St. Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks

Hitchcock won’t determine Blues’ starter until playoffs begin


Despite Brian Elliott’s unlikely All-Star bid, paycheck politics and a hot run under Ken Hitchcock implied that the St. Louis Blues’ starting job would go to Jaroslav Halak. Yet after back-to-back shutouts, Elliott pushed that positive goalie “controversy” to the forefront again, but Hitchcock told Jeremy Rutherford that he’s in no rush to name a No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s a good problem to have, but it’s one that I’m putting off until the last possible moment,” Hitchcock said. “To me, I’m going to wait until the playoffs start before I make that determination. I just feel like I owe it to both guys to continue to play both guys.”

“I expected a month ago that this thing would kind of air itself out and we’d figure out something. But it has not. I wouldn’t say it’s more complicated, it’s a good complication. But they’re making it hard on me because both guys are playing so good.”

Let there be no doubt about that.

Elliott is atop the NHL in GAA with 1.52 and is also leading everyone in stats nerds-approved save percentage with a stunning .941 mark. Halak’s overall numbers aren’t as out-of-this-world, but he’s easily been in stride with Elliott since Hitch came along after struggling before the coaching change.


Deep down, it seems like most NHL teams generally prefer to start their big money guys. It makes the GM feel all warm and fuzzy (and smart) while that guy tends to come in with bigger credentials – whether it be a higher draft pedigree, a more impressive resume or both.

Still, Elliott’s done just about anything a person can do to earn a starting job this season, so which guy would you go with if you were Hitchcock? Is he making the right move by waiting to name a No.1 netminder? Do tell.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.