Ron MacLean - Hockey Night In Canada

After Cherry apology, Grimson turns his attention to Ron MacLean

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Stu Grimson forgives Don Cherry. However, he still has a problem with CBC host Ron MacLean.

Following is the statement Grimson released after Cherry apologized on Saturday night to former enforcers Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson for calling them “pukes” and distorting their opinions on fighting in a previous episode of Coach’s Corner:

“I saw Don Cherry’s comments on Saturday night and I need to make just a few points as this matter comes to a close. First, I appreciate the words Mr. Cherry used; I accept his apology. As far as I’m concerned, this disagreement is now settled as between Mr. Cherry and me.

“Second, there has been widespread speculation about whether our group will seek legal recourse as a result of Mr. Cherry’s comments. We believed it was prudent to consider that path initially, given the words that Mr. Cherry used on a national broadcast to describe us. Having said that, I want to make clear that I have no present intention of pursuing a cause of action against Mr. Cherry.

“Third, in spite of my earlier comments on this matter, Ron MacLean appears to be missing the point, even at this late date. Mr. MacLean is presently saying at least two things on this issue. ‘We got bad information from another former player … I didn’t see any trouble with what Don said.’

“Look, Don got his facts wrong. That’s fine; he apologized for it and the matter is settled. But the bigger issue remains. This isn’t about the accuracy of the information. This isn’t about whether Mr. Cherry should have checked his facts. This isn’t about whether Stu Grimson is against fighting or for it. This is about the words Mr. Cherry chose and the way he chose to express them.

“And let’s not forget the context; Ron & Don waded into a very sensitive prominent discussion about the recent tragic deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and my friend, Wade Belak. These are three men that battled the demons and they lost. In offering his opinion on this issue, Mr. Cherry targeted two other men who played this same role and who battle some of these same demons. Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson.

“My point is this. You cannot stand on the highest mountaintop in the country —Hockey Night in Canada—and point your finger at these men and shout down to the Nation that you believe they’re ‘pukes, turncoats and hypocrites’ simply because they have a different point of view than you. You cannot use that platform to target anyone in that way — and especially not men who are battling to get their lives back on track. You cannot shout those names at these men with that kind of fury and expect not to answer for it. I believe this is why the response to Mr. Cherry’s comments has been as strong as it has.

“Mr. MacLean: it’s about the rage, the vitriol, in the public discourse. It’s wrong as a legal matter; it’s wrong as a matter of common civility.

“Lastly, it’s not my decision where this goes from here. This is a decision for Canadians. The CBC is your network; you pay for it. And you hold the network to certain standards and values. Among those values is the obligation to ‘treat individuals with honesty and respect.’

“Some viewers might actually believe that Ron & Don treated these men with honesty and respect. Those people might be content to just shrug their shoulders and say, ‘Hey, no big deal, that’s just Don being Don.” And that’s fine. Those people are entitled to that point of view.

“But other viewers might believe that Ron & Don fell way short of those values. And if that’s the case, I would encourage those people to direct their comments to the CBC. Please, don’t call or email me anymore; it’s not important that I know how you feel. Tell your ombudsman at the CBC how you feel. He’s a very nice man and he’s there to maintain the integrity of the CBC as an institution for broadcasting.”

While Cherry has been the focal point (obviously) in this whole affair, MacLean hasn’t escaped scrutiny, especially up in Canada. He’s been characterized by some as Cherry’s lapdog, scared he’ll lose his meal ticket should the backlash against Cherry build to the point where the CBC has to make a drastic move.

We’ll have to see if MacLean gets some time to state his position on next week’s Coach’s Corner, which must be getting great ratings with all this publicity. It’s almost like that’s the point of having a controversial guy like Grapes giving his opinions.

Columbus giving prized rookie Werenski ‘every opportunity to run the power play’

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The Blue Jackets aren’t easing Zach Werenski into his freshman campaign.

Werenski, the highly touted blueline prospect, has been tasked with running the Columbus power play during the exhibition campaign — often as the lone defenseman with four forwards — and it looks like a role he might reprise throughout the regular season.

Even though he’s yet to play an NHL game.

“I want to give him every opportunity to run the power play,” head coach John Tortorella said after an OT win over Nashville, per the Blue Jackets website. “He certainly did a good job of that tonight. We’ll keep on giving him opportunities and we’ll see where we go.”

More: Looking to make the leap: Zach Werenski

The Werenski hype train has been full steam for just over a year now. The eighth overall pick in 2015, Werenski spent two highly decorated years at the University of Michigan before turning pro at the end of last season.

