James O'Brien

Pacioretty scores the first goal of 2015-16 to Leafs’ torment

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Looks like Max Pacioretty‘s healthy enough to score.

As you can see from the video above, Pacioretty scored the first goal of the 2015-16, and it’s the sort of thing that will torment Jonathan Bernier.

Toronto Maple Leafs fans tormented Bernier a bit, too, providing a sarcastic cheer when he made a save shortly after giving up that goal against Pacioretty.

It all feels like a nice way of everyone saying “Welcome to town, Mike Babcock.”

Fun note: the NHL reminds us that Pacioretty scored the opening tally of 2014-15, as well:

Hmm: Leafs scratch Grabner

T.J. Brennan; Michael Grabner
AP
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Michael Grabner‘s already off to a bumpy start with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The speedy (if inconsistent) winger couldn’t crack the opening night lineup for the Buds against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.

Every indication is that he’s a healthy scratch, too, so it seemingly comes down to performance (as in, lack thereof).

That decision’s already drawing derision, being that the Maple Leafs sent the Islanders this package of prospects for Grabner: Taylor Beck, Carter Verhaeghe, Matt Finn, Tom Nilsson and Christopher Gibson.

Is it that big of a deal? Probably not, but you know … this is Toronto.

WATCH LIVE: Rangers-Blackhawks, Sharks-Kings online

Jonathan Toews
AP

Hockey is back, everybody.

NBCSN rolls out the red carpet for the NHL’s 2015-16 season with a doubleheader on Wednesday.

First, the Chicago Blackhawks raise another Stanley Cup banner and host the New York Rangers, with coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

The evening’s action is capped with in-state rivals each hoping to prove that they won’t fall short of the playoffs for a second straight year. The Los Angeles Kings host the San Jose Sharks with Martin Jones switching allegiances.

Coverage of that game begins at 10:30 p.m. ET.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Kopitar doesn’t want to obsess about future with Kings

Anze Kopitar
AP
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If you’re a Los Angeles Kings fan or fantasy hockey player, the Milan LucicAnze KopitarMarian Gaborik line is intriguing beyond its blend of skill and size.

Specifically, the group is especially fun to monitor because both Lucic and Kopitar might be gearing up for big paydays if they can manage strong contract years.

That may be true, but Kopitar when it comes to negotiations, the center relayed to media including the OC Register that he wants “to be involved as little as possible, really.”

Maybe most interestingly, he didn’t totally dismiss the notion of leaving the Kings after the 2015-16 season.

”That’s still a long ways away,’’ Kopitar said. ”My mind is on hockey right now. Would it be ideal to get it done now and not think about it? Yes. But if it’s not (done), it’s just not. I’ve just got to start here (Wednesday) and just play the way I can. It doesn’t matter if it’s my last year or not. I’ve got to play and do my thing.’’

Granted, Kopitar leaving Los Angeles seems far-fetched; the OC Register points out that he bought two homes in the area just last December.

Either way, it’s clear that the Slovenia native has a lot of money running on this season, so opponents – and maybe the Kings’ money managers – better watch out.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

dimaio
via St. Louis Blues

The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?