Sharks waive Kearns


The San Jose Sharks have placed forward Bracken Kearns on waivers, according to RDS’ Renaud Lavoie. The move is likely related to the pending activations of injured forwards Logan Couture and Raffi Torres, both of whom are expected back in the San Jose lineup soon.

Kearns, 32, is the son of former NHL d-man Dennis Kearns and has a pretty curious story regarding his path to the NHL. He was never drafted; in fact, he never even played junior hockey.


Kearns wound up walking onto the hockey team at the University of Calgary, where he scored 83 points in four seasons while earning his degree in economics. After that, he earned a job with Toledo of the ECHL. Minor-league stops followed in Cleveland, Milwaukee, Norfolk, Reading, Rockford, San Antonio and Worcester. Kearns played five games for the Florida Panthers in 2011-12 before the one this season for the Sharks.

What’s kept him going?

“I feel like I’ve gotten better every year,” Kearns said. “That was the big thing. And I’ve been given new opportunities. New teams have taken chances on me. July 1 rolls around and you’re never sure if you’re going to be able to stay and play. I’ve been pretty lucky around that time. I’ve gotten calls from teams, and they’re pretty easy decisions. Europe’s not really an option for me. It doesn’t really appeal to me right now.

“My dream is to play in the NHL, and that’s where I’d like to be.”

Kearns finally made his NHL debut, for Florida, on Oct. 20, 2011. In 2013, he played one regular-season game for the Sharks and made seven playoff appearances — earning him a one-year, $550,000 extension.

He’s played in 22 games this year, scoring three goals, and played a season-high 17:15 in a win over Winnipeg in late January.

Kopitar doesn’t want to obsess about future with Kings

Anze Kopitar
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If you’re a Los Angeles Kings fan or fantasy hockey player, the Milan LucicAnze KopitarMarian Gaborik line is intriguing beyond its blend of skill and size.

Specifically, the group is especially fun to monitor because both Lucic and Kopitar might be gearing up for big paydays if they can manage strong contract years.

That may be true, but Kopitar when it comes to negotiations, the center relayed to media including the OC Register that he wants “to be involved as little as possible, really.”

Maybe most interestingly, he didn’t totally dismiss the notion of leaving the Kings after the 2015-16 season.

”That’s still a long ways away,’’ Kopitar said. ”My mind is on hockey right now. Would it be ideal to get it done now and not think about it? Yes. But if it’s not (done), it’s just not. I’ve just got to start here (Wednesday) and just play the way I can. It doesn’t matter if it’s my last year or not. I’ve got to play and do my thing.’’

Granted, Kopitar leaving Los Angeles seems far-fetched; the OC Register points out that he bought two homes in the area just last December.

Either way, it’s clear that the Slovenia native has a lot of money running on this season, so opponents – and maybe the Kings’ money managers – better watch out.

NHL on NBCSN ’15-16 coverage begins tonight with doubleheader

Corey Crawford, Derek Stepan
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After months of waiting, we’re finally ready to begin the 2015-16 campaign and NBCSN will kick off its coverage with a doubleheader tonight.

The action will begin with the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the New York Rangers, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Chicago has been called a dynasty by some for winning the Stanley Cup three times over the last six campaigns, but one thing that the Blackhawks haven’t done is successfully defend a title. The last team to do so was the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98 before the salary cap era kicked off. That change was on display this summer as the Blackhawks were forced to move or otherwise walk away from Johnny Oduya, Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, and Brandon Saad in the name of cap compliance.

Even after losing all those pieces of their 2015 championship team though, Chicago has emerged from the summer with much of its core intact. It also has some promising new players, such as 23-year-old KHL star Artemi Panarin, who is attempting to make the leap to the NHL after outscoring former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk on his way to leading SKA St. Petersburg to a KHL championship.

The New York Rangers should be a great first test for the Blackhawks as they begin their new quest. The Rangers advanced to at least the Eastern Conference Final in three of the last four years, but they haven’t earned a championship since 1994. With Henrik Lundqvist set to celebrate his 34th birthday in March, the Rangers’ window for winning the Cup in front of their all-star goaltender is closing and thus the stakes are high for New York this season.

Starting at 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN will air the San Jose Sharks’ contest against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. This is the second straight year that these two teams have been matched for the opener, but this time it’s under much different circumstances.

A year ago, Los Angeles had its sights set on defending its title while the Sharks were seeking revenge after suffering a reverse sweep in the first round against the Kings. In the end, neither team had the season they were looking for as they both fell short of the playoffs.

For the Sharks, that miss ended a playoff streak that dated back to the 2003-04 campaign while Los Angeles suffered its first major setback since it celebrated its first championship in 2012. Both teams have to be hungry to bounce right back this season and given that each both of these squads are certainly capable of obtaining that goal. First though, they need to settle the latest chapter of their rivalry.