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”

Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’

Alain Vigneault
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Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.

The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.

He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)

But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.

“Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

“But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”

Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)

The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).

Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

Cory Schneider, Alex Galchenyuk ,
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Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.


Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.

Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs


Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

Carey Price,
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Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 28-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

Related: The latest on Price’s injury