Dan Hamhuis

Hamhuis to return to Canucks lineup against Toronto

Dan Hamhuis will be back in the Vancouver Canucks lineup as they hope to snap their six-game losing streak against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Hamhuis has missed the past three games, but skated at practice today in Toronto and said he’s ready to play as Luke Fox of Sportsnet shares.

“I felt good today. I was just being cautious to make sure everything was 100 percent. I didn’t want anything to regress and go backwards,” Hamhuis said. “With the slump we’re going through, it’s tough not to play in those games. And with the Olympics coming up, I want to make sure my body’s healthy. I’m really happy that the injury has come around quickly.”

Hamhuis was one of five defensemen the Canucks have battling injuries. Kevin Bieksa, Christopher Tanev, Yannick Weber, and Andrew Alberts are all on injured reserve with various ailments.

After playing the Maple Leafs on Saturday, Hamhuis is headed to Sochi as part of Team Canada.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara
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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.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two: