James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Senators upset Capitals on night they honor Bryan Murray

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Don’t be surprised if the Ottawa Senators bring a little extra emotion to Tuesday’s game against the Washington Capitals.

The team made a wonderful gesture tonight, making long-time executive (spending much of his time as an executive and GM) Bryan Murray the first inductee into the Senators’ “Ring of Honor.” He’s currently in an advisory role with the team as he struggles with cancer.

The tribute video celebrates his 35 years of involvement in the NHL:

Update: Attribute it to that emotional night or Mike Condon‘s continued brilliant play … but the Senators ended up beating the mighty Capitals 3-0 to end Washington’s 14-game point streak on Tuesday. Wow.

Vegas Golden Knights owner says they may hire coach before end of season

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Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley wouldn’t admit that competition over Gerard Gallant explains why the team might hire its first head coach sooner than some expected.

Debates regarding a possible catalyst for an accelerated choice aside, it’s possible that decision could come before the end of the 2016-17 campaign, as Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

“At this point, I’d say it’s 50-50 we have our head coach in place before the season’s over,” Foley said.

Interesting.

Management indicated that a head coach would be in place in late spring, according to Carp, so this would move things up at least a fair bit.

Of course, on the other hand, waiting until the regular season ends – or maybe even through a round or two of the playoffs – would likely give the Golden Knights a wider array of choices (though that would also open the door for more teams to seek those candidates).

The looming presence of the Golden Knights’ expansion draft may already make the trade deadline more dramatic and more complicated, but coaching considerations are another way the team can make an impact on other NHL franchises even before they’re truly in the mix.

(H/T to The Score.)

Would Blues trade Shattenkirk? GM says ‘all bets are off’ if losing continues

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During an appearance on NBCSN last week, hockey insider Bob McKenzie mentioned that continued struggles could prompt the St. Louis Blues to trade Kevin Shattenkirk.

When asked by Hockey Central at Noon on Tuesday, Blues GM Doug Armstrong didn’t exactly shoot down the idea of trading Shattenkirk (and maybe some other assets?) if St. Louis doesn’t get it together.

“If we’re stumbling along like this, then all bets are off,” Armstrong said. “We don’t want to keep players here, hope to sneak into eighth place and get hammered in the first round.”

Yep, that basically follows McKenzie’s update note for note. As you can see in this video, McKenzie mentions that Shattenkirk is also more willing to explore different options, including the possibility of being a “rental” rather than signing an extension wherever he goes.

So, it seems like the Blues might be open for business (or at least willing to open up shop if things don’t turn around soon).

With that in mind, what would be a reasonable price for Shattenkirk and what are the Blues asking for? Perhaps we’ll need to wait and see if we get a little more information in that regard soon.

You know, unless the Blues began a run with tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, of course.

Some good news: Patrik Laine’s back for the Jets

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The Winnipeg Jets could use some good news – couldn’t we all? – and it doesn’t get a lot better than this in late January: rookie sensation Patrik Laine‘s back.

Paul Maurice said it simply enough, stating that “he’s in” for Tuesday’s game against the San Jose Sharks.

Winnipeg lost its game against the Ducks on Monday while the Sharks rode Patrick Marleau‘s magical third period to a decisive win versus Colorado on that same night, so getting a burst from Laine is a pretty nice bonus for a Jets team that feels like it’s just sort of hanging on.

Laine’s been sidelined since Jan. 7 with a concussion thanks to a hard Jake McCabe hit that even the Jets considered “clean.”

He’s likely out of the upper ranks of the Calder race at this point, although who knows?

Laine already has 21 goals and 37 points in 42 games, so it’s probably foolish to say that the young sniper can’t pull something off.

WATCH LIVE: St. Louis Blues at Pittsburgh Penguins

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The Pittsburgh Penguins carry a four-game winning streak into Tuesday, staying within reasonable striking distance of their deadly competition in the Metropolitan Division.

The St. Louis Blues are familiar with that situation from the Central’s peak, but with a three-game losing streak and some serious struggles in net, they have to wonder about their chances of holding onto a playoff spot altogether.

So, yes, this is a battle of teams going in two different directions, yet the Blues can also note that the Penguins struggled quite a bit in 2015-16, only to win it all.

This game has the added bonus of featuring some of the NHL’s brightest scorers, including Sidney Crosby, Vladimir Tarasenko and Evgeni Malkin. It should be a fun one that you can watch on NBCSN, online or via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream link.