Mike Halford

Logan Couture

After 23-game absence, Couture back for Sharks tonight

The San Jose Sharks will get a major boost tonight in Calgary.

Logan Couture, who’s been out of action since mid-October with a fractured ankle, will play for the first time in 23 games when the Sharks take on the Flames at the Saddledome.

“Very excited,” Couture said today, per the San Jose Mercury News.”[Monday] was a good day for me, to be on a normal line and be a part of a practice. Tonight’s going to be the same, to be out there competing.

“It’s going to be fun.”

Couture is expected to center San Jose’s second line tonight, between Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward. It’s a huge boost for the club — Couture finished second on the team last year with a career-best 67 points, and finished just nine assists shy of Joe Thornton‘s club-leading 49.

Couture’s return also comes at an important time.

The Sharks are struggling lately, having lost four of their last five and three in a row. The offense has also sputtered during this current winless skid, as the team has just four goals in three contests.



Fun while it lasted: NHL kills draft pick compensation for hiring coaches, execs

Gary Bettman

Well, that didn’t take long.

Less than a year after implementing a trial period allowing teams to seek compensation when other clubs hired away a coach or executive under contract, the NHL has decided to scrap the rule.

From the Associated Press:

Commissioner Gary Bettman told the Board of Governors on Tuesday that as of Jan. 1 teams have the right to grant or deny permission to other franchises to talk to coaches and executives under contract.

But if a coach or executive does switch teams there will be no compensation allowed.

The league had a one-year trial run that allowed either a second- or third-round pick to be given as compensation for coaches and executives under contract even if they had been fired.

There were seven cases where draft picks were given away.

Bettman said it was time to “go back to the old rule,” one that “worked well for 10 years roughly,” and was “probably the best way to go.”

So as it stands, Vancouver is the last team to get compensation under the now-defunct rule. The Canucks were given a second-round pick from Columbus when the Blue Jackets hired John Tortorella in late October.

Under Bettman’s “old rule” — which I guess is the new rule — the Blue Jackets would’ve asked permission to speak with Tortorella about the job, without having to compensate Vancouver upon hiring him.

The Canucks, meanwhile, would’ve still got something in return — financial freedom from the remaining three years of Tortorella’s contract. Or if they wanted, they could’ve denied him permission to interview, like when Seinfeld tried to return that jacket out of spite.

Bottom line, the old rule was better and simpler and it’s probably best that it’s back.

Goalie nods: Blues go with Allen, who hasn’t been great lately

Jake Allen
1 Comment

The St. Louis Blues are giving Jake Allen another shot.

Allen, who’s given up seven goals on 44 shots in his last two outings — both losses — will get a chance at reclamation when the Blues host the Coyotes at Scottrade.

In Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Toronto, Allen was in for all four goals, despite getting the hook in favor of Brian Elliott during the contest. Allen quickly returned after getting yanked, and it turns out the whole thing was premeditated:

More: Hitchcock wants slumping Blues to tighten up

For the Coyotes, Mike Smith will be in goal.


— It’s Jaroslav Halak versus Steve Mason when the Islanders take on the Flyers in Philadelphia.

Jonathan Quick, currently riding a four-game winning streak, looks to be the starter for the Kings. Columbus will counter with Sergei Bobrovsky, who’s played very well lately: 11-6-1, 1.90 GAA and a .936 save percentage over his last 18 games.

Jimmy Howard goes for the Red Wings in Washington. The Caps will counter with Braden Holtby, as they almost always do.

— Feel-good story Garret Sparks gets another start after beating the Blues 4-1 on Saturday when the Leafs take on the Devils tonight. Cory Schneider will start for New Jersey.

Roberto Luongo looks to get back to his winning ways after a four-game undefeated streak was snapped Sunday against the Devils. He’ll be up against Craig Anderson in the Ottawa net.

— Good matchup in Chicago tonight as Pekka Rinne at the Preds take on Corey Crawford and the ‘Hawks.

Kari Lehtonen and his sparkling 10-1-0 record will start for Dallas. The ‘Canes are likely to go with Cam Ward.

— No word yet on who San Jose expects to start when it takes on the Flames. Calgary is going with Karri Ramo, yet again.

Boston puts Kemppainen (upper body) on IR, recalls Talbot

Joonas Kemppainen, John Quenneville

The Bruins will be without the services of first-year forward Joonas Kemppainen for a while.

On Tuesday, Boston announced that Kemppainen has been placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury, suffered in last night’s game against Nashville.

Kemppainen, 27, signed with the B’s this summer after spending all of his professional career in Finland’s SM-liiga. He’s emerged as a good bottom-six forward option, scoring three points in 24 games while averaging over 12 minutes per night.

He also sits third on the team in faceoff wins, trailing only Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

With Kemppainen out, the B’s recalled veteran forward Max Talbot from AHL Providence. Talbot will be eligible to get back into the lineup for Wednesday’s game against Montreal.

Provorov, Samsonov highlight Russia’s World Junior camp roster

Ivan Provorov

All four Russian players taken in the first round of the 2015 draft have been named to the country’s World Junior evaluation camp roster, per IIHF.com.

Ivan Provorov (seventh overall, Philly), Denis Gurianov (12th, Dallas), Evgeny Svechnikov (19th, Detroit) and Ilya Samsonov (22nd, Washington) were four of the 29 players invited on Tuesday.

Of the four, Provorov — the talented blueliner currently playing for WHL Brandon — and Samsonov are perhaps the most intriguing.

Provorov impressed during Flyers training camp this fall while Samsonov was the first goalie off the board in ’15, and is having a solid year in the KHL with Metallurg Magnitogorsk — 5-2-1 with a .929 save percentage and 1.87 GAA.


Another notable name on the list is Vladislav Kamenev. Taken 42nd overall by Nashville at the 2014 draft, Kamenev is currently playing with the Preds’ AHL affiliate in Milwaukee and performing well, with six goals and 13 points in 20 games.