t really stand out all that much. Chelios hasn’t been much of an offensive threat since Seinfeld was still on the air, so his addition to the roster wasn’t going to spark any more scoring for the Thrashers.

He didn’t appear to have any issues, however, and you would never have been able to tell that he was a 74-year old hockey player making his return to the NHL.

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    Benn aims to be ready for World Cup after offseason surgery

    Fans celebrate along with Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (14) after a score by Benn in the first period of Game 3 of a first-round NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff series game, Monday, April 21, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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    Surgery earlier this month to repair a core muscle has put Jamie Benn‘s status for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey in question, however the Dallas Stars captain still aims to be ready to play for Team Canada.

    It was announced on July 15 that the recovery timeline for this surgery was six weeks, which certainly makes it possible that Benn could be ready for the tournament, which begins Sept. 17.

    “As of right now, yeah. I think this is a surgery that I’m able to come back a little quicker than double-hip surgery. That’s the main focus I’m training towards being able to make it for World Cup. We’ll just see what happens,” said Benn, as per Mark Stepneski of the Stars’ website on Saturday.

    “Well, I think I’ll get on the ice later this week and just keep ramping it up a little more each time. I still think that’s a lot of time, enough time for me to be ready to jump into high-level hockey.”

    Benn had 41 goals and 89 points last season with the Stars. He signed an eight-year, $76 million contract extension on the same day his recent surgery was announced.

    Benn’s teammate Tyler Seguin “should be ready for the World Cup,” said Stars GM Jim Nill earlier this month.

    Done deal: Coyotes sign 2016 first-round pick Chychrun to entry-level contract

    BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Jakob Chychrun poses for a portrait after being selected 16th overall by the Arizona Coyotes  in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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    The Arizona Coyotes moved up the draft order to select defenseman Jakob Chychrun at 16th overall. And now, they have signed Chychrun to a three-year entry-level contract.

    The Coyotes made the announcement on Saturday.

    “We are very pleased to sign Jakob to an entry-level contract,” said Coyotes GM John Chayka in a statement. “Jakob is a highly-skilled player with an all-around game. He has a great work ethic and is very determined. We look forward to watching him continue to develop this season.”

    When the 2015-16 season began, it was suggested Chychrun could potentially be a top-three pick in the draft in June. But he fell down the order, despite being the No. 4-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting.

    He was the fifth defenseman taken in the draft.

    Listed at six-foot-two-inches tall and 215 pounds, Chychrun brings size and strong skating ability to the blue line. He had 11 goals and 49 points last season with Sarnia in the Ontario Hockey League.

    The Coyotes selected Chychrun after acquiring the remainder of Pavel Datsyuk’s contract from the Detroit Red Wings and moving up the order.

    Chychrun’s fall — and what precipitated it in the first place — was discussed in great detail when the Coyotes held their development camp earlier this month.

    “I think it was about being tense,” said Coyotes director of player development Steve Sullivan. “All the pressure of wanting to be second overall and maybe not having a great season; it snowballed the wrong way for him.

    “Now he needs to understand he’s been drafted into the National Hockey League and we’re going to put him in a game plan to get him here as fast as we can. He can loosen up and play the way we think he can play. If that happens, there is no reason why he won’t be here sooner than later.”

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    Report: NHL linesman Henderson required neck surgery, friends fear his career may be over

    Nashville Predators' players look over the bench at linesman Don Henderson after he was hit by Calgary Flames' Dennis Wideman during second period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alberta, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)
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    Don Henderson, the NHL linesman knocked to the ice by Calgary Flames defenseman Dennis Wideman, has undergone neck surgery to repair damage from the hit and there are fears his career may now be over, according to a report in the Boston Globe.

    From Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe:

    According to one of his friends in the officiating business, Henderson’s recent surgery was aimed at repairing two ruptured disks in his neck, the result of the hit. Felled in the second period, he dusted himself off and finished the game the night he was injured.

    “I know a lot of people are saying stuff like, ‘Hey, Wideman’s not that type of guy . . . that’s not in his nature . . . he’s a good kid,’ ’’ said one of Henderson’s longtime pals in stripes. “And I say, ‘Yeah, so what?!’ That doesn’t make it any less egregious. He attacked him from behind, the puck was nowhere near the two of them, and now Henderson’s career may be finished. I don’t see much difference between what he did and Wayne Maki cracking his stick over Teddy Green’s head.’’

    This is the latest development in a saga that has dominated headlines in the NHL since the incident occurred late in January.

    Wideman apologized following the incident, saying the collision was ‘completely unintentional.’ The league later confirmed that Wideman had suffered a concussion from a hit just seconds before he checked Henderson to the ice near the bench.

    He eventually received a 20-game suspension, but that was reduced to 10 games by a neutral arbitrator, although Wideman had already sat out 19 games when the decision was handed down following an appeal.

    Related:

    Report: NHL dismisses neutral arbitrator who reduced Wideman’s suspension

    NHL sues NHLPA to reverse Wideman’s suspension reduction

    NHL Officials’ Association ‘strongly disagrees’ with the decision to reduce Wideman’s suspension

    Gabriel Landeskog hopes his concussion story helps others

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    When you’re an impossibly young captain of the Colorado Avalanche, it’s probably tough to choose your own health over the best interests of your team.

    That scenario presented itself to Gabriel Landeskog, and he decided to fight through the pain. As you can see in the video above, he regrets the decision.

    Landeskog shared his story, stemming from an injury in 2013, with “EMPWR,” a charitable foundation focused on concussion awareness. You can watch him discuss that tough period in his life in the video above.

    It appears that Landeskog was discussing this hard hit by then-San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart:

    NHL.com’s game report notes that Landeskog delivered multiple hits on Stuart after that. While he was giving rather than receiving those checks, those moments still likely left the Avalanche captain vulnerable to further injury.

    It’s easy to say “Don’t go back in the game” when you’re not in the situation, but hopefully more players will protect themselves in the future.

    Landeskog isn’t the only NHL player to share his experiences, and some weren’t as “lucky” as he was. Take Joey Hishon, whose career unraveled thanks in part to concussion issues:

    (H/T to CSNNE.com.)