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‘Nobody hears from him’ — Ribeiro to retire following relapse, says agent

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Mike Ribeiro’s hockey career “is at an end” after he suffered a relapse, his agent and longtime friend Bob Perno has told Montreal media outlets.

The concern, however, shouldn’t be with his playing career but with his own personal health and well-being. In revealing interviews with La Presse and TSN 690 on Thursday, Perno went into detail about the depths of Ribeiro’s struggle with substance abuse, saying that he has been unable to contact his client.

“All I know, is that Mike hasn’t laced up the skates once since the end of the season,” Perno told La Presse (his quotes have been translated from French into English). “He doesn’t train anymore and he doesn’t go out on the ice anymore. He’s going to retire. There’s not one NHL team or a team in Europe that has reached out to me to ask about him. The way his career is going to end is really disappointing.

“No one knows what he’s up to these days. The problem, is that Mike doesn’t believe he’s sick. In his head, everything is fine. He left the rehab program offered by the NHL last winter. We’re really worried, but we can’t do anything. Every time my phone rings, I hope it’s him calling me.”

Ribeiro, now 37 years old, entered the NHL/NHLPA substance abuse and behavioral health program at the end of the 2013-14 season, according to Puck Daddy. His agent told TSN 690 that Ribeiro was clean for about two years, but that he suffered a relapse before Christmas.

“To answer your question, I don’t think he’s hit rock bottom,” Perno told the radio station. “We’re trying to get a hold of him in Nashville. We know he’s somewhere in Nashville. His family has seen him. His wife has seen him — briefly — and then he disappeared into the woodwork. We’re trying to get a hold of him. He doesn’t answer his phone. Nobody hears from him. I don’t think he’s hit rock bottom.”

Perno added that fellow agent Don Meehan and Dr. Brian Shaw of the NHL/NHLPA substance abuse program have also tried to contact Ribeiro.

Ribeiro split this past season between the Predators and AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. Nashville put him on waivers after Ribeiro requested a trade, and he was eventually assigned to the minors.

Perno believes that when Ribeiro made the trade request — following time spent as a healthy scratch, said the agent — it was “downhill from there.”

“This past year, Mike’s role was really diminished … and I think it affected him mentally — getting older, having trouble seeing what he was going to do once it was all over,” said Perno.

“His play suffered in consequence. His confidence, his play, and, personally, I think that just about at Christmas time or shortly there after, I think he was — whether he’ll admit it or not — I think he was a little depressive.”

Looking to make the leap: Vadim Shipachyov

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This post is part of Golden Knights Day on PHT…

Full disclosure: We realize this specific ‘Team of the Day’ post is typically reserved for much younger high-end prospects looking to land a full-time NHL roster spot for the upcoming season.

Vadim Shipachyov is not young. He is 30 years old. He already has an impressive résumé as a professional.

So, in a sense, we’re going off the board here.

But after scoring 26 goals and 76 points during 50 games with St. Petersburg SKA in the KHL last season and spending his entire pro career in Russia, Shipachyov decided this spring to come over to North America and sign with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. His deal? Two years at $9 million.

He joins the Golden Knights as the organization’s first major free agent signing, having celebrated his 30th birthday in May and having never played an NHL game before. That said, his numbers in the KHL, particularly over the last two seasons with St. Petersburg, certainly stand out as he finished third in the league in points.

And, he plays in the middle, which is important to every team but especially one just getting off the ground and looking for offensive talent to help right away in order to be competitive while allowing their younger center prospects like Cody Class and Nick Suzuki time to develop.

“He brings skill and leadership to our organization — he wanted to be a Vegas Golden Knight, and we wanted him,” Golden Knights general manager George McPhee told reporters earlier this spring. “He’s been highly productive. He’s been a very good player and continues to improve.

“He’s a skilled center iceman. They’re very, very, very hard to find.”

With his skill and years of experience as a professional, the transition into the Vegas lineup should work out. That’s not to suggest it will be easy right away. But one would expect he’ll be given every opportunity to excel in his new surroundings, perhaps playing alongside an accomplished scorer like Neal.

At the very least, he’ll be expected to take on a top-six role when the season begins.

“I don’t think it will take too long for him to assimilate,” said McPhee, per Postmedia.

“Years ago, we had (Igor) Larionov and (Slava) Fetisov coming over and it took them a little time, but in recent years, players like Panarin and (Alexander) Radulov and Zaitsev have come over and done very well. If Vadim can come over and play close to that level, we’d be certainly very happy.”

