Lightning cover Stephane Veilleux surgery costs

It was close to becoming an incredible sour dispute over what is
essentially a miniscule price for an NHL, when the Tampa Bay Lightning
initially refused to cover the surgery costs for pending free agent
Stephane Veilleux. The team had claimed that since his injury could not
be proven to be directly related to hockey, and could the be claimed as a
“non-hockey related injury” the team was exempt from covering surgery
costs under the collective bargaining agreement.

Agent Allan Walsh
then went on a public scorched earth campaign, telling anyone who would
listen about the injustice his client was receiving at the hands of the
team as word came down that a greivance would be filed by the NHLPA for
Veilleux. Before the grievance was actually filed, however, Walsh
pulled back as it seems the team might have come to their senses.

From
Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times:

“We had conversations with Tampa (Thursday),” Walsh said. “They have
accepted financial responsibility for Stephane Veilleux’s surgery and
rehab, and the matter is resolved to all parties satisfaction, and it’s
over.”

“We are glad this was amicably resolved,” Lightning spokesman Bill
Wickett said.

Now, the Lightning might have had an actual case as it seems the
injury of concern has to do with an impingement of the suprascrapular
nerve, which generally occurs in tennis players. Veilleux is a regular
tennis and ping pong player, and this is where the team claimed the
injury came from.

Yet no such injury was found in preseason physicals held by the team,
which was then discovered after the season was over. So the injury
occurred during the season, but neither side is able to pinpoint an
exact injury that occurred either on or off the ice. Who knows exactly
what might have happened had a grievance been filed, but there’s no
doubt that the Lightning come out of this mess with a bit of egg on
their faces.

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    After ‘rough year,’ Kronwall seeking options for ailing knee

    Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler (26) is tripped up by Detroit Red Wings' Niklas Kronwall (55), of Sweden, during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Detroit. The Red Wings defeated the Jets 3-2. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
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    Coming off one of the worst seasons in an otherwise solid — and lengthy — career, Detroit d-man Niklas Kronwall is already looking to ensure the knee issues that plagued him won’t continue on into 2016-17.

    Kronwall is “getting opinions” about how to fix the knee, Wings GM Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press. The injury limited the Swedish rearguard to just 64 games played — and those 64 games were largely played with Kronwall not close to 100 percent.

    More, from the Free Press:

    At 35, Kronwall is showing the wear and tear of being, at his best, a hard-hitting workhorse defenseman. Productionwise, he had the lowest numbers of his career since 2006-07, scoring just three goals and finishing with just 26 points in 64 games. (Even during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, he had five goals and 29 points in 48 games.) His minus-21 was eye-popping.

    “It’s been a rough year in a lot of ways,” Kronwall said. “Definitely, a summer of good training is the first thing that you need, and the rest of it will play out as you go along.”

    The Wings will be hopeful Kronwall can return to form.

    He’s still got plenty of time left on his current deal — three more years, at a $4.75M cap hit — and is still considered a key part to the Red Wings defense, which wasn’t great this year and doesn’t project to be a heckua lot better next year.

    If Kronwall can’t get back to form, it could push Holland even harder to make a trade to beef up the blueline.

    Halak practices fully, hoping to be back soon

    Jaroslav Halak
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    Jaroslav Halak took a major step in his return from a groin injury on Monday, participating in a full practice with his Islander teammates ahead of tomorrow’s Game 3 against the Lightning.

    “He’s progressing,” head coach Jack Capuano said, per the Isles’ website. “I don’t know how far or where he is or when he could play, but I know that having him on the ice going through a full practice, but again it’s about conditioning and timing with goaltenders and their movement, but he’s progressing and it’s great to see.

    “I don’t have a timetable yet though.”

    Halak hasn’t played in nearly two months — he suffered his groin injury on Mar. 8. His initial timetable for return was 6-8 weeks, and Tuesday will mark his eighth week out of action.

    It seems highly unlikely Halak will be an option — at least in terms of starting — anytime soon. He told the Isles’ site the lengthy layoff means it now feels “like the beginning of the season for me,” and Thomas Greiss has performed well through the playoffs thus far, posting a .937 save percentage and 2.06 GAA.

    If anything, Halak’s goal could be to get in good enough shape to serve as Greiss’ backup at some point. J.F. Berube has filled that role during the postseason, but has yet to see any action.

