James O'Brien

Brad Marchand

Getting there: Marchand takes contact in Bruins practice

Call it a promising step forward, but don’t leap to Brad Marchand playing on Saturday just yet.

Marchand managed to take contact* in Boston Bruins practice on Friday, yet he was quick to note that he still must go through concussion protocol. Head coach Claude Julien also noted that the decision for him to play (or not) likely boils down to doctors’ opinions.

The Bruins responded to their slow start with a big 6-2 win against Colorado on Wednesday. Still, the Arizona Coyotes are pretty hot to begin the season, so the B’s would prefer to get their prolific pest back into the mix.

That said, if any team knows the risks of concussions and how touch-and-go recoveries can be, it’s the Bruins. They’re wise to take the prudent route, as challenging as being patient can be.

* – Yes, it’s tempting to make bad Jodie Foster jokes.

Iron Mikhail? Keenan may coach Russia in international competition

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Many hockey fans might not realize this, but Mike Keenan is still very much an active professional coach. He’s just doing so in Russia.

If there was any question about his commitment to his second hockey home, consider this: TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Keenan is in the process of gaining Russian citizenship, and may just help coach the country at the international level:

The native of Whitby, Ont., is in the process of finalizing his Russian citizenship, as is his long-time assistant, Mike Pelino. Russian officials have been encouraging Keenan do this for some time to show fans he is committed to the team, the KHL and the country. Keenan, who says he has learned enough of the Russian language to get by, is in the final year of his contract but doesn’t sound like he’s in any rush to get out. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Once his Russian citizenship has been approved, there is a good chance the highly decorated coach will return to international competition. If all goes as planned, Keenan could be on the bench, or at least a member of Team Russia’s staff, at future championships, including the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto in 2016.

Neat stuff, right?

It’s difficult not to take “learning enough of the Russian language to get by” as “locking down a few phrases he can scream at KHL players,” but credit him for following his passion at 65.

Keenan (pictured on the left) is currently in a very successful run with KHL team Magnitogorsk.

Speaking of familiar faces behind KHL benches, it sounds like Sergei Zubov’s getting a big opportunity with SKA St. Petersburg:

Another McGinn is in the NHL (and Brock already scored)

The McGinn brood is churning out hockey players in a way that compares to the Staal family, although their boys tend to fall in the “depth” range.

(In other words, the Staal family probably enjoys fancier Thanksgiving dinners.)

Regardless, it’s a fun story on Friday, as Brock McGinn looks likely to play for the Carolina Hurricanes against the Detroit Red Wings.

As a reminder, his brothers Tye and Jamie have already made their marks in the NHL.

… Actually, this story becomes circular – and maybe advances an argument against that “depth” comment – as the Raleigh News & Observer reports that Brock will begin his career with Eric Staal.

“It’s an exciting moment for me,” McGinn said. “You dream of this moment growing up playing hockey and for sure it’s a special moment for me and my family, just to get this opportunity. I want to come up here and play the best I can and run with it.”

Carolina could use a shot in the arm, so Brock will likely get a real chance to stick around if he makes the most of this opportunity.

Update: Sheesh, the kid didn’t take long. He scored his first NHL goal on his first shift in his first game. You can see it at the top of this post.

NHL suspends Nesterov two games for hit that hospitalized McKenzie


The NHL handed Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov a two-game suspension for a hit from behind on Curtis McKenzie of the Dallas Stars from Thursday’s game.

You can see the league explanation and video of the hit above. It’s the first suspension of Nesterov’s young career.

McKenzie was hospitalized after that hit, and the Stars placed him on IR today. Radek Faksa was called up from the AHL in his absence.

The suspension will cost Nesterov $7,983.88.

The Lightning were already making moves in advance of Nesterov’s suspension and Victor Hedman‘s possible absence, bringing up Slater Koekkoek.

This is Nesterov’s first suspension, but he hasn’t logged much NHL time, as one might note.

Bolts recall Koekkoek with Hedman banged up


The Tampa Bay Lightning may need some help on defense this weekend, which explains why they recalled Slater Koekkoek.

It’s unclear how hurt Victor Hedman is, but there’s definitely a risk that he won’t be able to play on Saturday, as NHL.com notes.

While Hedman was obviously able to make a huge impression during the 2015 postseason, his Norris hopes were quickly dashed due to injury issues in 2014-15. It would be a big shame for that to happen again, as he drew some serious hype from the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom heading into this season.

Hedman isn’t the only guy who may be unavailable, either, as Nikita Nesterov may face a suspension for his hit from behind from Thursday (which hospitalized Curtis McKenzie).

Speaking of McKenzie:

Update: Nesterov received a two-game suspension for that hit.

At 21, Koekkoek is an interesting moment in his development.

He’s one of the Lightning’s many promising young players as the 10th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, so perhaps getting him another cup of coffee at the highest level – he’s played in three games with the Lightning – would be a good progress report of sorts.