The BankAtlantic Center will host a rather strange reunion tonight as the Panthers take on the Winnipeg Jets.
Florida assistant Craig Ramsay — who coached the Thrashers in their final season of existence — will face his former organization for the first time since being relieved of his duties.
“In all honesty, now, since I’ve bounced around from one team to another, I have a whole bunch of those teams where you have special meaning for the game and you have to try to set that aside,” Ramsay told NHL.com. “I’d like to say there’s no extra emotion, but there is… There is emotion there, but I really try not to let it affect the way I do my job and what I have to accomplish.”
Relieving Ramsay of his duties was a low point in Winnipeg’s otherwise blissful summer — lost amidst the good vibes and excitement was the fact that Ramsay had been blindsided by the move. In his lone year with Atlanta, he’d taken the team to its four-highest ever point total and had the Thrashers atop the Southeast Division halfway through the year. “I have to admit it was quite a bit of a shock when it started to transpire when I first heard that maybe we were going to be the team to go to Winnipeg,” he said. “My wife and daughter got on the Internet to check out rentals, assuming we’d be part of the package, and we’d be heading north.”
Instead, the Jets cleaned house and replaced both Ramsay and Thrashers GM Rick Dudley with Claude Noel and Kevin Cheveldayoff. By all accounts, it wasn’t the cleanest of executions — the South Florida Sun-Sentinel said Winnipeg left Ramsay “dangling for several weeks” before informing him he wouldn’t be retained.
Things have worked out for Ramsay to a certain degree. While he’s now an assistant rather than a head coach (serving under Kevin Dineen with the Panthers), Florida’s gotten off to a far better start than the Jets have under Ramsay’s replacement, Claude Noel. The Panthers are 6-4-0 heading into tonight’s action, just two points back of Southeast Division leaders Washington.
And perhaps of equal importance, five points up on last-place Winnipeg.
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.
There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.
The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.
Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.
The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.
After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.
Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.
Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.
Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.
Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.
Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:
From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.
Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?
The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.
That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.
If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.