Sorry, Isles: Visnovsky to stick with KHL club (Updated)


New York Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky will remain with Slovan Bratislava for the remainder of the season, according to Arthur Staple of Newsday.

“I have decided to stay and continue my career in the KHL for the remainder of the 2012-13 season,” Visnovsky said in a statement. “I am thankful to the Isles for being so good to me. My decision not to play in the NHL is due to family and personal reasons.

“I have made no decisions on next season. My focus now is on Slovan Bratislava, and enjoying my family in my home country.”

Update: Bill Daly didn’t give the deal the NHL’s go-ahead in an e-mail to Staple.

“We have an agreement with the KHL that would preclude Mr. Visnovsky from continuing to play in the KHL once the lockout is officially lifted,” Daly wrote. ” I assume that agreement will be respected.”

Meanwhile, the Islanders declined to comment.

How this happened

Visnovsky, traded from Anaheim to New York at June’s NHL Entry Draft, filed a grievance with the league shortly after learning of the deal, claiming his no-trade clause was still in effect.

From the Sporting News:

Visnovsky, while somehow saying that he’d play for the Islanders if the trade went through, maintained that he had a valid no-trade clause that he didn’t invoke when the Ducks acquired him from the Edmonton Oilers in 2010. The arbitrator felt differently.

The issue dates back to 2007 when Visnovsky inked a 5-year extension with the Los Angeles Kings, a contract that included a NTC. He was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in June 2008, one day before the new contract and no-trade clause were set to kick in. At the 2010 trade deadline, Visnovsky was on the move back to California, this time going to the Ducks.

An arbitrator upheld the trade on Sept. 12.

Five days later, Visnovsky signed with Bratislava.

Despite all this, Visnovsky and his agent, Neil Sheehy, have made several public statements claiming they had no problems with the Islanders organization.

Sheehy re-iterated that to Staple on Monday, saying Visnovsky’s situation “would have been the same with any NHL team.”

What’s next

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out on a variety of fronts.

The NHL already said its part about the KHL honoring contracts — Visnovsky has one year remaining on his deal — but the other factor will be how the Isles handle the situation.

It could end up being a Tim Thomas/Bruins-like scenario, in which the Bruins hold the option of suspending Thomas without pay, but still absorbing his $5 million cap hit.

Visnovsky’s cap hit for this season is $5.6 million, but he’s only owed $3 million in salary.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.