Jason Brough

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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Suspended Landeskog takes responsibility for ‘really, really, really dumb play’

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog says he is embarrassed by the cross-check he delivered that drew a three-game suspension from the NHL.

The Colorado forward hit Anaheim defenseman Simon Despres in the neck with his stick in the third period Wednesday. There was no penalty on the play.

After practice Friday, Landeskog said there was “no excuse for anything like that. …It was just a really, really, really dumb play on my part.”

Landeskog plans to reach out to Despres when things settle down. And while he will accompany the Avalanche on their four-game trip, Landeskog won’t play again until March 20 in Edmonton.

His absence is a big blow for Colorado, which is in a tight race with Minnesota for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Sharks are going to try and fix their ‘garbage’ ice

Chicago Blackhawks v San Jose Sharks
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Combine a bunch of rain with a pair of professional hockey teams sharing the same arena and you get the recipe for some bad ice.

That’s what the San Jose Sharks have found out this season. The playing surface at SAP Center has been “pretty garbage,” according to forward Logan Couture.

Club COO John Tortora is hoping there’s a solution on the way.

“The increased rains the Bay Area has received this year, along with the humidity that comes with it, has made it more challenging to keep building conditions at an optimal level,” Tortora wrote in an email to CSN California. 

“Recently, we made the decision to implement a supplemental dehumidification system, much earlier than we have in the past. The system is expected to be installed and online within the next two weeks.”

The Sharks share SAP Center with their new AHL affiliate, the Barracuda. On some days, like last Saturday, there have been two games in one day.

Consider this goal last month by the Buffalo Sabres:

“It just goes to show how bad the ice is here on a nightly basis,” d-man Marc-Edouard Vlasic said. “I’m not saying that’s the reason why [we lost], but yeah, it bounced over [Brenden Dillon‘s] stick.”

San Jose’s next home game is Saturday night versus the Capitals. There is no Barracuda game that afternoon.

No charges against Evander Kane after investigation into sexual encounter

Evander Kane, Jared Cowen
AP
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From the Buffalo News:

Buffalo Sabres star Evander Kane has been cleared after an investigation into a sexual encounter in December.

No accusation was ever made against Kane, but an investigation started when a young woman who spent the night with him sought medical treatment at Erie County Medical Center and said she could not remember what happened.

The Erie County District Attorney’s Office and the Buffalo Police sex offense squad determined nothing illegal occurred.

The newspaper’s story has a few more details, as well as quotes from acting district attorney Michael J. Flaherty, Jr., who could not say too much as “these matters need to be handled with the utmost sensitivity and confidentiality.”

Kane insisted when the investigation became public that he’d “done nothing wrong.”

Since World Juniors disappointment, Virtanen has been ‘a different player’ for Canucks

Vancouver Canucks' Jake Virtanen, left, checks Ottawa Senators' Dion Phaneuf during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Remember when Jake Virtanen returned from the World Juniors in Finland and there was that big controversy in Vancouver over the headline in the local tabloid that read “Goat-medal winner”?

Well, it’s only been a couple of months since then, but opinions about the big, 19-year-old winger have improved considerably.

“I don’t know what happened there, but when he came back, for me, he was a different player,” Canucks forward Daniel Sedin told Postmedia.

Not only has Virtanen scored five times in 22 games since Canada’s disappointing finish in Helsinki, he’s been defensively responsible and physically engaged, mixing it up with the likes of Dion Phaneuf, Ryan Kesler, and Drew Doughty.

Wednesday night against Arizona, he leveled the Coyotes’ Connor Murphy:

That same game, he played a season-high 16:55 and assisted on the overtime winner by Markus Granlund:

In other words, Virtanen is starting to emerge into the kind of player the Canucks envisioned when they drafted him sixth overall in 2014.

“I want to be a guy that’s just a hard, honest player,” he told PHT recently. “Coming back from World Juniors…it’s nice to have the coach’s confidence in me to trust me. I felt management trusted me, so it was nice to come back and start to produce slowly. I’ve got to keep on doing that.”

Wideman has suspension reduced to 10 games

DennisWideman
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Dennis Wideman has had his suspension for hitting linesman Don Henderson from behind reduced from 20 games to 10.

The one, big thing about that? Wideman has already missed 19 games waiting for the appeals process to play out.

At the very least, the Flames’ defenseman will get back half of the $564,516 he was slated to forfeit in salary.

Wideman’s suspension — which was upheld by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upon first appeal — was reduced on second appeal by neutral arbitrator James Oldham.

Click here to read Oldham’s opinion. The following is his final decision:

decision

Here are the two rules to which Oldham referred, the difference being “intent to injure.”

Rules

The NHL has released the following statement:

“We are in receipt of Arbitrator James Oldham’s Opinion in the appeal of Dennis Wideman’s supplementary discipline suspension and reducing the suspension from 20 to 10 games. We strenuously disagree with the Arbitrator’s ruling and are reviewing the Opinion in detail to determine what next steps may be appropriate. We will have no further comment until we have completed our review. In light of and in response to Arbitrator Oldham’s Opinion, Mr. Wideman will be reinstated and will be eligible to participate in his team’s games, effective immediately.”

And here’s the NHLPA’s statement:

“Given that it was undisputed that Dennis suffered a concussion mere seconds prior to his collision with linesman Don Henderson, we felt strongly that there should have been no discipline.  Nonetheless we are pleased that Arbitrator Oldham found that the collision was not intentional and that the suspension was reduced to 10 games. We respect the process and the decision and we look forward to Dennis returning to the ice tonight with his teammates.”

Related: Burke blasts Bettman for ‘incomprehensible’ time it took for Wideman ruling