More than a few eyebrows were raised after the Los Angeles Kings decided not to play Mike Richards in Game 2 despite head coach Darryl Sutter’s assurances that the center was “fine.”
Sutter reiterated that the 28-year-old is fine. He also gave some context as to the difference he sees between a player being “fine” and “100 percent,” stating why he decided to scratch Richards after the Kings warmed up.
“He was fine today, then I think just once his blood got pumping tonight, the adrenaline got going, there were symptoms,” Sutter said. “I went in right after warm-up, he was sitting there and I said, ‘Unless you’re 100 percent, you’re not playing.'”
Sutter seemed please with how Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter adjusted to the situation, even if losing Richards still hurts.
“Quite honestly, once I knew he wasn’t playing, I said, ‘Jeff, you’re playing center. Tyler, you go up and play right wing.’ Really didn’t affect that line at all,” Sutter said. “Obviously, it’s a big hole. Same thing we talked about last year. Different spot in the center. At the same time I thought we handled that part really well.”
Regardless, the Kings have a long way to go.
Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.
Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.
(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)
Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.
Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.
The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.
Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.
That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.
If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.
The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.