Author: Mike Halford


Bolts mum on what’s ailing Brian Boyle


Ah yes, the playoffs — where injury information is guarded with the kind of zeal normally reserved for the Secret Service.

On Monday, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper offered virtually nothing on the status of injured forward Brian Boyle, who (somewhat surprisingly) missed Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Rangers with an upper-body injury.

“The update is there is no update,” Cooper said on Monday.

The Bolts further added to the mystery by having Boyle skate this morning, followed by an “organizational decision” to keep him away from reporters afterward. There was no word if he’d draw in for Game 2 or not.

The towering fourth-line center has been a key contributor for Tampa Bay this spring. He appeared in all 13 playoff games prior to Saturday’s 2-1 loss at MSG and, while he only has two points, Boyle has been good in the faceoff circle, sitting third on the team in draws taken (162) and in winning percentage (53.7).

The former Ranger also has a wealth of playoff experience, with 71 games on his resume.

Related: Bolts coach makes it clear why Drouin isn’t playing

Russia to be punished for ‘completely out of order’ actions after Worlds final loss to Canada

Canada v Russia - 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Gold Medal Game

On Monday, IIHF president Rene Fasel had some choice — and ominous — remarks for Team Russia, which left the ice before Canada’s anthem was played following Sunday’s 6-1 loss in the World Hockey Championship final.

“The IIHF has its own protocol and some sort of punishment will be handed down,” Fasel told TASS, per Reuters. “When I saw what had happened, I was very upset. In the 29 world championships that I have had the honor of attending, this is the first time I have seen something like this.

“What the Russian team did was completely out of order.”

Watch full replay of championship final

Canada routed the Russians on the strength of four goals in 10 minutes spanning the first and second periods. The Canadians eventually pushed the lead to 6-0, before Evgeni Malkin scored a consolation marker for the Russians with under 10 minutes to play.

Following the game, the Russian team stayed out for the medal ceremony and individual award announcements, but left the surface prior to ‘O Canada’ being played.

According to various onlookers, former NHLer Ilya Kovalchuk reportedly waved his teammates off the ice (here’s a video from Russian sports writer Slava Malamud.) It’s worth noting that Washington captain Alex Ovechkin was trying to keep his Russian mates on:

Related: Canada creams Russia for WHC gold, Crosby joins ‘Triple Gold Club’

Free agents ‘going for max dollars’ will ‘hinder our ability to compete,’ says Caps GM


Washington GM Brian MacLellan has a busy summer ahead.

Veterans Mike Green, Joel Ward, Eric Fehr, Jay Beagle, Tim Gleason and Curtis Glencross are all unrestricted come July 1, while young building blocks like Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Braden Holtby are all pending RFAs in need of new deals.

And this is probably why, during Monday’s end-of-year media availability, MacLellan not-so-subtly hinted that some players might need to take haircuts to stay in D.C.

“I think it’s important for players that they realize we’ve had a successful team,” MacLellan said, per the Washington Post. “If they believe we have a good chance moving forward to win a championship, they recognize that going for max dollars — which you could make the choice to do in certain situations — that it would hinder our ability to compete going forward.”

Johansson, Kutznetsov and Holtby will all be re-signed while Gleason and Glencross are likely done. Beagle and Fehr both sound like priorities, with MacLellan saying Beagle will “be an easier one to sign, I hope.”

Which leaves Green and Ward.

MacLellan’s “max dollars” reference is likely to those two, both of whom could generate significant interest on the open market. Green, who turns 30 in October, is no longer the Norris finalist of five years ago but still a quality offensive d-man; his 45 points this year put him 19th among all NHL blueliners and he remains one of the league’s better table-setters on the power play.

Green’s coming off a deal that paid $6.08M annually and, while it might be tough to get that much this time around, he’s still in the running for a nice payday. On a UFA d-man market that projects to be thin, Green — who’s also a coveted right-hand shot — could make a lot of cash, though he’s on record saying “it’s not about the money,” adding he’d like to remain a Capital “until the day I die or retire.”

“It’s probably going to be a little complicated,” MacLellan said of future Green negotiations. “There’s a lot of moving parts around that. The best thing I think we can do is keep in communication, tell him what we’re thinking, and he can tell us what he’s thinking.

“If it works out, that’d be great, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

We wrote about Ward’s future last week, after he said he’d “love” to stay in Washington. The 34-year-old just wrapped the last of a four-year, $12 million deal and was full value for his $3M cap hit over the final two seasons. He scored a career-high 24 goals in 2013-14 and potted 19 this year, punctuated by yet another stellar playoff run.

Like Green, Ward could benefit from a relatively weak free agent class. There aren’t many goalscoring wingers available, and very few with Ward’s penchant for scoring in the postseason (Los Angeles’ Justin Williams, another pending UFA, would probably be in a similar scenario to Ward.)

And like with Green, MacLellan is hopeful Ward will be swayed by the positive vibes developed this year under Barry Trotz. You know, the whole we’re-building-something-here-so-take-less-money-to-stay approach.

“In the exit interviews you hear a lot of language of ‘this is the most fun I’ve ever had playing, this is the best team we’ve had, this is the most success we’ve experienced,'” MacLellan explained. “A lot of positive comments, so I’m assuming they all want to come back.”

Zuccarello skates, but Rangers say he’s still out indefinitely

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers - Game Two

Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello, who’s been out since Game 5 of the first playoff round after taking a Ryan McDonagh shot to the side of the head, resumed skating on Monday prior to tonight’s Eastern Conference Final game against Tampa Bay.

Zuccarello, 27, missed New York’s entire seven-game win over Washington in Round 2 with a suspected concussion, and also sat out the conference final opener on Saturday. Prior to the Tampa Bay series, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said he was “holding out hope” for a possible Zuccarello return; noting that the diminutive Norwegian had done “everything but” skate in terms of working out.

Getting Zuccarello back would be a major boon for the Blueshirts. He’s one of their most creative playmakers — third on the team in assists this year, with 34 — and received plenty of minutes during the regular season (17:16 per game).

Flames’ Yonkman signs in Finnish League

Samuel Henley, Nolan Yonkman

Journeyman defenseman Nolan Yonkman is on his way to Finland.

Yonkman, who was in Flames training camp last year and spent the season with their AHL affiliate in Adirondack, has signed with SM-liiga team JYP, the club announced on Monday. Yonkman will head to Finland following a year in which he played 62 games for the Flames, scoring two goals and 12 points.

Picked 37th overall by Washington at the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, Yonkman has played for the Capitals, Coyotes, Panthers and, most recently Anaheim Ducks over a lengthy pro career. He’s primarily played in the American League — over 600 games to date — and this will mark the first time he’s played for a European outlet, having bounced around North America for the last 15 seasons.