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Islanders re-sign Gionta to one-year, two-way contract

The New York Islanders made a depth move Tuesday, re-signing Stephen Gionta to a one-year, two-way deal.

Gionta, who will be 34 years old in October, played in 26 games for the Islanders last season, scoring once with six points. He also spent time with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the American Hockey League.

Gionta has 296 career games in the NHL, most of them with New Jersey, with 16 goals and 56 points.

Last year, the Islanders inked him to a two-way deal before recalling him in December.

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    It’s Tampa Bay Lightning day at PHT

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    The Tampa Bay Lightning was among the hottest teams in the NHL down the stretch of the 2016-17 regular season, but it wasn’t enough to make the playoffs.

    The Bolts finished one point out of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. It was a disappointing end to a season of high expectations, after Tampa Bay made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 and the Eastern Conference Final the following year.

    Injuries played a part in the Bolts’ struggles.

    Steven Stamkos was just starting to heat up in the middle of November when he suffered a knee injury and underwent surgery. He skated with the club late in the season but ultimately didn’t get into the lineup, playing in just 17 games. He had nine goals and 20 points at the time of his injury, although general manager Steve Yzerman wasn’t willing to use the injury bug as an excuse for his team’s failure to qualify for the playoffs.

    The good news? Stamkos expects to be ready for the start of next season.

    The Bolts lost Jason Garrison to Vegas in the expansion draft and traded forward Jonathan Drouin to Montreal. They did acquire highly touted prospect defenseman Mikhail Sergachev in that deal with the Habs. They also signed veteran defenseman Dan Girardi and four-time Stanley Cup champion Chris Kunitz, and then secured Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat on long-term deals.

    Today at PHT, we will focus on the key storylines impacting the Lightning heading into next season.

    Report: Ovechkin is still ‘hopeful’ he’ll participate in 2018 Olympics

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    Alex Ovechkin is still holding out hope, even though the NHL’s position for months now is that it is not going to South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

    If that wasn’t enough, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk essentially said there is no chance whatsoever at this point in the summer of the NHL re-arranging its schedule to have its players attend the Games.

    “As far as any chance of anything, I do know, it’s a done deal. We’re finished. It’s beyond the point of (no) return because we have our schedule,” Melnyk told Zoomer Radio, per the Ottawa Citizen. “And, now, everybody has been working very hard for the last month to (get ready).

    “The schedule is set. The dates are set. All of our fan appreciation days are set. For us, especially, we’re going to Sweden and that’s set. We’re going to have an outdoor game. You can’t move that schedule anymore. There’s 31 teams that are planning things and have planned things. We’re way, way beyond anything to do with 2018. That’s just not going to happen.”

    Ovechkin has in the past been defiant, saying he will plan to participate for Russia even if the NHL does not go.

    The latest on Monday was that even minor league players on NHL contracts can’t go to the Olympics, according to deputy commissioner Bill Daly in conversation with the Associated Press.

    And yet, Ovechkin, who is under contract to the Capitals for four more years, is still apparently hoping that he will be able to go represent his country, according to recent reports out of Russia and Washington.

    “We’ll hope I’ll be allowed to participate,” he told Sport-Express, according to the Washington Post. “There’s always a chance.”

    When the Stanley Cup Final opened in late-May, commissioner Gary Bettman didn’t go into specific details about league policy for NHL players under contract and the Olympics, but said, “We have an expectation that none of our players are going.”

    Related: Pre-game reading: Leonsis has Ovechkin’s back on Olympics

    ‘It’s just a number’ — Sidney Crosby celebrates 30th birthday with the Stanley Cup

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    ‘Sid the Kid’ isn’t really a kid anymore.

    Sidney Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins captain and arguably the best player in the game, celebrated his 30th birthday on Monday and he did so with a very special guest — the Stanley Cup, a trophy he has hoisted three times in his National Hockey League career.

    “It’s just a number,” Crosby told the Penguins website of his age. “When I think about that, it’s a number. Sometimes I don’t feel 30. Sometimes I do. It depends. I just try to enjoy things as much as I can. It’s pretty special to be able to do this on my birthday, share with everybody. I’ll just take that as a great experience and move on.”

    Crosby brought the Stanley Cup to Halifax and then to Rimouski, Que., where he played his junior hockey before being taken No. 1 overall by the Penguins in the 2005 NHL Draft.

    He has since gone on to what will be a Hall of Fame career. The Penguins have won three championships and been to the final four times since 2005. Not only does Crosby have a trio of Stanley Cup rings, he has twice won Olympic gold, scoring the winning overtime goal versus the U.S. in 2010 in Vancouver. It has become one of the iconic moments in Canadian hockey history, as he threw his gloves and stick into the air in celebration.

    “It’s amazing how fast time goes by,” said Crosby, per The Canadian Press. “It makes you realize that it doesn’t get any easier and that’s why things like this (parade) — you have to enjoy it.”

    There was a time, however, not long ago in which his career was completely sidetracked by concussions. In 2011-12, Crosby appeared in only 22 regular season games. He later opened up in an interview with CBC’s Peter Mansbridge about the prospects of his playing future given his concussion history.

    From the Globe and Mail:

    There were some dark days when the thought he may never play hockey again at the professional level entered his mind.

    “I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I thought about it,” Crosby told Mansbridge.

    Crosby suffered another concussion during the 2017 postseason but didn’t spend much time out of action, returning to help lead Pittsburgh to its second Stanley Cup in as many years. For the second straight year, Crosby claimed the Conn Smythe Trophy.

    Related: Crosby ‘in the company of all-time greats’

    Video: Line brawl breaks out between Canada and Russia at Sochi Hockey Open

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    When it comes to hockey rivalries, Canada versus Russia has never been lacking ill will.

    The time of year doesn’t seem to matter, either.

    On Monday, as Team Canada faced Team Russia at the Sochi Hockey Open, a line brawl broke out near the Canadian bench, resulting in fight majors for Canada’s Justin Azevedo and Russia’s Mikhail Grigorenko.

    Despite holding a decisive 36-22 edge in shots on goal, Canada lost to Russia 3-2 and will finish the preliminary round at 1-1.

    Canada’s men’s national team, coached by former Canucks bench boss Willie Desjardins, has a number of tournament competitions, including the Sochi Hockey Open, lined up between now and the end of December prior to the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

    Up next for the Canadian contingent, according to Hockey Canada, is the Tournament of Nikolai Puchkov from Aug. 14-17 in St. Petersburg.

    “These first two events allow us to continue a player evaluation process that began last season with our Deutschland Cup and Spengler Cup teams,” said vice-president of hockey operations and national men’s teams Scott Salmond, per Hockey Canada.

    “We will continue to look at the best available players to us – these two tournaments being the next opportunity to see some of the talent we can select from.”