Columbus to make ‘long-term commitment’ to Richards, staff


Todd Richards will be calling Ohio home for quite some time.

Less than 24 hours after being eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen said the club will offer Richards a long-term extension as head coach, on the heels of a season in which the Jackets set franchise records for wins (43), points (93) and won their first-ever postseason games.

“I told the coaches today that we, as an organization, would like to make a long-term commitment to the whole group of them, because they’ve earned it,” Kekalainen said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “It will bring stability to the organization.”

Stability is key. The Blue Jackets have had eight different coaches during their 14-year existence and, despite only being on the job for two years, Richards already ranks second in franchise history in wins (with 85) and first in postseason victories (granted, it’s only with two.)

Most importantly, Richards’ personality fits with Columbus’ overall philosophy.

Richards has impressed Kekalainen and club president John Davidson with his demanding, hard-working style that seems to resonate with players; the Blue Jackets aren’t a superstar-laden team, but reached the postseason this year and gave Pittsburgh a fight in the opening playoff round with a relentless, determined attack in which the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.

“He sets the bar high,” Kekalainen said. “We get better every day. A big part of that is (Richards), with his insights and his planning, the day-to-day requirement for work ethic that he has established for players.

“Todd doesn’t let guys take days off, and the assistants are the same way.”

Speaking of the Blue Jackets’ assistants — Craig Hartsburg, Dan Hinote and goalie coach Ian Clark — Kekalainen said they’ll also receive long-term deals similar to the one Richards receives.

Looks like the Canucks will have an interesting lineup tonight

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The Vancouver Canucks got banged up last night in Anaheim. As a result, it looks like they’ll have an interesting lineup tonight in Los Angeles.

Coach Willie Desjardins confirmed this morning that wingers Chris Higgins and Jake Virtanen were hurt and wouldn’t dress against the Kings.

In game-day line rushes, AHL callup Andrey Pedan, a defenseman, was skating on the wing with Jared McCann and Radim Vrbata.

But hold on, that doesn’t necessarily mean Pedan will make his NHL debut tonight. This morning, the Canucks announced they’d called up d-man Alex Biega from AHL Utica. Theoretically, inserting Biega could allow the offensively inclined Yannick Weber to move up to forward. Biega and Weber both shoot right. Pedan shoots left.

But wait, there exists another possibility — that both Pedan and Biega could play. That will depend on Chris Tanev‘s status. He got banged up yesterday as well, though he was able to skate this morning.

Confused? It’s OK. So is everyone.

As an aside, the Canucks not only got banged up last night, they also got pushed around and embarrassed in a 4-0 loss to the Ducks.

On that note, here’s what Pedan did to Jarred Tinordi in a Utica-Hamilton game last season:

Francis, Kurri, McKenzie named to Hockey Hall of Fame committee

Ron Francis
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The Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee added some big names on Tuesday — most notably, a pair of Hockey Hall of Famers.

Ron Francis (inducted in 2007) and Jarri Kurri (2001) have been appointed to the committee, the Hall announced. Longtime hockey scribe and hockey insider Bob McKenzie was also named; together, he and Francis and Kurri will replace an outgoing trio of Lanny McDonald, Mike Emrick and Peter Stastny.

Francis currently serves as the GM in Carolina while Kurri holds the same title with Jokerit of the KHL.

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McDonald resigned his spot on the committee to become chairman, while the terms of Stastny and Emrick expired.

The Hall also announced Eric Duhatschek, Michael Farber and Bill Torrey were reappointed to the selection committee for a further three-year term.

The next big meeting for the new members of the selection committee comes in late June, when everyone gathers to consider candidates for the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame.

The announcement for new inductees will be made on June 27. As we’ve written about in the past, the list of first-time eligible entrants isn’t exactly overwhelming, so this could be the year some “passed over” candidates get in.

Among those in that category? Eric Lindros, Dave Andreychuk, Mark Recchi and Jeremy Roenick, to name a few.

Related: Poll: Who should be in the 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame?

