Chris Neil

Neil blasts ‘gutless’ Franzen: ‘The guy has never fought a day in his life’


The war of words between Chris Neil and Johan Franzen continues.

On Friday, less than 24 hours after Franzen said Neil “tried to be the hero” by picking a fight in the late stages of Detroit’s 6-1 blowout win, the Ottawa tough guy fired back with a litany of disparaging remarks.

Plenty to material to cover, so let’s just excerpt. From the Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan:

“I’m there first shift and any shift he wants,” said Neil. “He wants to drop his purse, take the lipstick out, put it on his lips and ‘Let’s go.’ Anytime. Any day. Anywhere.

“I’m 6-foot-1, 215 lbs. He’s 6-foot-4, 240 lbs. I’m giving up height. I’m giving up weight. I’m not scared of him. Bring it on.”

And more…

“He was chirping about my cape or something…I will take my cape off whenever he takes the yellow streak off the middle of his back,” Neil said.

“You know that streak? It means a gutless streak,” said Neil. “When a guy comes across the blueline and pokes you in the groin with his stick in a 6-1 game and chops guys that’s a no brainer. He’s going to get it.”

Still more, from the Citizen’s Ken Warren:

“The guy has never fought a day in his life. I go out, stick up for my teammates day in day out, he just goes out and causes problems for his teammates.”

Barring an unlikely playoff match-up between the teams, the Senators and Red Wings won’t meet again this season, but it sure sounds like Neil will have a long memory.

“It doesn’t go unnoticed, we will be playing them again,” he said. “For a guy of his stature, who has won Stanley Cups, a gold medal (for Sweden)…I have respect for the good players in the league, for all the players in the league, and for him to go out and play like that, you lose some respect for him.”

As Warren points out, a playoff matchup between Detroit and Ottawa is unlikely — which is kind of unfortunate, because Thursday’s game was the last regular-season meeting of the year between the two.

Oh, and for what it’s worth, the Sens and Wings split the season series 2-2.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.