The delicate dance of free agency continues with Ilya Kovalchuk. On a day that started with his agent Jay Grossman announcing on Twitter that a decision was coming today for where Kovalchuk would sign, then evolved into the New York Post saying that it was going to be the Devils signing him for seven years and then backing off of that story fast has turned out to be absolutely nothing instead.
Ilya Kovalchuk choices have been narrowed down, details to be finalized but no announcement tonight….
Thank goodness today was a holiday for everyone in the United States or else some serious productivity in the New York tri-state area might’ve been lost waiting to see if the Devils or Islanders were going to be landing the most coveted free agent in the NHLs salary cap era. A funny thing about the Islanders supposed involvement in this whole thing though is that they apparently wanted a short-term deal with Kovalchuk (subscription needed), and not the hotly-rumored ten-year max contract.
While all that has gone on, the other team that at one point had interest in Kovalchuk, the Kings, decided to speak up today to say that they might not be against trying to obtain Simon Gagne from the Flyers. The twist there being that they had news come out that they were out of the hunt for Gagne. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun sums it up succinctly for us via Twitter.
Now we’re told the Kings may still possibly have some interest in Simon Gagne… confusing. Like this day has been.
As the wind blows, and Kovalchuk’s news continues to not actually occur, situations with teams seeking to go with their post-Kovalchuk Plan B change too. What’s the most likely scenario playing out here for all parties involved? Tweaking the media and the blogosphere and the fans to help stir the reactions one way or another and do some negotiating through the media.
A leak here, a whisper there, a supposed contract offer everywhere and you’ve got yourself the perfect storm for figuring out just where and how fans and other teams will respond to things. The Kings say they’re out of the running for good (and LeBrun believes them) and reports of their re-interest in Simon Gagne surface just an hour or so after Kovalchuk’s agent Jay Grossman says a decision hasn’t been made about where his client is headed. Paint me as cynical here if you’d like, but these things don’t appear to be much of a coincidence to me.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)
The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.
Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.
As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.
More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.
That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.
(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)