Cam Tucker

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - FEBRUARY 18:  Joonas Kemppainen #41 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Nashville Predators during the second period at Bridgestone Arena on February 18, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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After one season with the Bruins, Kemppainen signs in KHL

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Joonas Kemppainen has signed a one-year contract in the KHL following one season with the Boston Bruins, according to CSNNE.com.

The Bruins originally signed Kemppainen, now 28 years old, to a one-year, two-way deal worth $700,000 at the NHL level, making him the first move of the Don Sweeney era as general manager in Boston after an impressive playoff performance in Finland.

From CSNNE.com:

Kemppainen was adequate enough in both areas while posting two goals and five points along with a minus-6 rating in 44 games for the Black and Gold, but was a slow-skating offensive liability when given minutes as a third- and fourth-line center. In the end, the strengths simply didn’t outweigh the weaknesses for Kemppainen, who rotated in among Ryan Spooner, Chris Kelly and Max Talbot for the first few months of the NHL season while the Bruins gave him a chance to show his stuff.

Kemppainen also spent 11 games last season with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League.

Predators d-man Ellis joins Team Canada at worlds

SASKATOON, SK - JANUARY 5:  Ryan Ellis #6 of Team Canada skates with the puck during the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship Tournament Gold Medal game against Team USA on January 5, 2010 at the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.  Team USA defeated Team Canada 6-5 in overtime.(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
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Defenseman Ryan Ellis is on his way to join Team Canada at the world hockey championship.

Ellis and the Nashville Predators had their 2015-16 season come to an end in a disappointing Game 7 loss to the San Jose Sharks in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Thursday.

“We had the opportunity to add one more experienced, puck-moving defenceman,” said Team Canada’s co-general manager George McPhee, as per the IIHF website. “Ryan is very familiar with these players and has had a lot of success with them internationally; he will be a great fit with this group.”

While Ellis is making the trip to Russia to join the Canadian contingent, his Nashville teammate and fellow blue liner Shea Weber will not be added to the roster.

Canada crushed Slovakia by a final score of 5-0 on Saturday for a fifth consecutive win and a share of the lead atop the Group B standings alongside Finland with 15 points.

Capitals assistant Reirden has potential to be a ‘future head coach’ in the NHL

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 10:  Assistant coach Todd Reirden of the Washington Capitals talks to the power play unit during a time-out against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 10, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) Todd Reirden’s road to coaching started as a journeyman defenseman playing in the minors for Todd McLellan’s Houston Aeros during the 2004-05 NHL lockout.

Injured and at the tail end of his career, Reirden still wanted to make an impact, so McLellan assigned him coaching responsibilities with young players. It clicked.

“At that point, you could tell that he had coaching in his blood and that’s probably something that he wanted to do,” McLellan said.

Reirden went into coaching three years later, taking Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to the American Hockey League’s playoffs twice and assisting Dan Bylsma on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ staff. After two more season as an assistant under Barry Trotz with the Washington Capitals, Reirden’s success is measurable in the progress made by Kris Letang, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson and other defensemen.

NHL general managers are always looking for coaching’s next big thing, and Reirden has positioned himself to be just that this summer or next.

“He’s got great potential,” said McLellan, now coach of the Edmonton Oilers. “You look at his path from developing player early in his career and then his time in the minors, his stay at the national league level, some of the coaches he’s been around and the organizations he’s been through, his body of work, I think all of those qualities put him in a category that soon people will be talking about him as a future head coach.”

Reirden didn’t have the NHL head-coaching experience the Ottawa Senators or Minnesota Wild wanted when those teams hired Guy Boucher and Bruce Boudreau, respectively. The Anaheim Ducks and Calgary Flames currently have vacancies, and the 44-year-old coach from suburban Chicago would be an outside-the-box choice like John Hynes was a year ago for the New Jersey Devils.

Like Hynes, Reirden came up through the Penguins’ coaching ranks that also produced Bylsma and Mike Yeo. From Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to Pittsburgh and Washington, Reirden has consciously taken steps to be a better assistant and, eventually, a better NHL head coach.

“My particular path has been a fairly quick one in terms of getting to the National Hockey League as an assistant, and it’s been a lot of learning on the job,” Reirden said. “An important part of learning is being a good listener, especially when you’re in an assistant coaching role and taking information in and for me learning what works and what doesn’t work sometimes and deciding how I want to utilize those positives and negatives I take from the situation in preparation for one day being a head coach in this league.”

One day isn’t far away. Reirden oversaw the fifth-ranked power play in the NHL this season and ran a defense that thrived despite injuries.

Trotz said Reirden deserves all the credit for the growth of young defensemen and called him “a really bright hockey mind.” That’s an opinion shared by many of his colleagues.

“I think he’s one of the best teaching coaches in our game,” said Bylsma, now coach of the Buffalo Sabres. “His ability to relate and teach and give players an opportunity to be better, I think he’s elite at it.”

Reirden’s players credit him for his Xs and Os smarts, communication skills and attention to detail. Letang said he improved a lot under Reirden, Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz called him an “intellect on the power play” and Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik praised him for not dwelling on mistakes because playing the position gave him an understanding of how difficult it is.

“He’s big on habits and really consistent in his approach to how he wants the game played and what he likes to see you do,” Niskanen said. “He’s a constant communicator. He’s really good at that.”

Reirden picked up pieces of his coaching philosophy along the way. He considers McLellan, Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, former Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards, Bylsma and Richards among his biggest influences.

“For me it will be the importance of the honesty that Joel Quenneville had and the ability of Todd McLellan and Todd Richards to really understand and how to implement a system and how to set players up for success within that system,” said Reirden, who played for Quenneville in St. Louis. “It’s going to be a little bit of a culmination of all different people that I’ve been (around) in this game as a professional now for 20 years.”

Reirden emphasized that he loves working under Trotz in Washington but said he’ll be ready whenever a head-coaching job comes his way.

“It’s ultimately a goal, for certain, just as it was for me as a player to play in the National Hockey League,” Reirden said. “It’s always a goal for me as a coach to get to the pinnacle or the top of your profession.”

 

Video: Callahan says Letang ‘turns at the last second’ on boarding major

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety could be busy dealing with multiple incidents that occurred in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The first incident occurred before the game was even three minutes old, as Ryan Callahan slammed Penguins defenseman Kris Letang from behind into the boards, earning a major penalty. The penalty was not accompanied with a game misconduct.

Letang briefly left the game but did return.

“I’m trying to ride him in there obviously on the forecheck, and unfortunately, he turns at the last second. I’m committed, I think, when he turns his head, and his body is pretty low,” Callahan told reporters after the Lightning scored a 3-1 win to take the series opener.

“So, I’m trying to pin him, and in that split second, I can’t really make a decision. Unfortunately, I think the position he was in made it worse than it was, and it was good to see him come back. Obviously, you don’t want to see anybody injured, and that’s not what you’re trying to do.”

Another incident occurred late in the third period, as Lightning forward Ondrej Palat hit Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin from behind into the boards.

Dumoulin left the game and didn’t return, while Palat received a minor penalty for boarding.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan didn’t provide an update on Dumoulin, saying he hadn’t yet spoken to the team’s medical staff. But the bench boss was blunt when asked his assessment on both incidents.

“As far as the hits, they’re hits from behind,” he told reporters.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Palat doesn’t expect to face supplemental discipline.

“I went on the forecheck. In my head, I was like, ‘I can’t hit him hard.’ So I kind of backed off and I just pushed him a little bit. Probably, he … I don’t know. Just he went to the boards,” said Palat. “It happened. Yeah. It was a bad penalty.”

Lightning forward Tyler Johnson temporarily left the game before returning midway through the second period after he was on the receiving end of a knee-on-knee collision with Chris Kunitz against the boards.

Kunitz went in to deliver the hit, as Johnson tried to get out of the way.

Johnson couldn’t completely avoid the hit, as their knees collided. There was no call on that play.

 

‘Hoping for the best’: X-rays came back negative for Bishop, says Cooper

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seem to have received promising news on starting goalie Ben Bishop, after he was taken off the ice on a stretcher in the first period.

Bishop was in immediate pain, favoring his left knee, after an awkward fall to the ice during a Pittsburgh chance in front of the net in the first period. That forced 21-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy into action.

But Vasilevskiy was excellent in relief, stopping 25 of 26 shots faced as the Bolts opened the Eastern Conference Final versus the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 3-1 victory to grab the series lead. Afterwards, head coach Jon Cooper provided an update on Bishop, who didn’t return to the game.

“So when we got some test results back and found out that it wasn’t as, I guess — he’s definitely hurt, but there’s nothing structurally wrong right now — that was a big relief,” Cooper added.

Despite a frightening situation, as Bishop was taken off the ice, the Bolts never appeared rattled. In fact, they seemed to rally.

They took the lead a few minutes after the Bishop injury on a goal from Alex Killorn and never looked back.

“You could tell he was in a lot of pain. It’s one of those moments where he’s been so great for us, and no one knew what was happening,” Killorn told reporters.

“No one knew what was wrong with him. And for him to get carted off like that, it’s typically pretty serious. But I just went up to him and said, ‘We got this. Keep it up, buddy.’ He just looked at me, and I don’t think he said anything, but just kind of lifted the team up when we could come together and get a goal at the end of the period there.”