Zbynek Michalek

Czeching in: After 13-game absence, Michalek returns tonight


Good news on Thursday for the Phoenix Coyotes and Czech Olympic team, as Zbynek Michalek announced he’d be returning from a hip injury that’s sidelined him for nearly a month.

Michalek, who aggravated an existing hip issue just 40 seconds into a 3-1 loss to Montreal on Dec. 17, should provide a big boost to the struggling Coyotes, who have lost four straight and host Vancouver tonight.

The defensive defenseman was averaging close to 20 minutes per night prior to getting hurt and, despite missing so much time, still leads the ‘Yotes with 72 blocked shots.

Michalek’s return is also big news for the Czech Olympic team. Ten days ago, he was named as one of the team’s eight defensemen — and one of just five from the NHL — despite being sidelined with injury.

There were no shortage of potential replacements for Michalek in the Czech lineup, as the team elected not to go with a trio of established NHLers: St. Louis’ Roman Polak, Colorado’s Jan Hejda and Detroit’s Jakub Kindl.

In a related move, the Coyotes put defenseman Rostislav Klesla on waivers today.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
Getty Images
Leave a comment

It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.