It’s San Jose Sharks day at PHT

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The San Jose Sharks made the playoffs again in 2016-17 with the hopes of getting back to the Stanley Cup Final. It didn’t turn out that way, as they were bounced in the opening round by Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

That would ultimately be the end to Patrick Marleau‘s time in San Jose.

At age 37, and after 1,493 regular season games played with the Sharks since joining the organization as the second overall pick in 1997, Marleau tested the free agent market and landed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on a three-year deal with a no-movement clause.

The Sharks still managed to keep Joe Thornton in San Jose, as he signed a one-year deal  worth a cool $8 million.

They also gave lucrative long-term contract extensions to goalie Martin Jones and defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic, and signed Latvian forward prospect Rudolfs Balcers to an entry-level contract following his year with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. Taken in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL Draft, Balcers scored 40 goals and 77 points with the Blazers last season.

Today at PHT, we’ll discuss the key storylines facing the Sharks heading into training camp.

Blues have ‘options’ next season — including using Fabbri at center

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Robby Fabbri had a strong rookie season with the St. Louis Blues, but his sophomore campaign had its obstacles.

He was a healthy scratch, and, as a result, asked by Ken Hitchcock to play with more “tenacity.”

He was then injured, his season ending in February. Good news: He’s back skating and on track to be ready for training camp.

According to numerous reports, the Blues have different plans for Fabbri when camp opens. St. Louis, a team that added Brayden Schenn at center with a big draft-day trade, will give Fabbri a look up the middle, per reports in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

“We have options here and we’re going to use the time in training camp to try and do things,” head coach Mike Yeo told the Dispatch. “If something works off the bat, then we might give it a little bit more time. But we’re also willing, either through the course of a game or game to game, to mix and match.”

Fabbri, taken 21st overall in the 2014 NHL Draft, has experience playing both the wing and up the middle.

“I’ve played center my whole life, so I’ll be comfortable,” Fabbri told the Dispatch earlier this summer.

“The last year and a half, getting that confidence helped me with my decision. I’d like to think speed is kind of part of my game and I can utilize it pretty well playing center. I’m going in with the mindset that it is going to work and then if it doesn’t, it doesn’t and we go forward. But I’m pretty confident going into it.”

Jaromir Jagr a fit with Flames? It’s been a hot topic this summer

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This post is part of Flames day at PHT…

The hockey world is still waiting to see where Jaromir Jagr plays next season.

The NHL?

In Europe, perhaps in the Czech Republic?

It’s the end of August and the 45-year-old future Hall-of-Famer with 1,711 NHL games played is still without a contract for the upcoming season, although there have been rumblings that perhaps the Calgary Flames may be interested. It’s intriguing for a team that appears to be on the rise in the Western Conference.

It’s been reported before but there’s a past connection between Jagr and current Flames bench boss Glen Gulutzan. The two worked together as members of the Dallas Stars during the lockout-shortened season.

“When I had him … first of all he’s not as fast as he used to be, but below the tops of the circles he is still stronger on the puck than most guys in the League,” Gulutzan said of Jagr last season, per NHL.com. “But probably the most impressive thing with [Jaromir], for me, of all those physical skills, obviously the size (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) and the strength and the hands, is his hockey IQ is off the charts.

“We clipped some clips, I remember back in Dallas, that we sat and watched as a coaching staff going, ‘Oh my God, how did he even do that?’ … He can score, he can pass, he can do it all … I think that’s what’s allowed him to play. And he has a real passion for the game.”

So, the Flames coach had high praise for Jagr. That doesn’t necessarily mean it eventually translates into a contract and roster spot.

In his mid-40s, Jagr may not have the speed others need to be successful in the NHL. But equipped with deft skill and a 6-foot-3 tall and 230-pound frame, he still has puck possession skills as a right winger, which is a position the Flames may need to upgrade heading into the season. He was productive last season, too, with 16 goals and 46 points, playing in all 82 regular season games.

The year before that? He scored 27 goals and 66 points — again, despite his age.

He also had good numbers on the power play — an area of strength in Calgary, which ranked 10th in the league last year at 20.2 per cent — with eight goals and 13 points. For a team that made it to the playoffs last season and could take another step toward contending in the West next spring, a player like Jagr may be able to still help a forward lineup that already features some dangerous, young talents.

There has been talk of a possible Jagr-Flames fit dating back to early July after the market opened. A number of factors could go into a possible decision, from both camps. Do the Flames have the money available to make such a deal? Calgary has about $7.1 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly, but still needs to get restricted free agent Sam Bennett under contract.