Winnipeg Jets head coach Noel speaks with Antropov and Ladd during NHL pre-season action against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Winnipeg

Is there player discord in Winnipeg?

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Of all the embattled head coaches from the early stages of this season — Columbus’ Scott Arniel, Ottawa’s Paul MacLean, Montreal’s Jacques Martin — one really jumps off the page: Winnipeg’s Claude Noel.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Upon being named Jets coach, many thought Noel was in a good position. He had ties to the community, having previously coached Manitoba of the AHL. He had NHL experience, going 10-8-6 as Columbus’ interim coach. And he was in a market so starved for the NHL, nobody would care how badly the team played! Or so went the school of thought.

But now Winnipeg’s six games into the season (with a 1-4-1 record) and the good times have stopped rolling. Come to a screeching halt, actually. The Jets are last in the division, last in the conference and tied for the worst goal differential in the league.

And if you’re looking for textbook examples of players and coach lacking harmony, consider the following:

— After a 4-1 loss to Phoenix dropped Winnipeg to 0-3, Noel ripped his team. “If I look at the three games and the way they went . . . are we achieving to the level that I think we should be? The answer would be no, we are underachieving. We are way below the bar,” he said. “Why is that? Why are you, an NHL player, playing like an American league player?”

Noel then had a “clear the air” meeting with team captain Andrew Ladd and alternate captains Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Mark Stuart and Chris Thorburn. Ron Hainsey was also invited, presumably to keep the minutes.

— The message Noel got from the meeting? Chaos. “We cleared up the chaos,” Noel said.

— Following the meeting, Winnipeg got its first win of the year, a spirited 2-1 decision over Pittsburgh. Noel responded to the win by…saying he didn’t like how his players practiced. Also, they needed to break their bad habits.

— On Thursday, the Jets lost 4-1 to Ottawa, regarded by many as the NHL’s worst team. That game was highlighted by Noel pulling goalie Ondrej Pavelec during a power-play with five minutes to go.

— On Friday, Noel went out of his way to say C Alexander Burmistrov is his team’s best player. “He’s been our best forward since the season started,” Noel told the Winnipeg Free Press. “A 19-year-old player is our best player. He’s the one guy I’m happy with.”

Reading between the lines, this sounds like a coach that doesn’t like his team. And judging by the on-ice effort, a team that doesn’t particularly like its coach. But will anything come of it? Winnipeg is playing to capacity crowds nightly and TSN play-by-play man Chris Cuthbert said there “seems to be a prevailing feeling around the National Hockey League that they’re everybody’s second favorite team.” From an outside perspective, everything is sunshine and lollipops and there’d be no reason to change a thing.

You just have to wonder what the inside perspective is like.

Capitals send first-round pick Johansen back to junior

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Lucas Johansen poses for a portrait after being selected 28th overall by the Washington Capitals in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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The Washington Capitals have sent prospect defenseman Lucas Johansen, selected 28th overall in this year’s NHL Draft, back to the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League.

From the Kelowna Capital News:

The Kelowna Rockets have yet to play a regular season game with a full lineup.

That will change this weekend in Prince George when defenceman Lucas Johansen and forward Calvin Thurkauf rejoin their WHL club for a two-game set against the Cougars.

Johansen, a first-round NHL draft pick this summer, is back from the camp of the Washington Capitals, while Thurkauf returns from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Capitals confirmed the news via Twitter.

Johansen, the younger brother of NHL center Ryan Johansen, appeared in Monday’s exhibition game for the Capitals, apparently leaving a positive impression on the coaching staff.

Still, Johansen doesn’t turn 19 years old until the middle of November. He also has some growing left to do at six-foot-one-inch tall and just 174 pounds, so sending him back to junior is the logical step.

“For a first game, to have that kind of poise playing defense, you don’t see it very often,” Capitals’ associate coach Todd Reirden told the Washington Post.

