Mike Halford

Carey Price

Price ‘pretty confident’ he’ll return to Habs this season


After a string of bad days, it’s been a pretty good last 24 hours for Carey Price.

Yesterday, Price was named to Team Canada’s preliminary roster for the 2016 World Cup, despite having missed over three months with a lower-body injury.

Today, more good news — Price revealed he’s “pretty confident” he’ll return to play at some point during Montreal’s final 18 games of the regular season.

“I don’t know when I’ll be back at practice. I’m just continuing the process, and slowly progressing,” Price said on Thursday, per CBC. “The last couple of weeks, I feel I’ve turned the corner, and me skating in full equipment shows that.”

There was a fair bit of media hoopla in Montreal today, and not just because Price spoke to the media. Prior to, he was taking shots from injured Habs forward David Desharnais, a session Price said felt “great.”

Price also lent credence to the notion this injury wasn’t as severe as some made it out to be. He said surgery was never on the table, and echoed some of the comments made earlier by GM Marc Bergevin, who said he was “convinced if [Price] played a position other than goalie, he would be playing hockey right now.”

The reigning league MVP agreed.

“The nature of my position, it was just bad for goaltenders,” Price said, per NHL.com. “It’s the only way to explain it. It’s never been an option to get surgery, so that’s that. Time was going to be the only option to let it heal fully, and it’s obviously taken longer than expected.”

Montreal heads into Thursday’s action six points back of Pittsburgh for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Habs are in L.A. tonight for a date against the Kings.

Two more Devils — Blandisi, Smith-Pelly — fined for diving

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 23: Jesper Fast #19 of the New York Rangers checks Joseph Blandisi #64 of the New Jersey Devils into the boards during the first period at the Prudential Center on February 23, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty Images

The Devils have an embellishment problem.

On Thursday, two more New Jersey skaters — Joseph Blandisi and Devante Smith-Pelly — were fined for diving, making them the third and fourth members of the team this season to be punished for the infraction.

(Before you all start freaking out, yes, it is true that Smith-Pelly’s fine came as a result of his actions as a Canadien. Accordingly, the fine will be included in Montreal’s accumulation totals.)

From the league:

Blandisi was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 847 against the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 16. His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident at 13:14 of the second period during NHL Game No. 893 against the New York Rangers on Feb. 23. Blandisi drew a minor penalty for interference to Rangers defenseman Dylan McIlrath and was assessed a minor penalty for embellishment on the play.

Smith-Pelly was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 512 at Minnesota on Dec. 22. His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident at 6:16 of the second period during NHL Game No. 902 at Washington on Feb. 24. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom received a minor penalty for slashing on the play.

The Devils are going to be a really interesting team to watch moving forward, because bench boss John Hynes is now in danger of becoming the first coach to receive a fine for diving/embellishment since the citation program was brought into effect at the start of last season.

After the fourth player warning, coaches are subjected to a $2,000 fine. Blandisi is No. 3 — in December, Devils forward Jordin Tootoo was punished for diving/embellishment and, in January, fellow forward Bobby Farnham was dinged.

Slumping Stars lose Sharp, Jordie Benn to injury

Eddie Lack, Patrick Sharp, Jamie Benn

The Dallas Stars, losers in seven of their last eight, got two more unfortunate results on Thursday, announcing that Patrick Sharp would miss the next 5-7 days with an injury, while Jordie Benn would miss 1-2 weeks.

Both ailments are of the lower-body variety, per the Dallas Morning-News.

Sharp’s injury likely came last game out, a 5-3 loss to Nashville. He finished with just 11:11 of ice time, the lowest among all Stars skaters.

Benn played just over 13 minutes against the Preds.

With Sharp out of the lineup, the Stars had a decidedly different look taking line rushes on Thursday morning. One of the bigger developments was Valeri Nichushkin taking a turn on the top line next to Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, a spot often filled by Sharp.

With Benn out of the mix on defense, newly acquired Kris Russell skated with John Klingberg. That left Johnny Oduya with Jason Demers, and Patrik Nemeth with Alex Goligoski.

Oilers to bid on 2020 World Cup of Hockey

Bob Nicholson
Getty Images

With NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirming the next World Cup of Hockey will take place in 2020, potential cities are already lining bids to host.

One of the first to publicly declare interest?


More, from the Journal:

That’s the word from Oilers Entertainment Group CEO Bob Nicholson, who said he has already informed NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly of the Oilers’ interest in staging the eight-team event, which is being held this year in Toronto.

“The year will be right in our wheelhouse,” Nicholson said of 2020. “In 2019, the whole Ice District is finished.

“And when you look at what they’re trying to do in Toronto, they’re trying to create a tournament and festival. Well, there is no better festival site than here in Edmonton. With Rogers Place, the top arena in North America, the Winter Garden and Ice District, these types of events are made for this district and the arena.”

The Ice District, as described on the project’s website, is “Canada’s largest mixed-use sports and entertainment district,” currently taking shape in Edmonton. It’s a $2.5 billion project that will feature Rogers Place — soon to be the new home of the Oilers — along with two office towers, condominiums, a movie theater and a hotel.

Spearheaded by Oilers owner Darryl Katz, the Ice District promises to be a massive development for bot the city and organization. Katz’ recent sale of Rexall Health confirmed one of his primary focuses moving forward was the Ice District, and all it entails.

From the Globe:

Katz, 54, has made no secret that his current focus is far away from the world of neighbourhood drugstores and Medicentres, and is laser-trained on the building of Canada’s largest mixed-use sports and entertainment district.

“There’s a change in the focus of his business operations, now that he’s become heavily involved in the real estate development and entertainment component in and around a new arena development here,” says Dan Mason, a University of Alberta professor of sport management, who consulted for the city on the arena project.

“There’s a new landscape for the operations of professional sport franchises, and in many respects, they’re seen as a piece of a bigger puzzle,” he said.

Nicholson said there’s no definitive timeline for the 2020 World Cup bidding process.

Sharks sign pair of WHL standouts

San Jose Sharks Name Peter Deboer Head Coach

San Jose has signed WHL Swift Current forward Jon Martin and Red Deer winger Adam Helewka to entry-level contracts, per the club and General Fanager.

Martin, 20, is an undrafted free agent that leads the Broncos in scoring while serving as club captain.

“Jon is a well-rounded player who brings a high skill set but also a tough, physical game.” Sharks GM Doug Wilson said in a release. “His game has really blossomed this season under Broncos General Manager and Head Coach Mark Lamb.

“As a result, he had a lot of suitors and we are thrilled that he has decided to join the Sharks organization.”

Helewka, also 20, was San Jose’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft. He played well enough during the preseason to open this year with San Jose’s AHL affiliate, the Barracuda, but was returned to junior.

He’s since gone onto score 34 goals in 45 games, split between Spokane and Red Deer.