Dave Bolland, Mikael Samuelsson

Dave Bolland backpedals/clarifies his Canucks jabs


Dave Bolland made waves when he called the Sedin twins “sisters” among other insults, so it comes as no surprise that he changed course a bit. Everyone has a different sniff test, but his excuse actually seems semi-feasible to me. He more or less claimed that he was hamming it up on a radio show, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc.

“I’ve got the utmost respect for the Sedin twins and for Alain Vigneault and all the Vancouver Canucks,” Bolland said. “It was just a little bit of  tongue-in-cheek that we had at the little radio show with some of the fans. I’ve got the utmost respect for Vancouver and what they do and what they do on the ice and how they do it. Both of us have a great rivalry going during this season.”

OK, so there’s a solid chance he backpedaled (er, clarified) his statements because a Blackhawks PR guy got to him, but I can picture a scenario in which Bolland felt the urge to troll the Canucks. (Then again maybe he’s stealth trolling them again with an ode to Ricky Bobby’s “Will all due respect …”)

Let’s face it though, when the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks trash-talk each other in the media, it doesn’t really change much in the grand scheme of things. Maybe it alters the material a bit (I picture a “Who are the sisters now?” taunt if the Canucks handle the Hawks on Jan. 31), but the two teams share about as much animosity as huge groups of wealthy athletes can. They can’t really dislike each other more after beating the tar out of each other in three straight playoff years, so this is really just fodder.

So in the end, it entertains us all, which I think everyone can agree is the most important thing.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.