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Nothing but confusion and a concussion in latest round of Brad Richards rumors

The latest Brad Richards trade rumors revolve around Dallas Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk’s supposedly requesting a package that includes Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Staal and Derek Stepan to move the league’s eighth-leading scorer to New York Rangers. Larry Brooks of the New York Post writes that Rangers GM Glen Sather “laughed off” the deal, but in times when it’s difficult to separate conjecture from comedy, it’s quite possible that Nieuwendyk made the request in jest.

Then again, it’s easy for one’s head to start spinning with all the confusing details. The most important thing to remember regarding Richards was also one of the driving factors of the NBA’s much-publicized Carmelo Anthony trade: Richards’ will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. That means two things: either the team that trades for him will require him to sign an extension or they’ll be willing to give up a lot less being that he may only be a “rental.”

One of the biggest problems with the latter possibility is that Richards is also dealing with concussion issues. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports that Richards won’t play again before the trade deadline due to his head injury. Heika notes that it’s at least legal to trade injured players in the NHL, although getting another team to agree to a deal is another story, obviously.

The NHL does allow you to trade an injured player. One of the best examples was Colorado trading for Jose Theodore back in 2006 when he had an injured Achilles tendon. He played only five regular season games for the Avs and then led them to a first round upset over the Stars. So, there still is the possibility a team might have interest in Richards and might make an offer to Nieuwendyk, but the GM said he is not shopping Richards around.

Ultimately, it causes the kind of confusion that could give you a sub-concussive headache. On one end, Yahoo’s Nick Cotsonika reports that Nieuwendyk denied that Rangers rumor and Heika writes that the GM denied shopping the center around. Yet conversely, the former player turned GM admitted “all options are in play” on NHL Live yesterday.

In other words, it’s a big mess made even more complicated by the Stars’ well-documented ownership issues. Dallas has four more days to move Richards or they’ll face the all-or-nothing proposition of trying to sign him to a contract or letting him go for nothing but cap space.

Naturally, we will keep you updated as the next four days goes along, but we won’t pretend to be soothsayers here. It’s all up to Richards, his agent, Nieuwendyk and 29 other general managers at this point.

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

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.”