Maple Leafs name alternate captains, Tomas Kaberle not among them

GYI0061833938-kaberle-abelimages-getty.jpgIt wouldn’t be a Maple Leafs season without a little bit of controversy, right? Today, the Leafs announced who would be serving as the team’s alternate captains to team captain Dion Phaneuf. Not surprisingly, two defensemen were chosen. Surprisingly, one of them wasn’t a guy who served as an alternate captain in previous Leafs seasons and is the guy on the Leafs roster who has been there the longest.

As Tomas Kaberle enters the final year of his contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the veteran defenceman has been stripped of his alternate captain duties.

Leafs head coach Ron Wilson has announced that defencemen Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin will serve as alternates this season, leaving Kaberle — the longest-serving Maple Leaf on the current squad — without a letter.

Kaberle, the second-highest scoring defenceman in Leafs franchise history, was one of three alternates last season and has worn the ‘A’ for several years. He has spent all 11 seasons of his NHL career with the Leafs.

Kaberle’s off-season with Toronto was a bit tumultuous with rumors about being traded, ultimately not being traded, and after all that, having his father claim that Kaberle isn’t happy with Leafs head coach Ron Wilson. Throwing this sort of talk show fodder into the mix certainly won’t help keep things quiet in Toronto. For the Leafs, however, this captain crew shows the way the team wants to be lead. They want guys who are a physical presence and defensively tough to show the way to the rest of the team.

Of course, that would be the logical way to look at things. If we’re in the business of stirring up a hornet’s nest and causing trouble for everyone, we could call this Brian Burke and Ron Wilson’s revenge at Kaberle for all the discord over the last couple years and this is their way of getting one more shot in on him while he’s on the final year of his contract in Toronto. I think that paragraph now qualifies us for tabloid work in Toronto.

(Photo: Abelimages – Getty Photos)

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    Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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    For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

    They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

    • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
    • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
    • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

    Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

    Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

    Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

    Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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    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.)

    You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also 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.

    Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

    Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

    Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

    Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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    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.

    Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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    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.