Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun is reporting that Canucks winger Mason Raymond, who hasn’t been with the team since suffering a broken vertebra in the Stanley Cup final, practiced with his mates for the first time today. MacIntyre noted that Raymond skated with the main group and received a warm cheer upon leading the team in stretches — an understandable response, given what he’s experienced the last few months.
The injury occurred during Game 6 of the final on a hit from Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk:
The hit put Raymond in a back brace for six weeks and through months of discomfort and soft tissue problems. Even as late as September, the speedy winger was unsure if he’d be able to play again.
“I’m lucky to be standing here today with arms and legs moving. I’m still having some discomfort with some soft tissue,” Raymond told the Vancouver Sun two months ago. “Whenever you have something in that [spinal] area, you have a serous risk of having additional problems.”
While returning to practice was a major step in Raymond’s recovery, there’s still a ways to go. Vancouver assistant GM Laurence Gilman said Raymond “continues to progress” but that he joined the Canucks on road trip mainly to participate in some team-building exercises (they had their golf tourney at Trump National yesterday in L.A.; I’m assuming today was reserved for trust falls and cooperative puzzle challenges.)
Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.
The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.
According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”
Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:
The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.
Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.
In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:
Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?
While lineups are obviously subject to change, CSNPhilly.com notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.
Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.
That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”
The CSNPhilly.com quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.
Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.
It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.