Dispatched to Columbus’ AHL affiliate in Lake Erie, the 19-year-old had a fantastic professional debut. He was a major catalyst on the Monsters’ defense, scoring 14 points in 17 playoff games en route to the Calder Cup championship.

“The skill set he has — his size, strength and poise with the puck, he’s a complete player,” said Monsters coach Jared Bednar (now the head coach in Colorado). “To be able to step into our lineup in intense games and get the job done, it’s impressive especially for his age and that’s why everyone’s so excited about him.”

All signs point to a very talented — and young — Columbus defense this year. It was already assumed 21-year-old Seth Jones and 23-year-old Ryan Murray were going to play major roles, and now it sounds like Werenski will be leaned on just as heavily.

Which means it’ll be interesting to see what happens to the vets.

Jack Johnson averaged over 24 minutes per game last year, a figure that will undoubtedly decrease. It’ll also be curious to see what happens to David Savard, who was playing more than 23 minutes a night — do remember that, at the start of last season, the Jackets gave Savard a hefty five-year, $21.25 million extension.

The playoff race in the West could be ‘tighter than ever’

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 9:  Goalie Kari Lehtonen #32 of the Dallas Stars makes a save against Kyle Brodziak #28 of the St. Louis Blues in Game Six of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Scottrade Center on May 9, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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The NHL’s Western Conference should be wild all season, perhaps as much as ever as parity reigns and points are tough to come by on any given night.

A slew of teams have a shot at advancing to the Stanley Cup finals.

The defending Conference champion San Jose Sharks, who had five players in the World Cup of Hockey finals , certainly appear to have a chance to be among the final two still skating in mid-June. That alone would be a feat because no team from the conference has pulled it off since the Detroit Red Wings, now an Eastern Conference team, won the Stanley Cup in 2008 and came within a win of repeating.

Chicago, Los Angeles, Anaheim and St. Louis will likely be among the contenders. Dallas, too.

The Blackhawks and Kings, who alternated as champions from 2012 to 2015 and won five Cups in a six-season span, failed to even make it out of the first round last in 2016.

Both teams certainly have a chance to bounce back this season.

“This is my sixth season in the Central Division and this looks like the most challenging year yet,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Thursday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “The crunching between the top and bottom started last year, and it’s going to be closer this year.”

Hitchcock and Stars general manager Jim Nill both believe the teams that were at the bottom of the conference last season on moving up.

“The Winnipegs and the Colorados are going to be better teams,” Nill told the AP. “I think it’s going to be tighter than ever.”

How tight?

“Everyone has a shot,” San Jose’s Logan Couture said.

 

Related: There’s only one ‘vision’ in Vancouver this season, and that’s winning

 

Tough blow for Blues: Schwartz out ‘at least four weeks’ with elbow injury

ST. LOUIS, MO - FEBRUARY 23: Jaden Schwartz #9 of the St. Louis Blues shoots the puck against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Scottrade Center on February 23, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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The St. Louis Blues will have to start the season without one of their most dangerous forwards, Jaden Schwartz.

Schwartz “will miss at least four weeks after injuring his left elbow during a training camp practice on Sept. 29,” the club announced today.

It’s another frustration for the 25-year-old winger. Schwartz was limited to just 33 games last season, after fracturing his ankle in October.

As for this latest injury, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock originally predicted that Schwartz would only need a “couple of days off.”

St. Louis opens its regular season Oct. 12 in Chicago. If Schwartz is out until the end of October, he’ll miss nine games.

Related: Schwartz signs five-year extension

More bad news in Dallas: Janmark (knee surgery) out 5-6 months

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 22: Mattias Janmark #13 of the Dallas Stars looks on against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on October 22, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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Earlier this week, we passed along word that Stars forward Mattias Janmark was spotted on crutches at the team’s practice facility.

Now we know why.

Janmark suffered a knee injury that requires surgery, GM Jim Nill said on Thursday. The procedure is expected to sideline the Swedish forward for 5-6 months, putting his return in the neighborhood of February-March of next year.

It’s a big blow for the Stars.

After surprising onlookers by making the team out of camp last year — a “great story,” according to GM Jim Nill — Janmark, 23, went on to have a pretty successful rookie campaign, scoring 15 goals and 29 points in 73 games.

He also fared well in the playoffs, with five points in 12 contests.

Today’s news compounds what’s been a lousy September in Dallas. The club previously lost Tyler Seguin (heel), Cody Eakin (knee) and Ales Hemsky (groin) to injuries, and saw Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin sign in the KHL.

Looking at the schedule, Janmark projects to miss anywhere between 60-70 games this season, assuming the 5-6 month timeline is accurate. That’s a big chunk of man power to replace.