Mike Halford

Marchand ‘truly sorry’ for hit and suspension, but says it ‘differs from past instances’

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FOXBOROUGH — A contrite Brad Marchand met with the media head of Boston’s Winter Classic practice on Thursday, attempting to make amends for the hit he put on Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki — and his subsequent three-game suspension.

“I just want to acknowledge the situation I’ve put my team in for being undisciplined, and affecting the game for them,” Marchand said, in what appeared to be a prepared statement. “Taking away the excitement from the fans, being a part of this rivalry, taking that away from them. Also, for affecting this game for myself and putting myself in a situation to not be part of this.

“I want to apologize. I truly am sorry to everyone about this situation and it was not my intent to make a hit or try and injure anyone on that play.”

Marchand was given a three-game ban for clipping, the same infraction that earned him a five-game suspension in 2012, when he low-bridged Canucks defenseman Sami Salo.

While he said missing the Winter Classic would be disappointing, the 27-year-old also said he respected the league’s decision.

Of course, he also insisted he wasn’t trying to injure Borowiecki on this particular play, and alluded to it not being in the same vein as the Salo hit.

“I didn’t see how it all unfolded afterwards, and the extent of the hit,” Marchand said, when asked how this suspension fit into his stated desire to be more disciplined and mature this season. “The intent was not to make a hit on that play.

“It differs from past instances. I still don’t think this is changing how I’ve approached this season.”

Borowiecki disagreed.

After Marchand spoke, Boston GM Don Sweeney explained that addressing the media was Marchand’s idea, saying it was a sign of the player’s growing maturity.

“I think it speaks a lot for Brad to want to be out in front of this today,” Sweeney said. “He knows the impact that this has had on the team, and on the game itself, and the fans. He asked if he could address it [before] his teammates were going out to practice and getting ready for the game. I think it speaks to the question about maturity. It says a lot to where Brad is, and the impact he has on our lineup.

“We respect Player Safety’s decision on the play. It’s unfortunate for Brad and our team, but we’ll leave it at that.”

With Marchand unavailable — now shelved with fellow forwards David Krejci and Joonas Kemppainen — Sweeney announced Boston had sent defenseman Colin Miller to AHL Providence, and called up forward Alexander Khokhlachev.

Gallagher in for Winter Classic? Habs demote Andrighetto

Thomas Greiss, Brendan Gallagher,

FOXBOROUGH — An otherwise ordinary transaction might have big ramifications for this year’s outdoor game at Gillette Stadium.

On Thursday, Montreal demoted forward Sven Andrighetto to its AHL affiliate in St. John’s — a sign that, potentially, Brendan Gallagher will make his return from a broken hand at Friday’s Winter Classic.

Gallagher has on IR since Nov. 22, and has missed Montreal’s last 17 games. The team has struggled in his absence, going 5-11-1 while falling out of top spot in the Atlantic Division.

Prior to getting hurt, Gallagher was starring on the club’s top line alongside Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec, scoring 19 points in 22 games. His 0.86 points-per-game average is a career best.

Gallagher is set to practice with the Habs this afternoon at Gillette.

Gagner clears waivers, loaned to Philly’s AHL affiliate

NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 02:  Sam Gagner #89 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on October 2, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Flyers 3-2 in the shootout.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Cap constraints have forced yet another longtime NHLer down to the Flyers’ minor-league team in Lehigh Valley.

On Wednesday, GM Ron Hextall announced that Sam Gagner has been loaned to the Phantoms after clearing waivers — meaning that he, along with part of his $4.8 million cap hit, will be in the AHL for the next while.

(To be clear, Philly will carry $2.25M of Gagner’s hit at the NHL level. They can “bury” $950,000 in the American League, while Tampa Bay is retaining $1.6M from an earlier deal.)

Along with Andrew MacDonald — who’s making $5M annually — the Flyers now have a remarkable amount of money playing for their minor-league club.

The Gagner move was related to veteran d-man Mark Streit coming off LTIR, and the Flyers needing the requisite cap space to activate him. The club didn’t want to send down rookie sensation Shayne Gostisbehere.

“Any decision we made at this point wasn’t going to be easy,” Hextall said, per Philly.com

Goalie nods: Reimer back in starter’s role for Toronto (Update: Nope, it’s Bernier)

James Reimer
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James Reimer will make his first start for the Maple Leafs since Dec. 3 tonight in Pittsburgh.

Update: No he won’t. Not long before puck drop, head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer woke up with tightness today, and the Leafs decided to shut him down immediately. So it’ll be Jonathan Bernier tonight instead, with Antoine Bibeau backing up on an emergency recall basis.

Reimer, who’s been sidelined for most of the month with an undisclosed injury, gets back into the starter’s role after Bernier was torched for six goals on 15 shots in Tuesday’s loss to the Islanders. Reimer came on in relief of Bernier and fared well, stopping all six shots faced.

Prior to getting hurt, Reimer was playing some of the best hockey of his career — the 27-year-old was 7-4-4 with a 1.96 GAA and .936 save percentage.

For Pittsburgh, Matt Murray will get the start in goal again.

Elsewhere…

Braden Holtby will be in goal for the Caps after shutting out the Sabres on Monday. Buffalo will go with a different netminder in the rematch: Chad Johnson, who allowed three goals on 33 shots in a win over Boston on Saturday.

Cory Schneider‘s in for the Devils tonight, while Ottawa counters with Andrew Hammond.

Ben Bishop will start when the Bolts host the Rangers in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final. No word yet on a New York nod; head coach Alain Vigneault is expected to make an announcement within the next hour.

Martin Jones goes for the Sharks against Philly tonight. No word yet on a Flyers starter.

Blues set to part ways with Gomez, place him on unconditional waivers

Scott Gomez, Erik Gustafsson
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Scott Gomez‘s time with the St. Louis Blues appears to be coming to an end.

The veteran center, who went unclaimed on waivers yesterday, has now been placed on unconditional waivers — “a vehicle to grant Gomez his unconditional release from the team,” the club announced on Wednesday.

Gomez, 36, appeared in 21 games for the Blues, posting eight points (one goal, seven assists) and four penalty minutes. He converted a training camp PTO into a one-year, two-way deal in early October but, with a number of St. Louis’ injured forwards having returned or nearing a return, Gomez became the odd man out.

He’s only played in five games this month, the last coming in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Dallas.

It remains to be seen what the future has in store for Gomez. He could try to catch on with another club, possibly go the AHL route or try his hand overseas.