Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle look at bright side of AHL reps

Much like the last lockout, many up-and-coming players will receive unexpected reps at the AHL level.

Even with Nail Yakupov in the KHL, the Edmonton Oilers boast some of the biggest names who might enjoy the confidence boost of playing against lesser competition.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle are among the players likely to dominate as short-term Oklahoma City Barons. They put a positive spin on the situation for The Canadian Press.

RNH discussed what parts of his game he wants to work on and how it might compare to what he learned while watching his team while he was injured last season.

“A big thing for me is I want to be a two-way centre,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “I take a lot of pride in my defense, and that’s something I’m definitely going to be focused on.”

“There were some positives from the injury. Watching the game from upstairs, I was able to see it from a different perspective, and I believe it will help me moving forward.”

Eberle also wants to improve his all-around game, yet he mentioned the interesting – if subjective – benefits that could come from playing for a successful AHL squad.

“I’m going to work on my defense and penalty kill,” Eberle said. “With the lockout, this is the next-best option here in North America. They made it to the conference final last season, and we want to continue that success. The winning attitude is great and something we want to take back with us to Edmonton. I’m going to enjoy this experience.”

It should be a treat for Barons fans, too.

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

Torres apologizes to Silfverberg and Sharks


A statement from Raffi Torres:

“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”

A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:

“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”

Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.