Mike Halford

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues walks on the ice in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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In statement, Hitch says Blues are in ‘good and capable hands’ with Yeo

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It’s been total silence from Ken Hitchcock since he was fired as Blues head coach last week — but on Monday, Hitchcock finally spoke.

Well, sort of.

Though he’s turned out repeated interview requests from the Post-Dispatch, Hitchcock did release a statement to the paper. Here it is, in full:

“When I reflect on my time in St. Louis, I remember it as some of the best years of my career. I would like to thank Tom Stillman and the entire ownership group, Doug (Armstrong) and the rest of the Blues management for giving me the opportunity to be part of such a storied franchise.

“I am very proud of our record on the ice over my time in St. Louis and would like to thank all of the coaches that I have had the pleasure of sharing the bench with: Gary Agnew, Ray Bennett, Danny Brooks, Jim Corsi, Sean Ferrell, Corey Hirsch, Scott Masters, Scott Mellanby, Kirk Muller, Brad Shaw, Steve Thomas and Rick Wilson and the Blues’ equipment and medical staffs for all of their support during my tenure. Without their hard work and dedication, we could not have had the success we achieved. A special thanks and good luck also goes to Mike Yeo. Mike was a true professional and an incredible source of knowledge and support as an associate coach. The Blues are in good and capable hands going forward with Mike.

“I was very fortunate to coach many wonderful players during my tenure and I truly appreciate your dedication over the years as we tried to make our goal a reality. I have made some special friends with many of you and I know our paths will cross again soon.

“I also want to recognize the front office staff in St. Louis. Their commitment and passion for connecting the team with the community is inspiring and did not go unnoticed. They continue to play an important role in keeping the organization moving in a positive direction.

“Finally, to the St. Louis Blues fans, I want to thank you for your unwavering support. I have received countless notes of appreciation over the last few days and it truly means the world to me. St. Louis is an amazing sports town with some of the most knowledgeable fans in the world. I am eternally grateful to have been part of the Blues organization and to have made St. Louis my home over the last six years. The friendships I’ve developed and the memories I have made here will last me a lifetime.”

It’s a nice gesture from Hitch who, as Armstrong put it, paid the price “for all our failures, including mine.” One gets the sense this was a heartbreaking conclusion to his time in St. Louis, something made evident by Armstrong choking back tears in announcing the dismissal.

Related: The challenge for Yeo? Make better use of Blues’ speed

Sharks recall Sorensen, another of Wilson’s European finds

San Jose Sharks Name Peter Deboer Head Coach
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If Melker Karlsson and Joonas Donskoi have shown anything, it’s that San Jose GM Doug Wilson knows how to find NHL talent in Europe.

Now, we’ll see if that applies to Marcus Sorensen.

Sorensen, the speedy 24-year-old forward signed out of the Swedish League last summer, has been recalled by San Jose and could make his NHL debut tomorrow when the Sharks take on the Sabres.

Sorensen’s recall comes after he scored 13 goals and 27 points in 39 games for the AHL Barracuda, in what is his first professional season in North America.

Previously, the former Ottawa draftee (fourth round, 2010) had spent the better part of his career with SHL outfit Djurgardens IF.

As mentioned above, Wilson and the Sharks are hopeful Sorensen can follow in the footsteps of Karlsson and Donskoi. The former was signed out of Sweden in 2014 — age the age of 23 — and the undrafted forward spent a short time in the AHL before transitioning to the Sharks that same year.

Karlsson has since become a lineup fixture for the Sharks, and has six goals and 13 points through 46 games this year.

Donskoi, a former Florida draftee, signed with San Jose in 2015 after capturing Finnish League MVP honors. Like Karlsson, he was 23 at the time of singing and, like Karlsson, wasted little time making an impact in San Jose. Donskoi jumped straight to the NHL and had a solid rookie campaign, with 11 goals and 36 points in 72 games.

Welcome back: Sabres claim Grant off waivers from Preds

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 12:  In his Predator debut Derek Grant #27 of the Nashville Predators skates against the Boston Bruins during the second period at Bridgestone Arena on January 12, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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What’s old is new again in Buffalo.

Derek Grant, who the Sabres lost on waivers to Nashville last month, is back in the fold — on Monday, the Sabres claimed him back from the Preds.

The 26-year-old appeared in six games during his brief spell in Nashville, registering a single assist. His departure coincided with the Preds acquiring veteran depth center Vern Fiddler in a trade with New Jersey over the weekend.

In his first go-round with the Sabres, Grant appeared in 35 games but failed to score a single goal, and had just three assists. Buffalo was disappointed to lose his services — head coach Dan Bylsma later admitted the club was trying to sneak Grant through to AHL Rochester — so it’s not surprising the Sabres were quick to jump on the chance to re-acquire him.

Accolades keep pouring in for Aho

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 28: Sebastian Aho #20 of the Carolina Hurricanes skates on the ice against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 28, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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It’s been a nice run lately for Carolina’s Sebastian Aho.

Last week, he was narrowly edged out for January’s rookie of the month honors by Leafs forward Mitch Marner.

Over the weekend, Tucker profiled Aho’s stellar freshman campaign, which included GM Ron Francis calling the 19-year-old “extremely competitive, extremely smart and extremely talented.”

Today, another feather in Aho’s cap — he was named the NHL’s first star of the week.

From the league:

Aho tied for the League lead with four goals (4-1—5) including two game-winning tallies as the Hurricanes (24-20-7, 55 points) won all three of their games.

On Jan. 31, Aho recorded his first career hat trick, including the game-winning goal, and added one assist in a 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

He added another game-winning goal in a 2-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 3 before being held pointless in a 5-4 overtime victory over the New York Islanders on Feb. 4.

Chosen 35th overall by Carolina in the 2015 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old Rauma, Finland native ranks third among rookies with 16 goals and tied for sixth with 31 points (16-15—31).

One has to wonder if Aho can work his way into this year’s Calder discussion. It’s a loaded one, with the likes of Marner, Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Matt Murray, William Nylander and Matthew Tkachuk all in the mix — but if Aho continues to score at this clip, he’ll almost certainly be in the conversation.

Sabres extend Falk — one year, $650,000

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 12:  Justin Falk #41 of the Buffalo Sabres in action against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on November 12, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Sabres 4-2.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Buffalo has re-upped with depth defenseman Justin Falk.

Falk, who’s appeared in 35 games this season, has signed a one-year extension worth $650,000, the club announced. The 28-year-old has averaged 13:11 TOI through those 35 games, while chipping in with three assists.

A veteran of over 200 career NHL contests, Falk — a big body, at 6-foot-5, 222 pounds — could be someone the Sabres choose to expose in this year’s expansion draft.

He’s closing in on that “40/70” threshold that’s reportedly part of the expansion draft rules, in which teams must expose at least two forwards and a defenseman that have played 40 games this year, or 70 over the two previous years combined.

Falk, obviously, is five games away from 40.

We’re starting to see more and more expansion draft-related moves lately. Last week, the Wild inked AHL netminder Alex Stalock to a two-year deal, with the first year of the contract being of the one-way variety, as he looks to be the goalie Minnesota will expose.