James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Vegas Golden Knights owner dishes on many subjects (including the Raiders)

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Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley covered a wide array of interesting topics in his discussion with Sports Book Radio’s Brian Blessing on Monday, including a bit of a shot at their possible future neighbors, the NFL’s Raiders.

The most important discussions revolved around how Foley expects the Golden Knights to come together … but let’s start with the spicier bulletin board material, transcribed nicely by Sin Bin Vegas.

“Our hockey team is locally owned, locally operated,” Foley said. “We are going to be the local team, the Raiders will never be the local team.”

Interesting.

Coaching talk

Foley sort of waffled back and forth on the coaching issue, espousing the virtues of jumping on an opportunity for one of the big names available while also noting that even more options could potentially crop up if they wait until the end of the season.

It sounds like the Golden Knights may be cautious about how much they’d spend on any option, which might reduce their chances of going after a more established name such as Claude Julien.

Building the team, when to expect success

It’s true that the Golden Knights could hatch some deals at this very trade deadline, possibly not to take a player at the expansion draft. Foley indicated that it might be difficult to be particularly busy, however.

He believes the team could grab good defensemen and goalies, but admits that grabbing a goalie might be “tough.”

If all of this is too vague for your taste, consider these timetables laid out by Foley and GM George McPhee: playoffs in three seasons, the big one in seven.

Interesting stuff, huh? There are plenty of other tidbits to chew on in this interview, so feel free to read Blessing’s full bit with Foley.

Jake Allen’s rebound week included adorable interaction with 5-year-old kid

Courtesy St. Louis Blues Twitter
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So, good luck finding a cuter story than this one, at least in the hockey/non-dog videos division.

St. Louis Blues goalie Jake Allen‘s struggles have been no secret, but he got a spark from an inspirational letter from a five-year-old named Mason Gilbert. It meant enough to Allen – who has responded strongly after Ken Hitchcock’s firing, culminating with being named the second star of last week – that he invited Mason to Blues practice.

The results were predictably adorable.

Allen meeting with Mason should put a smile on your face:

Even better? The contents of the actual letter.

NHL.com transcribed Mason’s message to Jake:

Dear Jake Allen, you are my favorite player. I hope you win tonight. I know you can do it. You’re a great goalie. Love, Mason. I’m five years old.

Dawww. Along with meeting with Mason, Allen also sent a message to Mason in a very cool way.

Great stuff. NHL.com has more.

Video: Yikes, Hartnell goes down into the boards, hard

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Scott Hartnell has embraced the hashtag #HartnellDown on Twitter and through charitable efforts stretching back even to his Flyers days. Monday presented a moment that wasn’t so much amusing as it was frightening as far as Hartnell going down is concerned.

He tried to beat Antti Raanta after getting a little room early in the first period of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ home game against the New York Rangers but eventually ran out of space. After that, he crashed hard into the boards and clearly looked shaken up.

To his credit, he returned to the ice shortly afterward, so he might be OK (he appeared to be testing his shoulder after a trip to the dressing room).

It’s possible that an injury did happen, however, so we’ll see as the game goes along.

Mixed Penguins injury news: good for Malkin, bad for Rust

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are bruised and battered at the forward position, but Monday brought some good news … but not all good news.

Let’s get the negative stuff out of the way first: it sounds like Bryan Rust‘s upper-body injury might be worse than expected. Head coach Mike Sullivan was a little vague, but mainly because it sounds like they’re still trying to gauge the severity of the issue.

“He’s still being evaluated, so reluctant to put a time frame on it at this point,” Sullivan told the team website. “But he is longer term.”

So, Rust is out “longer term,” whatever that means.

The bright side is that the trio of Evgeni Malkin, Conor Sheary and Carl Hagelin are exhibiting varying signs of progress.

Malkin’s case is the best, as he could be back in action as soon as Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks. The team considers him a game-time decision at the moment.

Sheary and Hagelin were both able to skate on Monday, positive signs in each case. It will probably take some time for each player, but overall, those are at least steps in the right direction.

NHL will hold phone hearing with Nyquist after he passes on in-person talk

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On Sunday evening, word surfaced that the NHL offered Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist an in-person hearing for high-sticking Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon. The Department of Player Safety released an update that Nyquist declined that face-to-face discussion.

With that, they’ll instead speak to Nyquist about it via a telephone hearing on Wednesday afternoon.

(The Red Wings face the St. Louis Blues at Joe Louis Arena in a game that will be televised on NBCSN that evening.)

Normally, a telephone hearing would set a ceiling for a suspension at five games while an in-person meeting could result in a punishment of six-or-more. This is an exception, as Nyquist was obviously offered a chance to tell his side of the story in person.

Nyquist said he was happy to see Spurgeon return to the game and that while he claimed that he didn’t mean to strike him viciously with that high-sticking infraction, he also conceded to the Detroit Free Press that “I’ve got to have better control of my stick.”

Check out more on that incident in the video below.