Former NHL player Wayne Gretzky shakes hands with Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings after the ceremonial opening faceoff as Zach Parise #9 of the New Jersey Devils looks on prior to Game Three of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center on June 4, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
(June 3, 2012 - Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America)

Gretzky thinks last lockout eliminated “the big hurdle” to labor peace


Whenever Wayne Gretzky talks hockey, it’s hard not to listen. His achievements as a player have earned him that much.

Lately though, Gretzky has also been one of the few optimistic voices during a lockout that that has led to fan frustration and anger.

Earlier this week he said that he still thinks we’ll have a 2012-13 NHL season. Part of the reason for that is because he believes the greatest gulf between the players and owners is already gone.

“I thought that in 2004 when we changed the structure and went to a salary cap, I thought that was the big hurdle,” Gretzky told Brian Shactman of CNBC Sports Biz. “So, it seems to me that the big hurdle is behind us or sort of in the rear-view mirror.”

Gretzky thinks this lockout has already cost the NHL fans, but he added, “it’s such a great game and these athletes are so good, hopefully we can win back some of those fans that aren’t happy with the current situation.”

Repairing the damage from the lockout is something that the players and owners will focus on eventually, but the first step towards recovery is agreeing to a new CBA.

Hopefully Gretzky’s prediction will come true and a deal will be done in time to salvage the 2012-13 campaign.

Video: NHL drops hammer, suspends Torres for 41 games


One of the NHL’s most notorious hitters has been tagged by the league.

On Monday, the Department of Player Safety announced that San Jose forward Raffi Torres has been suspended 41 games — half of the regular season — for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The length of Torres’ suspension is a combination of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ history of delivering hits to the heads of opposing players, including Jordan Eberle, Jarret Stoll, Nate Prosser and Marian Hossa.

“Torres has repeatedly violated league playing rules,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “And has been sanctioned multiple times for similar infractions.”

The league also noted that Torres has been warned, fined, or suspended on nine occasions over the course of his career, “the majority of which have involved a hit to an opponent’s head.”

“Same player every year,” Ducks forward Ryan Kesler said following the hit on Silfverberg. “I played with the guy [in Vancouver]. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”

As for what lies ahead, things could get interesting upon potential appeal:

Torres successfully appealed a suspension under the previous CBA, getting his punishment for the Hossa hit reduced from 25 to 21 games.

Under terms of the new CBA, Torres isn’t categorized as a repeat offender because his last suspension came in May of 2013 — more than two years ago.

Of course, part of the reason Torres hasn’t run afoul of the league in two years is because he’s barely played.

Knee injuries limited Torres to just 12 games in ’13-14, and he sat out last season entirely.

Blues send down four; keep young d-men Edmundson and Parayko

Magnus Paajarvi
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The St. Louis Blues have assigned two forwards, Magnus Paajarvi and Ty Rattie, and two defensemen, Chris Butler and Petteri Lindbohm, to AHL Chicago.

The moves mean that the Blues will have two young d-men, Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko, on the opening-day roster, after both impressed in camp.

From the Post-Dispatch:

Lindbohm and Butler looked to be the sixth and seventh defensemen, in that order, at the start of camp, but the play of Edmundson and Parayko won them spots. Parayko had six assists in the preseason, putting him among the NHL leaders. 

Forward Robby Fabbri will also be on the opening-day roster. The 19-year-old is not eligible for the AHL; he can only be returned to junior.

Earlier today, the Blues announced the signing of forward Scottie Upshall.