Mike Halford

Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens - Game One
Getty Images

Plekanec to captain Czechs at Worlds

Montreal center Tomas Plekanec will captain his native Czech Republic at the upcoming World Hockey Championships, the club announced on Tuesday.

Plekanec, 33, has a wealth of international experience, and previously captained the Czechs at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The Worlds are a chance for Plekanec to end his year on a high note, after what was — by all accounts — a difficult season in Montreal.

Despite the team’s struggles, Plekanec did manage to produce well this season. His 40 assists were the second-most of his career, and his highest total since racking up 45 during the ’09-10 campaign.

As for the Worlds, Plekanec has enjoyed past success with the Czechs at this tournament. He won a silver medal in 2006, and back-to-back bronzes in 2011 and 2012.


Reminder: Kraft Hockeyville Final 2 voting closes tonight

Tonight will be your last chance to cast ballots for which rink — Lakeview Arena (Marquette, MI) and the Rushmore Thunderdome (Rapid City, SD) — will capture the title of Kraft Hockeyville for 2016.

To check out both rinks, click the video above.

To vote on who will emerge as the Kraft Hockeyville winner for 2016, visit the website. A reminder that voting closes at Midnight ET.

Report: Sens looking to move AHL team to Belleville

OTTAWA, CANADA - OCTOBER 11: Owner, governor and chairman Eugene Melnyk of the Ottawa Senators walks the red carpet and greets fans during the Senators' 20th anniversary pre-game ceremonies prior to the start of the NHL home opener against the Minnesota Wild at Scotiabank Place on October 11, 2011 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
Getty Images

The Senators could be the latest NHL team to move their farm team closer to home.

Per the Ottawa Citizen, the club is looking to move its AHL affiliate from Binghamton to Belleville — the former site of the OHL’s Bulls, which is roughly a three-hour drive away from the Canadian capital.

More, from the Citizen:

The talk in AHL circles is the club is investigating relocating the franchise to the Yardmen Arena in Bellevile for the 2017-18 campaign.

If that happens, the belief is the Senators would try not to leave Binghamton empty-handed because the AHL considers it a strong market. It’s quite possible another NHL team could move its affiliate to Binghamton if the Senators are successful in negotiations with the city of Belleville and a potential buyer.

The Senators wouldn’t comment when contacted.

Should Ottawa complete the move, it would be in a similar situation to the rival Maple Leafs, who have their AHL affiliate, the Marlies, within spitting distance.

Belleville has been without a full-time hockey tenant since the Bulls moved to Hamilton last season.

So Ottawa’s potential move to Belleville wouldn’t just be filling a need — it’d also be in lockstep with what the NHL’s three California teams did last summer. All of them brought their AHL affiliates in-state: Kings moved theirs from Manchester to Ontario (California), the Sharks moved theirs from Worcester to San Jose, and the Ducks moved theirs from Norfolk to San Diego.

Last week, the Coyotes purchased their AHL affiliate and moved it from Springfield, Massachusetts to Tucson, Arizona.

Stamkos back at Bolts practice, three weeks after vascular surgery

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)

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.
Getty Images

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