Hoping to jar his team out of a four-game losing skid, Colorado coach Joe Sacco is making a couple of regulars healthy scratches tonight when the Avs host Dallas.
Sacco called it “a case of just underachieving” when he announced that forwards David Jones and Jamie McGinn would sit out against the Stars.
With just three goals in 28 games, Jones’ struggles have been particularly noteworthy. The 28-year-old — who happens to be in the first year of a four-year, $16 million contract — hasn’t registered a point in his last nine games.
Sacco said the club has been patient with Jones, but with the Avs sitting dead last in the Western Conference and six points out of a playoff spot, there’s only so much patience a coach can have with just 20 games left to turn it around.
“It’s a message to the team, too,” said Sacco. “It’s not good enough. We’ve lost four games in a row and we need to be better. As a team, we can’t wait around for guys to get their game. Hopefully it won’t be long-term, but we’ll see. It’s a good chance for Mark Olver to get back in the lineup. Every game he’s played, he’s played gritty, he plays with energy. It’s a chance for a guy like Cody McLeod to move up a little bit and get a little more ice time. Even a guy like Chuck [Kobasew], their numbers aren’t too far off [those of Jones and McGinn]. Let’s shake it up and see what we get.”
For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”
On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.
With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.
“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”
As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.
It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.
Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?
We’ll know in a month.
Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:
The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.
The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.
If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.
Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”
And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.
While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.