Mike Halford

Jari Kurri, Paul Coffee, Glen Sather

Slats to the rafters: Oilers announce Sather banner raising ceremony

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The architect of Edmonton’s famous championship teams will soon hang among the franchise’s elite.

On Dec. 11, the Oilers will raise a banner in honor of Glen Sather, who won four Stanley Cups as president, general manager and head coach and a fifth as president and GM — all in Edmonton.

“We are delighted to host Glen and his family in Edmonton for what will be a very special time for him, our organization and the city,” Oilers CEO Bob Nicholson said in a statement. “It is going to be a wonderful two days where Oilers fans, the public, the Oilers organization, our legendary alumni, Glen’s contemporaries and others will help celebrate the career of a true hockey legend.”

Sather will become the ninth Oiler to have his banner raised to the rafters, joining Al Hamilton, Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson and longtime radio man Rod Phillips.

In a nice move, the ceremony will happen on the same night Edmonton hosts the Rangers — the team Sather spent 14 years managing before retiring this past July.

Tavares skates, but will miss third straight with ‘flu-like symptoms’

John Tavares
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The Islanders will be without their captain and leading scorer tonight when they take on the Devils, as John Tavares sits his third consecutive game with an illness.

Tavares, who was a late scratch from Saturday’s shootout loss to the Devils, sat out both games over the weekend — New York lost 2-1 to Buffalo on Sunday — which caught the attention of pundits league-wide.

After Isles head coach Jack Capuano said Tavares wasn’t “doing well,” speculation turned to a potentially serious illness being in play.

That notion was promptly shot down by Newsday’s Arthur Staple:

Fears were further alleviated when Tavares participated Tuesday’s morning skate, with the extras.

With No. 91 out, it’s expected that Frans Nielsen will again fill the top center position, alongside Anders Lee and Kyle Okposo.

Nielsen has taken full advantage of the No. 1 pivot opportunity by scoring a goal, firing six shots on net and averaging nearly 20 minutes per game with Tavares sidelined.

Report: Babcock to coach Canada at World Cup

Canada's head coach Babcock directs his team during their men's team ice hockey practice at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics
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Looks like Mike Babcock will lead Canada into another major international competition.

Per TSN, Hockey Canada is expected to name Babcock head coach for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, with Joel Quenneville and Claude Julien as his assistants.

The decision doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The Toronto bench boss led Canada to gold at the past two Winter Olympics and has repeatedly expressed interest in returning to his post for the World Cup.

Also returning is Julien, who was behind the bench with Babcock in Sochi.

The lone change is Quenneville, replacing Ken Hitchcock as an assistant. The move might come as a slight surprise, given Hitchcock’s GM in St. Louis, Doug Armstrong, is Canada’s general manager for this tournament, but it’s hard to argue with Quenneville’s credentials.

The 57-year-old has won three Stanley Cups in Chicago and sits third all-time in coaching wins (761), trailing only Hall of Famers Scotty Bowman and Al Arbour.

Quenneville was also believed to be shortlisted for Canada’s head coaching gig.

Hello, Koko: Bruins recall AHL scoring leader Khokhlachev

Alex Khokhlachev, David Pastrnak, Torey Krug
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The rich are getting richer in Boston.

The Bruins, boasting the NHL’s best offense at 3.90 goals per game, have recalled Alexander Khokhlachev — the top scorer in the American League — from their minor-league affiliate in Providence.

Khokhlachev, 22, has four goals and 13 points in 10 games for the P-Bruins this season, which came after he failed to crack the Boston lineup out of training camp.

Which, it turned out, became a bit of a story.

The talented Russian basically told the Bruins to give him a shot, saying he’s “been waiting two years,” and “I won’t play in Providence all my life.”

Not long after those remarks, reports surfaced that SKA St. Petersburg — the team that holds Khokhlachev’s KHL rights — was “closely following” the situation in Boston.

Eventually, Koko’s agent put any potential controversy to bed by explaining his client wanted to stay with the Bruins organization. Khokhlachev then proceeded to tear up the AHL through 10 games, further suggesting he’s more focused on making the NHL rather than pouting about his current situation.

It’ll be interesting to see where Khokhlachev now fits in Boston. The offense is rolling right now, led by the in-form David Krejci, and there aren’t any injuries up front that would provide an opportunity.

The B’s take on Dallas tonight at TD Garden.

UPDATE: Well, looks like Koko might be getting a pretty big shot, should he play tonight against the Stars…

Turns out Pastrnak is dealing with a foot injury.

Hakstol: ‘We’re not happy. These aren’t easy times’

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The Philadelphia Flyers lost 4-1 in Vancouver on Monday — their fourth straight defeat, and third game in a row with just a single goal of offense.

Needless to say, head coach Dave Hakstol knows it’s not good enough.

“We’re gonna stay with it,” Hakstol said following tonight’s defeat. “This group’s gonna stay. But we’re not happy. These aren’t easy times, but the group will stay together and keep working hard.”

With just 21 goals through 11 games, Philadelphia now owns the NHL’s second-worst offense. Only Anaheim has scored less. It’s a notable decline from a Flyers team that scored 2.59 goals per season last year and had two of the NHL’s best scorers in Jakub Voracek (81 points) and Claude Giroux (73).

What a difference a season makes.

Voracek’s been mired in a slump all year long — he’s still without a goal — while Giroux hasn’t been his usual productive self, tonight’s pretty solo marker notwithstanding.

Yet to hear Giroux explain it, the Flyers are playing well enough and producing enough chances — even if the end result doesn’t show it.

“We generated a lot of offense,” Giroux said. “We played the way we wanted to play. Obviously we have a lot of things to work on, but the score doesn’t show how much better we played.”

The captain’s comments might raise some eyebrows, especially given how stagnant the offense has looked.

But if there’s a silver lining for Philly, it’s that both Giroux and Hackstol are finding positives in a sea of negativity.

Or maybe they’re fishing for them?

“You guys might not see it from the outside,” Hackstol said. “But I see a lot of things in our end in terms of playing the rush, breaking pucks out.

“A lot of things that we’re doing better.”