Chris Pronger

Meet the new boss: Flyers name Chris Pronger team captain

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It was perhaps the least surprising team announcement for a new captain you’ll find all year. The Philadelphia Flyers announced that Chris Pronger will be the team’s 18th captain in franchise history.

After trading former captain Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings this summer and vacating the team leadership position in the process, the door was opened up for any one of Pronger, Daniel Briere, or Kimmo Timonen to step into the role. If you’re left underwhelmed by seeing Briere and Timonen’s name next to Pronger’s that’s understandable. Pronger comes off as the player who demands attention and respect in the locker room immediately, or else.

While Briere and Timonen each have earned their share of respect as well, Pronger’s leadership through being a gruff character and one eager to stand up for teammates no matter what is what makes him ideal captain material, especially in a tough place like Philadelphia. Pronger has done this before in his career as he was captain of the Anaheim Ducks in 2007-2008.

Joining Pronger as alternate captains will be none other than Briere and Timonen as the Flyers allow their veteran players take charge in the room. Briere is a former captain of the Buffalo Sabres while Timonen has been a team captain before in Nashville.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren had this to say in a press release about the three guys they named to their new roles on the team.

“With Chris’s experience and presence, we felt that he was the perfect player to take over as captain of the Philadelphia Flyers,” Holmgren said.  “Having Kimmo and Danny, both former captains in the NHL, serving as alternates, really gives us a strong, dedicated leadership group.

“All three of these players know what it takes to win and are excellent role models both on and off the ice.”

Pronger being named the team captain is perhaps the least surprising development all summer for the Flyers whose tumultuous summer leads them into a season where there’s a lot at stake. Adding Ilya Bryzgalov to be the team’s starting goalie as well as trading away Richards and Carter to open the door for newcomers like Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier to potentially steal big jobs in training camp as well as making Claude Giroux the new top center.

With the host of new and young blood on the Flyers roster, having a surly veteran like Pronger to lead the way will help give the Flyers the look they’ve always dreamed of. Should the Flyers follow Pronger’s example they’ll be a tough team that doesn’t back down from anyone and will stick up for each other at all costs. In other words, they’re going to be just as tough to deal with as any Flyers team we’ve ever grown up with, just they’ll have a nasty competitor as their leader and Philadelphia wouldn’t want it to be any different.

Devils’ Merrill undergoes shoulder surgery, out four months

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 04: Jon Merrill #7 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Detroit Red Wings at the Prudential Center on January 4, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Red Wings defeated the Devils 1-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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New Jersey d-man Jon Merrill, who struggled through an injury-riddled campaign, has undergone successful shoulder surgery with an expected recovery time of four months, the club announced on Wednesday.

Merrill, 24, only appeared in 47 games this year, first missing time with an arm injury, then suffering a shoulder ailment late in the year.

There was no clear indication if the two ailments were related, but Merrill’s arm injury was on the right side, and surgery was on his right shoulder.

A former University of Michigan standout taken 38th overall in 2010, Merrill enjoyed solid rookie and sophomore campaigns in New Jersey. His second year was especially solid — 14 points in 66 games, averaging over 20 minutes per night — and he boasts good size, going 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.

Based on the four-month timetable for recovery, Merrill will likely miss parts of New Jersey’s training camp and preseason action.

Max Talbot mulling European options for next season

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After a 10-year career with over 700 games played and one Stanley Cup, Maxime Talbot could be done in the NHL.

Per RDS, Talbot — who’ll hit unrestricted free agency on July 1 — has “some options in Europe” for next season, and is contemplating a move overseas.

In his prime, Talbot was a gritty, hardworking forward with decent touch around the net. He scored double-digit goals four times, including a career-high 19 in ’11-12.

The 32-year-old split last season between Boston and its AHL affiliate in Providence, scoring seven points in 38 games at the NHL level.

Talbot did acquit himself very well with the P-Bruins — 21 points in 26 games — and has some experience playing abroad, having suited up for Finnish League club Ilves Tampere during the lockout.

Based on how things went last year in free agency, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Talbot land in Europe.

The likes of Maxim Lapierre, Curtis Glencross and Marcel Goc all failed to score NHL contracts last summer — Lapierre and Goc proceeded to sign overseas, while Glencross opted to retire.

 

Ex-‘Hawks coach Suhonen takes Austrian national team job

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13:  Thomas Raffl #5 of Austria celebrates with his teammates after Thomas Hundertpfund #27 scored a goal in the first period against Tuukka Rask #40 of Finland during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Alpo Suhonen, who became the first European-born NHL coach in over 50 years upon taking the Chicago gig in 2000, has been named the new bench boss of the Austrian men’s national team, per IIHF.com.

Suhonen, 67, takes over from former NHL defenseman Dan Ratushny, who was splitting duties between Team Austria and Lausanne of the Swiss League.

Suhonen takes over the national team at a critical juncture. Austria finished a disappointing fourth at the 2016 World Hockey Championship Division 1 tournament — meaning the country finished 20th overall. As the IIHF websites notes, that’s the worst finish for Austria in 86 years of WHC competition.

Looking forward, Austria does have a chance to make amends this summer, when it will play a series of contests to prep for Olympic qualification.

Suhonen inherits a roster with decent NHL pedigree as Thomas Vanek, Michael Raffl and Michael Grabner are all eligible to participate.

That said, Vanek was named to Team Europe’s initial 16-man roster for the World Cup of Hockey, and it remains to be seen how that will impact his national team commitments.

Datsyuk’s agent acknowledges offer from KHL’s SKA, but no deal yet

Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (13) celebrates his empty net goal against the Edmonton Oilers in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit Monday, March 9, 2015. Detroit won 5-2. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Gennady Timchenko, the billionaire chairman of KHL club SKA Saint Petersburg, reportedly believes there’s a “good chance” that Pavel Datsyuk will be playing for his team next season.

But according to Datsyuk’s agent, Dan Milstein, there’s only been an offer from SKA. Nothing has been signed yet. There could still be offers from other KHL teams for his client to consider.

And at any rate, Milstein insisted once again that Datysuk won’t be making any decisions until he speaks with the Detroit Red Wings in mid-June, after the 37-year-old returns from a family vacation.

Milstein passed along that update to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, plus a few other Wings reporters.

Related: Datsyuk ‘wants to make sure the Wings have options’