All of a sudden Vancouver hockey fans are desperate to know if Byron Bitz can stay healthy. The big, tough 27-year-old forward who started the season in the AHL has made quite the impression since being called up to the Canucks.
In seven games, Bitz has one goal, three assists, 14 hits, and two fights. Which is to say he’s provided the type of “toughness that can play” the Canucks have been looking for.
Just one problem: Bitz also has a history of hernia and hip issues, and he’s missed the last two games with a strained hip flexor.
“It’s day to day,” Bitz told reporters after skating and practicing this morning in Nashville. “I felt pretty good skating today, I’ll skate again tomorrow [in Detroit] and just keep moving forward.
“It wasn’t one incident. I felt it when I started skating in the summer. It’s a volume thing. It went from nothing to all of a sudden a lot of volume.”
The Canucks have until Monday’s trade deadline to decide if they can count on Bitz for the playoffs. If they can’t (and it doesn’t sound like they can), general manager Mike Gillis might have to swing a deal.
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.
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.