Ryan OByrne

Colorado’s O’Byrne signs with ECHL Florida

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For a while, Ryan O’Byrne was one of the select few locked-out NHLers to try his hand at coaching.

Now it appears that time has come to a close.

O’Byrne has inked a deal with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, citing his need to get back into game action.

“At some point, you have to play some hockey,” O’Byrne told the Victoria Times-Colonist. “You can work-out as much as you want but nothing is like being in an actual game environment … and I haven’t played since April 7.”

O’Byrne had spent most of the lockout behind the bench for the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies, a tier-two Canadian junior club. A BCHL graduate himself — he played for Victoria and Nanaimo before moving to Cornell University — O’Byrne felt the need to give back to the club that helped mold his professional career.

He also felt required to stay in North America, given he serves as Colorado’s NHLPA representative.

“My role in the NHLPA is very important to me,” he said. “I couldn’t fulfill those duties in Europe.”

So, farewell to coach O’Byrne.

As for locked-out NHLers still holding coaching positions?

– Florida’s Kris Versteeg is behind the bench for the University of Lethbridge. (link)


–- Columbus’ RJ Umberger is doing volunteer work at his alma mater, Ohio State. (link)


–- Toronto’s John-Michael Liles is behind the bench at Culver Academy in Indiana. (link)


– Columbus’ Mark Letestu is serving as an assistant coach with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Bonnyville Pontiacs. (link)

— Dallas’ Eric Nystrom will team up with NHL Network’s Billy Jaffe to coach Team USA at the 2013 Maccabiah Games. (link)

Blues put Berglund on LTIR, use savings to sign Gomez

Scotte Gomez
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As was the case last season, Scott Gomez accepted a professional tryout offer because he went unsigned over the summer and once again he has used that opportunity to extend his career.

The St. Louis Blues announced that they have signed Gomez to a one-year contract. They didn’t disclose the financial terms, but it’s a two-way deal that comes with a base salary of $575K at the NHL level, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford.

In order to free up the space necessary to sign him, St. Louis moved Patrik Berglund to the long-term injured reserve list. Berglund had shoulder surgery in August and isn’t expected to be available until January.

Gomez, 35, is coming off of a resurgence campaign where he recorded 34 points in 58 games on a Devils’ team that finished near the bottom of the pack offensively. The two-time Stanley Cup champion will be bringing more than a 1,000 games worth of NHL experience to St. Louis.

He’s not the only veteran forward to make the team off of a PTO as the Blues signed Scottie Upshall on Monday.

NHL key dates for the 2015-16 season

Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares
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Nov. 10 —  NHL General Managers Meeting (Toronto)

At last year’s November meetings, the GMs decided to kill the dry scrape. But these meetings usually serve as a table-setter for the rest of the season. It’s the more in-depth meetings in March where the majority of things get decided.

Nov. 27 — NHL Thanksgiving Showdown: Rangers at Bruins

The first of 12 “NHL on NBC” games in 2015-16. Click here for the full list, including the games on NBCSN.

Dec. 7-8 — NHL Board of Governors Meeting (Pebble Beach)

This is where we could find out about expansion. Will both Las Vegas and Quebec City get the nod? Only one of them? Neither of them?

Jan. 1 — Winter Classic: Canadiens at Bruins

From Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Please don’t make any “deflated pucks” jokes. You’re better than that.

Jan. 28-Feb. 1 — All-Star Break

This year’s festivities are being held in Nashville, which is a pretty fun town we hear. Skills competition on Saturday the 30th, game on Sunday the 31st. Over/under has been set at 25 goals and 60 percent effort.

Feb. 29 — NHL trade deadline

Leap day! Click here for a list of pending unrestricted free agents, a.k.a. potential rentals.

Mar. 14-16 — NHL General Managers Meeting (Boca Raton)

As mentioned, these are the more in-depth meetings where any recommendations are typically made. Last season, the GMs recommended 3-on-3 overtime and a coach’s challenge.

Apr. 9 — Last day of the regular season

All 30 teams in action on this Saturday. Playoffs begin four days later on Wednesday. Also, the draft lottery’s date is still to be determined, but should be held sometime around here.

June 18 — Last possible day for the Stanley Cup Final

Click here for PHT’s Cup picks.

June 24-25 — NHL draft

In Buffalo this year. Click here for Central Scouting’s “players to watch” list, led by Auston Matthews.

July 1 — Free agency begins

And then it’s summer.