Author: Mike Halford

Canada Training Sessions - 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship

Report: Avs interested in Groulx, Farrish for assistant gig

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Patrick Roy’s search for assistant coaches in Colorado reportedly includes Benoit Groulx, who led Canada to gold at the 2015 World Juniors, and Dave Farrish, who most recently worked as an assistant to Randy Carlyle in Toronto.

Per Sportsnet, Roy has already interviewed Groulx for one of the two vacant positions, opened after both Andre Tourigny and Mario Duhamel left the organization two weeks ago. Tourigny was Roy’s right-hand man and defensive coach, while Duhamel was the club’s video coach.

It’s not surprising that Roy’s already spoken with Groulx. The two are familiar with one another from their time coaching against one another in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where Groulx achieved a high level of success with Gatineau. The 47-year-old also has experience at the professional level, having spent two years as the head coach with AHL Rochester.

Farrish, 58, also has a wealth of experience. He’s been an assistant in New Jersey, Anaheim and Toronto, and spent years as a head coach in the IHL, AHL and ECHL.

Ehrhoff likely headed to free agency

Christian Ehrhoff

Christian Ehrhoff’s agent said his client is probably done with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“For the moment I would suggest he’ll be available come July 1,” Rick Curran told PHT on Wednesday, the same day news of Ehrhoff’s house listing ran on Realtor’s Celebrity Real Estate page,

Ehrhoff, 32, signed a one-year, $4 million deal with Pittsburgh last July, not long after Buffalo bought out the remaining seven years of his 10-year, $40 million contract.

The signing came with significant fanfare. GM Jim Rutherford said it was a “good day,” adding that Pittsburgh was “very fortunate” to land the coveted offensive d-man, who’d generated plenty of interest. Many pundits thought Ehrhoff would fit in nicely, replacing some of the offense lost with Matt Niskanen signing in Washington.

But things didn’t go as planned. Ehrhoff’s offensive production was slow at the beginning of the season (though he did log big minutes, and played a steady top-four role.) In the second half of the year, concussion issues derailed his campaign; the German rearguard only played six games over the final three months of the season, missing 33 games all told.

Ehrhoff was then held out of Pittsburgh’s opening-round playoff loss to the Rangers.

“[Ehrhoff] just hasn’t been progressing,” head coach Mike Johnston said midway through the series, per “That’s the step that’s been taken and it’s because he’s sort of flat-lined in his recovery and will be progressing from there.”

PHT emailed Curran for an update on his client’s health, but did not receive a reply.

Update: Curran tells the Post-Gazette that Ehrhoff “has been given a clean bill of health.”

Ehrhoff’s health will certainly play a role in how much interest Ehrhoff garners on the open market. While he’s no longer the offensive producer he was in Vancouver a few years ago — he scored 44 and a career-high 50 points with the Canucks in 2009-10 and ’10-11 — Ehrhoff, when healthy, remains a capable puck-mover that averaged nearly 22 minutes last year.

As for the Pens, this move could suggest they’ll try and retain veteran d-man Paul Martin. Martin proved a dependable presence in the wake of all the injuries on defense last year, and averaged nearly 25 minutes per night against the Rangers.

As Bolts deal with illness, extra day of rest could prove beneficial

New York Rangers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three

There have been rumblings of a team-wide bug going through the Lightning over the last few days — Braydon Coburn, um, refunded during Game 5 and there were whispers of The Triplets falling ill — but for the most part, the team had stayed mum.

On Wednesday, though, forward Alex Killorn all but made it official during a media conference call.

“It’s tough,” Killorn said. “We had a few guys under the weather. Not that that’s any excuse. Most of the guys have been ready for games. Today is going to be huge, not only for injured guys, but guys feeling kind of sick.

“We’re going to use those kind of days to get healthy. We’re not going to use that as an excuse.”

Today, of course, is the first of two off prior to Friday’s Game 7 versus the Rangers at MSG. The scheduling quirk could definitely prove useful for a Tampa Bay team that looked flat and disjointed in the third period of Tuesday’s 7-3 home loss; the Lightning went into the final frame down just 2-1 but proceeded to surrender four goals in a span of 7:19, blowing their chance to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 11 years.

This is the first two-day break of the series. Last round, Tampa had a two-day break between Games 5 and 6 and proceeded to eliminate Montreal in the latter.

As for the club’s health, Lightning coach Jon Cooper danced around questions regarding it hinting that while players might be dealing with some sort of flu bug, we’d have to wait until the playoffs were over to get the full story.

“Maybe after it’s all said and done, more things will come out what happened in our room,” Cooper said. “We’re putting the best lineup we can possible.”

Etem likely to draw back in tonight versus Chicago

Anaheim Ducks v Chicago Blackhawks
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After a one-game break, Emerson Etem looks as though he’ll return to the Anaheim lineup tonight for Game 6 of the Western Conference Final in Chicago.

Etem, who sat Game 5 so Tomas Fleischmann could draw in, has experienced an up-and-down postseason. He scored one of the nicest goals of the playoffs against Winnipeg in Round 1, but has also flipped-flopped with Fleischman throughout, appearing in 11 of 14 games all told.

(Fleischmann had a relatively quiet Game 5, going pointless in 10:14 TOI without registering a shot on goal.)

Etem, 22, certainly gives the Ducks a different speed element in the lineup. One of the fastest skaters on the team, he can give opposing defensemen fits by trying to take them one-on-one, which might come into play tonight against a Blackhawks team that’s really only playing four blueliners, and will insert David Rundblad this evening at the expense of Kimmo Timonen.

Sounds like it’s Rundblad, not TVR, in for Chicago on defense

Columbus Blue Jackets v Chicago Blackhawks

The rotating door of Chicago’s depth defensemen continued Wedensday morning as David Rundblad looked and sounded as though he’d draw in for tonight’s Western Conference Final Game 6 at the United Center.

After this morning’s skate, ‘Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville addressed the potential change.

Q. Looks like David Rundblad is in for the team tonight, is that correct?

Quenneville: It could happen.

Q. How much does he have to shake off that first game and be himself?

Quenneville: You have to move on. You’re playing the next game. You’re playing the next shift. You got to be confident. You got to be comfortable and play.

Q. With Kimmo looking like he’s going to be a scratch, is it disappointing what you’ve gotten from him, the minutes you’ve had to play him?

Quenneville: He’s been useful in ways. I think you like his experience around the net. Defensively he’s got a good presence, good understanding, a good stick.

He keeps it simple. So I think that reliability has been useful.

(Is “useful in ways” the most backhanded compliment ever? I say yes.)

Speaking of Timonen, it’s not a surprise Coach Q has opted to park him. The veteran Finn has been exposed by the Ducks even while playing limited and sheltered minutes; Timonen’s speed is an issue, especially against Anaheim’s rather quick bottom-six forward group.

As for Trevor van Riemsdyk… while Quenneville sounded optimistic about the youngster’s chances yesterday, that enthusiasm was dampened today, and it shouldn’t be a huge surprise — TVR has missed most of this season with wrist and knee injuries, and only resumed practicing last week.