While the NHL season is set to get under way officially in a few days, the college hockey schedule is roaring to life this weekend. One guy who won’t be participating in that will be New Jersey Devils prospect and University of Michigan standout Jon Merrill.
Merrill has been suspended for 12 games by legendary coach Red Berenson for breaking unspecified team rules. While we see things like this happen in college football and basketball generally having to do with problems with boosters or grades, we don’t know what Merrill’s issues were.
With such a big punishment (college hockey season runs approximately 40 games total), the worry there for the Devils exists because he might be hurting his development. Devils coach Lou Lamoriello has no issues whatsoever with how Michigan is handling things as Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice finds out.
“I support what the coach did and (Merrill) understands and he’s committed to Michigan and we support that 100 percent,” Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said.
Lamoriello said he had been in contact with Berenson about the incident, but would not say if he spoke with Merrill.
“We have had communication with the coach and that’s good enough for me,” Lamoriello said.
There is one catch when a college prospect runs into issues in the NCAA as a hockey player: A player can always escape college by jumping to the Canadian Hockey League. In this case, Merrill’s CHL rights belong to the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers. If Merrill was frustrated by what happened in Michigan and didn’t want to sit out the 12 games, he could tell Michigan to forget it and go play a pro-like schedule with Plymouth. The catch there is that if he jumps to the OHL, he cannot go back to Michigan.
One thing’s for sure, eyes in Michigan will be focused on Merrill to see if he stays in school as the Wolverines have lost their fair share of prospects over the years to the CHL including Stars first round pick in 2010, goalie Jack Campbell. The noble thing for Merrill to do would be to accept the responsibility for whatever it was he did, deal with the suspension, and finish out the year at UM. Nobility, however, sometimes has nothing to do with what’s right for what a player feels for their career and their future.
Ryan Johansen played 309 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets before a blockbuster trade to Nashville last January.
On Sunday, he finally made his return back to Columbus as a member of the Predators. However, he did not receive any sort of tribute whatsoever from the team that originally selected him fourth overall in the 2010 draft, and that is something that apparently bothered him.
“I am a little disappointed they didn’t put anything on the Jumbotron and say ‘thank you’ or anything like that,” Johansen told the Columbus Post-Dispatch. “I think we all know who made that call, but whatever.”
While Johansen enjoyed some productive seasons with the Blue Jackets, his time in Columbus, particularly his final months, were dogged with contentious headlines about his contract negotiations with the club and then his working relationship with coach John Tortorella.
Johansen, now 24 years old, has nine goals and 40 points in 58 games this season for Nashville. Currently in the final year of his three-year, $12 million contract, he’s a restricted free agent at the end of this season.
Brent Burns turned in a dominating performance. But Brad Marchand had the last laugh.
Marchand scored his 25th goal of the season and, more importantly, the overtime winner for the Boston Bruins as they defeated the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on Sunday.
That’s Boston’s fourth consecutive win since the controversial coaching change — which took another twist earlier in the week when the rival Montreal Canadiens fired Michel Therrien and hired Claude Julien. Off a defensive zone faceoff, Marchand bolted up the ice for the breakaway pass, on what appeared to be a set play, beating Martin Jones through the legs.
The Bruins move back into third in the Atlantic Division, and are now only four points back of the faltering Habs for first.
Meanwhile, the Sharks were unable to fully capitalize on another freakish Brent Burns outing. He’s been dubbed ‘an unstoppable force’ in recent posts at PHT — a defenseman possessing great size at six-foot-five-inches tall and 230 pounds, but no shortage of mobility and offensive talent with 27 goals and 64 points in 60 games. Um, and did we mention he’s a defenseman. . . ?
Against the Bruins, he had 20 shot attempts — by far the most of any player in this game — in just over 26 minutes of ice time.
Given the final score, that probably doesn’t mean much to Brad Marchand.
It appears Jacob Trouba will face supplemental discipline from the NHL.
The league’s Department of Player Safety has said in a Twitter statement that Trouba, the Winnipeg Jets defenseman, will have a hearing tomorrow for his head shot on Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone during Sunday’s game.
Trouba was assessed only a minor penalty on the play. Stone, who dealt with a concussion prior to the beginning of the season, stayed down on the ice before he eventually made his way to the dressing room.
The incident occurred when Trouba stepped up to throw a hit on Stone, but instead caught him in the head as he followed through, sending Stone to the ice.
Stone was one of three Ottawa forwards to leave the game because of injuries, which are piling up for the Senators.
The Tampa Bay Lightning needed overtime to defeat the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, but it’s a critical win for the Bolts as they try to chase down a playoff spot.
The hero? Jonathan Drouin, and he did so with a thrilling individual effort — making moves, then losing the puck and then immediately getting it back before he finally scored on the backhander.
That’s his 17th goal of the season. Tampa Bay gets a 3-2 win, which keeps them five points back of Toronto for the final wild card spot in the East.