As Joe discussed yesterday, Pierre-Marc Bouchard is expected to make a somewhat surprising return to NHL action tonight after missing 112 out of the Wild’s last 113 games because of concussion issues and other injury problems.
Kent Youngblood passes along word that Bouchard will start the game with the team’s fourth line and that Wild coach Todd Richards plans on monitoring his progress as the game goes along. Bouchard said he will probably play about 10 minutes but Richards said he wouldn’t put a specific limit on his time on ice.
Bouchard might be just the kind of playmaking forward that the Wild need right now. He won’t set the hockey world on fire, but he has a career high of 63 points while also putting up 59 and 57 point seasons.
Bouchard said he’s been feeling very good, symptom-free, for the last 10 days or two weeks. A few days ago he, his doctor and Wild management held a conference call in which Bouchard was given the green light.
And now there are so many issues to get through. Asked if he was almost hoping to get that first hit out of the way early, he smiled. “A little bit,” he said. “Not a big one, though.”
Richards has long anticipated what Bouchards return could mean for his team. Bouchard is a top-six talent, that’s for sure. In practices Richards has seen Bouchard ignite scoring opportunities with that first past out of the zone during defensive drills and has been looking forward to getting that skill on the ice.
Let’s hope that Bouchard can make this stick after a tough 14 months getting over his concussion problems.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.