Phoenix Coyotes v Nashville Predators

Shea Weber, Predators actually make it to salary arbitration today

In some ways, Nashville Predators GM David Poile seems like the Billy Beane of the NHL. Maybe his teams aren’t lighting the world on fire, but they win an impressive amount of games with a bargain basement team and an overarching philosophy. (The Predators replace the Oakland A’s tunnel vision for on-base percentage and playing the percentages in general with a steadfast approach to slowly developing prospects and playing world-class defense.)

Poile’s long run of competence makes this summer even stranger. First, the team dealt with the embarrassment (though not many, if any, significantly inflated costs) when Poile conjured Dale Tallon’s spirit by having a mishap getting qualifying offers to the team’s restricted free agents. Those issues would have been swept under the rug if it weren’t for everything that lead up to today.

It’s probably not fair to lay all the blame at Poile’s feet, but there will be many who point their fingers in his direction while discussing the fact that Shea Weber actually did make it to salary arbitration. The two sides still have time to make points and rebuttals, although Weber’s world-class status leads to some rather amusing Internet snark about the Predators’ lack of a counterargument. It’s easy to joke about the situation, but the bottom line is that the Predators must walk on egg shells while arguing any points against the face of their franchise. It should be abundantly obvious that this isn’t the best case scenario for Nashville.

We’ll keep you updated throughout today, although you must note that the arbitrator has 48 hours to crunch the numbers and make a decision. As Dirk Hoag pointed out, Weber and the Predators actually could come to terms on a separate contract during that period. If not, the Predators won’t have any choice but to accept the arbitrator’s one or two year award for Weber.

This is a nerve-wracking day for hockey fans in Nashville, with implications on the franchise and perhaps other notable restricted free agents (Drew Doughty) from around the league. Stick with us during your #WeberWatch as we follow that and other hockey news today.

Uh oh, Marian Hossa might be injured after awkward fall

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa, left, talks to center Jonathan Toews during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

Report: Wild will tab John Torchetti as interim head coach

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via Iowa Wild
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As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.

(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)

The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.

Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.

As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.

More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.

That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.

(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)