Those who believe that the World Hockey Championship should take a year off following Winter Olympics have some ammo in 2014, as the list of injured players is a little disturbing (whether it’s all about bad luck or not).
The latest addition to the list is Minnesota Wild forward Erik Haula, who suffered a fractured (non-displaced) jaw in Finland’s gold-medal game defeat to Russia on May 25. The bright side is that the Wild announced that he won’t require surgery and is expected to be healthy after three-to-four weeks.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Evgeni Malkin delivered the hit that injured Haula.
Haula, 23, scored 15 points in 46 regular season games, but really made a difference in collecting four goals and seven points in 13 postseason games. He was especially effective in a spirited series against Chicago; he scored five points in six games versus the Blackhawks.
Again, the list of injuries can’t make GMs feel great about sending their players overseas after rigorous seasons and/or partial playoff runs:
- Jacob Trouba suffered a neck injury.
- Alex Ovechkin and Alex Burrows dealt with knee injuries.
- Dmitry Orlov broke his arm.
- Andrei Loktionov and Roman Polak suffered shoulder injuries.
- Sven Baertschi broke his ribs.
- Marc Methot tweaked his back.
Injuries happen in hockey, including tournaments like these, but one can assume that this summer is an especially sensitive time for such matters. On the bright side, it seems like Haula won’t be hampered too greatly by this ailment, even if it’s not an ideal way to begin his “vacation.”
Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.
Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.
Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.
The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.
“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.
Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.
The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.
“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?