Ethan Moreau

Ethan Moreau looks back at his time with Oilers, hopes to play until he’s 40

When word surfaced that the Los Angeles Kings were on the verge of signing banged-up winger Ethan Moreau to a one-year, $600K contract, the reactions ranged from mildly supportive to a shoulder shrug to stunned criticism.

Aside from the most blindly supportive members of the Kings’ front office and equally optimistic fans, it’s likely that Moreau is the only person who expects the move to be a slam dunk. Jonathan Willis points out the most obvious problem – though not necessarily the only issue – that comes with signing the soon-to-be 36 year old winger: his lack of health. He missed huge chunks of three of the last five seasons with wear-and-tear related injuries, with 186 games lost to various ailments during that five-year span.

It’s tough not to think of the Kings’ run of bad luck with injuries in the previous decade or so as a caveat while discussing their seemingly bright future. You may remember that semi-solid Los Angeles teams were derailed by injuries in many cases as the team saw players such as Pavol Demitra, Ziggy Palffy, Adam Deadmarsh and Jason Allison fall apart due to health issues.

The current Los Angeles roster features some obvious injury risks with Moreau, Simon Gagne and Justin Williams in the mix – especially since the latter two could play very important roles as scoring wingers. Even Anze Kopitar went down with a nasty ankle injury last season.

Many of us cannot help but second-guess the Kings’ decision to sign Moreau, but the team brought in the rugged former captain of the Edmonton Oilers with the hopes that he’ll provide veteran leadership. (It’s also likely that they’ll ask him to do the hockey equivalent of “Charlie work” such as spending time on the penalty kill and grinding out fourth line minutes.)

The biggest line on his resume is almost certainly his connection to the Oilers’ Cinderella run to just one win short of a Stanley Cup in 2006 (which happened to be the last time Moreau made a postseason appearance). He reflected on that run with Mayor’s Manor, calling it both the highest and lowest point of his career.

“Going to the Finals was probably the high and the low point,” he said, when speaking of his time playing in Edmonton. “We were one game away from winning a Stanley Cup. Then, losing was probably the low point because you come so close to realizing a dream that doesn’t happen – you’re left with a very, very empty feeling – which is motivation to get back there with this team and to win it. That’s the only thing that will kind of make that feeling go away.”

One cannot help but wonder if Moreau wonders if his career will go away before that feeling will dissipate. He told Mayor’s Manor that he hopes to play until he’s 40, but to do so, he’ll need to surprise onlookers who are far from convinced that he can turn around his health and all-around play. Willis points out some discouraging defensive numbers that indicate that Moreau’s time in the NHL is about to run out, but we’ll have to wait and see if this low-risk move by the Kings turns out to be an irritating (if small) waste of money or a nice bargain.

Fight video: Someone other than Evander Kane beats up Alex Petrovic

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Bummed out on this holiday? Look on the bright side: at least you’re not as sore as Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic likely is right now.

Not long after suffering three defeats at the hands/fists of Evander Kane, Petrovic likely lost another bout to Nashville Predators tough guy Anthony Bitetto.

(Note: some might consider this more of a draw, for what it’s worth. You can watch that latest fight in the video above.)

Hey, at least Bitetto didn’t taunt Petrovic after their fight …

It was a rough night for the Panthers overall, as they suffered a gruesome injury or two and fell to the Predators by a score of 5-0.

Outdoor game rumors: Jets host Oilers, Red Wings at Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings face off during the first period of the Winter Classic outdoor NHL hockey game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day, and so are rumors about hockey fans bundling up for outdoor games next season.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman went over two possible outdoor matchups coming for 2016-17 during Saturday’s Headlines segment.

A smart move for a potential game in Winnipeg: Imagine the Jets hosting a game in Winnipeg in February? Ilya Bryzgalov almost turned off his TV in protest.

Instead, Sportsnet’s John Shannon reports that the Jets are likely to host the Edmonton Oilers in October. That would be a smart logistical move, as long as it isn’t too hot.

(Also, playing it then would hopefully increase the odds of the mainstream sporting public seeing Connor McDavid in an outdoor game.)

Toronto’s turn: Friedman reports that the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely to host the Detroit Red Wings in the 2017 Winter Classic (or at least an outdoor game), almost certainly on New Year’s Day 2017.

The two teams combined for a great Winter Classic at Ann Arbor in 2014, so that could be a fun time.

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Keep in mind these are reports (and well-placed ones at that) rather than official announcements for the NHL. These things could always change.

Related: Could the Penguins host the Flyers outdoors next season, too?

Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.