James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Ouch, Sabres now expect Eichel to miss 6-8 weeks

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Buffalo Sabres GM Tim Murray’s updated recovery window for Jack Eichel makes an unfortunate situation that much gloomier.

Murray places the time frame at six-to-eight weeks, according to reporters including NHL.com’s Amalie Benjamin. A day ago, reports were in the more optimistic four-to-six week range.

That might not seem like a big deal, but a couple weeks could make a big difference for a team hoping to make a difficult step forward like Buffalo.

WGR’s Paul Hamilton reports that Murray isn’t working the phones to make a trade in reaction to Eichel’s absence … yet. He wants to see how the Sabres fare without Eichel first.

This moment from tonight’s game seems less comical now (after getting some Twitter laughs):

Hey, Tim Murray, at least you signed a contract extension today, right?

Florida Panthers pay tribute to Jose Fernandez

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The Florida Panthers are doing their part to honor the memory of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez.

The entire team wore Fernandez 16 jerseys before their season-opening game against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.

It was a heartfelt tribute to an athlete who made an impression on the Panthers organization:

Happily, this isn’t just about an already-great gesture, as the team raised $35K in Fernandez’s name:

The Panthers aren’t the only local team outside of baseball paying tribute to Fernandez. The Miami Heat made similar gestures recently.

Check out their official feed for other great stuff, including shots like these.

WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins

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It doesn’t get much better than this.

Sure, it would be ideal if Sidney Crosby was healthy enough to play, but the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins are still loaded with eye-catching talent as they start their seasons.

The Capitals should be fired up to play the spoiler role as the Penguins raise their Stanley Cup banner.

Washington rolls out the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom while Pittsburgh counters with talents such as Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Yeah, this should be a lot of fun. Watch online or via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the stream link, which includes lead-in coverage on NHL Live.

Head here for a full preview of the game.

Crosby wants to be smart about concussion recovery (VIDEO)

The bad news is that Sidney Crosby‘s been down this road with concussions before. The good news is that he’s taken lessons from those tough memories.

Look, there’s no doubt that it’s going to sting for Crosby to sit out tonight’s season-opener for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

They’re raising their Stanley Cup banner, and even if you roll your eyes at Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin talk, there’s little sense denying the Washington Capitals’ position as one of the East’s favorites. It likely burns to watch such an electric game in street clothes.

That said, Crosby’s learned a thing or two since suffering that fateful concussion against David Steckel in 2011.

One might accuse the Penguins and Crosby of rushing back into things that time around, but Crosby’s saying all the right things about avoiding recurring symptoms this time around.

Now, that might be easier said than done – as he admits, every head injury is different – yet it’s heartening that the superstar is taking a cautious approach.

More on Crosby’s concussion situation and history

It’s a good sign that he’s at least practicing

Crosby insists the injury didn’t happen at the injury-heavy World Cup

His previous concussions inspire us to ask: “What if?”

Kings fall to Sharks after losing Quick to injury

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One type of loss will leave you muttering “it’s just one game.” Another one will leave you worrying about the future.

The Los Angeles Kings couldn’t have been happy about falling to the San Jose Sharks by a score of 2-1 to open their respective seasons on Sunday.

Even so, it’s clear that they’re probably more worried about the health of goalie Jonathan Quick, who could be out “a while.” If Darryl Sutter’s belief that the injury happened at the end of the first period of Wednesday’s game, then it may have happened here:

Jeff Zatkoff wasn’t a disaster by any stretch, as it’s likely that he didn’t have much of a chance of stopping Brent Burns‘ game-winning goal.

While San Jose generated a healthy advantage in shots on goal and possession, Zatkoff wasn’t bombarded by chances. If nothing else, the Kings are well-suited to protect their new backup if Zatkoff needs to be the No. 1 guy for a while.

Regardless, it was a pretty unpleasant way to begin the 2016-17 season.

The Sharks, meanwhile, likely look at their opener as a positive continuation of last season’s strong finish, right down to Burns being a difference-maker.