PHT Morning Skate: Where the Kings inspire USC

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

USC Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley raves about the Los Angeles Kings’ Stanley Cup run, particularly the fact that they overcame the odds of being an eighth seed. (OC Register)

Jonathan Toews reflects upon trying to play through a concussion last season during this one-on-one interview. (CSNChicago.com)

More on Wayne Gretzky and the Seattle/Bellevue arena situation. (Bellevue Reporter)

How much of an impact can a healthy Michal Handzus make on the San Jose Sharks? (Fear the Fin)

The Nashville Predators bit the bullet and matched the Shea Weber offer sheet. Will they acquire any additional talent this summer? (On the Forecheck)

Bruce Garrioch breaks out a pretty “Swede” pun regarding Daniel Alfredsson’s retirement decision-making process. (Ottawa Sun)

The Tampa Bay Lightning added Steve Thomas to their coaching staff, although his exact title seems foggy. (St. Petersburg Times)

Five offseason questions that still need to be answered. (NHL.com)

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara
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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.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two: