Rob Blake #4 of the Los Angeles Kings watches the puck after taking a shot against the New York Islanders during their game at the Nassau Coliseum on January 31, 2008 in Uninodale, New York.
(January 31, 2008 - Source: Andy Marlin/Getty Images North America)

Blake: I always wanted to return to Kings

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When former Kings assistant GM Ron Hextall left to join the Philadelphia Flyers, it didn’t take long for Los Angeles to appoint his replacement: Rob Blake.

For Blake, accepting the job made a lot of sense. After retiring following the 2009-10 campaign, Blake worked for the NHL Department of Player Safety. He enjoyed his time there, but he missed the competitive drive that came from working with a team.

Still, it wasn’t just a desire to compete for a Stanley Cup again that facilitated the move. It was also that it was the Los Angeles Kings making the offer, which would allow him to return to the franchise that originally drafted him in 1988.

“I’ve always wanted to do that since I can remember,” Blake told LA Kings Insider.

That wasn’t always made clear to Kings fans. Back in 2001, the team traded him to the Colorado Avalanche after their efforts to ink him to an extension had failed and they were in danger of watching him walk away as an unrestricted free agent.

Blake returned to the Kings for a second stint starting with the 2006-07 campaign, but his return only lasted for two seasons before he headed to the division rival San Jose Sharks.

“I understand it, and I know that there are some – and even if I sat with them and explained my side, from 15 years ago to today, they might not side with me,” Blake admitted. “So I’m not so worried about that…This is my third time coming back here. But it’s like, I want to be back. And they’ve wanted me to be back.”

Blake added that he’s gain some perspective on how the business and management side of hockey works since his retirement.

“Throughout your career you see players move or yourself, or other players that you played with, and you question why they’re moving,” Blake said. “A lot of it has to do with the way teams have to be structured. And it’s a business. It doesn’t matter.

“It’s not a personal agenda, and that takes a player – I think he can never understand that until he’s done in his career – that it wasn’t personal. When you’re playing, it’s personal. It always has been. But when you step back and you watch – I watched it from the league’s side, and now I’m watching it from the team’s side – it’s rarely personal. It’s business.

“That’s their job, to win and to give the best possible things they can.”

Now that’s his job too.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.