Shocker: Rangers scratch Sean Avery for tonight's game

avery.jpgI never really understood why the New York Rangers picked up Sean
Avery last season. I understand the thought process and the reasons
behind it; Avery could be had for half of his salary and the team and
fans needed him at the time.

But in the time where it was known
that the Rangers eventually would nab Avery and the time they actually
did, there was a coaching change and John Tortorella took over behind
the bench for New York. How would such a no-nonsense coach put up with a
player like Avery? Perhaps he would be the one to finally harness his
ability and make him into more than just an annoying player who
sometimes scores.

That hasn’t been the case. In fact, Tortorella
has done everything he can this season to suppress Avery and his
shenanigans. Well, everything except scratch him.

Until now. Sean
Avery will be a healthy scratch tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers
,
another team that is in desperation mode as they both fight for a
playoff spot.

“We’ve asked him for a while now for
more engagement and honestly, we
just haven’t seen it,” Tortorella said following the morning skate in
preparation for tonight’s match here against the Thrashers. “[That’s in]
all facets.”

“Whenever I get my next opportunity that’s what I’m
going to have to
do,” said Avery, who when then asked what exactly he meant, responded,
“I’m going to keep that to myself.”

I’m of two sides
on this one. If the Rangers and John Tortorella never intended to
embrace Avery and everything he brings to the table then they never
should have picked him up. It’s been a battle every since and neither
side has seemed to be able to agree on exactly what approach they want
Avery to take.

However, Avery is a wildly inconsistent player and
that is maddening to a coach. He has all the ability to be a dangerous
player each night, yet is driven by emotion and self-motivation. Perhaps
the coach is doing everything he can to bring out that emotion each and
every game and he’s just not seeing as much as he would like. Whatever
the case, it’s an ugly situation that is playing itself out just as the
Rangers are fighting for a playoff spot.

Personally, I love seeing
Avery’s hand held to the fire like this. I know there are some who
think he’s being misused by the Rangers’ coach, but for a player who is
as self-serving as he is there has to be a reality check at some point.
It seems being released by the Stars last season helped a bit in
bringing him down to earth, but obviously the coach doesn’t feel it’s
been far enough.

Should make for an interested finish to the
season, at least.

Scroll Down For:

    ‘I’ve got to be more aware’ on the ice, says Ekblad after recent injury

    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 17: Aaron Ekblad #5  of the Florida Panthers leaves the ice following warmups prior to Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Islanders during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Barclays Center on April 17, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Getty Images
    Leave a comment

    As per multiple reports, Aaron Ekblad practiced with his Florida Panthers teammates Thursday.

    Good news. That marks another step in the progress he’s made from a neck injury — initially reported to be a concussion — suffered on a hit from Leo Komarov that ultimately ended the defenseman’s experience for Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey.

    On Thursday, Ekblad told reporters the injury was actually whiplash.

    The 20-year-old Ekblad has had a history of concussions, including one from a Hockey Canada camp in August, 2014 — almost two full months after the Panthers selected him first overall.

    He was injured again in January of last season when Matt Hendricks caught him with a dangerous hit against the end boards, resulting in a suspension for Hendricks.

    Despite supplemental discipline from the league on that specific incident involving Hendricks, Ekblad, a valuable part of a young Panthers team that has increased expectations surrounding it, put the onus on himself to be more aware on the ice.

    “When I think about it in the Edmonton game last year, there were a couple of big hits on their guys. I should have expected to someone was going to come after me,” Ekblad told NHL.com.

    “Obviously you don’t think that. You think there’s a little bit more respect among players out there. I turned, I saw him. I didn’t think he was going to drive my head into the glass. The Komarov hit there, he got me on the shoulder, not much on the head or anything like that. It was more of the whiplash effect. Again, I’ve got to be more aware. You train your body, you train your brain to do that kind of thing. I do a lot of eye exercises and stuff like that. We’re working on that right now and just trying to be a better hockey player that way.”

