Cam Tucker

Phil Kessel
AP Photo

Kessel hand injury ‘was something he dealt with all season,’ says Rutherford

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On Friday, it was reported that Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel underwent hand surgery for an injury sustained in the first round of the playoffs.

Kessel, despite the injury, still had a strong post-season. He scored 10 goals and 22 points in 24 games. Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup.

But apparently, the injury Kessel had been dealing with was something that had actually been bothering him well before the playoffs even began.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“It was something he dealt with all season,” general manager Jim Rutherford said. “It bothered him. He took care of it. He’s not expect to miss any time.”

Rutherford suggested Kessel initially suffered the injury during the 2015 preseason. The specific hand or the nature of of the injury were not identified.

In his first campaign with the Penguins, Kessel appeared in all 82 regular season games, with 26 goals and 59 points, and appeared in all 24 post-season games.

Bergevin isn’t looking back when it comes to blockbuster (and controversial) Subban trade

BROSSARD, CANADA - JUNE 5:  GM Marc Bergevin speaks to members of the media after introducing Michel Therrien as the new Head Coach of the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell SportsPlex on June 5, 2012 in Brossard, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
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Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin recently opened up about the blockbuster trade of P.K. Subban for Shea Weber, in a Q&A with Dave Stubbs of NHL.com.

Some of the key points:

— Weber will wear an ‘A’ as an alternate captain for the Habs next season.

— Bergevin says Weber brings “instant credibility” to the Habs, based on his resume in the past, which includes two Olympic gold medals with Canada, and the way Weber can be difficult to play against is something the Habs lacked last season.

— He insists he has “no issues with personality” and that coach Michel Therrien didn’t know anything about the trade until afterward.

Subban can be an electrifying player, as a 27-year-old defenseman who can be high-risk, high-reward at times, but is very productive in addition to being exciting.

It was a controversial trade for a variety of reasons, including Weber being 30 years old and under contract through 2025-26 with a cap hit nearing $7.86 million.

There was even a strong suggestion this could be the worst trade in Canadiens history.

It is one Bergevin is still answering to, and could be for some time. But he says he’s moved on:

There was a lot of thought going into this [trade] prior to that day, a lot of discussion internally. I had talked to my hockey people. At the end of the day, I make the decision. It’s on my shoulders, and I get that. But once I make that decision, I don’t look back anymore. It’s like the old expression, “If you’re looking in the rearview mirror, you don’t see what’s ahead of you.” There was a well-thought process of how and why. As a group we talked, and then I made the final decision, and after that, I move on. If you’re asking me “since that day…” well, I have moved on, yes.

Related:

In talking about Weber, Bergevin said plenty about Subban

Shea Weber isn’t going ‘to try to be’ like P.K. Subban

P.K. Subban and Predators: A match made in fun

It ‘stings’ to see rival Penguins win Stanley Cup, says Flyers’ Simmonds

Toronto Maple Leafs v Philadelphia Flyers
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The rivalry between the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins can be one of the fiercest in the NHL.

It wasn’t given the chance to play out in the post-season, though. The Penguins went on their way to win the Stanley Cup, while the Flyers were ousted by the Washington Capitals in the opening round, closing out their season that included a second-half surge under first-year head coach Dave Hakstol just to qualify for the playoffs.

Seeing a rival win the Cup, well, that’s not a pleasant feeling for the Flyers, according to Wayne Simmonds.

“I think when you have a rival to the height that Pittsburgh is for Philadelphia, it stings a little bit,” Simmonds told TSN.ca.

“I think it just gives you that much more want to win the Stanley Cup when you see your cross-state rivals holding the Cup up. It’s a little disturbing, but good for them. They did a good job and they had a heck of team and they played really well going down the stretch.”

The Flyers took positive steps forward last season, again, especially in the second half, led by Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn and Simmonds up front, and with the rise of Shayne Gostisbehere on defense — not to mention strong play this season from Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth in goal.

The Flyers also have some strong defensive prospects in their system, most notably Ivan Provorov, who could challenge for a spot in the fall.

They also took a chance by selecting German Rubtsov in the first round of last month’s draft, as the Flyers look to build the depth of their forward prospects.

Those players could be future key pieces for the Flyers. But for next year, the goal is the Stanley Cup tournament.

“We 100 per cent plan on making the playoffs so that’s definitely where our heads are at,” Simmonds continued.

“We want to be a team where we can get into the playoffs and then make some noise, too. I think with the run we had the last half of the year, I think that’s more indicative of our team than the first half and you’ll continue to see growth from our team.”

Video: Hockey player scores after landing the back flip

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 12.08.52 AM
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Doing a back flip in the neutral zone on a three-on-one rush — and then scoring at the end of the play? That should probably be worth multiple violations of hockey’s “code.”

But such an acrobatic act is what one player has managed to pull off in a practice setting.

As the video clip below shows, a player turns and does a back flip during a rush, is given his stick by his teammate and then scores to finish off the play.

Granted, there was very little in the way of defending. Still, to land the back flip and then appear to remain onside (do we get a video review of that?) is impressive.

If there is a Mighty Ducks 4 movie, folks in charge of casting might need to give this player a call.

Coyotes prospect Chychrun ‘can loosen up, play the way we think he can’ after falling down draft order

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Jakob Chychrun poses for a portrait after being selected 16th overall by the Arizona Coyotes  in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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As the first round of the NHL Draft continued, Jakob Chychrun had to wait for his name to be called.

It wasn’t until the Arizona Coyotes traded up, taking on Pavel Datsyuk’s contract, that Chychrun finally got to walk up on stage, shake commissioner Gary Bettman’s hand and stand for the photos in his new jersey, with his new team’s select hockey staff.

With such qualities like size and skating ability and by all accounts a big shot, he was taken 16th overall, a drop from earlier projections during the season that had him as a potential top-five pick, perhaps even as high as a potential top-three choice.

He ended up being the fifth defenseman taken in the opening round.

It was the byproduct of a draft season that saw him score 11 goals and 49 points with Sarnia in the OHL, after shoulder surgery the previous year.

“He didn’t have a great (world juniors) camp, to be honest, and the pace was higher, but that’s the best players in Canada and they’re almost all 19 years old while he was 17 then,” Trevor Letowski, Chychrun’s former coach in Sarnia, told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

“In the OHL vs. Russia series, he didn’t play his best, and those were important events for scouting so I think that’s where that view was created, but if you got a bigger sample size of Jakob, I think you’d have a different impression.”

The Coyotes entered the draft needing to build up their list of prospects on defense.

But the Coyotes — specifically director of player development Steve Sullivan — have advice for the 18-year-old Chychrun as he enters these earliest stages of his pro career.

“I think it was about being tense,” said Sullivan, as per the Coyotes website. “All the pressure of wanting to be second overall and maybe not having a great season; it snowballed the wrong way for him.

“Now he needs to understand he’s been drafted into the National Hockey League and we’re going to put him in a game plan to get him here as fast as we can. He can loosen up and play the way we think he can play. If that happens, there is no reason why he won’t be here sooner than later.”