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Girardi admits shock of Rangers buyout ‘hit me pretty hard’

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Being bought out by a team is, depending upon how you look at it, the most insulting thing that can happen to a player. With the wrong outlook, someone might linger on: “My former team is paying me not to play for them.”

If you want to cut deeper, consider how much it might hurt for a player to get bought out after at least a decade of service.

That’s the situation Dan Girardi confronted when his lengthy stay with the New York Rangers ended in a buyout, though he’s right in realizing that the move is as much a commentary on his contract as it is is based on his on-ice play.

Still, even if he’s being pretty mature about it, he admitted to the Sporting News’ Jim Cerny that he didn’t see it coming.

“I gotta say I was surprised,” Girardi said. “Obviously, it’s a [salary] cap era and my contract did not help, but at the end of the day, after a decent year and good playoffs and the (end-of-season) meetings, I just started working out, preparing for next season. When I first heard the news it was disappointing and it hit me pretty hard, but that’s part of the game these days.”

Again, Girardi claimed that he holds no “hard feelings” toward the Rangers, even as teammates such as Henrik Lundqvist struggle with the move.

MORE: Lundqvist admits the loss of Girardi hurts more than a typical move

At least Girardi lands on his feet with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who handed him a generous two-year, $6 million contract and who employ fellow former Rangers stalwart Ryan Callahan.

Girardi will also receive $1,111,111 from the Rangers for the next six years, a strange reminder of how his time ended with the team.

As much as Girardi says the right things about the Rangers, you can bet that he looks forward to playing them in 2017-18. The Lightning first host the Rangers on Nov. 2 and then March 8, while his homecoming to Madison Square Garden isn’t slated until March 30.

It could be an emotional time, especially if the two teams are in the thick of playoff races.

Dahlin headlines Sweden’s roster for World Junior Summer Showcase

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Defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, potentially the NHL’s first overall draft pick in 2018, will suit up for Sweden at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan.

Dahlin, who doesn’t turn 18 until April, has wowed scouts with his skating and puck-moving ability. At the 2017 World Juniors, he participated as a 16-year-old, garnering tantalizing reviews in the process.

Top-10 picks in the 2017 draft, Elias Pettersson (5th, Vancouver Canucks) and Lias Andersson (7th, New York Rangers), will also be in Plymouth representing Sweden.

Click here for Sweden’s and Finland’s Summer Showcase rosters. The tournament runs from July 29 – Aug. 5 and also features players from the United States and Canada.

Among the draft-eligible Finns to watch is 17-year-old forward Jesse Ylonen, who could be a late first-rounder in 2018.

Related: USA Hockey invites 42 players to World Junior Summer Showcase

All of a sudden, hope for hockey in Houston

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Leslie Alexander’s decision to sell the NBA’s Rockets has revived hope for a hockey team in Houston.

That’s because Alexander is arguably the biggest reason that Houston doesn’t already have a team. The 72-year-old billionaire controls Toyota Center, where the Rockets play. Without getting into all the details, he’s essentially been the only one who could bring an NHL franchise to the city.

From the Houston Press:

But Alexander selling the Rockets (and the lease that goes with it), opens up an NHL-ready hockey arena in Houston. And that’s something that Seattle, which the NHL seemed to favor, can’t offer, and unlike Quebec City, Houston offers up a huge media market with many, many large corporations around to buy up luxury seats.

Houston is certainly a big city. In fact, only four metro areas in the United States — New York, L.A., Chicago and Dallas — have higher populations.

And Houston is growing fast.

Jeremy Jacobs, the influential owner of the Boston Bruins, has not hidden his desire to put an NHL team in Toyota Center. Back in 2015, he told ESPN.com, “I would love to see one in Houston, but we can’t get into that building.”

Perhaps soon the NHL won’t have that impediment.

Predators hire new assistant coach in wake of Housley departure

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The Nashville Predators have hired Dan Muse as an assistant coach.

Muse, who spent the last two years as head coach of the USHL’s Chicago Steel, will be in charge of the Preds’ forwards as well as the penalty kill, while associate head coach Kevin McCarthy  — in the wake of Phil Housley’s departure — will now have responsibility for the defense and the power play.

Muse led the Steel to a championship in May. He also won an NCAA title in 2013 as an assistant coach for Yale.

“Dan comes to us as a successful young coach that brings great energy and passion to the game,” said Preds head coach Peter Laviolette in a statement. “He has worked his way up through the coaching ranks, first winning an NCAA title at Yale in 2013, and then taking a Chicago team that had missed the playoffs eight straight seasons and turned them into the Clark Cup champions in just two seasons. We are excited to welcome him to the organization and look forward to his contributions to the coaching staff.”

Senators avoid arbitration with Ryan Dzingel

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The Ottawa Senators have narrowly avoided arbitration with Ryan Dzingel.

Per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Dzingel has signed a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8 million.

Dzingel’s hearing was scheduled for today. Last season, the 25-year-old forward had 14 goals and 18 assists in 81 games.

Earlier this week, the Sens also avoided arbitration with Jean-Gabriel Pageau, though that case didn’t go down to the wire like Dzingel’s did.

Pageau and Dzingel were the only Sens with arbitration hearings scheduled.

Related: Sens want to avoid arbitration with Dzingel