Michal Handzus isn’t your prototypical second-line center on a Stanley Cup-winning team. At 36 years old, he’ll only make $1 million in 2013-14, a far cry from what other top-six pivots around the league are making.
But for now, the 2C job with the Chicago Blackhawks appears his, just as it was for most of last year’s championship playoff run. And he aims to keep it that way.
“If you play well, they’re going to keep you there,” Handzus said, per Mark Lazerus of the Sun-Times.
After Handzus, the next likeliest candidate for the role is probably young Brandon Pirri. The 22-year-old led the AHL in scoring last season, racking up 75 points in 76 games with the Rockford IceHogs.
But Pirri has had to deal with a lower-body injury during training camp, limiting him to just one preseason game, and there’s reason to believe he may be headed back to Rockford once the ‘Hawks make their final cuts.
Is Pirri frustrated with the speed of his rise up the ranks of the organization? Perhaps.
“I’ve been here three years,” he said. “I think they know what I can do.”
But it’s a long season. Injuries happen. Handzus may not be up to the challenge. Chances are, Pirri will get to show he belongs in the NHL at some point in 2013-14, even if it’s not in Tuesday’s opener at home to Washington.
Related: Saad back to the wing for ‘Hawks
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
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.