‘Gut feeling’ Rangers keep Richards, says agent

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Pat Morris, the agent representing Rangers forward Brad Richards, has spoken to Glen Sather in the wake of New York’s Stanley Cup Final loss to L.A.

Based on what he’s heard, Morris has some optimism that Richards will be a Blueshirt next season.

“Gut feeling, it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s kept,” Morris told Sportsnet’s Fan 590 on Tuesday. “Glen was pretty positive about Brad’s role this season, especially after [former Rangers captain Ryan] Callahan left.”

Though he admitted potential bias given he was speaking about his client, Morris pointed to a number of reasons why New York would, and should, keep Richards in the fold. He said Richards’ 51 points this year would’ve made him a top-three scorer on “around 20” NHL teams (I did the math, and that number’s actually 14 teams) and said that, through the first three rounds of the playoffs, Richards was lauded for his leadership and essentially filled the role of New York’s vacant captain position.

But then the Stanley Cup Final happened.

Richards’ numbers in the five games against the Kings were ugly — no goals,  one assist, minus-4 rating and a demotion midway through the series. It’s something Morris alluded to in speaking with Sportsnet.

“After Game 2, [Richards] is an automatic buyout and ended up on the fourth line,” he said, referring to how quickly perceptions of his client changed.

The biggest issue, of course, has nothing to do with Richards’ regular season or playoff. It’s all about the money — both his hefty $6.6 million cap hit (combined with the fact the Rangers have 11 players to sign) and the potential cap recapture penalty for his back-diving contract. Richards’ nine-year, $60 million deal pays $57 million in salary in the first six years, and just $1 million over the final three seasons — so, should Richards retire prior to fulfilling the duration of the contract, the Rangers would be hit with gigantic penalties:

It’s something Morris acknowledged, noting the on-ice part of the Richards decision is completely separate from the financial part.

“It’s in the Rangers’ hands,” Morris explained. “[If it’s] a hockey decision I think they keep him, if it’s a business decision they might not. There’s not really any pleasant ways for the Rangers to look at this.”

Related: Will the Rangers use a compliance buyout on Richards?

Bolts recall Koekkoek, putting Garrison’s status into doubt

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The Tampa Bay Lightning, after earning a big win last night in Boston, may not have defenseman Jason Garrison tonight in Detroit.

The Bolts recalled d-man Slater Koekkoek from AHL Syracuse this morning — a move that would seem to put Garrison’s status into doubt against the Red Wings.

Garrison was forced to leave the Bruins game in the second period with a lower-body injury.

Koekkoek has played 29 games for the Lightning this season, recording no goals and four assists.

Melnyk blasts ‘whiner’ Crosby, who won’t face hearing for Methot slash

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Sidney Crosby won’t face a disciplinary hearing for his slash on Ottawa d-man Marc Methot, an NHL spokesman confirmed — news that won’t be welcomed by Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.

The incident occurred during Ottawa’s 2-1 win on Thursday night, and forced Methot from the game with a bloodied, lacerated finger. The club later announced that Methot would be “out for weeks” with the injury.

Crosby’s slash came two nights after he speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt. It should be noted that neither the O’Reilly spear or Methot slash resulted in penalty calls, and neither was subjected to supplementary discipline.

One individual that’s guaranteed to be upset with today’s news is Melynk. He appeared on TSN 1200 radio this morning and seemed to suggest the league was looking into the Crosby-Methot incident.

He also had a few choice words for No. 87:

Sens, Avs to play pair of regular-season games in Sweden

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NEW YORK (AP) The Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators will play two regular-season games in Sweden next season.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association on Friday announced their new Global Series games Nov. 10 and 11 in Stockholm.

The Avalanche and Senators will play the NHL’s first regular-season games in Europe since 2011. It’s the NHL’s sixth trip to Europe and the seventh and eighth games played in Sweden.

Colorado’s captain is 24-year-old Swedish forward Gabriel Landeskog. Ottawa’s captain is 26-year-old Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson, winner of the 2012 and 2015 Norris Trophy.

Other Swedes currently playing for the two clubs include Ottawa’s Frederik Claesson (Stockholm) and Viktor Stalberg (Gothenburg), and Colorado’s Anton Lindholm (Skelleftea) and Carl Soderberg (Malmo).

Commissioner Gary Bettman says with more Swedish players than ever, it’s a good chance to showcase the game there. Eighty-four Swedes have played in the NHL this season, roughly 9 percent of the league.

“We have more Swedish players than ever in the NHL, and we are extremely pleased that the 2017 SAP NHL Global Series will allow us to showcase a number of those players, with their NHL teams, in their homeland,” Bettman said. “The return of regular-season NHL games to the international stage will provide yet another highlight for our Centennial celebration.”

Mario Lemieux is ‘fine’ with Josh Ho-Sang wearing number 66

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Believe it or not, many people have an issue with Islanders rookie Josh Ho-Sang wearing number 66, but it sounds like former Penguins great Mario Lemieux isn’t one of them.

On Thursday, Lemieux made it clear that Ho-Sang using his number wasn’t an issue.

“I’m fine with it,” Lemieux said via a spokesperson, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s just a number. Number 4 and number 9 were worn by great players (Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe, respectively), and they are not retired forever. Players can choose whatever number they want.”

 Unlike the number 99, the NHL hasn’t retired 66, which means any player can still use it.

Some see it as a sign of disrespect, but Ho-Sang has made it clear that that’s the last thing on his mind when he decided he wanted to wear Lemieux’s old number.

“It’s honoring [Lemieux] and just, I think a lot more people remember who he is now because they’re yelling at me about wearing the number, right? I think that’s cool too,” he told Newsday earlier this month. “There’s a lot of light being shined on an amazing player. By no means am I trying to be better than or trying to prove anything. For me, it’s definitely a tribute to a great player. If he asked me not to wear it, I’d definitely consider it, but I haven’t gotten any phone calls or anything. So for now I’m gonna wear it.”

Even though Lemieux has now given his blessing, don’t be surprised if Penguins fan are all over Ho-Sang during Friday’s game between the two teams at PPG Paints Arena.