Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.

‘Phil Kessel is a Stanley Cup champion!’ — President Obama welcomes Penguins to White House (Video)

5 Comments

The Pittsburgh Penguins had their day at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Thursday, and it started in fine form.

“It is wonderful to be here, welcome to the White House,” President Barack Obama said in his opening remarks. “We are here to celebrate an extraordinary achievement — Phil Kessel is a Stanley Cup champion!”

Zing.

What followed was the usual presidential fare — some jokes, some congrats and a bunch of player references (Sidney Crosby, Matt Murray and Kessel’s HBK running mates, Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino).

Obama also made mention of Pittsburgh’s last visit after winning the Cup in 2009, when Evgeni Malkin took a bunch of pictures on his flip phone.

Pittsburgh bid farewell to the outgoing president with (another) No. 44 jersey — the Pens gave him one seven years ago as well — and a mini-Stanley Cup.

Banged-up Stars sign Fontaine to PTO

AP
1 Comment

Justin Fontaine is getting another shot with another NHL club.

Fontaine, recently released from his professional tryout with Florida, has caught on with the Dallas Stars, GM Jim Nill confirmed on Thursday.

The move comes with Dallas dealing with a depleted forward group. Mattias Janmark is out 5-6 months following knee surgery, Cody Eakin is sidelined with a knee ailment, Ales Hemsky is dealing with a groin problem and Tyler Seguin is still recovering from a hairline fracture in his heel.

Also, Valeri Nichushkin signed in the KHL.

Fontaine, 28, spent the last three seasons with the Wild, scoring five goals and 16 points in 60 games last season. His career high in points is 31 from the 2014-15 campaign, and 13 goals from his rookie year.

The Stars are familiar with Fontaine, having faced him and the Wild several times in the Central Division, and in last year’s opening playoff round.

The diminutive winger won’t have a ton of time to impress Dallas brass, however. The Stars have just one exhibition game remaining — on Saturday, in Los Angeles — before opening the regular season on Thursday, Oct. 13, at home against Anaheim.

Flyers lose Laughton and Manning to injury, which could be an opportunity for Konecny and Provorov

AP
14 Comments

First, the news — per CSN Philly, the Flyers have lost forward Scott Laughton for the next 3-4 weeks with a lower-body injury, and d-man Brandon Manning (week-to-week) with an upper-body injury.

Now, for the ramifications.

These injuries are positives for Philly’s two first-round picks at the 2015 draft: Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov, regarded as two of the organization’s best young prospects.

Konecny, aiming to make the team after getting sent back to junior last year, could fill Laughton’s spot at forward while Provorov — who many expected to make the team anyway — gets closer to “lock” status with the Manning injury.

More: Impressive Konecny pushing for roster spot in Philly

Philly got its roster down to 28 players on Wednesday by demoting Colin McDonald, Taylor Leier and Sam Morin to AHL Lehigh Valley.

The club will play two more exhibition games — tonight at MSG against the Rangers, Saturday in Boston — before opening the regular season in Los Angeles on Friday, Oct. 14.

Ducks waive Stoner, he of the $13 million contract

Getty
5 Comments

One of Bob Murray’s most maligned contracts is up for grabs.

Per Sportsnet, the Ducks have waived veteran defenseman Clayton Stoner, who’s heading into the third of a four-year, $13 million deal with a $3.25M average annual cap hit.

Stoner, 31, joined Anaheim on the opening day of free agency in 2014, after spending the first 10 years of his pro career with the Wild organization. Upon inking, Stoner told reporters the Ducks “made it known they were looking for more size,” adding “they like physical defenseman on the back-end.”

But things have changed since then.

Stoner missed 45 games over the last two years due to a variety of ailments — a hip flexor injury, among others — and occasionally sat as a healthy scratch. He was a non-factor in last year’s playoffs, appearing in just one contests during Anaheim’s opening-round loss to Nashville.

Stoner was also dealing with a legal situation involving an alleged unlawful grizzly bear hunt, which dragged on throughout his time in Anaheim.

It’s not really surprising the Ducks made this move. As we’ve previously reported, they’re in a financial bind — prized RFAs Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell remain unsigned, and reports suggest Murray’s been looking to move a substantial contract to clear cap space.

What’s more, head coach Randy Carlyle said the club is giving three of its brightest young d-men prospects — Shea Theodore, Brandon Montour and Jacob Larsson — “every opportunity” to try and make the team this year.

As such, Stoner’s on the outs.

‘Canes drop Torres from PTO, send first-rounders Bean and Gauthier to junior

Getty
2 Comments

Raffi Torres’ time as a Hurricane is over.

On Thursday, Carolina announced that the veteran forward has been released from his training camp tryout, after appearing in a handful of preseason games.

Torres, 34, did look as though he sufficiently recovered from a knee injury that’s cost him most of the last three seasons. Those knee problems, along with various suspensions, have limited him to just five regular season games since ’13-14.

But even with those problems solved, Torres didn’t show enough to stick with a Carolina club that’s got plenty of youth — and speed — at the forward position.

And speaking of youth, Carolina’s first two picks at this year’s draft — defenseman Jake Bean (13th overall) and forward Julien Gauthier (21st) — have been sent back to their junior teams in WHL Calgary and QMJHL Val d’Or.

Bean, 18, was the third defenseman off the board at the June draft, behind Vancouver’s Olli Juolevi and Montreal’s Mikhail Sergachev. Gauthier, also 18, was one of the most physically imposing prospects taken this year — he stands 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, and comes from a lineage of bodybuilders (both his dad and grandfather competed).

In addition to Bean and Gauthier, other touted prospects were sent packing from ‘Canes camp today as well. They include Aleksi Saarela (acquired in the Eric Staal-to-New York trade) and Valentin Zykov (acquired in the Kris Versteeg-to-L.A. trade).