“So, it’s fun to watch, how he goes about the game. Certainly, I think it’s helped growing up in the family that he has and being around some of the players he’s practiced with. I think he has some special tools, in terms of his ability to slow down the play and see some things that other players don’t. He’s looking like an outstanding draft pick for us and a real great prospect moving forward.”

Shaw suspended three preseason games for boarding Connor Hobbs

TAMPA, FL - JUNE 02:  Andrew Shaw #65 of the Chicago Blackhawks speaks during Media Day for the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on June 2, 2015 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The National Hockey League has suspended Montreal Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw for three preseason games for boarding defenseman Connor Hobbs of the Washington Capitals in an exhibition game Tuesday.

Shaw was given a major penalty and a game misconduct on the play, as he slammed Hobbs “through the numbers, with speed” from behind into the end glass, as per Thursday’s video from the NHL outlining the suspension.

From the video: “It is important to note that Hobbs is never eligible to be checked by Shaw on this play. From the moment Shaw arrives at the faceoff dot, he sees nothing but Hobbs’ numbers. Hobbs makes no sudden movement just prior to contact that turns this hit from a legal hit into an illegal one.

“The onus is on Shaw to ensure that he can deliver this hit in a legal fashion, minimize the force, or avoid this hit completely. Instead, he hits forcefully through Hobbs from behind, driving him dangerously into the glass.”

In a bid to land a gritty forward to their lineup, the Habs acquired Shaw from the Blackhawks, who had been dealing with a cap crunch, during the NHL Draft. He later signed a six-year contract extension with Montreal.

Despite another concussion, Clarke MacArthur doesn’t plan on retiring

OTTAWA, ON - APRIL 26:  Clarke MacArthur #16 of the Ottawa Senators looks on prior to a face-off in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Montreal Canadiens during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on April 26, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens eliminated the Ottawa Senators by defeating them 2-0 and move to the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
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Clarke MacArthur suffered yet another concussion after being hit by Patrick Sieloff during a scrimmage over the weekend, but the veteran Ottawa Senators forward doesn’t plan on retiring.

Last season, the 31-year-old MacArthur played in only four games for the Senators due to concussions. According to the Ottawa Sun, he suffered four concussions in an 18th-month span.

Despite this latest concussion, MacArthur is still, at least publicly, planning to work toward a return to game action, saying in a post on Instagram that he was “encouraged” by how his body has reacted following this most recent incident.

“First off, I want to thank the team and its fans for all the support after the unfortunate incident on Sunday. To me, it was simply a hockey play that ended in a hit causing me to suffer a concussion, a play that could happen at any point,” MacArthur wrote on his social media page.

“We have been encouraged by how my body had reacted in the days since the injury and the team has been great to give me all the time I need to rest and recover. I will continue to consult with doctors and my entire support group, but I felt it important to let everyone know that my intentions are to work towards returning to the ice soon.”

Related:

Senators focus on MacArthur’s safety

Schwartz (hand) suffers scare at Blues practice, but Hitch says ‘he’ll be fine’

St. Louis Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz celebrates after scoring during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Friday, Feb. 12, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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You couldn’t blame the Blues for freaking out a bit today when Jaden Schwartz left practice after an apparent hand injury, and didn’t return.

It was last October, of course, when Schwartz fractured his ankle during practice, an injury that required surgery and sidelined him for 49 games.

Thankfully for St. Louis, it won’t be deja vu.

From the Post-Dispatch:

Coach Ken Hitchcock said Schwartz was fine but would miss some practice.

“He’ll need a couple days off, but he’s a lot like Fabbri,” Hitchcock said. “He’s probably not going to skate this weekend in any of the games but he’ll be ready to go next weekend.

“He’s day to day. He’ll be fine.”

Signed to a five-year, $26.75 million extension this summer, Schwartz will be a big piece of the Blues moving forward.

He’s coming off a good playoff run — 14 points in 20 games — and the club is hopeful he can build on the goalscoring form shown in ’13-14 (25 tallies) and ’14-15 (a career-high 28).