Jimmy Howard, Sergei Kostitsyn

Contract talks begin between Red Wings, Howard


The Detroit Red Wings and starting netminder Jimmy Howard have begun discussions about a new deal.

Just don’t expect Howard to focus on those talks.

“It’s the furthest thing I’m thinking about,” he told MLive.com. “You don’t have time to think about it.”

Howard, 29, admitted he focused too much on his contract status two years ago — he eventually signed a two-year, $4.5 million deal — to the point where it affected his on-ice performance.

Since then, Howard has become a constant presence between the pipes for Detroit, playing in 63 games during the 2010-11 season and 57 in 2011-12.

The 29-year-old has been an absolute workhorse this season, currently tied for second in the NHL in games played (12), fifth in shots faced (345) and fourth in minutes played (707:42).

All of this begs the question — what’s Howard’s market value?

For more, here’s MLive’s Ansar Khan:

[Howard] has a career record of 116-58-21, with 11 shutouts, a 2.44 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in the regular season.

That is similar to the St. Louis Blues’ Jaroslav Halak (112-67-21, 24 shutouts, 2.42 GAA, .918 save percentage) and Anaheim Ducks’ Jonas Hiller (121-93-15, 15 shutouts, 2.56 GAA, .917 save percentage).

Halak, 27, signed a four-year, $15 million contract ($3.75 million cap hit) in 2010. Hiller, 31, signed a four-year, $18 million contract ($4.5 million cap hit) in 2010.

Khan also notes that Detroit has additional business to attend to this offseason besides Howard — Valtteri Filppula and Damien Brunner will both be UFAs as well, as are Dan Cleary, Drew Miller and Ian White.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara
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Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two: