Author: Mike Halford


PHT Morning Skate: Backes gives back to his alma mater


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

David Backes spent three years playing at Minnesota State-Mankato and, now, he and wife Kelly are donating $100,000 for the final renovations to the school’s Verizon Wireless Center hockey upgrades. (Mankato Free Press)

Jake Gyllenhaal remembers “crying on the kitchen counter” when his parents made him pass on the starring role in the original Mighty Ducks movie. His loss was Joshua Jackson’s gain. (Puck Daddy)

More movie-related news: Tyler Seguin is taking acting classes and has a cameo in the upcoming sequel to the 2011 flick Goon, titled “Goon: Last of the Enforcers.” (Dallas Morning News)

Buffalo has signed its second-round pick at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Brendan Guhle, to an entry-level contract. (WGRZ Buffalo)

LA Kings assistant GM Rob Blake had high praise for Jordan Weal, who starred for AHL Manchester last season and won Calder Cup MVP. (Frozen Royalty)

Report: Antropov mulling NHL return

Nik Antropov

Nikolai Antropov, a veteran of nearly 800 NHL contests that last played for Winnipeg in ’13, could be eyeing a North American return.

Per Russian outlet Sport Express, Antropov’s agent, Shumi Babaev, said his client is mulling a NHL comeback rather than re-sign with KHL club Barys Astana.

The 35-year-old scored 21 points in 39 games last year for Barys, his second season with the team.

It remains to be seen how serious this “comeback” is. Antropov would be intriguing on a couple of fronts: One, he’s still 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds. Two, his last year with the Jets was pretty decent — 15 goals and 35 points in 69 games.

He also has a son, Daniel, that’s currently playing high-level minor hockey in Toronto for the Don Mills Flyers program, so it’s not that hard to fathom him wanting to return.

All that said, it’s tough to see any team making a huge play for Antropov, who turns 36 in February and was never considered the fastest skater. That said, another veteran European — Ruslan Fedotenko — returned from a one-year stint in the KHL last season, and caught on with Minnesota’s AHL affiliate last season.

Mayers returning to ‘Hawks in front office role


Jamal Mayers, who played in 100 games with Chicago and won a Stanley Cup with the team in 2013, is returning to the Blackhawks in a community liaison role.

“We are proud to welcome Jamal back to the organization in this role,” Blackhawks president John McDonough said in a statement. “We envision him being a strong asset to the Blackhawks as we continue to focus on the growth of youth hockey.

“Jamal’s involvement in our local neighborhoods will help to further ingrain the Blackhawks brand into our community.”

Mayers, 40, wrapped a 15-year playing career following that Cup win and has spent the last two years working in television. All told, he played in over 900 NHL games for the ‘Hawks, Blues, Maple Leafs, Flames and Sharks, and won a gold medal with Canada at the 2007 World Hockey Championships.

Seguin (knee) wants to open Stars camp sans-brace

Tyler Seguin
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Given how well Tyler Seguin played with a knee brace, news of him getting rid of it is kind of a big deal.

“I want to go free,” Seguin told the Dallas Morning News this week, confirming he’s skating without a brace and hopes to open training camp the same way.

“I’m sure you can use a smaller brace or a lighter brace, but they say that once you start relying on them, you never get off. I like skating without one, and I want to keep it that way.”

Seguin missed 10 games last February/March following a hit from Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov. Originally scheduled to miss up to six weeks, he returned in three to aid Dallas in its (ultimately futile) late playoff push, admitting the knee was “definitely not anywhere near 100 percent.”

Not like it mattered an awful lot.

Seguin had eight goals and 10 assists in 16 games after his return and then, just a few weeks after the regular season ended, scored a tournament-high nine goals in 10 games to help Canada capture gold at the Worlds.

It’s easy to see why Seguin wants to go full-stop right out of training camp. He knows last year’s slow start was a big reason why Dallas missed the playoffs, something the club expects to change after an exciting offeason in which it acquired Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Antti Niemi.

“After the slow start, we spent the next 60 games trying to catch up, and we were never able to do that,” Seguin explained. “The start is important, obviously, there are too many good teams to try to fight through a bad start.”

‘I don’t want to play in the AHL next year,’ says Detroit’s Callahan


Mitch Callahan wants his name on an NHL roster this fall — be it in Detroit, or elsewhere.

“There’s always been talk that some teams would be interested if I was on waivers, but it all depends on the timing on everything — I just want to go in and try and make Detroit,” Callahan said on Tuesday, per MLive. “As much as I love Grand Rapids, I don’t want to play in the AHL next year.

“So I’m trying to do everything possible to play with them (Red Wings) or have a good enough camp for someone else to take me.”

Callahan, 24, is another intriguing Detroit prospect that’s spent extensive time grooming in the AHL. He’s played over 200 games for Grand Rapids, won a Calder Cup and was enjoying a great campaign last year — 38 points in 48 games — before suffering a season-ending ACL tear in February.

As such, his time in the NHL has been brief. Callahan’s played in just one game for the Red Wings, during the ’13-14 campaign.

This year, that might have to change.

Callahan would require waivers to get sent down to Grand Rapids and, given how things have gone in the past, there’s good reason to think he’d get claimed. Last year, ex-Red Wing Andrej Nestrasil scored seven goals and 18 points in 41 games for Carolina after getting plucked off waivers, and in June was signed to a two-year, $1.825 million extension.

(Like Callahan, Nestrasil was a solid producer in Grand Rapids, scoring 16 goals and 36 points in his only full season with the team.)

All of this puts both the club and player in tough spots. Though Callahan and new Wings head coach Jeff Blashill have a strong relationship from their time together in Grand Rapids, the forward position in Detroit is deep with a glut of guys on NHL deals.

That said, Pavel Datsyuk isn’t expected to be ready for the start of the season and there’s still no clear picture on Johan Franzen’s (concussion) health, so there could be some temporary spots available.