Mike Halford

Guelph Storm v London Knights

Welcome back, Wild Thing: Vancouver hires ex-Canuck Walker

The “Wild Thing” has returned to the West Coast.

Scott Walker, who spent four of his 16 NHL seasons with the Canucks, has been hired by Vancouver as a player development consultant, the club announced on Friday.

Walker joins the Canucks after a successful four-year stint as head coach of OHL Guelph, and as an assistant on Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the 2015 World Juniors.

During his playing days, Walker — who was drafted by the Canucks in ’93 — earned a reputation (and the nickname) as an undersized yet fierce competitor that was unafraid to fight, or throw his 185-pound frame around. In his final two seasons with Vancouver, Walker racked up 296 PIM and scrapped a combined 22 times.

Walker has been out of coaching since January, when he resigned his post with Guelph due to personal reasons.

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    CBJ prospect Anderson fractured orbital bone in fight, out four weeks

    New York Rangers v Columbus Blue Jackets

    On Friday, Columbus announced that forward Josh Anderson would undergo surgery to repair a fracture orbital bone and be sidelined for approximately four weeks.

    Anderson, 21, suffered the injury during a preseason scrap with Pittsburgh’s Steve Oleksy. He was subsequently held out of team practices with blurred vision, a significant setback to his chances of making the team.

    The former OHL London standout has prototypical power forward size — 6-foot-3, 220 pounds — and was in line for a potential roster spot in Columbus this year.

    He spent most of last season in the American League, scoring 17 points in 52 games, but played well enough to earn his NHL debut and appear in six games for the Jackets, notching one point.

    Blackhawks stay busy, waive Bickell

    2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

    Shortly after trimming their roster — which included the surprise demotion of Marko Dano to AHL Rockford — the Chicago Blackhawks made another splash by putting veteran power forward Bryan Bickell on waivers.

    Bickell, 29, scored 14 goals and 28 points in 80 games last year, but was a non-factor in the playoffs while dealing with vertigo.

    He only played in one of six Stanley Cup Final games and, at the beginning of camp, said he was still dealing with the after effects.

    Bickell has been a polarizing figure in Chicago for the last few years.

    Signed to a four-year, $16 million deal in the summer of ’13, his lackluster regular seasons were often made up with very strong postseasons, including the ’13 Stanley Cup run in which he scored nine goals and 17 points in 23 games — a performance that played a big role in him scoring that $16 million contract.

    With the ‘Hawks pressed up against the salary cap, Bickell’s name was bandied about in several trade rumors this summer, none of which came to fruition.

    It’ll be interesting to see if any team takes a flier on him via waivers; if he clears, the ‘Hawks would (presumably) send him down to AHL Rockford for a bit of cap relief.

    Chicago surprise: ‘Hawks cut Dano from camp (Update)

    Brendan Smith,Marko Dano

    The Chicago Blackhawks sent eight players packing from training camp on Friday, and one name in particular stood out:

    Marko Dano.

    Dano, a prized prospect acquired from Columbus as part of the Brandon Saad trade, was shipped off to AHL Rockford along with Ryan Hartman, Vincent Hinostroza, Brandon Mashinter, Dennis Rasmussen, Garret Ross, Erik Gustafsson and Ville Pokka.

    Reactions on social media were mostly shocked:

    Dano, 20, was the 27th overall pick in ’13 and enjoyed a fine rookie campaign with the Jackets last year, scoring 19 points in 39 games. He split the year between Columbus and AHL Springfield, but was a regular contributor for the Jackets by season’s end.

    At this year at ‘Hawks camp, he was — at one point — skating on a line with Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews.

    With Dano down, it appears as though Kyle Baun, an undrafted free agent signed out of Colgate last season, has made the team at forward.

    On defense, the Pokka and Gustafsson demotions suggest that 6-foot-8, 238-pounder Viktor Svedberg has made the team, though that’s based on the assumption Kyle Cumiskey and Michal Rozsival will start the year on injured reserve.

    UPDATE: There was some thought that, after Bryan Bickell was placed on waivers, Dano’s demotion would only be temporary. But that doesn’t seem to be the case — today, ‘Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville said he didn’t expect any changes to the roster.

    Update: Wings lose DeKeyser (foot) for 3-4 weeks

    Detroit Red Wings v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Seven

    Just minutes ago, we wrote about Detroit’s health issues heading into the regular season.

    Well, those issues just got worse.

    Defenseman Danny DeKeyser will miss the next 3-4 weeks with a sprained ligament in his foot, per the Detroit News. Confirmation of the injury comes just a few days after DeKeyser was hurt in an exhibition win over Pittsburgh, after which he was seen in a walking boot and on crutches.

    Losing DeKeyser will hurt. The Red Wings’ second-leading d-man scorer last year, he averaged just under 21 minutes per night and was penciled in to play on a pairing with big free agent acquisition Mike Green.

    With “DDK” out, Xavier Ouellet will temporarily fill the empty spot next to Green. It’s also possible GM Ken Holland will make a subsequent roster move, perhaps via call-up from AHL Grand Rapids.