Ex-Flyer Wellwood (severed Achilles) announces retirement


A gruesome skate cut ended Eric Wellwood’s playing career, but kickstarted another one.

On Thursday, the former Philadelphia forward announced his retirement at age 24, but also announced he’d be joining the coaching staff of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals.

Here’s more, from the Windsor Star:

“I knew for a while I wasn’t going to play,” said Wellwood, who was introduced Thursday at the [Oshawa] team banquet. “I didn’t tell anybody because I didn’t want to deal with it. I knew a long time ago I was done playing, I just didn’t know what I was going to do after the fact.”

A two-time Memorial Cup champion, Wellwood was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers and appeared in 31 regular-season games and 11 playoff games with the club over three seasons.

When he made the decision to not continue playing, the Flyers offered him a position in the organization.

“I had a job offer with the Flyers before D.J. [Smith, Oshawa’s head coach] talked to me,” Wellwood said. “I didn’t take it because I didn’t want to make a decision so early and it worked out great.

“It was a player development and assistant coach job with the [AHL] Phantoms, but it wasn’t on the bench and the one thing I wanted to do is be behind the bench.”

In April 2013, Wellwood suffered a severe skate laceration to his ankle during an AHL game, one that sliced tendons and cut an artery in his calf, resulting in a “skate filled with blood.” He underwent two surgeries to try and repair his Achilles tendon — which was 70 percent severed — and three other tendons that were “completely severed,” per the Philadelphia Daily News.

The injury was supposed to sideline Wellwood for nine months, but the damage proved too severe and ended his playing career.

“It never fully recovered,” he told the Star. “I’m happy where it’s at, but I’m not able to perform at the level of a pro athlete. I can go hard one day, but not the next. I spoke to the surgeon and he said if kept pushing, I was going to hurt the outside tendons. You have to keep the good tendons.”

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist
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DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.