Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
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Duchene, out with concussion, shocked that ‘vicious’ Trouba hit went uncalled

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Matt Duchene has been out of the lineup for nearly a week after taking a headshot from Jets d-man Jacob Trouba.

Now, the Avs forward is speaking out about the hit — and not in the fondest of terms.

‘I thought it was pretty vicious,” Duchene told the Denver Post, adding he was “shocked” there was no penalty on the play. “I knew where [Trouba] was and he kind of threw his arm out in desperation. I think it was an unfortunate reaction, but it caught me in the head, chipped a tooth, knocked a tooth loose as well, and obviously gave me a concussion.

“I obviously wasn’t too thrilled with that play.”

The play in question (Trouba also avoided supplemental discipline, FYI):

(Link here, if you’re unable to view)

Duchene has missed Colorado’s last two games while recovering from his concussion, and will be out again tonight when the Avs take on the Stars in Dallas.

This makes for a tough scenario for Avs head coach Jared Bednar, who is also without the services of captain Gabriel Landeskog (lower body).

On the bright side, Tampa Bay is getting Drouin back

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The Lightning needed some good news after learning captain Steve Stamkos would be out at least four months following knee surgery.

On Thursday, they got some.

Jonathan Drouin, who’s missed the last seven games with an upper-body injury, will draw back into the lineup tonight when the Bolts take on the Sabres in Buffalo, per the Tampa Bay Times.

Drouin has been out since absorbing a big Calvin de Haan hit in a Nov. 1 win over the Isles. He was off to a solid-if-unspectacular start prior to getting hurt, scoring two goals and five points through 10 games, averaging 16:35 TOI per night.

With Stamkos out, the Lightning have been forced to shuffle their forwards, so it looks as though Drouin will slot in alongside Ryan Callahan and center Valtteri Filppula, on what would amount to the third line.

Vladislav Namestnikov will center the top unit between Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov, while Tyler Johnson will play the middle on the second line with Alex Killorn and Brayden Point.

Based on those lines alone, one thing should be obvious: Tampa Bay is equipped to deal with losing someone of Stamkos’ caliber better than nearly any other NHL club.

After blowout loss, Pens waive tough guy Sestito

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The Penguins responded to last night’s 7-1 drubbing in Washington, though not in the manner many expected — per CBC, veteran tough guy Tom Sestito has been placed on waivers.

Sestito, 29, made his eighth appearance of the season for Pittsburgh last night, racking up 10 PIM in just 4:49 of ice time.

That remained consistent with much of what he’s shown this season (and throughout his career) — Sestito has 24 PIM and two fights this year, with just one assist and a TOI average of 5:28 per night.

Signed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $575,000 this summer, Sestito has already been through waivers once this season, so it’s very likely he’ll clear and end up with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Welcome Martin Hanzal to the trade rumor mill

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There’s a youth movement going on in Arizona, so it’s not entirely surprising to hear veteran center Martin Hanzal pop up in trade rumors.

On Thursday, Sportsnet’s Eric Engels was told Hanzal “could be on the move soon,” adding the Canadiens were one of the teams in the hunt.

Engels’ report came on the heels of another Sportsnet analyst — Elliotte Friedman — touching on Hanzal’s availability in his most recent 30 Thoughts column:

Arizona has told teams that pending unrestricted free agent Martin Hanzal will not be dealt unless the Coyotes receive a young player who can step in now.

The preference is a centre. It sounds like there’s quite a bit of interest. Could see San Jose and St. Louis being among them. Fits what both need and both do.

Hanzal, who turns 30 in February, has four points through 10 games this year, missing time with a lower-body injury. Health has been a major issue for the big Czech — he stands 6-foot-6, 226 pounds — and, over the last two years, he’s missed 63 games due to various ailments.

But when healthy, Hanzal can be very effective.

Last year he racked up a career-high 41 points (in just 64 games played), often skating alongside two youngsters in Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. Hanzal was also terrific in the faceoff circle, winning nearly 56 percent of his draws, and has routinely averaged around 18 minutes per night for the Coyotes, the only NHL club he’s ever known.

Financially speaking, Hanzal has appeal. He’s in the last of a five-year, $15.5 million deal with a very affordable $3.1M average annual cap hit.

Given that price point and the need for big, workhorse centers across the league, one can expect the bidding for Hanzal to be pretty high, and aggressive.

But it could also be why the Coyotes would like to keep him in the fold.

Related: PHT’s very own Jason Brough pegged this move back in October

Sabres hire Kaleta as youth hockey ambassador

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In a move that seemingly doubles as a retirement announcement, the Sabres have hired longtime forward Patrick Kaleta as a youth hockey ambassador.

More, from the club:

In this role, Kaleta will implement and manage the Buffalo Sabres’ Learn to Play Program.

Focusing primarily on the Western New York region, Kaleta will also serve as a liaison to the local high school hockey community and will provide additional support and instruction for other youth hockey initiatives.

“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work in the community in which I was born and raised, and to help grow the game of hockey among the youth of Western New York,” Kaleta said. “As a kid, it was always a dream of mine to become a Buffalo Sabre and now I’ll have the opportunity to help other young kids develop the same passion for hockey.”

Born and raised in Angola, NY, Kaleta was drafted by Buffalo in 2004 and spent his entire professional career with the Sabres organization, appearing in nearly 350 NHL contests.

Now, there’s no sense in glossing over the obvious here — there will be remarks made about hiring Kaleta, one of the most notorious players of his generation.

A known agitator, Kaleta was at peak infamy from 2009-13, when he was fined or suspended seven times during a four-year stretch, culminating with a 10-game ban for a headshot on Columbus’ Jack Johnson.

Kaleta unsuccessfully appealed that suspension, at which time another forward with a checkered history — Matt Cooke — offered to help Kaleta change his style of play.