Ray Shero

Pens GM Shero: Sidney Crosby hasn’t needed to be shut down this summer


With all the confusion that erupted yesterday when a report from XM Home Ice’s Josh Rimer said he heard through sources that Penguins captain and superstar Sidney Crosby would not be able to start the season thanks to continued struggles with concussion symptoms, you can’t fault the Penguins for doing their part to put out the fire. After all, when rumors swirl that have to do with not only your team’s most important player but also the league’s biggest star, it’s best to control the message.

Doing that is precisely what Penguins general manager Ray Shero is making sure to do.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi spoke with Shero to clear things up and find out just what’s up with Crosby as the offseason rolls along and the Pens captain continues his recovery. As you might expect, Shero cleared things up efficiently when it came to Crosby’s status.

“There are going to be some symptoms with this injury, but nothing where he’s had to shut it down or anything,” Shero said, noting that he was in contact with Crosby over the weekend. “He’s pushed himself, which is good.”

Crosby, who last played an NHL game Jan. 5 and was diagnosed with a concussion the next day, has not been cleared for contact by Dr. Michael Collins of UPMC — though Shero stressed that clearance is not expected to be sought until at least a week before training camp opens Sept. 16.

“There’s never been a situation where he’s needed to be cleared to play,” Shero said.

There you have it. Crosby’s been out of action for the Penguins since being put out of action thanks to suffering a concussion after being checked by Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman. If this sounds as if Shero’s not focusing on the short-term with Crosby, it’s because he isn’t. As he told Rossi, his concerns are with the long-term health of the superstar.

“There are going to be some symptoms with this injury, but nothing where he’s had to shut it down or anything. The main thing with him, or any player, is that he’s not going to be pushed, prodded until he’s 100 percent ready. My concern isn’t with Sept. 16, Oct. 6 or whenever; it’s making sure he’s comfortable when he returns to play, end of story. I’m about the bigger picture with this thing.”

This kind of approach to treating players with concussions is the kind that’s needed to be used more often. Too often we’ve seen players come back too soon from a head injury like this and do further damage to themselves by rushing back. Doing that with a guy as talented as Crosby is would be virtually criminal, not to mention self-destructive to the Penguins’ ends and means.

We’ll find out later today if Penguins coach Dan Bylsma will have anything else to add to this story as he’ll be speaking at a youth hockey camp. We’ll continue to follow up on this as warranted.

Video: Ryan Suter doesn’t seem very happy with his coach


As you can see in the video, apparently Ryan Suter doesn’t like being paired with fellow lefty Jonas Brodin.

The Wild defenseman rather openly questioned the coaching staff’s decision-making today after practice.

“Yeah, I don’t know what they’re thinking,” said Suter. “I need to play with a right-handed defenseman. To give me more options. Neutral zone. Offensively. And even coming out of the D zone, it’s not fair to put a guy on his off side.”

Suter didn’t know if the pairings were just for practice or not. The Wild play tomorrow in Chicago. Minnesota has just one win in its last seven games.

Suter also had something to say about that.

“It does no good to pout and get pissed off at each other,” said Suter. “You’ve got to come together and dig out of this. Now’s when you need leadership more than ever. It’s easy to be a coach and a leader when things are going good.”

Yeo, by the way, has not been very happy with the Wild lately.  In fact, one could go so far as to say he’s been acting pretty “pissed off.”

For example, at today’s practice:

The Star Tribune has more on what went down today.

Yeo, you may recall, went a little “nuts” during a Wild practice last season.

Goalie nods: Sparks to make NHL debut for Leafs

Garett Sparks
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We already knew this yesterday, but in case you missed it, Garret Sparks will make his NHL debut in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight against Edmonton.

Sparks, 22, has been excellent in the AHL this season, going 8-2-1 with a .938 save percentage. He spent most of last season in the ECHL, where he also posted good numbers.

Sparks is getting the nod tonight because James Reimer is hurt and Jonathan Bernier has been struggling badly.

“He’s got an opportunity like lots of kids have had before him and it’s up to him to grab it,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said, per NHL.com. “He’s got the [second-best] save percentage in the AHL and he’s winning all the time down there. Obviously we’re in need of some saves and we’ll have to play well in front of him for sure. But it’s an opportunity for him.”

Bernier, meanwhile, will have to sit and watch. The 27-year-old has allowed at least four goals in four of his last five starts. His save percentage has fallen all the way to .888.

Anders Nilsson will be in net for the Oilers.


Cam Ward for the Hurricanes. Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers, who will try not to rely on him so much.

Semyon Varlamov for the Avs. Thomas Greiss for the Isles.

— The Canucks aren’t saying if it’ll be Ryan Miller of Jacob Markstrom. For the Ducks, it’ll be John Gibson.

Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’

Alain Vigneault
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Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.

The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.

He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)

But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.

“Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

“But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”

Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)

The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).

Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

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Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From NHL.com:

Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.