Did the Detroit Red Wings catch a big break on Friday?
With their game against St. Louis tied at 3-3 midway through the third period, Blues forward David Backes delivered a hard hit to Detroit defenseman Kent Huskins that appeared to knock the wind out of him.
Backes was ejected from the game because of an illegal hit to the head. The replays make that ruling look very questionable.
TSN’s Aaron Ward added that the blow didn’t appear to be late.
You can see the hit for yourself below:
Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk netted the game-winning goal during the resulting power play and Henrik Zetterberg collected an empty-netter to complete his hat trick and secure a 5-3 victory.
Merrill, 24, only appeared in 47 games this year, first missing time with an arm injury, then suffering a shoulder ailment late in the year.
There was no clear indication if the two ailments were related, but Merrill’s arm injury was on the right side, and surgery was on his right shoulder.
A former University of Michigan standout taken 38th overall in 2010, Merrill enjoyed solid rookie and sophomore campaigns in New Jersey. His second year was especially solid — 14 points in 66 games, averaging over 20 minutes per night — and he boasts good size, going 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.
Based on the four-month timetable for recovery, Merrill will likely miss parts of New Jersey’s training camp and preseason action.
Max Talbot mulling European options for next season
Alpo Suhonen, who became the first European-born NHL coach in over 50 years upon taking the Chicago gig in 2000, has been named the new bench boss of the Austrian men’s national team, per IIHF.com.
Suhonen, 67, takes over from former NHL defenseman Dan Ratushny, who was splitting duties between Team Austria and Lausanne of the Swiss League.
Suhonen takes over the national team at a critical juncture. Austria finished a disappointing fourth at the 2016 World Hockey Championship Division 1 tournament — meaning the country finished 20th overall. As the IIHF websites notes, that’s the worst finish for Austria in 86 years of WHC competition.
Looking forward, Austria does have a chance to make amends this summer, when it will play a series of contests to prep for Olympic qualification.