Carolina’s Pitkanen might not return until March

There was hope in the Hurricanes organization that defenseman Joni Pitkanen would return to the lineup following the All-Star break.

But it seems his laundry list of health issues will keep that from happening.

Carolina GM Jim Rutherford told the News and Observer that Pitkanen — who has been out since suffering a concussion on Dec. 6, then underwent knee surgery on Jan. 6 — might not be available to the team until March.

“He’s coming along,” Rutherford said. “Obviously he’s a real good player for us and hopefully he’ll feel better soon.

“It’s all about the approach to rehab and how you go about the rehab. Based on his rehab, it should be about the first of March when he can get back to skating. Then it would be a week or so before he’s playing.”

Pitkanen’s absence has really hurt the ‘Canes. Prior to getting injured he led all defensemen in ice time (22:35) and was arguably the team’s most skilled blueliner. Pitkanen registered 12 points through 21 games early on in the season, which had him on pace for a 45-50 point season.

An interesting development from the Pitkanen injury is that Rutherford claims it won’t prevent him from being active at the trade deadline. Fellow defensemen Tim Gleason, Bryan Allen and Jaroslav Spacek are all impending UFAs and believed to be coveted by more than a few playoff-bound teams.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One
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Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.