Author: Mike Halford

Dustin Brown

Brown: Locking Sutter out of room wasn’t big deal, ‘sometimes that’s what you need’


After Kings GM Dean Lombardi confirmed players locked Darryl Sutter out of the dressing room following a game in early February, team captain Dustin Brown tried to put the incident in perspective.

“It’s been blown a little out of proportion,” Brown said during Monday’s end-of-year media availability, per Frozen Royalty. “At the end of the day, it’s about the 20 guys in the room.

“It wasn’t that big of a deal when it happened. It’s just us being a group of guys going through it together. Sometimes, that’s what you need.”

While initial reactions to the story focused on a potential mutiny, comments from Lombardi and Brown suggest it was more an isolated act of frustration more than anything else. L.A. had a myriad of problems that derailed its campaign — some on ice, some off — and, for a team accustomed to winning, losing brought out their worst.

And that’s partly why the players like Sutter.

He’s a demanding coach, but his style gets results — two Stanley Cups and a Western Conference Final appearance in three years, specifically.

Brown also suggested Sutter’s style rubbed off on the players to the point where they adopted some of his personality. In that regard, locking him out of the room wasn’t “hey, get outta here” — it was “hey, we got this.”

“Darryl pushes us, but he also allows us to push back,” Brown explained. “Ultimately, that’s what creates a winning environment. We didn’t have that prior to Darryl, quite honestly.

“He’s demanding, but in return we become more demanding of each other.”

Giordano (torn biceps) skates, but playoff return still a longshot

Winnipeg Jets v Calgary Flames

Calgary captain Mark Giordano, thought to be lost for the season after tearing his biceps in early March, took to the ice on Monday and offered a glimmer of hope for a playoff return.

“I’m trying to stay in shape and condition. I have to meet with the surgeon a bunch more times before that becomes a reality, but I feel good,” he said, per the Calgary Sun. “I feel like hopefully the rehab is going better than expected, but it’s still a bit early for that. I really have to start gaining my strength and stuff back.

“Hopefully we go really deep and then we have a decision to make.”

It’s not surprising Giordano’s clinging to hopes of a return. When he initially suffered the injury — which requires 4-5 months of rehab — the 31-year-old tried to see if he could play through the tear and hold off surgery ’til the summer.

“The doctors weren’t too optimistic, but they said there’s a tiny chance [that I could keep playing],” Giordano explained at the time, per the Calgary Sun. “I was sort of pushing to try it out and see how it felt, but when you get out there you realize right away that there’s little chance you can compete at the level you need to.

“So I came back home and saw another doctor, talked it over and I think surgery’s probably my only option.”

A first-time All-Star, Giordano was Calgary’s undisputed leader through the first six months of the season, playing a ton of minutes (over 25 a night) while leading all NHL defensemen in scoring at the time of his injury. His return would be a major boon for the Flames, but that definitely sounds like a longshot — especially in light of what Flames GM Brad Treliving said this afternoon.

“We know where Mark’s injury is at,” he explained. “[His potential return] is down the road a little bit. Our first priority with Mark is making sure we’re staying with the proper rehab procedure.

Treliving then went on to say that a Giordano comeback isn’t “anything that’s weighing on our minds.”

Game 1 ready? Q says Kane cleared for contact, showing ‘real good progress’


Two days ahead of their playoff opener, the Blackhawks got more good news on the Patrick Kane front.

“He had real good progress,” head coach Joel Quenneville said of Kane, who’s been out since late February with a broken collarbone. “Got cleared for contact, and handled everything pretty well.”

Kane practiced with Chicago on Monday, the latest step in what’s been a quick recovery from an injury that was supposed to sideline him up to three months. The former Conn Smythe winner broke the collarbone on Feb. 24 against Florida and underwent surgery shortly thereafter but, much like Minnesota’s Jason Zucker did following the same injury, resumed skating far quicker than expected.

(Zucker ended up missing just two months, rather than the original prognosis of three, following his broken collarbone, and has scored three goals in his first three games since returning.)

Should Kane play in Game 1 against Nashville, his return would be even quicker than Zucker’s — seven weeks to Zucker’s eight — but the 26-year-old said he pushed himself to speed up the rehab process.

“I’ve done a lot to try to get myself, whether it’s healed as fast as possible or feeling good as fast as possible, whatever you want to call it,” he explained, per the Chicago Tribune. “I’ve done a lot of different things to try and make that happen.

“I’m pretty happy with the progress so far.”

For what it’s worth, Kane took his usual line rushes alongside Kris Versteeg and Brad Richards on Monday, and practiced on the club’s first power-play unit.

Scoring champ Benn to undergo hip surgery, out 4-5 months

Jamie Benn

Well, this certainly makes Jamie Benn’s Art Ross victory more impressive — on Monday, the Stars announced that Benn has been playing with a hip injury, one that will require surgery and sideline him for the next 4-5 months.

As a result, Benn won’t play for Team Canada at the upcoming World Championships.

It’s unclear when Benn suffered the injury, but the timeline doesn’t seem to matter much — he appeared in all 82 games this year while averaging 19:57 TOI and, down the stretch, broke the 21-minute plateau in seven of Dallas’ final 13 games.

That late run also saw Benn pile up 13 points over his final five games, catapaulting him ahead of the Islanders’ John Tavares for his first-ever scoring title.

While the surgery and recovery time are significant, the timetable suggest he should be ready to go when the Stars open training camp in mid-September.

In other injury news, forward Ales Hemsky will also undergo offseason hip surgery following what was a disappointing first season in Dallas. The veteran Czech winger scored just 11 goals and 32 points in 76 games, finishing a lowly ninth on the team in scoring.

Farewell, Merlot: Bruins parting ways with Paille, Campbell

Carolina Hurricanes v Boston Bruins

The Merlot Line has officially been put out to vineyard.

On Monday, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli announced that UFA forwards Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell — who, along with the already departed Shawn Thornton, once formed Boston’s popular fourth line — wouldn’t be re-signed this summer.

Paille, 30, has been the Bruins since 2009 and achieved some good success, emerging as a useful contributor during the 2011 Stanley Cup victory and the ’13 Finals appearance (Paille scored four goals and nine points during that latter run, averaging 12:32 TOI per night.)

Campbell, 31, spent the last five years in Boston. A gritty checking forward, he forever etched himself in Bruins lore with this shift against Pittsburgh in the ’13 Eastern Conference Final — in which he played on a broken leg:

This year, though, Campbell and Paille struggled. They were two of the club’s worst forwards in terms of possession (click here) and neither produced much offensively; Campbell scored just six goals in 70 games while Paille had six in 71.

In the wake of Boston missing the playoffs for the first time in eight years, Paille and Campbell aren’t expected to be the only changes — but their departures are still significant. Aside from being the first (and, speediest) moves by Chiarelli this offseason, the two veterans contributed largely to Boston’s identity over the last five years.

Now that they’re gone, only a handful of regulars remain from the Cup-winning team: Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid and Milan Lucic — the latter of whom has already seen his name appear in trade speculation.