Suter admits to ‘saying stuff I probably shouldn’t have said’

Ryan Suter

For the Minnesota Wild, today was a day for damage control.

Try to act surprised, OK?

“We’re obviously on the same page,” defenseman Ryan Suter told the Star Tribune. “It’s a story that shouldn’t even be a story. I think the heat of the practice yesterday, I was just saying stuff I probably shouldn’t have said.”

In case you missed it, what Suter said was that he shouldn’t be playing with a left-shot defenseman like Jonas Brodin.

“I don’t know what [the coaches are] thinking,” said Suter.

But in addition to that — and this was the really eye-opening stuff — Suter effectively questioned how head head coach Mike Yeo was reacting…

…to the latest bit of adversity the Wild were facing.

“Now’s when you need leadership more than ever,” said Suter. “It’s easy to be a coach and a leader when things are going good.”

The Star Tribune has more on what everyone was saying today, so be sure to click on the story.

Yeo, predictably, downplayed Suter’s remarks, chalking them up to a “guy that when you ask him to do something, he might tell you his opinions, but nobody will go out there and do it better than him.”

The Wild take on the Blackhawks tonight at United Center (on NBCSN).

Oh, and Suter will, indeed, skate with Brodin against the defending champs. Those two have only been together a bit this season, but they were a frequent pairing last season.

Expected pairings (shoots)
Ryan Suter (L) – Jonas Brodin (L)
Marco Scandella (L) – Jared Spurgeon (R)
Nate Prosser (R) – Matt Dumba (R)

P.S. — This is why the Wild were hoping for better things from young Dumba.

Goalie nods: Dubnyk looks to turn tide for slumping Wild

WINNIPEG, MB - OCTOBER 25: Devan Dubnyk #40 of the Minnesota Wild blocks a shot on goal in second period action in an NHL game against the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre on October 25, 2015 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images)
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Devan Dubnyk will look to snap Minnesota’s three-game losing streak tonight and, at the same time, look to bump a slump of his own.

On a personal two-game losing streak — and having lost five of his last six — Dubnyk gets the call in Chicago when the Wild take on the ‘Hawks at the United Center.

After a banner ’14-15 campaign that culminated with a Vezina nomination, Dubnyk has failed to match those (admittedly high) standards this season. Though his record is OK — 11-7-2 — his GAA (2.55) and save percentage (.909) leave plenty to be desired. He’s also given up three or more goals in four of his last five starts, including four goals against both the Penguins and Bruins in mid-November.

For Chicago, Corey Crawford will get the start in goal.


Cory Schneider‘s in net for New Jersey as the Devils host the Avalanche. Colorado played last night — a 5-3 loss to the Isles, in which Semyon Varlamov allowed four goals on 27 shots — so it has yet to name a starter. Safe money’s on Reto Berra in the second of a back-to-back, though.

Mike Condon, back in the No. 1 role with the injured Carey Price out six weeks, goes for Montreal against Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky starts for the Blue Jackets.

— It’s Steve Mason versus Craig Anderson as Ottawa invades Philly. Anderson, now the full-fledged No. 1 with Andrew Hammond (concussion) out, went 6-2-2 in November with a .925 save percentage.

Linus Ullmark goes for Buffalo in Detroit, while the Wings counter with Petr Mrazek.

Mike Smith‘s back in goal for the Coyotes after Anders Lindback started on Saturday. The Preds are likely to go with Pekka Rinne.

— Good matchup in St. Louis tonight, as veteran Panthers netminder Roberto Luongo goes up against one of the best young ‘tenders in the game in Jake Allen.

— The Flames are going back to the Karri Ramo well tonight when they host Dallas. With Kari Lehtonen still hurt, Antti Niemi looks likely for the Stars.

— No confirmations out of Los Angeles yet, but Jacob Markstrom is likely for the Canucks while Jonathan Quick is likely for the Kings.

— No confirmations out of San Jose-Pittsburgh, either. But since neither team played last night, it’s likely both No. 1s, Marc-Andre Fleury and Martin Jones, will be in net.