Reactions around the league to the Ilya Kovalchuk signing

2 Comments

loulamoriello1.jpgWith Ilya Kovalchuk signed and the NHL and NHLPA agreeing to amend the collective bargaining agreement, this morning brings about statements from everyone surrounding the situation. Here’s a summation of what folks are saying this morning.

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello makes a statement on the Devils website.

“We have been advised today that the NHL has approved the contract between Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils.  We are very pleased with this decision which will see Ilya Kovalchuk remain a valuable member of the Devils.
 
“The New Jersey Devils acted in good faith throughout this entire process and operated solely on the assumption that our negotiations and both contracts reached were fully compliant with the CBA, as written and applied.  Arbitrator Bloch reached that same conclusion in his August 9 decision.  We are pleased that this matter has finally been concluded to all parties’ satisfaction.”

Lamoriello’s statements are very clear in stating that the Devils stayed within the rules all along because the NHL has until September 17th to punish them for the circumventing the salary cap. While punishments could’ve gone so far as to reduce the Devils salary cap space, that won’t happen this time. Instead, stiff fines and loss of draft picks could be possible.TSN’s Darren Dreger tweets that other owners are hoping to see the Devils punished for this.

The Sporting News’ Craig Custance caught up with a handful of interested parties to get their take on things. Marian Hossa’s agent Rich Winter is, unsurprisingly, very happy with how things played out.

“It’s a hat trick for the NHLPA. They preserved and protected $300 million worth of contracts. These contracts are no longer an issue,” Winter told Sporting News. “No. 2, it provides absolute certainty to the process and … it takes out of Gary Bettman’s hands an incredible amount of unchecked power.”

Meanwhile, Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner viewed it as a positive that the league and the players association were able to work together on this deal.

“I think if both sides are willing to look at both sides, something can always be worked out,” said Devils forward Jamie Langenbrunner, who plays an active role in the NHLPA. “When you go from a strict point of view of your own and your own agenda and don’t look beyond that it makes it more difficult. As long as they work together as somewhat of a partnership, a lot of good things can happen.”

This entire situation being over with is a huge relief for everyone involved. Because of all the strange, entangling alliances this created getting things back to normal, at least for a couple of years, makes for a nice change of pace. Let’s hope it lasts.

The Leafs’ remaining schedule is no cakewalk

AP
Leave a comment

The Toronto Maple Leafs took care of business last night, sending the floundering Florida Panthers to a 3-2 defeat at Air Canada Centre.

Now comes the hard part for the young Leafs. They have seven games left to book their first playoff appearance since 2013, and their schedule is no cakewalk.

The Leafs’ next three games are all on the road, in Nashville Thursday, Detroit Saturday, and Buffalo Monday. After that, it’s a four-game home stand to close out the schedule, all against formidable opponents: Washington, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Columbus.

With a four-point playoff cushion, the Leafs can afford to lose a few games down the stretch. But head coach Mike Babcock doesn’t want his players looking too far ahead.

“I really believe with our group if we just focus on the day we’re playing and play right, we have a real good chance to win,” Babcock said. “That’s what we talk about and that’s kind of our mantra every day is just play right, play fast and we have an opportunity to be successful. We don’t get all caught up in the race. We know the standings, it’s in the paper every day, so we know that.”

The Leafs today sent goalie Garret Sparks back to the AHL. That can only mean good news for starter Frederik Andersen, who could play Thursday after missing last night’s victory with an upper-body injury.

Backup Curtis McElhinney got the nod against the Panthers, calling it the biggest game of his career. The 33-year-old then went out and made 25 saves to earn the win.

“It was great,” said McElhinney. “Getting a couple of goals in the first period there helped out a little bit and let me settle into it. It was a nice win.”

Parise ‘pretty black and blue’ after Wilson high stick, but injury not serious

3 Comments

Zach Parise looked in bad shape after taking a Tom Wilson high stick to the face in Minnesota’s loss to Washington on Tuesday.

Thankfully for the Wild, Parise’s early diagnosis is a good one.

“He can see and is fine as far as that goes,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said on Wednesday, per the club’s Twitter account. “He’s sore in the upper body. I don’t think he’ll be out long.”

Boudreau went on to add that Parise was “pretty black and blue” and unlikely to play tomorrow, when Minnesota hosts Ottawa. That said, the club expects the 32-year-old to return next week.

It goes without saying that losing Parise is huge. The alternate captain has 17 goals and 37 points through 64 games this year, and is averaging 17:33 TOI per night. And for a Wild team that’s mired in a horrific slump — just three wins in its last 15 games — being down the services of such a vital contributor is costly.

Related: Stewart fought Wilson in response to the high stick

Stamkos ‘getting really close’ to return

Getty
Leave a comment

It probably won’t happen Thursday against the Red Wings, but Steven Stamkos is getting close to making his return for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I think we can start putting him in the day-to-day category right now,” said Bolts coach Jon Cooper, per team beat writer Bryan Burns. “I don’t see him playing against Detroit. After that, I’d say it’s getting really close.”

Stamkos, who hasn’t played since November due to a knee injury, practiced today with his teammates. He took line rushes and even worked with the second-unit power play.

“Today was probably the best day yet,” the captain said. “Doing better than last time we talked and really feeling better each day now.”

Tampa Bay’s next game after Thursday’s is Saturday against Montreal.

The Lightning are three points back of Boston for the second wild-card spot in the East, but they do hold a game in hand on the Bruins.

A challenging offseason awaits Dean Lombardi

Getty
4 Comments

For the 23rd time this season — the most in the NHL — the Los Angeles Kings lost a game in regulation after they outshot an opponent.

It happened last night in Edmonton, where the Kings outshot the Oilers, 35-29, but lost on the scoreboard, 2-1.

Afterwards, captain Anze Kopitar could only express his frustration.

“It seems like we’re beating the dead horse every night,” Kopitar said, per LA Kings Insider. “We outshoot teams, we out-chance teams yet we’re on the other side of the winning part, so bottom line it’s just not good enough. Whether that’s offensively or defensively, we’ve got to be better in both areas.”

It’s mostly offensively. For whatever reason, the Kings have the second-worst shooting percentage (7.6) in the NHL, with only Colorado’s (7.2) being lower.

Perhaps the Kings aren’t getting enough quality shots. Perhaps they don’t have enough quality shooters.

Probably a bit of both.

But it’s something that GM Dean Lombardi will need to address this offseason — assuming he can.

Roster-wise, the big problem for Lombardi is that the Kings have a pair of veteran wingers, Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik, whose contracts look a lot like anchors.

Brown, 32, and Gaborik, 35, have combined for just 21 goals this season. Meanwhile, their combined cap hit is north of $10 million, and there’s plenty of term left on each deal.

Not helping? Both Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson are pending RFAs, and they’re in line for raises.

Oh, and there’s not much in the way of top prospects, either. In the past four drafts, only once have the Kings made a first-round pick. (Adrian Kempe went 29th overall in 2014.)

Eleven points back of the second wild-card spot in the West, the Kings are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. They’re in Calgary tonight to take on the Flames.

Related: Kings give another kid a look, recall AHL All-Star Brodzinski