Flyers GM says he “made 29 phone calls” upon learning Pronger was lost for season

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Interesting tidbit here from CBC’s Elliotte Friedman:

source:

With his team atop the Eastern Conference and just one point out of first in the NHL, it’s not surprising Holmgren’s in “I gotta salvage the season!” mode.

But how does he salvage it?

Pronger could go on Long-Term Injury Reserve (LTIR) like Marc Savard did in Boston, meaning the Flyers would have $4.9 million in available cap space. That’s a sizeable chunk, definitely enough to acquire a serviceable defenseman or, if Holmgren was willing to trade a player with a decent-sized cap hit, an even larger asset.

Knowing that, there’s sure to be plenty of scuttlebutt surrounding Nashville. The Preds have two tantalizing options in Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, and Holmgren has an extensive history of dealing with GM David Poile. The two first linked up in 2007 for the Scott Hartnell-Kimmo Timonen deal and have made a few more since (most recently, Holmgren acquired Dan Hamhuis’ negotiation rights from Poile.)

There are a few less-compelling options as well. Francois Beauchemin is a guy to keep an eye on — Holmgren and Anaheim GM Bob Murray got together for the Pronger deal in 2009 and if Anaheim falls short of the playoffs (which looks likely), unloading the 31-year-old UFA-to-be is a possibility.

One also wonders what the future holds for Jaroslav Spacek. The 37-year-old probably isn’t in Carolina’s plans moving forward and at this stage of his career, might want a shot at the postseason (another thing that’s not in Carolina’s plans.)

If things continue to go south for Tampa, Pavel Kubina could be in play. Sounds like Calgary would be interested in unloading Anton Babchuk and/or Cory Sarich.

Of course, Holmgren could stand pat and see how things play out. Even without Pronger, Philadelphia still has a solid top-four defense of Timonen, Andrej Meszaros, Matt Carle and Braydon Coburn. The Flyers have also gotten surprisingly solid production out of rookie Marc-Andre Bourdon and should get veteran Andreas Lilja (ankle) back from injury soon.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.