Author: Jason Brough

Columbus Blue Jackets v Vancouver Canucks

Benning trying to figure where Markstrom ‘fits in’


Jim Benning is trying to figure out what he’s got in Jacob Markstrom.

The Canucks GM was in Utica this past week to watch Vancouver’s AHL team, the Comets, advance to the Western Conference Finals, in which they’ll take on the Grand Rapids Griffins (featuring Dylan Larkin).

On Wednesday, Benning saw another good AHL outing for Markstrom, who stopped 35 shots in a 1-0 Game 7 shutout win over Oklahoma City. The 25-year-old now has a .930 save percentage in 12 playoff games this year. His save percentage was .934 during the regular season, earning him second-team all-star honors.

But whether Markstrom can succeed in the NHL is still to be determined. He hasn’t so far, with an .896 save percentage in 50 games with the Canucks and Panthers.

“That’s part of why I’m down here now — to get a good look at Jacob Markstrom and see where he fits in,” Benning told the Vancouver Sun. “That’s what I’m trying to figure out right now. He showed me a lot last night, playing a real good game in a high-pressure situation.”

If Benning believes Markstrom is capable of backing up Ryan Miller next season, it likely means that Eddie Lack, one year away from becoming an unrestricted free agent, will be traded.

If not, Benning will try and trade Markstrom. (Though that may be easier said than done.)

Related: Canucks ‘know what it’s going to take’ to keep Lack, whose future might be elsewhere

TVR won’t play Game 4, but he’s ‘cleared to participate’

Trevor van Riemsdyk

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville “does not anticipate” defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk stepping into the lineup for Game 4 of the Western Conference Final, a series Chicago now trails 2-1.

Van Riemsdyk was recalled from AHL Rockford today, as questions continue to be asked about a Chicago blue line that’s been acutely reliant on its top-four defenders.

“He’s been ready. He’s cleared to participate,” said Quenneville of van Riemsdyk. “He was out there doing one-on-one drills. We’ll see.”

To be sure, inserting van Riemsdyk, a rookie, into the lineup would carry a healthy dose of risk. Not yet two months removed from wrist surgery, the 23-year-old has not played an NHL game since Nov. 16.

At the same time, it may be worth the risk, given the struggles of 40-year-old Kimmo Timonen.

“Today is the first day,” said Quenneville. “I don’t anticipate [van Riemsdyk] being in tomorrow. He’ll need a few days out here. We’ll get an evaluation and go from there.”

Update: Here’s TVR, who’s going to “take it day-by-day”:

Video: Emotional Babcock says good-bye to Detroit


That was former Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, talking today about his decision to leave Detroit for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

As you can see, things got a bit emotional.

“It’s been real special, to say the least,” Babcock said, per the Detroit Free Press. “The Ilitches afforded my family to grow up here. To let my kids finish high school here. I’m emotionally involved with the franchise and the city and the people. It gives me great pride for what we were able to accomplish in my 10 years here.”

Related: Babcock takes out ad in Detroit newspaper, thanks Red Wings fans

Fetisov wants to restrict young Russians from playing in the NHL

Vladimir Putin, Vyacheslav Fetisov

From the Associated Press:

Former Detroit Red Wings star Slava Fetisov has called for Russia to reintroduce Soviet-style restrictions to prevent promising young hockey players from moving to the NHL.

Fetisov, who is now a senator in Russia, tells Russia’s R-Sport news agency that federal law should be used to stop Russian players from moving to North America before they turn 28.

The aim is to keep “our most talented guys, the ones who the people come to see.”

Fetisov (pictured with Russian president Vladimir Putin) came to the NHL in 1989, at 31 years old, to play for the New Jersey Devils. He was one of the first players from the Soviet Union to come to the NHL. It took six years from when the Devils drafted him in 1983 for him to get signed. There were frustrations along the way.

From a 1988 New York Times article, when Fetisov was 29 and representing the Soviet Union at the Winter Olympics in Calgary:

Fetisov, an army major, knows better than to state a preference for the National Hockey League until new marching orders have been given him by the Soviet Sports Ministry.

”Nobody has talked to me about it,” he said in an interview after a team practice yesterday. ”So I’ve made no decision, yet. And maybe it is not my decision anyway.”

Fetisov said he was curious about the N.H.L. ”just to play under new conditions.”

”But for now I carry on with my team,” he said. The player didn’t hesitate when asked if he thought he would make the jump to the N.H.L. should his superiors choose to make him their embassador. ”Would I go?” he asked. ”Why Not?”

Hence, tweets today like this:

Blackhawks recall van Riemsdyk


The Chicago Blackhawks have recalled defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk from AHL Rockford.

It’s not clear yet if van Riemsdyk will be able to play right away. The 23-year-old had wrist surgery in early April. At the time, the the club anticipated “a return to full hockey activities in approximately eight weeks.”

It’s been almost that long.

For the Blackhawks, the recall comes the day after a 2-1 loss to Anaheim in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. Of note, Kimmo Timonen played just 6:50, as the 40-year-old continues to struggle with the pace of play.

If van Riemsdyk, a right shot, were able to step into the lineup, he could theoretically pair with left-shooting Kyle Cumiskey on a bottom pairing.

But again, we don’t know if he’s ready. Coach Joel Quenneville is expected to address the media later today. We’ll provide an update when he does.