<span class="vcard">Mike Halford</span>

Vincent Lecavalier

Lecavalier: ‘I haven’t thought about’ retirement

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Aside from yesterday’s treatment for a sore back, Vinny Lecavalier says he’s healthy — which confirms that, given the Flyers have scratched him 12 straight times, all of them were of the “healthy” variety.

So when he didn’t take to the ice for Tuesday’s morning skate, pundits started to assume something was up.

Flyers GM Ron Hextall said he’d update the situation Wednesday (though he did explain Lecavalier was having a “recovery day”), which led reporters to then question Lecavalier.

His reply?

Not much.

“I don’t know what to say, man. It is what it is,” Lecavalier said, per the Courier-Post. “Obviously I’m not getting in the lineup, and I don’t know what to say anymore. I’m not going to come to the rink pissed off. I’m still going to try to come and get better.”

Lecavalier then said he “honestly” hasn’t thought about retirement, adding that calling it a career is “a personal thing,” and “it’s not anybody that makes that decision up for you.”

The 35-year-old is, of course, in the third of a five-year, $22.5 million deal with a $4.5M average annual cap hit. Retirement talks often come up with Lecavalier because it’s tough to envision any team taking him on via trade, especially since he’s healthy (meaning there’s no stashing him on LTIR and getting the subsequent cap relief).

In light of all this, it’ll be interesting to hear what Hextall has to say about the situation today.

NHL on NBCSN: Habs, Bruins in Winter Classic preview on Rivalry Night

P.K. Subban Brad Marchand
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Tonight, it’s doubleheader action on NBCSN.

Things kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET, when the Montreal Canadiens host the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre. This game marks a preview of next month’s Winter Classic — to be played on New Year’s Day, on NBC — and renews a historic rivalry, too.

The Bruins and Canadiens have played each other in more than 900 regular season and Stanley Cup Playoff games, the most of any two teams in NHL history.

After the B’s-Habs, NBCSN has another tantalizing tilt: Pittsburgh at Colorado (10 p.m. ET), in which Nova Scotia natives Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon will do battle.

A reminder you can watch both games on TV, or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

For tonight’s calls, Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire will have Bruins-Canadiens, while John Forslund and Brian Boucher will handle Penguins-Avs.

After 23-game absence, Couture back for Sharks tonight

Logan Couture

The San Jose Sharks will get a major boost tonight in Calgary.

Logan Couture, who’s been out of action since mid-October with a fractured ankle, will play for the first time in 23 games when the Sharks take on the Flames at the Saddledome.

“Very excited,” Couture said today, per the San Jose Mercury News.”[Monday] was a good day for me, to be on a normal line and be a part of a practice. Tonight’s going to be the same, to be out there competing.

“It’s going to be fun.”

Couture is expected to center San Jose’s second line tonight, between Patrick Marleau and Joel Ward. It’s a huge boost for the club — Couture finished second on the team last year with a career-best 67 points, and finished just nine assists shy of Joe Thornton‘s club-leading 49.

Couture’s return also comes at an important time.

The Sharks are struggling lately, having lost four of their last five and three in a row. The offense has also sputtered during this current winless skid, as the team has just four goals in three contests.

 

 

Fun while it lasted: NHL kills draft pick compensation for hiring coaches, execs

Gary Bettman
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Well, that didn’t take long.

Less than a year after implementing a trial period allowing teams to seek compensation when other clubs hired away a coach or executive under contract, the NHL has decided to scrap the rule.

From the Associated Press:

Commissioner Gary Bettman told the Board of Governors on Tuesday that as of Jan. 1 teams have the right to grant or deny permission to other franchises to talk to coaches and executives under contract.

But if a coach or executive does switch teams there will be no compensation allowed.

The league had a one-year trial run that allowed either a second- or third-round pick to be given as compensation for coaches and executives under contract even if they had been fired.

There were seven cases where draft picks were given away.

Bettman said it was time to “go back to the old rule,” one that “worked well for 10 years roughly,” and was “probably the best way to go.”

So as it stands, Vancouver is the last team to get compensation under the now-defunct rule. The Canucks were given a second-round pick from Columbus when the Blue Jackets hired John Tortorella in late October.

Under Bettman’s “old rule” — which I guess is the new rule — the Blue Jackets would’ve asked permission to speak with Tortorella about the job, without having to compensate Vancouver upon hiring him.

The Canucks, meanwhile, would’ve still got something in return — financial freedom from the remaining three years of Tortorella’s contract. Or if they wanted, they could’ve denied him permission to interview, like when Seinfeld tried to return that jacket out of spite.

Bottom line, the old rule was better and simpler and it’s probably best that it’s back.

Goalie nods: Blues go with Allen, who hasn’t been great lately

Jake Allen
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The St. Louis Blues are giving Jake Allen another shot.

Allen, who’s given up seven goals on 44 shots in his last two outings — both losses — will get a chance at reclamation when the Blues host the Coyotes at Scottrade.

In Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Toronto, Allen was in for all four goals, despite getting the hook in favor of Brian Elliott during the contest. Allen quickly returned after getting yanked, and it turns out the whole thing was premeditated:

More: Hitchcock wants slumping Blues to tighten up

For the Coyotes, Mike Smith will be in goal.

Elsewhere…

— It’s Jaroslav Halak versus Steve Mason when the Islanders take on the Flyers in Philadelphia.

Jonathan Quick, currently riding a four-game winning streak, looks to be the starter for the Kings. Columbus will counter with Sergei Bobrovsky, who’s played very well lately: 11-6-1, 1.90 GAA and a .936 save percentage over his last 18 games.

Jimmy Howard goes for the Red Wings in Washington. The Caps will counter with Braden Holtby, as they almost always do.

— Feel-good story Garret Sparks gets another start after beating the Blues 4-1 on Saturday when the Leafs take on the Devils tonight. Cory Schneider will start for New Jersey.

Roberto Luongo looks to get back to his winning ways after a four-game undefeated streak was snapped Sunday against the Devils. He’ll be up against Craig Anderson in the Ottawa net.

— Good matchup in Chicago tonight as Pekka Rinne at the Preds take on Corey Crawford and the ‘Hawks.

Kari Lehtonen and his sparkling 10-1-0 record will start for Dallas. The ‘Canes are likely to go with Cam Ward.

— No word yet on who San Jose expects to start when it takes on the Flames. Calgary is going with Karri Ramo, yet again.