With Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane shut down for the remainder of the regular season, a number of Blackhawks forwards have been given the opportunity for extended minutes and bigger roles — none more than Andrew Shaw.
Shaw has been taking some spins as the club’s top center between Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp lately and, needless to say, he’s stoked — but also realizes the promotion comes with great obligation.
“It’s a big responsibility and I like taking that on,” Shaw said, per the Chicago Tribune. “I have to play strong defensively and compete in those puck areas, get the puck out.”
Shaw, 22, is the embodiment of what’s made Chicago such a successful organization over the last five years. A fifth-round pick at the ’11 NHL Entry Draft, he’s proven to be a hidden gem, debuting in 2011-12 (how many 5th-rounders debut in their draft year?), then playing a huge role en route to last year’s Stanley Cup.
This season, he’s scored a career-high 19 goals and 36 points.
While there are still areas of his game that needs improvement — most notably in the faceoff circle, where he’s just 44 percent this year — the fact Shaw has gone from a fifth-round pick to centering Hossa and Sharp in the span of three years is evidence to how well the ‘Hawks have drafted, and how much their player development is aided by surrounding youngsters with veteran talent.
“Obviously I’m playing with great players,” Shaw explained. “Hopefully we can create some chemistry here.”
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:
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.