Mike Halford

FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2016, file photo, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) skates before an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, in Tampa, Fla. Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman says he won’t trade captain Steven Stamkos before the Feb. 29 trade deadline. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

Stamkos back at Bolts practice, three weeks after vascular surgery


On Apr. 4, Tampa announced that captain Steve Stamkos underwent successful vascular surgery, and would require 1-3 months of recovery.

On Apr. 26, Stamkos was back at practice.

That was the scene in Tampa Bay on Tuesday, as Stamkos — wearing a red no-contact jersey — took part in full drills with teammates, and participated in line rushes.

This is a fairly big development, given both Stamkos and the organization have been largely mum on his status since surgery.

So, onto the obvious question — what’s his updated timetable for return?

The schedule could play a large role. Tampa Bay opens its second-round series with the Islanders on Wednesday, but the rest of the outlook remains TBD.

This series could be affected by arena availability, as Amalie Arena already has a tenant for Friday night and Barclays Center has a pair of Justin Bieber concerts on Wednesday and Thursday of next week.

These might seem like minor issues, but the longer this series is stretched out, the better it’ll be for Tampa Bay.

Stamkos isn’t the only player the Bolts could get back into the mix. On Monday, head coach Jon Cooper said the club is hoping injured d-man Anton Stralman — currently sidelined with a broken leg — will “make an appearance” in the second round.

Oilers CEO says it’s Chiarelli’s turn to win the draft lottery

attends the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.
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Bob Nicholson hasn’t been on the job in Edmonton long — he was only named CEO two years ago — but in his brief tenure, he’s already “helped” one GM win the NHL’s annual draft lottery.

From the Edmonton Sun:

Last year Nicholson took over and brought his luck to the Oilers.

The “lucky” socks Nicholson gave assistant general manager Lucky Bill Scott to take to the [2015] NHL Draft Lottery proceedings in Toronto were actually called ‘Good Luck Socks’ with the words and Canadian flags on them.

The sister “lucky loonie” to the one Nicholson and Wayne Gretzky convinced Edmonton (and now longtime NHL) ice maker Dan Craig to imbed in the ice at Salt Lake 2002 where Canada won Olympic Gold in hockey for the first time since the Edmonton Mercurys won in 1952.

The Sun also notes that, last year, veteran scribe Terry Jones conducted a similar interview with Nicholson and — apparently — that interview was good luck.

Hence this year’s interview.

This kind of thing isn’t new in Edmonton. During his tenure, former GM Steve Tambellini wore a “lucky tie” to three consecutive draft lotteries and won ’em all, which paved the way to select Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov.

Now, the new GM gets his crack at it.

Nicholson confirmed the Oilers will send GM Peter Chiarelli to Toronto for the lottery, adding that Chiarelli will be outfitted with some sort of lucky charm, because of course he will.

“It’s Peter’s turn to win. We have something lucky that he’ll be given. If we win, we’ll unveil it. If we don’t, we won’t,” Nicholson explained. “It’s a good challenge for Peter. We only have a 13 percent chance but that’s a pretty good chance compared to others.”

Nicholson did, to his credit, briefly address the elephant in the room.

“I know there are a lot of people out there who don’t think it’s right that we even have a chance to win,” he acknowledged. “But our goal is to go in there and win it and then see what happens.”

Related: ‘The stink is still there’ — Oilers discuss another grim season

Boyle curses out Rangers media, asks reporters to leave

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers - Game Seven
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It’s fair to say the Dan Boyle era in New York didn’t go how either the player or the organization had hoped.

As for the end of the Dan Boyle era?

Yeah, that didn’t go so great either.

Per multiple outlets, Boyle — a lightning rod for criticism this season — tore into the assembled media prior to his end-of-year interview on Tuesday.

Boyle, 39, asked that certain reporters leave his scrum before starting, dropping some colorful language along the way.

(If you’re wondering what outlet might’ve been the target of Boyle’s anger, read this or this or this.)

Unsurprisingly, the scribes that Boyle allowed to stick around weren’t too impressed.

From the New York Daily News:

If this is how Dan Boyle is going out, shame on him.

Boyle singled out multiple critical reporters and laced into them, cursing them out and refusing to begin his breakup day interview Tuesday afternoon in Greenburgh until they left the vicinity.

Boyle’s summer 2014 signing was an unmitigated failure. He is likely retiring after a mostly excellent career with the San Jose Sharks that skidded in New York, where coach Alain Vigneault gave him ample opportunity despite subpar play.

This isn’t the first time Boyle’s popped off at the media.

During his final season in San Jose, he took issue with how local beat writers portrayed him after he returned from a lengthy absence due to a concussion.