    The Panthers have a preseason game with the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight. Ekblad is not in the lineup.

    Stars sign WHL d-man Vala to entry-level deal

    cut
    Dallas Stars Twitter
    Leave a comment

    The Dallas Stars have added another defenseman to their group of prospects.

    On Thursday, the club signed 18-year-old Czech blue liner Ondrej Vala to a three-year entry-level contract. Vala is currently playing for the Kamloops Blazers in the Western Hockey League. He had four goals and 21 points in 72 games last season — his first with the Blazers.

    Having represented the Czech Republic at U-17 and U-18 international events and played for the Stars prospects team at the Traverse City Tournament, Vala is also listed at six-foot-four-inches tall and 209 pounds.

    He certainly brings size on the blue line, which is a quality the Stars appear to value in him.

    “Ondrej has shown a combination of size and physicality along with the ability to play a defensively responsible game at the junior hockey level,” said Stars GM Jim Nill in a statement.

    Related:

    Another — yes, another — blow for Dallas as Janmark spotted on crutches

    Capitals send first-round pick Johansen back to junior

    BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Lucas Johansen poses for a portrait after being selected 28th overall by the Washington Capitals in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
    Getty Images
    Leave a comment

    The Washington Capitals have sent prospect defenseman Lucas Johansen, selected 28th overall in this year’s NHL Draft, back to the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League.

    From the Kelowna Capital News:

    The Kelowna Rockets have yet to play a regular season game with a full lineup.

    That will change this weekend in Prince George when defenceman Lucas Johansen and forward Calvin Thurkauf rejoin their WHL club for a two-game set against the Cougars.

    Johansen, a first-round NHL draft pick this summer, is back from the camp of the Washington Capitals, while Thurkauf returns from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    The Capitals confirmed the news via Twitter.

    Johansen, the younger brother of NHL center Ryan Johansen, appeared in Monday’s exhibition game for the Capitals, apparently leaving a positive impression on the coaching staff.

    Still, Johansen doesn’t turn 19 years old until the middle of November. He also has some growing left to do at six-foot-one-inch tall and just 174 pounds, so sending him back to junior is the logical step.

    “For a first game, to have that kind of poise playing defense, you don’t see it very often,” Capitals’ associate coach Todd Reirden told the Washington Post.

    “So, it’s fun to watch, how he goes about the game. Certainly, I think it’s helped growing up in the family that he has and being around some of the players he’s practiced with. I think he has some special tools, in terms of his ability to slow down the play and see some things that other players don’t. He’s looking like an outstanding draft pick for us and a real great prospect moving forward.”

    Shaw suspended three preseason games for boarding Connor Hobbs

    TAMPA, FL - JUNE 02:  Andrew Shaw #65 of the Chicago Blackhawks speaks during Media Day for the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on June 2, 2015 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Getty Images
    8 Comments

    The National Hockey League has suspended Montreal Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw for three preseason games for boarding defenseman Connor Hobbs of the Washington Capitals in an exhibition game Tuesday.

    The Habs have five more exhibition games remaining before the regular season begins Oct. 13.

    Shaw was given a major penalty and a game misconduct on the play, as he slammed Hobbs “through the numbers, with speed” from behind into the end glass, as per Thursday’s video from the NHL outlining the suspension.

    From the video: “It is important to note that Hobbs is never eligible to be checked by Shaw on this play. From the moment Shaw arrives at the faceoff dot, he sees nothing but Hobbs’ numbers. Hobbs makes no sudden movement just prior to contact that turns this hit from a legal hit into an illegal one.

    “The onus is on Shaw to ensure that he can deliver this hit in a legal fashion, minimize the force, or avoid this hit completely. Instead, he hits forcefully through Hobbs from behind, driving him dangerously into the glass.”

    In a bid to land a gritty forward to their lineup, the Habs acquired Shaw from the Blackhawks, who had been dealing with a cap crunch, during the NHL Draft. He later signed a six-year contract extension with Montreal.