Patrick Sharp

Patrick Sharp hits the ice for first time since appendectomy, won’t start at center

While the Blackhawks are busy tinkering around with Patrick Kane and seeing if they will get him to play at center this year, they’ve got another bit of good news to get excited about.

Ailing winger/part-time center Patrick Sharp, who has missed all of training camp so far recovering from an emergency appendectomy, got back on the ice, skating on his own. When Sharp went in for his operation back on September 12, they had him penned in for a 3-to-4 week recovery period. Seeing him back on the ice just two weeks after surgery has everyone in Chicago feeling hopeful he can be ready to go for the Blackhawks’ regular season opener on October 7.

Tracey Myers of CSNChicago.com gets the thoughts of Hawks coach Joel Quenneville about his star player’s recovery and what position he might end up playing once the games begin.

And while Sharp is another guy who can and has played center, Quenneville said he probably won’t start the season there.

“Right now we’ll likely start him on the wing,” he said. “I think whether he’s at center or wing he’s useful in a lot of ways. Having the flexibility of having several guys who can jump in the middle is an asset of our team.”

The Hawks already have Jonathan Toews as their top center, but finding a guy capable of carrying the second line’s offense has proven difficult. Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik have seen time there in the past as has Sharp. With Patrick Kane giving it a go, there’s options to be had for Chicago as to who gets to lead the second wave of attack. Bolland is seen to be their best fit on the third line while Frolik’s offense needs to show consistency to earn the chance to get the job.

Putting Sharp on the wing from the get-go gives them a guy who’s capable of scoring 30+ goals a year and dishing out just as many, if not more, assists to lead the offense. With Toews, Kane, Frolik, Marian Hossa, and Andrew Brunette figuring to be involved on the top two lines in some form, slotting Sharp in anywhere there makes for a great spot for him regardless of where he’s placed.

There’s a reason why Chicago is earning praise for being a Stanley Cup contender in the preseason and with Sharp and Kane ready to go, Chicago’s eagerness for the season to start is palpable.

Blues, Capitals to play exhibition game in Kansas City

Pedestrians walk past the Sprint Center, Sunday, March 24, 2013, in Kansas City, Mo. The city was preparing for the third round of the NCAA college basketball tournament at the arena after the region received 6-10 inches of snow overnight. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
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Kansas City is going to host another NHL exhibition game.

The St. Louis Blues announced today that they’ll take on the Washington Capitals on Oct. 5 at Sprint Center. Both Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Ovechkin will be there, at least according to the press release.

The Blues last played in K.C. a couple of years ago when they took on the Stars in exhibition play. In 2011, a sellout crowd watched the Penguins and Kings at Sprint Center.

A market once considered a candidate for expansion or relocation — particularly after Sprint Center opened in 2007 — the NHL-to-Kansas City buzz has since died down. Last year, there was no interest from Kansas City when the league called for expansion applications.

Sensing an opportunity to make their team a favorite of all Missourians, not just the ones in St. Louis, the Blues have said they’d like to cultivate their fan base across the state in Kansas City.

Report: Pens won’t make Fleury (talks too much) available to media

at Pepsi Center on December 9, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.
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Don’t expect many updates on Marc-Andre Fleury‘s health over the next little while.

Well — don’t expect them to come from Fleury, anyway.

Per TVA Sports, Fleury has been shut down from speaking with reporters until he’s fully recovered from the concussion that’s sidelined him since Apr. 2.

A translation of Renaud Lavioe’s piece for TVA, per PHT’s Joey Alfieri:

Fleury practiced with his teammates this morning at the Verizon Center.

What I can tell you is he’s feeling better, but the Penguins have decided not to make Fleury available to the media because he says too much.

The next time Fleury talks to the media, it’s because he’ll be ready to return.

Not to be mean, but Matt Murray has given up three goals or more in back-to-back games.

Earlier this week, Fleury told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that — despite participating in on-ice workouts — he’s still dealing with concussion symptoms.

“It’s one of the toughest things I’ve been through,” he explained. “Some good days, when you think you’re back, and some bad days, when you think it’s never going to get fixed.”

The Fleury situation seems to have rankled some within the Penguins organization — like head coach Mike Sullivan, who took issue with questions about the club’s handling of Fleury.

Here’s a related series of tweets from DKonPittsburghSports’ Josh Yohe:

Game 2 of the Pens-Caps series goes tomorrow from Verizon at 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN). Matt Murray, who allowed four goals on 35 shots in the Game 1 loss, is expected to start in goal.

North Dakota loses another d-man as Kings sign LaDue

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 09:  Paul LaDue #6 of North Dakota skates against the Boston University Terriers during the second period of the 2015 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Championship semifinals at TD Garden on April 9, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Keaton Thompson, Troy Stecher and now, Paul LaDue.

On Friday, the Kings announced that LaDue — the junior d-man that helped North Dakota win the Frozen Four — agreed to a one-year, entry-level deal, forgoing his senior season in the process.

LaDue, 23, was part of a talented UND blueline that also featured fellow juniors Troy Stecher — who since signed with Vancouver — and Thompson, who inked with the Ducks.

So yeah, bit of an exodus.

Thankfully for North Dakota, freshman scoring sensation Brock Boeser has already committed to returning for his sophomore campaign, while junior defenseman Gage Ausmus — a San Jose draftee — vowed to go back to school as well.

As for Frozen Four MOP Drake Caggiula — a senior that was already leaving school — he’s already begun his tour of interested NHL suitors.

Per TSN, Caggiula has shortlisted six clubs: Philadelphia, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, Chicago and Buffalo.

Wilson fined for kneeing Sheary

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No suspension for Capitals forward Tom Wilson. Only a fine.

That’s what the NHL’s Department of Player Safety decided after Wilson kneed Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary last night in Washington.

The fine of $2,403.67 is the maximum allowable under the CBA, and, at the very least, it puts Wilson on official notice.

Wilson was not penalized on the play, and Sheary was able to leave the ice under his own power and remain in the game.

“We’re just going to play hockey, and the refs are going to call it the way they see it,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told reporters afterwards. “Our guys are going to play.”

This morning, Capitals coach Barry Trotz reportedly said of the play, “It was OK, but it wasn’t I would say necessary.”