Here’s what he said:

“What can you say about me? Say whatever you want, you guys do anyway. I read the articles that this [Olympic break] is going to be really good for me, how I’ve been struggling all year, so you guys tell me.

“I’m 37 now, it’s not about individual points and I’ve been telling you guys that for years. Statistically, things weren’t really good last month but oddly enough, I think I’ve played pretty well. You guys are going to disagree because, statistically, it was horrible.”

Boyle sounds like a guy that’s keenly aware of what’s being written about him — so, given how things went in his final year in New York, it’s not surprising this is how things ended.

Boyle, who’s in the last of a two-year, $9 million deal with a $4.5M cap hit, appeared in 74 games this year, scoring 10 goals and 24 points.

He also said he’s leaning towards retirement.

Fleury still experiencing concussion symptoms, ‘one of the toughest things I’ve been through’

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) blocks a shot during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Penguins more than survived Marc-Andre Fleury‘s absence in their opening-round playoff win against the Rangers, as Matt Murray and Jeff Zatkoff combined to beat the Blueshirts in five games.

In the second round, though — against the top-seeded Capitals — it’s safe to assume Pittsburgh wants Fleury back in the mix.

Problem is, Fleury’s not there yet. He’s still dealing with concussion symptoms.

“It’s one of the toughest things I’ve been through,” Fleury said after Monday’s optional workout, per the Post-Gazette. “Some good days, when you think you’re back, and some bad days, when you think it’s never going to get fixed.”

Fleury hasn’t played since Mar. 31, when he suffered the concussion against Nashville. He’s since missed 10 games — five regular-season, five playoff — and while the second round start date has yet to be determined, Fleury has to be considered questionable at this point.

Thankfully for the Pens, Murray has been up to the challenge thus far.

After missing the first two games of the Rangers series with an upper-body ailment, the 21-year-old ripped off three straight wins, posting a .955 save percentage and a 31-save shutout in Game 4.

“He’s got a quiet confidence about him that I think really helps him deal with the ebbs and flows,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said of Murray, per NHL.com. “For a young guy, he’s mature beyond his years.

“I also think he’s a guy that reads the play extremely well and because of that, positionally, he’s a very sound guy.”

Let’s read the tea leaves from Detroit

Colorado Avalanche v Detroit Red Wings
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Ken Holland wasn’t going to come out and explain, in detail, the Red Wings’ plans for this summer.

But he did give a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen.

First off, shoot down the notion of a full scale rebuild. Despite three straight first round playoff exits and Pavel Datsyuk‘s looming departure, it’s not going to happen with this group. Not going to happen on Holland’s watch. Not going to happen with the team heading into a new arena next season.

So, what about free agency?

Holland was unenthusiastic, and that’s probably a combination of two factors: 1) an underwhelming UFA class, and 2) shifting views on free agency in general.

Despite the fact Steven Stamkos might be out there and the Wings are rumored to be an interested suitor, Holland’s take — that this class is filled with complimentary players, not franchise ones — suggests veteran patchwork moves like last summer’s (Brad Richards, Mike Green) are more likely than a big splash.

What does that leave, then?

The draft.

Trades make the most sense for Holland, because he’s got assets to move. Detroit has a glut of forwards, and it’s feasible the likes of Gustav Nyquist and/or Tomas Tatar — 20-25 goal guys (yes, I know Nyquist had 17) on affordable contracts — could be dealt. They’d probably net good returns.

These trades would also have a trickle-down effect, opening up spots for young guys like Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Martin Frk and Evgeny Svechnikov.

Of course, Holland could also move a young guy.

In speaking with TSN 1040 over the weekend, NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika suggested that for a trade of significance to occur, Holland would likely need to accept calls on guys rival GMs would be making calls on. Recent first-round picks. Prospects on entry-level deals. Dylan Larkin, even though Holland ain’t moving Dylan Larkin.

Speaking of trades, there’s the Jimmy Howard situation.

Howard told the Free Press he’d be okay with being dealt, coming off a year in which he lost the starting gig to Petr Mrazek, won it back, then lost it again in the playoffs. Howard’s play suggested he’s still a capable No. 1, but that doesn’t mean an awful lot when there are few starting gigs available across the league.

It also doesn’t mean much with Howard making as much money as he is ($5.29M through 2019). Put it all together, and the odds of a Howard trade returning anything significant are slim.

At the end of the day, though, Detroit still looks primed to shake things up in Buffalo in late June. The draft could also provide an opportunity to move Datsyuk’s contract, should that need to occur (remember, Chris Pronger got traded in Florida last June!)

Finally, it’s worth noting Detroit has close to a full slate of picks at its disposal, which only adds to Holland’s trade potential.