It’s official, Nathan Horton is done for the playoffs. The Bruins announced this morning that Horton will miss the rest of the playoffs with a severe concussion after receiving a dirty hit from Vancouver’s Aaron Rome in the first period of Game 3. The timing of the announcement should make Rome’s meeting with NHL VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy at 11 a.m. ET a bit more interesting.
The league doesn’t generally punish players based on injury and they’ll look at the play based on how things broke down. The hit seems to violate Rule 48 about shots to the head of an unsuspecting player, but that’s not stopping some from calling Horton out for admiring his pass. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault when asked about the hit after Game 3 last night had this to say during the post game press conference.
Q. The hit on Horton is one of the types of hits they’ve been trying to outlaw a bit. If there is a suspension of Rome, will you have a major issue with that?
COACH VIGNEAULT: Well, we’ll let the League deal with that.
I mean, that hit was head-on hit, player looking at his pass. It was a little bit late. I don’t think that’s the hit that the League is trying to take out of the game. This is a physical game, you have big guys. Fraction of a second to decide what’s happening out there.
It’s very unfortunate. Again, like I said, you never want to see that. But this is a physical game.
To us the excuse about a guy admiring his pass for being a reason to take his head off is tired and old. If the league wants to move forward and start taking stuff like this out of the game, especially when it’s completely avoidable, these are the sorts of hits they have to punish players for making. It doesn’t matter how sorry Aaron Rome might be for doing it, sometimes things happen but Rome had to pull up on that play.
If the league fails to act on Rome’s hit and let’s it go based on some shadowy room old school hockey reasoning, everyone in the NHL will have some long, hard thinking to do about how serious they intend to take shots to the head. With the NHL GMs meeting here in Boston on Wednesday, they have some very serious issues to continue addressing.
The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.
Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.
While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics.
Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.
Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.
Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.
He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.
Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.
He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.
“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”
There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.
Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev
Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.
A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.
That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:
Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.
“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”
Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.
Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.
“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.
“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.
Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.
USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.
Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.