Benning

Don’t call it a ‘rebuild’ — Benning explains Canucks moves

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PHILADELPHIA — Canucks general manager Jim Benning said Thursday that he wasn’t worried about the Ryan Kesler situation turning into another Roberto Luongo soap opera in Vancouver. He said he was more than willing to keep Kesler, as opposed to trading him for less than fair value.

On Friday, though, Benning traded Kesler to Anaheim, partly because he “didn’t want this to fester.”

With Kesler unhappy playing for a Canucks team he felt was no longer a Stanley Cup contender, Benning confirmed that the player had requested a trade, to either Anaheim or Chicago.

“His wish was to go to a team that he felt has a chance to win the Stanley Cup,” said Benning. “We asked him for more teams over the course of the last three weeks and he was pretty steadfast on going to one of these two teams.”

Benning added that Kesler “felt he needed a fresh start and, quite frankly, we don’t want somebody that doesn’t want to be here. … We would have liked to keep him, but his mind was made up so we did the best we could in the situation.”

The best the Canucks could do was get Nick Bonino (a “second-line center iceman” who can help replace Kesler’s goal-scoring, according to Benning) and Luca Sbisa (a “guy that we feel can grow into a top four defenseman”), plus the 24th overall pick in today’s draft.

Vancouver also sent Jason Garrison (and his contract) to Tampa Bay, plus got winger Derek Dorsett from the Rangers in a separate trade.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a rebuild,” said Benning. “We acquired players that we thought are going to have an impact on us winning next year. We got Bonino, we feel Sbisa is going to develop into a real good defenseman for us, Dorsett is going to help us as a good penalty killer. We’ve been talking about bringing in some good energy guys that are going to work hard and compete hard physically and he’s going to do that for us. So that’s kind of why we did it, to help our team.

“If it was going to be a rebuild then maybe we wouldn’t have tried to fight so hard to get players that can come in and help our team win next year.”

Related: Kesler makes Ducks better, but are they good enough?

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
AP
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.