Pre-game reading: On Beau Bennett, who’s developed a great perspective on life

— Up top, John Tortorella has found another thing he doesn’t like. Add “getting recorded by a phone” to the list. (P.S. — Too bad the phone didn’t start ringing.)

— With the help of his Twitter account, Devils forward Beau Bennett has developed a good sense of humor about his terrible injury luck. “It’s all perspective, right? I’m still able to play in the NHL. Honestly, the stuff other people deal with.… I went to the children’s hospital a lot in Pittsburgh, and saw little kids battling for their lives. They can’t even leave the hospital, and I’m supposed to be upset because I’m in a locker room with some of the great hockey players of our time? It’s not hard to be a good person. It’s not hard to put a smile on your face.” (Sports Illustrated)

— Here’s Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, with a message for anyone worried about the consequences of signing Artemi Panari to a two-year contract extension: “My suggestion would be to try to enjoy the fact that we’ve got a great player who is a big part of our team. He wants to be here in Chicago, he loves playing with his teammates and he’s having a lot of fun and scoring a lot of goals. That’s really the thing that we’re excited about. The other stuff, we’ll make it work. The time to dissect that is not right now but we’ll get there eventually.” (CSN Chicago)

— Based on his play at the World Juniors, the Arizona Coyotes have got themselves quite a prospect in American center Clayton Keller. “I think the hockey world already knows what he’s about,” said U.S. captain Luke Kunin. “He’s a high-end skill player, and he’s going to do great things down the road.” The Coyotes may be struggling now, but with Keller and another World Juniors star, Canadian center Dylan Strome, in the stable, the future is certainly brighter than the past and the present. (Sportsnet)

— There are still tickets available for Sunday’s Centennial Classic outdoor game in Toronto. Though the league expects a full house at BMO Field, it’s been a tough sell in a city that’s pretty much tapped out when it comes to sports events. “Toronto also hosted the World Cup of Hockey in September, a CFL Grey Cup in November and the world junior hockey tournament, which is playing out right now (and in front of small crowds). That’s not to mention that the Raptors went to the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals last spring and remain a hot ticket this season, the Blue Jays made the MLB playoffs again in the fall and sold tickets through the (retractable) roof, and Toronto FC reached the MLS Cup final for the first time in franchise history.” (ESPN)

— Love him or hate him, you have to appreciate the path Alex Burrows took to the NHL. The undrafted former member of the Greenville Grrrowl and Baton Rouge Kingfish will play his 800th regular-season game for the Vancouver Canucks tonight. “When I first started, I wanted to stay as long as I could,” said Burrows. “Eight hundred…I never thought I’d get here.” (The Province)

Enjoy the games!

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    Habs president Molson pens glowing farewell letter to Markov

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    Another bold move by GM Marc Bergevin, another statement from Montreal Canadiens president/CEO Geoff Molson.

    However Molson actually feels about the franchise’s decision to let Andrei Markov leave for the KHL, he provided quite the goodbye letter regarding the 38-year-old defenseman. One can’t help but wonder how Molson feels about Montreal’s overall makeover, whether you believe Mark Streit is really “replacing” Markov or not.

    Anyway, that will need to wait. In the meantime, here’s the very kind statement from Molson to Markov:

    “On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”

    Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.

    Related

    Markov, Habs officially part ways.

    Markov is headed to the KHL.

    Sabres re-sign Eichel’s buddy Rodrigues for two years

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    The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodrigues back in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.

    The Sabres handed Rodrigues a two-year deal that is two-way in 2017-18 and one-way in 2018-19. Whenever he’s at the NHL level, it’s worth $650K per season.

    Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.

    He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eihel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least development into a regular NHL player.

    Buffalo’s work isn’t done for the summer just yet, as RFAs Zemgus Girgensons and Nathan Beaulieu still need deals.

    Andrei Markov opts for KHL after saying goodbye to Canadiens

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    Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.

    “I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”

    (At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)

    The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.

    Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

    The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.

    If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.

    After making NHL debut, Jones re-ups with Isles

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    One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.

    Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.

    Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.

    Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.

    With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.

    Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.