Mike Danton hopes to return to NHL as his parole sentence ends this week

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In some ways, it’s hard to believe that Mike Danton played in the NHL as recently as the 2004 playoffs. In fact, he scored a goal on his only career playoff shot on April 13, 2004, just three days before he was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder when he attempted to hire a hitman to kill his then-agent David Frost.

(Deadspin provides a nice rundown of the very odd story here.)

He eventually was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison on November 8, 2004 for the failed murder plot. Danton received full parole on September 11, 2009, according to Hockey Reference.com. He resumed his hockey career at Saint Mary’s in Halifax, Nova Scotia recently, but is hoping for more going forward. With Danton’s parole sentence ending on Friday, the Associated Press reports that the troubled forward hopes to make a return to the NHL. That being said, Danton admits that the odds are against him.

Even without his troubled background, a player with a marginal impact like Danton made in his career (nine goals and five assists for 14 points, a -8 rating and 141 PIM in 87 career games) would struggle to return to the highest level after such a long layoff.

He’s obviously been through a lot after that bizarre ordeal, but he faces the kind of odds that would be far fetched even for a Disney movie, let alone an unforgiving sport like hockey. We wish him the best as he tries to move along with his life, whether that happens on the ice or sitting in a cubicle.

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

Connor McDavid
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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per NHL.com. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

Eichel front page

Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”

Sutter: Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

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Lost in the various controversies (see here and here) of last night’s game in Los Angeles was a pretty dismal performance by the Kings, a team that should’ve been especially motivated to start the season after missing the playoffs last year.

The Kings were hammered, 5-1, by the visiting Sharks. They were outshot, 32-20.

“If you don’t check, you don’t have the puck enough,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. “If you don’t have the puck enough, you can’t score.”

“We were pretty sloppy. Sloppy on our rushes, sloppy in our D-zone,” said forward Dustin Brown. “That’s probably most of it, but the other part is compete – in the corners and making hard plays coming out of our zone, going in. We didn’t play very well.”

Obviously, much credit has to go to the Sharks. Like the Kings, they missed the playoffs last year and came into 2015-16 looking for redemption. But the Sharks haven’t won two Stanley Cups in the last four years, and they weren’t the home team.

“Gotta check,” said Sutter. “You don’t check, you can’t score. We had a lot of guys, especially top guys that weren’t interested in that part of the game.”

The Kings get a visit from the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. If they don’t dominate that team…