James Neal

Pens lose Neal to concussion


Pittsburgh forward James Neal has been diagnosed with a concussion, according to Pens head coach Dan Bylsma.

Neal, who missed eight games last season with a concussion, didn’t participate in the last two Pittsburgh practices while getting checked over by team doctors.

Yesterday, Bylsma said both Neal and Kunitz were “dealing with bumps and bruises.” Kunitz was shaken up during Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Washington, a game in which Neal played 14:53 but only took four shifts in the third period for 3:05 of ice time.

The 26-year-old winger will be held out of the Pens lineup indefinitely and will miss this weekend’s home-and-home set against the Flyers.

Neal has 22 goals and 49 points in 44 games this season, one that has already seen him miss extensive time to an upper-body injury (15 games) and suspension (five games).

The Neal concussion is also another health setback for Pittsburgh to endure. The club is already without the services of defensemen Paul Martin (broken hand) and Kris Letang (stroke) and, earlier this season, lost forward Pascal Dupuis for the year with a torn ACL.

Beau Bennett, Chris Conner and Tomas Vokoun are also currently on injured reserve.

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

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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:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, CSNPhilly.com notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The CSNPhilly.com quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.