Byron Bitz

Canucks sign former Bruins, Panthers forward Byron Bitz to one-year, two-way deal

It’s possible you haven’t heard of Byron Bitz. It’s also possible you just haven’t heard from Byron Bitz in a while too. Bitz became a bit known when he played with the Boston Bruins two seasons ago as a tough, fourth line forward.

Back in March 2010 he was traded from Boston to Florida in the deal that helped the Bruins land defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. Seidenberg went on to pair up with Zdeno Chara this past season as part of the Bruins’ top defensive unit and win the Stanley Cup.

With all that in mind, now picture how funny fate is when you see that the Vancouver Canucks signed Bitz to a one-year, two-way deal to compete for a spot on the fourth line in Vancouver and, failing that, seeing a lot of ice time in AHL Chicago. Bitz missed all of last season after having sports hernia surgery and running into complications after the fact because of it.

Two seasons ago with the Bruins and Panthers, Bitz scored five goals and had six assists in 52 games with both teams. Bitz averaged 10-11 minutes of ice time per game so he’s not a guy that’s going to get a ton of play and serves his role as being an energy line player. If Bitz can bounce back he can give the Canucks some fire on their fourth line.

Here’s to hoping that Canucks fans can handle Bitz being the guy that in a roundabout way helped the Bruins beat Vancouver for the Stanley Cup back in June.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.