There’s a mystery developing on the Nashville blueline as the Preds prepare to face Detroit this evening.
The mystery begins with The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper reporting Shea Weber left today’s morning skate early. “This rarely happens,” Cooper explained. “In fact, I’ve never seen it happen.”
Weber took a knock in Nashville’s final game before Christmas — a 6-3 loss to the Stars — yet still managed to log over 27 minutes of ice time. It remains unclear what’s plaguing Weber as head coach Barry Trotz didn’t provide an update following practice.
The mystery then continues with the health of Kevin Klein. He’s missed the last two games with the flu and is listed as day-to-day. Klein did skate this morning but — like Weber — his status remains unclear.
So, Nashville could be down two defensive regulars. What’s the solution?
Perhaps it’s giving highly-touted prospect Ryan Ellis his NHL debut.
Cooper notes that while Trotz hasn’t officially announced a call-up from AHL Milwaukee, Nashville’s website and the NHL media site already have Ellis on the Predators roster.
Ellis, 20, was taken 11th overall at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and went on to become one of the most decorated players in CHL history.
I mean, consider his 2011 trophy haul:
CHL Player of the Year
CHL Defenseman of the Year
Red Tilson Trophy (OHL Outstanding Player)
World Junior Championship All-Star Team
World Junior Championship Best Defenseman
Needless to say, Preds fans are quite excited at the potential of his debut…but there is a flip side. If Ellis does indeed dress, Nashville will have three rookie blueliners — Ellis, Roman Josi and Jonathan Blum — in the lineup against a veteran-laden Detroit squad.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.