    Prior to getting hurt, Halak was New York’s No. 1 netminder and played reasonably well, posting a .919 save percentage and 2.30 GAA in 36 starts.

    Martin Jones is making Doug Wilson look pretty smart

    SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 01:  Martin Jones #31 and Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks blocks the shot of Colton Sissons #10 of the Nashville Predators in Game Two of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. at SAP Center on May 1, 2016 in San Jose, California. The Sharks won the game 3-2. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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    The thing about rolling the dice on an unproven goalie is that you can look really foolish if it doesn’t work out.

    That’s the risk Doug Wilson took when he bet on Martin Jones. Fortunately for the Sharks’ general manager, it’s looking like a great wager these days.

    Seven games into the playoffs and Jones is 6-1 with a .923 save percentage. The 26-year-old has been especially good against the Predators. He was named first star in Game 2, a 3-2 San Jose victory that gave the Sharks a 2-0 series lead.

    Jones, you’ll recall, was acquired in an offseason trade with the Bruins. The Sharks gave up a first-round draft pick and a prospect to get their man, whom they immediately signed to a three-year, $9 million contract.

    At the time, Jones had only started 29 games in the NHL. He was slated to battle Alex Stalock — another relatively inexperienced guy — for the starting job in San Jose.

    “I think I’m ready to definitely take that step and play more hockey games,” Jones said. “I had a great two years in L.A. learning from Jonathan Quick. It’s been a big couple of years in my development and I’m looking forward to the new challenge.”

    Make no mistake, it was a big risk for Wilson to bet on such an inexperienced tandem. If the Sharks had missed the playoffs again this year, who knows what would’ve happened in San Jose?

    But while goaltending remains arguably the most important position in hockey, recent history shows it doesn’t take an experienced, big-money netminder to win. Quick had a $1.8 million cap hit when he won his first Stanley Cup with the Kings. Corey Crawford‘s cap hit was just under $3 million when he won his first Cup with the Blackhawks, who had Antti Niemi and his sub-$1 million salary in goal when they won in 2010.

    Quick and Crawford have both signed big deals since. But the temptation for frugality remains, thanks to a seemingly endless supply of quality netminders. After all, the more cap space a team can save on its goalies, the more it can spend on its skaters.

    The key, obviously, is picking the right horse. Choose poorly and it can be a disaster. That’s why some GMs will opt to pay a premium for experience. Track records can be comforting. Youngsters, on the other hand, can buckle under the weight of expectations.

    So far, Jones has handled the postseason pressure like a veteran, and he’s a big reason why the Sharks are two wins from reaching the Western Conference Final.

    Seguin resumes skating in Dallas, Ruff notes ‘they have flights into St. Louis every day’

    Dallas Stars' Tyler Seguin makes a pass during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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    The latest on Tyler Seguin (and fellow injured Stars forward Patrick Eaves), per the Dallas Morning-News:

    Q: On the statuses of Patrick Eaves (leg) and Tyler Seguin (Achilles)

    Lindy Ruff: “Both skated today, both progressing.”

    Q: On if Seguin and Eaves will travel with the team to St. Louis for Game 3

    LR: “No, but they have flights into St. Louis every day.”

    Seguin, as you’ve probably heard, hasn’t played since a Game 2 win over Minnesota in the opening round.

    That was on Apr. 16.

    Dallas’ All-Star center returned from a partially lacerated Achilles to participate in said Game 2, a nasty injury that cost him the final 10 games of the regular season and the series opener against the Wild.

    The Stars say this latest injury has nothing to do with the previous one, but reporters haven’t been privy to much information beyond that.

    In speaking last week, Ruff didn’t even want to put a timetable on Seguin’s return, for fear of what an inaccurate timetable might cause.

    “I really can’t,” Ruff said. “I don’t even have a guesstimate on it. I don’t even think it’d be fair. If I guessed and if I’m off, everybody else will be wondering why did he guess that?”

    GM Jim Nill did say the club expected Seguin to miss the first two games of the Blues series and, as of last Thursday, confirmed Seguin wasn’t skating.

    “He’s day-to-day,” Nill explained. “Once he gets on the ice, it’s probably four to five days from there.”

    This series, currently tied 1-1, will resume on Tuesday from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.