Louis Leblanc

Report: Murray, Leblanc to make season debuts for Habs tonight

Montreal defenseman Douglas Murray and forward Louis Leblanc will play their first games of the year tonight, according to various reports.

Murray, 33, has missed all 11 games this season due to an upper-body injury suffered in the preseason. The veteran Swede, who signed with the Habs as a depth defenseman in August, will be counted upon more than first thought with Alexei Emelin (knee) and Davis Drewiske (shoulder) out of commission.

The Habs have also sent young defensemen Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi to AHL Hamilton, paving the way for Murray to jump right into the mix.

Leblanc, 22, will make his debut after a curious exhibition campaign.

The club’s first-round pick (18th overall) at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, he was something of a surprise cut early in training camp, a decision that drew the ire of his girlfriend, Canadian tennis player Aleksandra Wozniak.

Wozniak took to Twitter to blast the Canadiens, calling it “the worst excuse ever,” adding “this is wrong!”

Shortly thereafter, Montreal head coach Michel Therrien defended the move to send Leblanc down.

“He came into camp with a good attitude and he was in better shape, but we know Louis Leblanc and we wanted to get to know some of the other players better,” Therrien said, per the Montreal Gazette.

Leblanc has fared well in Hamilton, scoring four goals and six points in seven games. He’s set to play on a line with David Desharnais and Rene Bourque.

Stars to scratch Nichushkin after rough outing versus Avs?

Craig Anderson
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Looks as though slumping Dallas winger Valeri Nichushkin could be a healthy scratch tonight when the Stars host the Oilers at American Airlines.

Per the Morning-News, Nichushkin — who barely played in the second and third periods of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Colorado — is likely to be replaced by Colton Sceviour in the lineup.

Stars head coach Lindy Ruff was fuming after the Avs defeat, calling it “embarrassing, worse than disappointing.” It didn’t take a genius to realize one of the players in his doghouse was Nichushkin, who had just 2:02 of ice time in the second period and 3:24 in the third.

Yesterday, Ruff dropped Nichushkin to the fourth line in practice.

“I’ve been trying to help him by shifting him around,” the head coach explained. “He had some struggles early in camp on right wing, so I put him on left, and he doesn’t seem real comfortable at left right now.

“His game, everything has got to get a little bit quicker.”

The 10th overall pick in 2013, Nichushkin has struggled to build on the form shown in his rookie campaign, when he scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 contests.

He missed nearly all of last season with a linger hip ailment and has been a virtual non-factor through the first two games this year.

Report: Teams ‘screaming bloody murder’ about Richards settlement

Mike Richards

When the Los Angeles Kings announced they’d settled with Mike Richards, it didn’t take long for the accusations of salary-cap circumvention to materialize.

And though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was adamant that the settlement was “far from” circumvention, apparently not everyone agrees with the league in that regard.

“Privately, other teams are screaming bloody murder and are threatening to make an issue about it at December’s Board of Governors’ meeting,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports.

Friedman goes into more detail in his story, so click the link to read more.

But remember how we wrote that the issue in this case was precedent, and that the “NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door”?

Well, one agent posed a good question to Friedman: “What’s to stop other teams from trying this?”