Jason Brough

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby skates during the first day of NHL hockey training camp, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
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Crosby: I’ve ‘never been approached’ about taking PEDs

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NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has long maintained that performance-enhancing drugs are not a problem for the league, going so far as to say that the “alleged benefits of steroid use — significant large muscle development — are not consistent with playing hockey at the highest level of the sport.”

Bettman’s claims have been disputed, and many have called for a tougher testing program.

But unlike baseball, hockey doesn’t have raging debates about whether certain players should be inducted into the Hall of Fame because they took steroids when everyone was taking steroids.

And no NHLer, to our knowledge, has ever been accused of needing a way bigger helmet compared to when he was a rookie.

According to Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, he’s never even been approached about taking PEDs.

“You hear stories about the odd guy who tests positive,” Crosby told ESPN.com. “Seriously, I have never been approached. Not once [have I been] in a situation where somebody’s asked me if I wanted to use a certain substance or anything like that.”

He added that the biggest issue for NHLers is supplements.

“There are so many supplements out there, so many different countries,” he said. “What’s approved, what’s not. What’s accepted at the Olympics is different than [NHL guidelines], so you really have to stay on that.”

Ignorance was what Jarred Tinordi claimed for his recent 20-game suspension for PEDs.

“I did not knowingly take a banned substance,” the Coyotes defenseman said. “I understand, however, that I am responsible for what enters my body as a professional athlete and I accept the suspension.”

Shawn Horcoff, Carter Ashton, Zenon Konopka and Sean Hill made similar claims when they were suspended. Some believed them; some didn’t.

Regardless, the NHL will be happy to hear what Crosby said.

“There is no issue to battle,” deputy commissioner Bill Daly insisted to Postmedia earlier this year. “We’ve never had an issue with performance-enhancing drugs. And we continue not to have an issue with performance-enhancing drugs.

“Am I satisfied with our program? I don’t think any program is perfect. I think there were weak pursuits in our first program that were meaningfully addressed in the most recent collective bargaining agreement negotiation where the program is better than it was when we first implemented it. Doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Doesn’t mean it can’t get better. But it’s a very adequate program.”

Crawford day-to-day with upper-body injury, won’t play Friday

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Chicago goalie Corey Crawford is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will not travel to Winnipeg for the Blackhawks’ game Friday against the Jets.

The ‘Hawks have recalled Michael Leighton from AHL Rockford, presumably to serve as Scott Darling‘s backup at MTS Centre.

It’s not clear how Crawford was hurt. He played all 60 minutes of his last start, a 5-0 loss to the Kings on Monday.

Darling started last night’s 3-2 loss to the Flyers, stopping 26 of 29 shots. According to coach Joel Quenneville, it was a planned start, i.e. nothing to do with Crawford’s health or recent play.

Voracek ‘making progress,’ nearing return to Flyers’ lineup

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They’re 10-2-2 in their last 14, they just overtook Detroit for the final wild-card spot in the East, and Saturday against the Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers might get star winger Jakub Voracek back.

Let the good times roll.

Voracek skated yesterday in Chicago, prior to his team’s big win over the Blackhawks.

“Every day he gets closer,” coach Dave Hakstol said, per philly.com. “He’s day to day, but he’s making progress.”

Voracek hasn’t played since Feb. 25 due to a lower-body injury, so he’s been working hard to get his conditioning back.

“Miss three weeks of skating, it’s hard to catch up on,” he said Monday, per the Flyers’ website. “That’s why I need a couple of practices.”

If Voracek can’t play Saturday, the Flyers’ next game is Monday in Brooklyn.

Coach Q juggles the lines, hoping ‘a different look’ can help slumping ‘Hawks

Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild - Game Three
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Monday’s 5-0 loss to the Kings means new lines for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Dramatically new lines.

‘Hawks coach Joel Quenneville — in search of more “balance” and “defensive responsibility” and “consistency in the four-line rotation” — put his former combinations in the blender, hit puree and came out with the following for tonight’s home game against the surging Flyers:

Tomas Fleischmann — Jonathan ToewsPatrick Kane
Artemi Panarin — Artem AnisimovMarian Hossa
Andrew Ladd — Teuvo Teravainen — Andrew Shaw
Brandon MashinterAndrew DesjardinsDale Weise

Most notably, the trio of Panarin, Anisimov and Kane has been broken up for the time being.

“The one line’s been together all year and there was probably never a need to change it,” Quenneville said, per CSN Chicago. “But I feel right now that a different look can help everyone and give us more balance throughout the lineup.”

Also notable, the trio of Ladd, Toews, and Hossa — a combination the ‘Hawks were hoping would find some chemistry — has been split onto three different lines.

The ‘Hawks are 1-3-1 in their last five and 9-10-2 in their last 21. With 12 games remaining before the playoffs, there’s no need to panic, but there is need for improvement.

“Juggling the lines here, hopefully we can find some chemistry and get that going,” said Shaw. “We just have to get out of this little slump we’re in and push forward.”

Nylander to play 10th game for Leafs, will burn first year of ELC

Toronto Maple Leafs' William Nylander celebrates after scoring against the Ottawa Senators during first-period NHL hockey game action in Toronto, Saturday, March 5, 2016. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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William Nylander will play his 10th game for the Maple Leafs tomorrow. In the process, the 19-year-old forward will burn the first year of his entry-level contract.

Toronto coach Mike Babcock announced the decision today. Nylander has two goals and 20 shots in nine games since being promoted from the AHL on Feb. 29.

The decision by the Leafs to keep the eighth overall pick in the 2014 draft is not a surprise. Babcock told reporters Tuesday, “To me the idea was to bring him up to keep him up.”

Nylander can still be returned to the Marlies for the AHL playoffs, after the Leafs’ season ends Apr. 9.

“It feels like I’m getting better and batter, being able to play more of my game,” Nylander said yesterday, per the National Post. “I’ve got a lot of experience playing up here, being with Babs and getting a look at the NHL.”

Once he suits up tomorrow against Florida, Nylander will officially need a new contract after 2017-18.