Barry Trotz, Marc Joannette

Barry Trotz critical of officiating with kindness, Canucks deny diving allegations

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During these playoffs we’ve seen plenty of coaches try to work their verbal magic to get referees to make calls bend more to their team’s will. We saw both John Tortorella and Bruce Boudreau do it in the first round against each other. We saw Lindy Ruff get a bit uptight about things in dealing with the Flyers and now we’ve got a new challenger with a different approach.

Predators coach Barry Trotz is still a bit steamed over a couple of calls that went against his team in Game 3. Jerred Smithson drew a high sticking call against him after he seemingly caught Roberto Luongo in the head with his stick (it certainly didn’t look that way). Meanwhile, Shea Weber’s hooking penalty to Ryan Kesler in overtime led to Vancouver cashing in on the power play and winning the game. In each case it was thought to be a bit embellished (Luongo’s certainly seemed that way) and Trotz isn’t too pleased with that.

Instead of raising a huge stink and lambasting the officiating, he’s trying to take them out a whole new door by killing both the referees and Canucks with kindness.

“That’s gamesmanship, and I understand that,” Trotz said Wednesday. “It’s also a little bit putting the referee in a tough spot. We have the best referees. If you’re going to make them look bad, I don’t think that’s needed in the game.”

Well that’s a new way to go at it. Nice reverse psychology there.

The Canucks, of course, are denying any and all allegations right away with Luongo’s theory appearing to be quite silly.

Luongo said the complaints are part of hockey. The goalie said there was contact with his mask, even though the stick doesn’t appear to hit Luongo’s mask on replays.

“I just turned my head. I mean I didn’t throw myself on the floor or anything like that,” Luongo said. “You can ask Smithson. He did make contact with my head.”

Kesler denied any acting on his part to draw the hooking call.

“That’s the rule. I mean, you get your stick parallel to the ice, and it was in my gut. Obviously, he was impeding my progress. That’s the right call. I don’t make the calls, so it’s not my job,” Kesler said.

Oh the drama. Getting this sort of excitement off the ice should help make Game 4 much more difficult to play on it. You know the Predators and Shea Weber are going to come at you with everything they have to make Game 4 a winner for the Predators. Vancouver had best prepare for anything in Nashville but the Predators want the game to be 60 minutes of hell. Of course, Vancouver has been doing irksome things like this all throughout the playoffs. Whether its’ one of the Sedin twins dropping to the ice to draw a call or Luongo’s theatrics, the Canucks are happy to keep trying to get the calls in loathsome ways.

Trotz has to fight fire with fire here which means going through the media. It’s a smart move and it gets officials to keep an eye out for it, all teh better. Getting the benefit of the calls from the referees never hurts. Maybe if this didn’t work out Trotz can leave a fruit basket in the officials’ locker room.

Former Flyers goalie Heeter signs with Detroit’s AHL team

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The Red Wings added some goalie depth on Monday, agreeing to terms with journeyman Cal Heeter.

Heeter, 27, broke in with the Flyers organization a while back and made his big-league debut in ’13-14, appearing in one game.

Since then, he’s bounced around the ECHL, AHL (with the Toronto Marlies) and, last season, split his time between Hamburg of the German League and Zagreb Medvescak of the KHL.

By itself, this signing isn’t especially noteworthy, as Heeter projects to be an American League mainstay next year.

But the contract is kind of interesting when looking and the big-picture goalie situation in Detroit. The Wings now have Heeter, Petr Mrazek, Jimmy Howard, Jared Coreau, Eddie Pasquale and Jake Paterson all under contract for next season, which is an awful lot of goalies.

With that in mind, remember that Howard’s name has been in trade talks for quite some time.

 

Ex-NHLers Bellemore, Collins sign with KHL’s Chinese club

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HC Kunlun Red Star, the Beijing-based expansion team that will begin playing in the KHL next season, has added a pair of former NHLers.

Sean Collins, who appeared in a pair of games for the Capitals last season, and Brett Bellemore, a veteran of over 100 contests with the Carolina Hurricanes, have agreed to join the club, per Russian news outlet R-Sport.

Bellemore, 28, was originally drafted by the ‘Canes in 2007 and spent most of his professional career with the organization. He signed on with Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence last year, and appeared in 56 games.

Collins, 27, broke in with the Blue Jackets before signing with the Caps last season. He spent the majority of the year in AHL Hershey and fared well — 16 goals and 39 points in 75 games — and scored three times in the playoffs, helping the Bears advance to the Calder Cup final.

 

Report: Journeyman Santorelli signs in Swiss League

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 02:  Mike Santorelli #25 of the Anaheim Ducks looks on during a game against the Montreal Canadiens at Honda Center on March 2, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Veteran forward Mike Santorelli, who’s appeared in over 400 NHL contests over the last eight years, is headed overseas.

Per multiple reports (see here and here), Santorelli has signed with Geneve-Servette of the Swiss League. The 30-year-old spent last season with the Ducks, scoring nine goals and 18 points in 70 games but didn’t dress for any of the club’s opening-round playoff loss to Nashville.

Santorelli broke into the NHL with Nashville but enjoyed his best years with Florida and Vancouver. He was a former 20-goal scorer with the Panthers and enjoyed a successful stint with his hometown Canucks in ’13-14, scoring 28 points in 49 games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

Santorelli is the second veteran forward to sign in the Swiss League recently. Over the weekend, fellow journeyman Kris Versteeg agreed to join SC Bern.

Jackets sign d-man Harrington, acquired in Rychel trade

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 14:  Scott Harrington #36 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Vancouver Canucks during an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on November 14, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Canucks 4-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Upon trading Kerby Rychel to Toronto at the draft for Scott Harrington, Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen said Harrington was “a guy we’ve watched for a while,” and a “steady, smart [and] good defender.”

Which makes today’s move none too surprising.

On Monday, Kekalainen announced Harrington signed a one-year, two-way deal (financial terms weren’t disclosed). The contract comes after Harrington split last season between the Leafs and the AHL Marlies, appearing in 15 NHL contests.

While Kekalainen was high on Harrington, the most noteworthy thing about the acquisition is it ended a long-running saga with Rychel, the 19th overall pick in 2013. There were repeated rumblings that Rychel wanted out of town, and felt stifled by Columbus’ reluctance to make him a full-time NHLer.

For a while, Kekalainen stood firm in the face of the reports, once openly wondering where they came from. But in the end, the decision was made to part ways with the 21-year-old, the son of ex-NHLer Warren Rychel.

As for Harrington, he should compete for a spot on the Columbus blueline next season. Right now he projects to be the No. 7 or 8 guy, assuming that super prospect Zach Werenski is primed for a full-time gig in the NHL, firmly entrenched in the Blue Jackets’ top six.

In other news from Columbus today, the club has also agreed to terms with AHL forward Alex Broadhurst.

One of the pieces acquired in last summer’s Brandon Saad blockbuster, Broadhurst was a key contributor to AHL Lake Erie’s Calder Cup championship this past spring, finishing second on the club in playoff assists.