Eric Staal helped Canada win gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but wasn’t selected to defend it at the ’14 games in Sochi — a decision, he says, that’s left a sour taste in his mouth.
“To be honest, my gut feeling, yeah I’m bitter about it,” Staal told Sportsnet on Thursday. “Being there last time and knowing what it takes to win a gold and feeling like I was a good contributor to the group and someone that brings it when it counts—especially the end—I wanted that opportunity again.”
Staal, 29, has been a pretty loyal soldier to the Canadian national team over the years. In addition the ’10 Olympics, he’s played in three World Championships — including the 2013 tournament, in which he served as team captain (and was taken out at the knee by Sweden/Vancouver defenseman Alex Edler.)
Staal also served on Canada’s “taxi squad” for the 2006 Olympics in Turin.
A left-handed center that moved to wing in Vancouver, Staal was beat out by the likes of Patrick Sharp, Patrick Marleau, Chris Kunitz and Matt Duchene for a spot on this year’s team (Canada’s centers are Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Patrice Bergeron and John Tavares.)
Staal acknowledged how much talent there was ahead of him on the team, and — given he’s not having a great year (35 points in 42 games, minus-15) and is currently sidelined with a lower-body injury — was realistic about the situation.
“I’m obviously disappointed, but sometimes that’s what life throws at you,” he said. “It’s all about how you respond. That’s the way it goes and I don’t want to make excuses.”
These are not the best of times for Florida.
Just weeks removed from the controversial firing of head coach Gerard Gallant — and having sputtered to a 1-1-2 record under new bench boss Tom Rowe — the Panthers got more bad news on Tuesday, as Rowe ruled out d-man Keith Yandle “for a while,” after Yandle suffered a lower-body injury in Boston on Monday night (per ESPN).
Yandle, the prized piece of an offseason blueline rebuild, has played a significant role for the Panthers this year.
He sits second on the team in ice time — trailing only Aaron Ekblad — and his offensive production has been vital. The 30-year-old sits second on the team in assists, with 11, and is the top point-getter among Florida’s defensemen.
By missing tonight’s game in Philly, Yandle also loses out on a personal milestone.
He had played the previous 577 games — the 10th-longest ironman streak in NHL history — and was within spitting distance of becoming one of just nine players to have appeared in 600 consecutive contests.
With Yandle out, Florida could bring Dylan McIlrath into the blueline mix. He’s only appeared in one game for the Panthers since being acquired from the Rangers — a 6-1 loss to Toronto back in mid-November.
And the Yandle injury isn’t the only one Florida’s currently dealing with. Jonathan Marchessault missed the B’s game with a lower-body ailment, and d-man Alex Petrovic is out after undergoing ankle surgery. The Panthers, of course, are also without star forward Jonathan Huberdeau, who hasn’t played at all this year due to a lacerated Achilles.
It hasn’t been the easiest year for Senators forward Curtis Lazar.
After sticking in the NHL for his first two pro seasons, Lazar began the 2016-17 campaign in the minors. That’s a pretty big step back for the former 17th overall pick in 2013.
The 21-year-old managed to earn a call up back in November, but there’s now some more adversity for him to face.
Lazar suffered a an upper-body injury in last night’s 8-5 loss to the Penguins and although we don’t know how long he’ll be out, we do know he’ll miss some time, as he’s out indefinitely.
He appeared to be injured after being on the receiving end of a hit by Pens defenseman Brian Dumoulin. It was a hit that Sens play-by-play announcer described as being “from behind”.
With Craig Anderson also leaving the team to head back to Ottawa, the Sens were forced to recall forward Phil Varone and goalie Andrew Hammond from the minors.
Ottawa has three games remaining on their four-game road trip. They’ll take on the Sharks on Wednesday, the Kings on Saturday and the Ducks on Sunday.
With Corey Crawford now on the shelf, the ‘Hawks will turn to Scott Darling as their starter. But new backup goalie Lars Johansson is a bit of an unknown. This is the 29-year-old’s first year in North America and he could get his first taste of NHL action. “If something were to happen (to Darling), absolutely I would be nervous, as excited for any new thing in my career,” Johansson said. (Chicago Tribune)
–Paul Maurice had some interesting comments about his former goalies Vesa Toskala and Andrew Raycroft. Maurice said that those goalies didn’t give him a very good shot to win in the shootout. (Sportsnet)
–How has the goalie position changed over the years? The Hockey News sat down with current and former NHL goalies, as well as some goalie coaches. “If I still played the way I did back in the day, I wouldn’t be in the NHL anymore. You have to evolve with the time and the position and the new techniques that come out every year,” said Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo. (The Hockey News)
–The New York Post looks back at former Rangers captain Vic Hadfield’s famous smile at the Spectrum in 1974. Hadfield explained that he wasn’t actually happy at the time because his team was on the verge of being eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers. (NY Post)
–Tyler Murovich of the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL) was suspended 12 games for this reckless hit on Anthony Calabrese of the Norfolk Admirals. (Yahoo)
–This youth hockey player had an emotional celebration after he scored during the intermission of the Caps game on Monday:
The Boston Bruins are expected to be without forward Matt Beleskey for the next six weeks because of a right knee injury.
That update came from the Bruins on Monday. Boston was victorious over the Florida Panthers in overtime, but Beleskey wasn’t in the lineup.
The Bruins have now won three in a row and four of their last five games.
Beleskey suffered the injury in a collision in the neutral zone with Taylor Fedun during Saturday’s game. He left the game and didn’t return, after his knee drove into the hip of Fedun as the Sabres defenseman pivoted.
In 24 games with the Bruins this season, Beleskey has two goals and five points.