James O'Brien

via San Jose Sharks

Sharks sign Meier’s pal Fitzgerald to entry-level deal

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Cavan Fitzgerald might owe Timo Meier a steak dinner or two.

Yes, Fitzgerald was responsible for making a good impression on the San Jose Sharks once he got a chance, a process which resulted in an entry-level contract on Wednesday.

Meier, the ninth pick of the 2015 NHL Draft, basically helped Fitzgerald get a shot with the team not that long after he was selected by the Sharks.

Their QMJHL team, the Halifax Mooseheads, shared the heart-warming story back in June.

“I received a Facebook message from Timo about an hour after the draft ended asking for my phone number as soon as possible,” Fitzgerald said. “I got a call from San Jose a minute later asking if I would like to come to their (rookie) camp.”

Pretty neat, right?

Again, Fitzgerald still had to make the most of what he called “the opportunity I’ve been dreaming about,” yet he can’t deny that Meier did him a big-time solid.

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

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

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.


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.


Kopitar doesn’t want to obsess about future with Kings

Anze Kopitar

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.