Mike Halford

Detroit loses Kronwall (2-4 weeks), Miller (4-6 months) to knee injuries


Some difficult injury developments on the Red Wings front Tuesday, as head coach Jeff Blashill announced that veteran d-man Niklas Kronwall and versatile forward Drew Miller will be sidelined with knee injuries.

Both losses are fairly profound.

Though Kronwall will only miss 2-4 weeks compared to Miller’s 4-6 months (torn ACL), his presence is massive. The 35-year-old leads all skaters in ice time, at 22:45 a night, and is tops among d-men with 17 points through 45 games.

Kronwall is also one of just six Detroit skaters to appear in every game this season.

As for Miller — it’s quite possible this injury will end his campaign, one that already saw him suffer a broken jaw. While the 31-year-old had done little offensively this year — just a goal and an assist — he did provide minutes as a penalty killer and bottom-six checking forward. He was also a pretty regular lineup fixture:

(This was prior to the broken jaw, of course.)

No word yet on who the Wings will recall from AHL Grand Rapids to fill the void.

Dallas GM doesn’t think Kopitar deal will affect Benn negotiations


With Anze Kopitar‘s monster eight-year, $80 million extension now signed, sealed and delivered in Los Angeles, reporters in Dallas are asking GM Jim Nill about contract negotiations for the Stars’ franchise player — team captain Jamie Benn.

From the Morning-News:

Q: Anze Kopitar just signed an eight-year extension for $80 million, does that affect your contract talks with Jamie Benn, who can become a UFA after next season?

Nill: I don’t think so. There’s a market, and we know what the market is. There are certain dynamics to any negotiation, and we’ll wait and see.

Q: Do you have to have it done before next year starts?

Nill: No.

Q: Would you like to have it done before next year?

Nill (laughs): You’d like everything done, but this is my job, and they have to do their job, too. I’m realistic.

Benn, 26, has this year and the next left on a five-year, $26.25 million deal signed back in 2013 — a deal orchestrated by Nill’s predecessor, Joe Nieuwendyk.

That deal, you may recall, was a contentious one. Benn missed the first four games of the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign trying to finagle an extension.

In light of that, it’ll be interesting to see what the reigning Art Ross winner demands with his new contract. Benn will be turning 28 by the time his current deal expires — roughly around the same age Kopitar was when he inked — and it’s widely expected he’ll receive a significant raise on the $5.25M he makes annually on his current deal.

So, is Benn $10M cap hit worthy?

That’s the big question Nill will face moving forward.

He’s got key pieces like Tyler Seguin (2019) and John Klingberg (2022) locked in long-term, but also has a slightly onerous cap hit in Jason Spezza ($7.5M annually through ’19) and some key contract decisions on the horizon: Patrick Sharp is up the same time as Benn, and Alex Goligoski is in the final year of his deal.

It’s official: John Scott is going to the All-Star Game


After much deliberation, one of the greatest sagas in NHL All-Star Game history has finally been resolved.

On Tuesday, the NHL announced that former Arizona forward John Scotttraded to Montreal last week — will retain his position as Pacific Division captain, and take part in the ASG in Nashville on Jan. 31.

More, from the league:

Scott, elected to the Pacific Division captaincy in fan voting while a member of the Arizona Coyotes, was traded Friday to the Montreal Canadiens of the Atlantic Division.

The resultant change in division, and Scott’s subsequent assignment to the American Hockey League, created a unique circumstance that required review – the result of which was a determination to maintain the status quo for the All-Star weekend in order to preserve all parties’ pre-existing expectations, including Scott’s desire to participate.

“I am looking forward to enjoying a fun and unique experience at All-Star Weekend in Nashville with my family,” Scott said in a statement. “While being voted to the All-Star Game by the fans was not something I expected to happen, I am excited to participate in the All-Star events with my fellow players.”

Previously, it had been reported that the trade to Montreal would keep Scott from playing in this year’s event. Aside from the switch in divisions, Scott isn’t even in the NHL anymore — after acquiring him from the Coyotes, Habs GM Marc Bergevin sent the longtime enforcer to Montreal’s AHL affiliate in St. John’s.

Related: Coyotes GM ‘dumbfounded’ at suggestions he traded John Scott to keep him from All-Star Game

Limping Devils lose d-man Merrill to injury, out week-to-week

Jon Merrill

Looks like another Devil will be on the shelf for the foreseeable future.

Jon Merrill, the former University of Michigan standout taken 38th overall in 2010, will be out week-to-week with an upper-body injury, per head coach John Hynes.

Merrill had scored three points in 36 games this year, averaging just under 17 minutes per night. His loss, combined with the other injuries New Jersey is dealing with at the moment, puts the club in a pretty tough spot.

Veteran Patrik Elias has barely played this season while dealing with a knee problem. Jacob Josefson has been out since December with a foot problem, and Jiri Tlusty is on IR with an upper-body ailment.

Mike Cammalleri, who’s missed the last eight games with a hand injury, is likely to return to the lineup tonight when the Devils host the Flames tonight. Despite his absence, Cammalleri still leads the Devils with 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) in 38 games.

After apologizing for undisciplined penalty, Hartnell a healthy scratch tonight

Scott Hartnell

This hasn’t been a banner campaign for veteran Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell.

And tonight, it’s not going to get any better.

Hartnell — along with fellow veteran Fedor Tyutin — will be a healthy scratch when Columbus hosts Washington at Nationwide, the club announced on Tuesday morning.

Yesterday, Hartnell was in the news for a different reason. At the end of practice, he addressed his teammates and apologized for taking an undisciplined penalty in Saturday’s win over Colorado.

From the Dispatch:

Hartnell was slow getting off the ice for a line change because he was chirping and barking at players on the Avalanche bench after a physical shift. It resulted in a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.

The Blue Jackets have suffered from excess and ill-timed penalties all season, and Hartnell has led the parade. This was the latest. In a 1-1 tie, it put the Jackets on the penalty kill midway through the third period.

“I’m a better player than some of the penalties I’ve taken the past few games, warranted or not,” Hartnell said. “I’m frustrated with myself, and I think everyone is (frustrated) with me. I know better.”

That Hartnell is being scratched despite the apology shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. He’s been a healthy scratch already this season, and Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella benched the 33-year-old immediately after Saturday’s incident.

Of course, Tortorella did say Hartnell’s apology was “important,” and “part of building your locker room.”

Hartnell is tied for the club lead in scoring this season, with 31 points, and sits second on the club with 15 goals.