Columbus assistant coach leaves team due to ‘private family matter’


Assistant coach Dan Hinote is leaving the Columbus Blue Jackets organization due to a personal matter, the club announced on Tuesday.

“I’m disappointed that Dan won’t be continuing the work we’ve started here, but I understand his desire and need to put family matters first,” said Blue Jackets Head Coach Todd Richards said in a statement. “He has been a great asset to our staff and I want to thank him for his hard work and dedication.”

Here’s more, from the Columbus Dispatch:

Hinote, citing a “private family matter,” will move to Chicago later this summer, he told The Dispatch. He declined to comment further.

The Blue Jackets hired Hinote as a third assistant coach four seasons ago, after his playing career ended with a season in Europe. He was promoted to replace Keith Acton two years ago when Acton left for Edmonton.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen signed Richards to a two-year extension last month, putting him under contract through the 2016-17 season. The assistants are next in line for long-term deals.

Hinote, 37, joined the Jackets’ coaching staff just two years after wrapping his NHL career. His best season came during the 2000-01 campaign, when he posted a career-high 15 points for the Stanley Cup-winning Avalanche.

Losing Hinote could be big for Columbus. He’s part of a coaching staff that’s been praised repeatedly throughout the last two seasons for coaxing good results out of a hard-working team, one that won its first-ever playoff games against Pittsburgh this spring.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.