andrewladdnewcaptain

Atlanta Thrashers make Andrew Ladd their eighth captain

The Atlanta Thrashers named former Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Ladd their new captain, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

I have to admit, on first impact, this news was pretty surprising. Yet in the grand scheme of things, it actually makes a lot of sense.

When you think about it, Ladd is the anti-Ilya Kovalchuk. While the Thrashers’ last captain seemed to coast on his considerable skills, Ladd fights for every single thing he gets in the NHL. That’s not to say he lacks talent altogether, though. Ladd has seven goals and 11 assists for 18 points in 19 games this season and certainly has a pedigree: he was the fourth overall pick of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes.

Perhaps he just needed a chance truly thrive, though, as his average of 18:50 minutes per game is more than four minutes higher than his second highest average from the 2008-09 season. NHL.com points out that Ladd is the eighth captain in the league who is 25 years old or younger and one of 11 who are 26 or younger.

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay explains to Vivlamore why the team named him the new captain.

“I just think he’s the right guy. I’ve seen lots of captains in my day but he’s a well-respected person, which to me is absolutely vital in that role. I think it’s a flaw if you just make your best player the captain. In this case, we picked the player that’s played great. He’s been our best player on many nights. He’s been as committed a player as I’ve seen in a long time.”

Congratulations to Ladd, who seems like he’s really hitting his prime as a member of the Blackhawk-infused Thrashers.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.