While the NHL’s overseas experiments have been a bit hit or miss since the first Premiere Games in 2007 in London, the league hopes to widen its European impact by making the events bigger and bigger. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the league handed out invitations to the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and Washington Capitals to participate in the season-opening contests.
LeBrun writes that the NHL’s tentative plan is to have those six teams play in six cities. The most enticing possibility he brought up is that Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals* might play in front of a crowd in Moscow.
* – Not to mention other popular Russians Alexander Semin and Semyon Varlamov … if they’re still with the team, that is.
The six squads haven’t officially agreed to participate just yet, but LeBrun mentions that the Rangers are another team that would make an especially large amount of sense. The reasoning is simple: Madison Square Garden is undergoing renovations reaching into mid-October, so it is logical that the Rangers might play in Europe during a chunk of that time.
The Premiere Games have their critics, but seem like an honest effort to grow the game. We’ll let you know once they go from the planning stages to something more tangible over the next few months.
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.