There was some question regarding whether or not Vernon Fiddler would return to the Dallas Stars – especially after GM Jim Nill acquired another prominent center Jason Spezza and adding more salary with Ales Hemsky – but he decided to ink a two-year deal with the team on Wednesday after all.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the deal is worth $2.5 million, with $1 million coming in 2014-15 and $1.5 million in 2015-16. That’s a slight but considerable drop-off from his previous deal ($1.8 million per season for three years).
Fiddler, 34, drew (and in some circles, draws) some heat for reportedly asking out of Dallas last season, but it’s clear that the two sides patched things up.
With this re-signing, the Stars now have two sets of defensive-leaning centers and two sets of offensive-minded centers. Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza can get the plum assignments and most of the power play minutes while Shawn Horcoff and Fiddler can take most of the defensive zone faceoffs and do a lot of the heavy lifting.
Fiddler already played that role regularly with Dallas, so that shouldn’t be too much to ask of the veteran winger.
Many now ask if the Stars will improve their defense after bumping their offense up. In a way, they sort of did that by retaining Fiddler.
In other Stars news, the team signed Brendan Ranford to an entry-level deal:
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks
A statement from Raffi Torres:
“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”
A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:
“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”
Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.