Tampa Bay Lighting v Toronto Maple Leafs

St. Louis to Lightning fans: ‘I’m sorry’

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Martin St. Louis got what he wished for – a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning to the New York Rangers – but he left a lot of jilted fans in the process. The Bolts’ former captain left a letter behind to Lightning fans to say thanks … and sorry.

“I respect the fact that many of you do not agree with my decision and are angry with it,” St. Louis wrote in the letter. “All I really can say is that I am sorry and I am very appreciative of the support you have shown me through the years.”

After 972 regular season games and 63 playoff contests that peaked with a Stanley Cup win, two scoring titles and a Hart Trophy, St. Louis left town in a captain-for-captain trade with Ryan Callahan. There won’t be much time between that decision and his debut, as he’ll make his first appearance with the Rangers against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night.

(He’s expected to slide into Callahan’s right wing spot at even strength and on the power play.)

Fox Sports’ Andrew Astleford tweeted the full letter from the 38-year-old:

The Rangers and Lightning won’t meet in the 2013-14 regular season, so the only way St. Louis will face the Bolts would be in a seven-game playoff series.

Fix coming? Blues activate Schwartz after 49-game absence

Jaden Schwartz
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After Tuesday’s loss to the Jets — the Blues’ fourth in their last six games — head coach Ken Hitchcock said his club has “got to play harder than this” and “got to compete at a lot higher level than this.”

He then added “it’s up to us to fix it.”

Well, help is on the way.

On Wednesday, the Blues activated forward Jaden Schwartz off injured reserve, after he missed the last 49 contests with a fractured left ankle. Schwartz is expected to be in the lineup on Friday when the Blues take on the Panthers in Florida.

The 23-year-old should provide an immediate boost to the lineup. Schwartz had four points in seven games before getting hurt, and that came on the heels of a successful ’14-15 campaign in which he posted career highs in goals (28) and points (63).

The Blues’ first-round pick in 2010 (14th overall), Schwartz is a 17-18 TOI per night guy, so he’ll be a big presence almost immediately. His return also inches the team back to full health, though there’s still a ways to go — Alex Pietrangelo and Jake Allen are still week-to-week with knee and lower-body injuries, while Steve Ott is out until late February following hamstrings surgery.

Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made

‘Very upset’ Jokinen blasts NHL’s handling of Abdelkader-Barkov hit

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You can add Jussi Jokinen to the list of Florida Panthers livid with Justin Abdelkader‘s hit on Aleksander Barkov.

“I’m very upset,” Jokinen said, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I don’t know if I’m too emotional because that’s my best friend on the team. It looked really dangerous.”

Barkov was knocked woozy by a big Abdelkader check during Detroit’s 3-0 win over the Panthers on Monday. The hit forced the young Finn from the game, and also forced him to miss yesterday’s contest in Buffalo.

Abdelkader wasn’t fined or suspended for the hit and, according to the Sun-Sentinel, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety didn’t contact him at all.

It’s also worth pointing out that Abdelkader wasn’t penalized at the time of the incident.

But that didn’t stop Nick Bjugstad and head coach Gerard Gallant from calling the hit “cheap,” with Gallant suggesting Abdelkader left his feet to make the hit, and caught Barkov in the jaw.

Jokinen put the onus on the league to wipe out checks of this nature.

“There are too many hits like that an no suspensions,” he explained. “Fans want to watch Barkov, not those guys. The league has to do a better job of taking those hits out of the game.”

Florida and Detroit next play on Mar. 19, in case you’re wondering.

With winless home stand, Avs blow ‘good opportunity to pick up some big wins’

Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog, left, of Sweden, and center Mikhail Grigorenko, of Russia, react as time run out in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016 in Denver. The Canucks won 3-1.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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When the Colorado Avalanche came out of the All-Star break, they were presented with a four-game home stand and a great chance to build an even bigger playoff cushion.

Last night, that home stand ended with a 3-1 loss to Vancouver. In the four games, the only point they managed came in a 4-3 OT loss to Dallas. Colorado’s still in a playoff spot, but only by two points over Minnesota, which has played three fewer games.

“Unfortunately for us, we had four games at home (and) a good opportunity to pick up some big wins, and we didn’t do it,” head coach Patrick Roy told the Denver Post.

The loss to Vancouver was painful for a number of reasons. First, the Canucks are one of the teams chasing Colorado for a wild-card spot; they’re now just four points back of Colorado, with three games in hand. Second, the Avs couldn’t convert on a pair of 5-on-3 power plays, which always hurts. Third, the Avs trailed 2-1 going into the third and couldn’t muster much of a push. In fact, it was Vancouver that scored the only goal in the final 20 minutes. And the Canucks had to play the period without two key players, Alex Edler and Brandon Sutter.

“I’m looking around the league, and everybody goes through tough times,” said Roy. “It’s not a period of time when you feel sorry for yourself. You have to find solutions and ways to bounce back.”

The Avs kick off a three-game road trip Thursday in Ottawa, with stops in Detroit and Buffalo on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

Video: Jaromir Jagr inches closer to Brett Hull with goal 739

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Jaromir Jagr keeps getting it done. Because of that, he’s on pace to speed up various all-time ranks and lock down milestone after milestone.

He recently hit his 1,600th game played, but if that doesn’t do it for you, check out goal 739 from No. 68 in the video above.

Whether you deem it a “beer league” goal like Sportsnet does or not, it’s impressive that he’s still such a reliable scorer for the Florida Panthers, who throttled the Buffalo Sabres last night (even if Evander Kane won three fights).

That tally leaves Jagr two goals behind Brett Hull for third all-time in goals at 741.

The seemingly ageless one would have a fitting person to chase if he then eyes the second all-time goalscorer, as Gordie Howe defied age himself in racking up 801.