Author: Joe Yerdon

Riku Helenius

Lightning to part ways with ’06 first rounder Helenius


The rise of the 21-year-old Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis as well as the Lightning calling on Cedrick Desjardins while Anders Lindback and Ben Bishop dealt with injuries left their 2006 first-round pick Riku Helenius out in the cold.

Now it appears the team is ready to send Helenius packing.

Lindsay Kramer of reports the Lightning put Helenius on unconditional waivers and will release him if/when he passes unclaimed at noon on Sunday. Lightning assistant general manager Julien Brisebois says they’re severing ties with Helenius for breach of contract.

Helenius found himself at the short end of the stick in the Lightning organization after the team acquired Bishop and Lindback and now with Desjardins and Gudlevskis getting looks over him, time was running out for Helenius to prove himself. He hasn’t played for Syracuse since Nov. 27.

Facing these kinds of road blocks can be frustrating and if the report is true, refusing to go down to the ECHL won’t do him any favors of landing elsewhere anytime soon.

Islanders to likely fill Tavares’ absence with youth

Ryan Strome

The loss of John Tavares to the New York Islanders for the remainder of the season with a knee injury was crushing news for the team.

While Tavares is out, the team must move on. As Arthur Staple of New York Newsday shares, Isles coach Jack Capuano is hoping for the best from players from within the organization to fill the captain’s shoes.

“Everyone realizes what Johnny means to this team and this organization,” Capuano said. “It’s time to focus on the people we do have moving forward. Players go down and other guys have to step up.”

Ryan Strome (pictured) and Anders Lee are the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ top two scorers and they’ll both likely get the call to join the team. Making matters tougher for the Isles is Frans Nielsen’s broken hand that won’t be healed before they open up play on Thursday at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

No matter how well Strome and Lee might play, replacing Tavares’ production (he’s third in the NHL in points) will be nearly impossible.

Tortorella hopes Sweden wins gold because Hamhuis, Luongo won’t play

Tom Sestito, John Tortorella

Vancouver Canucks coach, and Boston native, John Tortorella could’ve had his loyalties split in Sunday’s gold medal game between Canada and Sweden because of the number of Canucks players on both teams.

Instead, Torts sounded off about not having a full boat of players at Canucks practice and very much prefers one team over the other as Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun shares.

“I hope Sweden wins because I don’t think Hammer [Dan Hamhuis] is going to play judging from what’s happened and I don’t think Louie [Roberto Luongo] is going to play,” said Tortorella. “So I don’t give a [bleep] right now because they’re not playing. I just want them back here. I hope Danny [Sedin] scores two goals and [Alex] Edler gets three assists and Sweden wins so they come back feeling good about themselves because it’s going to help us. That’s all I’m concerned about right now.”

Tell us how you really feel, coach.

Dan Hamhuis has been in Canada’s lineup but not playing many, if any, minutes in games as the seventh defenseman. Roberto Luongo has been backing up Carey Price through most of the Olympic tournament. Daniel Sedin and Alex Edler, meanwhile, have been getting steady play and minutes with Sweden.

Despite the harsh words, the takeaway from this is simple: If guys aren’t going to play, Tortorella would rather have them with him in Vancouver doing workouts and practicing with the team. He just has a very colorful way of saying that is all.