Joffrey Lupul

Leafs’ Lupul done with KHL: “It was a little worse than I bargained for”


Joffrey Lupul’s Russian adventure is over.

That’s what the Toronto Maple Leafs forward told Sportsnet’s Fan 590 on Monday, saying he wouldn’t be returning to KHL Avtomobilist after the holiday break.

“It was probably a little more difficult than I thought, with the language barrier and living in a new country,” Lupul explained. “It was a little worse than I bargained for.”

Avtomobilist was the worst team in the KHL when Lupul arrived…and the worst team when he left. His presence didn’t seem to impact the team’s fortunes, if at all — in nine games he scored just 1G-3A-4PTS, and posted a minus-6 rating.

Lupul says he never truly felt comfortable in Russia and wants to get back to playing in North America.

“My heart’s here. I want to play here,” he said. “I want the season to start back up here, and hopefully I can be part of these meetings and negotiations.”

Oh, and here’s a great excerpt from the Fan 590 interview:

Lupul told The Fan Monday that he was walking down a Russian street with a new teammate and spotted an open man hole in the middle of the street – no cover. The forward suggested that it might be dangerous, that a pedestrian might fall in.

“Yeah, for sure someone will,” responded his KHL teammate.

“They’ll sue someone,” Lupul said.

“No, they don’t really sue people in Russia.”

Lupul probably feels comfortable now that he’s back in North America, where CBA negotiations have become totally litigious.


Yakupov would like to see more towel twirling in the KHL

Kane on KHL stint: “You play six minutes a night and they want you to score three goals a game”

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan


Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?