Joe Yerdon

Report: Bissonnette suspension reduced to three games (Update: It’s official)

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Paul Bissonnette’s 10-game suspension is reportedly about to get a lot shorter.

Damien Cox of the Toronto Star reported his ban for leaving the bench to fight L.A. Kings forward Jordan Nolan during a preseason game last week was to be cut in half or more. John Shannon of Sportsnet confirmed the report saying the suspension will go from 10 games to just three.

Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet reports the reduction in games comes as a negotiated deal between Bissonnette and the NHL.

With the lack of video of how things played out and everyone having to go by word of mouth to figure things out, this doesn’t come as too big of a surprise. The fact he’ll still have three games to serve, however, is a bit of a head-scratcher.

If he had left the bench on a legal line change and fought, the only punishment he would’ve received would be five minutes in the box.

Then again, without there being much, if any, evidence as to what happened neither side can really prove their case. Bissonnette getting seven games back was probably the best he could hope for.

When it comes to appealing a suspension, this is as close to a “win” as a player can get.

UPDATE (6:58 p.m. ET): It’s official from the NHL – his suspension is reduced to three games. The league cites the lack of video evidence as the main reason for the reduction. Bissonnette will be eligible to return to action on October 10. He’ll give up $11,346.15 in salary to  the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund because of the suspension.

Tampa Bay’s Malone (upper body) should be ready for opener

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Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Malone is battling injury yet again, but it looks like he’ll be ready for the season opener.

Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports Malone is working through an upper body issue that will keep him out of their preseason finale tonight against Florida. Coach Jon Cooper says, however, that Malone should be ready for the season opener on Thursday against Boston.

Malone tells Missy Zielinski of the Lightning website it’s all about making sure he’s good to go for the regular season.

“We just thought it was best to kind of relax and make sure everything’s still good,” Malone said. “There’s really no concern, it is just part of the plan to make sure you’re ready for game one.”

Malone is a key component of Tampa Bay’s forward attack but staying healthy has always been an issue in his career.

Last season he missed 24 games, half of the schedule, and has missed a total of 91 games in his five seasons with the Lightning. If missing a preseason game helps keep him in the lineup when the games count, the team will take it.

Report: Canucks rookies Horvat, Shinkaruk to start year with team

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Canucks fans don’t have to wonder anymore about which of their 2013 first-round picks will start the year with the team.

John Shannon of Sportsnet reports both Bo Horvat (9th overall) and Hunter Shinkaruk (24th overall) will start the season in Vancouver with the big club.

Both players have seen a lot of action so far in the preseason and both have shown they’ve got enough game to stay with some of the NHLers, but whether they’ll stick around for more than nine games before being sent back to juniors is another question.

Vancouver is currently dealing with injuries and suspensions at forward with Jordan Schroeder out with a hairline fracture in his foot and Zack Kassian suspended for the first five games of the season for high-sticking Edmonton’s Sam Gagner. David Booth has returned from his ankle issue but he’s working off the rust of being out of action for so long.

It may just be a short stay for the Canucks’ prized picks, but they’ve shown so far they’ve got the skills to earn a further look from coach John Tortorella.

Senators owner says team is ‘over budget’ for this year

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It seems questions about the financial status of the Ottawa Senators and owner Eugene Melnyk aren’t about to go away.

In speaking with the press at the opening of “Sens Mile” in Ottawa, Melnyk spoke about his ongoing battle with the city’s mayor over the location of a new casino as well as how the team is doing with money. As Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen reports, it sounds a bit dicey at the moment.

Though only four NHL clubs have more salary cap space than Ottawa’s $8.2 million, beyond a payroll of about $57 million, Melnyk said his team is “already over budget, I just found out (Thursday).”

He stressed the point he believes Ottawa is a “price-sensitive market” but also shooed away questions about possibly relocating the team to help fix that “problem.”

Winning on a budget appears to be the Senators’ aim now and with the team set up how they are now, many prognosticators like their chances of success this season. In the end, Melnyk said he believes teams have to be in the top-half of spenders to be competitive.

For the record, CapGeek.com has Ottawa ranked 26 out of 30 in payroll at the moment. Maybe numbers do lie sometimes.

Under Pressure: Jonathan Huberdeau

“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the Florida Panthers we pick… Jonathan Huberdeau.

Being the brightest young star on a team desperate for consistent success can be hard. Such is the case for 20-year-old Huberdeau in Florida. Last season he took home the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie but for the Panthers he represents something else: Hope.

The Panthers were crushed by injuries and misfortune last season. Jose Theodore’s injury forced prospect Jacob Markstrom into the fire as the team’s starting goalie. Guys like Kris Versteeg, Ed Jovanovski, Stephen Weiss, Sean Bergenheim, and Scottie Upshall all missed significant time with injuries.

Huberdeau and Tomas Fleischmann were the two regulars in their top six who managed to stay healthy all season and they led the way in points. For a kid as young as he is, Huberdeau handled it all with aplomb. After a summer and preseason filled with changes, it’s up to him to just not be a complementary player, but a leader.

After putting up 31 points last season in 48 games, Huberdeau will have those injured guys back to surround him and with that his production will pick up. Now that Weiss moved on to Detroit, he’s now the top guy on the top line which means we should get more opportunities to see goals like this:

Huberdeau will need to have a John Tavares-like evolution of his play and become the superstar the Panthers haven’t had since Pavel Bure played there. Without that kind of improvement, Florida won’t be able to take that next step.

He should have more help this season, but it’s up to him to make the Panthers a playoff contender in the Atlantic Division.

For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.