From NBC OlympicTalk:
A senior Russian politician says Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov‘s arrest over domestic violence charges is motivated by the U.S. attempting to weaken Russia’s hockey team for the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
“I’m confident of Semyon’s innocence,” State Duma deputy Igor Ananskikh said, according to R-Sport. “I think it is sports and political move, as Varlamov is a candidate for the Russian national team. The main goal is to suspend him from training and games so that he loses practice and misses the Olympics.”
Per Voice of Russia, Ananskikh went on to call the situation “really strange, given that the Sochi Olympics will take place soon and Varlamov is a candidate to become part of our national hockey team which we do count on. What about presumption of innocence? It’s not normal at all. Varlamov will fall out of the training process which will have an impact on his readiness before the Olympics in Sochi. The first thing that comes to my mind is that it is an effort to weaken our national team.”
Funny, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is empathy for the alleged victim, not a conspiracy theory connecting international hockey with the Denver Police Department.
Related: ‘No crime was committed,’ says Varlamov’s father
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.