Mike Halford

Mike Cammalleri
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Cammalleri (hand) has missed 16 games already, and ‘there’s not really a target date’ for his return

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There’s a great amount of uncertainty as to when Mike Cammalleri will return to the New Jersey Devils.

“He’s going through the rehab process,” Devils GM Ray Shero said, per NorthJersey.com. “There’s not really a target date in mind for him to return to play, but he’s trying to return to play.

“Like with anything, he’s got to rehab this thing and get it stronger and, hopefully, have a return date and try to help us.”

Cammalleri has been plagued by an unspecified hand/wrist ailment since early January. He missed eight games with it before returning to play four, then landed back on the shelf and has since missed another eight.

To say the Devils could use Cammalleri would be a huge understatement. The NHL’s worst offense (2.21 goals per game) desperately needs his production and playmaking ability — despite missing so many games, he still sits second on the team in points (38) and assists (24).

Cammalleri would also be a huge boon for the club’s playoff chances.

Heading into tonight’s action, the Devils were sitting in the first of two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference, but were just one point up on Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. And over the last 10 games — in which they’ve gone 5-3-2 — the Devils have scored just 19 times.

“He’s a key guy for our hockey team,” Shero said. “It would be great to have him back at some point.”

Barrie’s agent says no lingering issues with Avs from O’Reilly situation

Tyson Barrie
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Newport Sports Management represents a number of NHL players, including talented Colorado d-man and pending RFA Tyson Barrie.

And that’s worth noting because — at least historically — Newport and the Avs haven’t exactly seen eye-to-eye.

Two years ago, things got contentious between Colorado and Newport’s Pat Morris, the agent for ex-Avs center Ryan O'Reilly. The club filed for arbitration in the summer of ’14, a case Morris said “we didn’t think we’d have to attend to,” suggesting the Avs were playing a dangerous game with one of their key young performers.

While the O’Reilly situation ended with him eventually being traded to Buffalo, Barrie’s agent — Newport’s Don Meehan — insists it won’t affect current negotiations.

“We just view it as business, that’s all,” Meehan said, per the Denver Post. “We have a professional camaraderie with Joe [Sakic, Colorado’s GM] that is very good. We will have differences of opinion, but that’s fine. We want to be fully open and transparent about a process, and we have a good relationship with Joe.”

The Barrie negotiations are worth monitoring. Meehan, who was in Denver for last night’s Avs-Habs game, said he’s had discussions with Sakic about his client, but noted there aren’t any new ones planned.

Barrie, 24, is in the last of a two-year, $5.2 million deal with a $2.6M average annual cap hit. A quality offensive d-man, he’s likely in line for a big raise — he sits 10th among NHL blueliners in scoring this year with 37 points, and finished eighth last year with 53.

But how will the Avs play it?

Meehan mentioned the possibility of the club taking Barrie to arbitration, like it did with O’Reilly. It’s also worth nothing that Sakic has to deal with other free agents this summer, chiefly prized young forward Nathan MacKinnon, who’s in the last year of his entry-level contract.

(And remember, Erik Johnson‘s $6 million-per-season extension kicks in next year, too.)

Whatever the case, Meehan insists past grievances won’t come into play with Barrie.

“Sometimes we’ll agree and sometimes we won’t, but that’s OK,” he said. “We’ve been around too long to take it personal.”

 

NHLPA ‘extremely disappointed’ Bettman upheld Wideman suspension, will appeal to neutral arbitrator

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As most expected, the National Hockey League Players’ Association will appeal NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s decision to uphold Dennis Wideman‘s 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson.

More, from the union:

“We are extremely disappointed but not surprised that Gary Bettman upheld the decision of his staff to suspend Dennis Wideman for 20 games.

“This decision completely ignores the effects of the concussion that Dennis sustained when he was driven into the boards eight seconds before colliding with the linesman.

“We will appeal to the Neutral Discipline Arbitrator in order to have this decision overturned.”

The Neutral Discipline Arbitrator is James C. Oldham, a law professor at Georgetown University that also worked as a salary arbitrator for Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association.

 

Burke blasts Bettman for ‘incomprehensible’ time it took for Wideman ruling

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Brian Burke appeared on Sportsnet’s Tim & Sid in the wake of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upholding Dennis Wideman‘s 20-game suspension for hitting linesman Don Henderson — and, as you might expect, was none too pleased with the way things unfolded.

“To take a week to rubber-stamp a decision that was made by the hockey operations department of the National Hockey League — as games tick off for my player, that affect my team’s ability to win, that affect playoff races, that affect competitive balance — is incomprehensible to me,” Burke fumed.

He also noted Calgary had been asking for an appeal hearing result for “several days.”

Wideman’s appeal was heard on Feb. 10 (last Wednesday, seven days ago). Per a release by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, that hearing was approximately six hours in length.

Burke didn’t object to just the timing and drawn-out nature of the appeal, however.

Much like he did in a statement released back in early February, he said he and the organization disagreed with the length and severity of Wideman’s original suspension ruling.

“We disagree vehemently with the the decision that was reached here,” Burke explained. “We were astonished by it, we don’t understand it, we disagree with it completely.

“We’re not questioning the integrity of the process. The appeal has gone to the commissioner. If all he’s going to do is rubber-stamp it, we accept that. But then do it quickly, so it can get to this third party.”

That third party?

It’s fair to see why Burke is upset about the time it’s taken for Wideman’s appeal process to play out. The Flames defenseman has already sat out seven games, with No. 8 coming tonight against Minnesota.

Noting it’ll take a few days for Widemans’ appeal to reach a neutral arbitrator, Burke suggested his player was “virtually guaranteed” to miss 10 games.

Some key takeaways from the NHL upholding Wideman’s suspension

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Here are a few of the more intriguing aspects of commissioner Gary Bettman’s decision to uphold Dennis Wideman’s 20-game suspension for hitting linesman Don Henderson:

The NHL had access to Wideman’s text messages

This is the development that’s getting the most play right now, especially on social media.

In his ruling, Bettman writes “although [Wideman] made much at the hearing about the apologies he had already made to Mr. Henderson, the sincerity of those apologies rings somewhat hollow given the text message he sent to a teammate on February 2 —- after the conclusion of the hearing before Mr. Campbell —- that “[t]he only problem and the only reason I’m here is cause the stupid refs and stupid media.”

The NHL cast doubt on whether Wideman was actually concussed or not

In Bettman’s cross-examination of neuropsychologist Dr. Paul Comper — who the NHLPA used to analyze/interview Wideman, and later called to testify as an expert in clinical neuropsychology — the following occurred:

Q. And you would agree with me that Mr. Wideman certainly had, at least potentially, the motive to exaggerate his symptoms in order to obtain a report that said he wasn’t responsible for his actions, that’s at least a possibility, isn’t it?

A. It’s a possibility.

Q And you didn’t discuss that in your report, did you?

A. No.

The league also took issue with the fact that neither Comper nor Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher — also brought in by the NHLPA — physically evaluated Wideman. Both spoke with the Calgary defenseman via FaceTime, and took his word for how he felt at the time.

The league had also previously seemed skeptical of Wideman’s concussion.

“It is accepted for the purposes of this decision that [Wideman] was later diagnosed as having suffered a concussion,” the NHL explained at the time of the original 20-game suspension ruling. “However, that fact even accepted as true, cannot excuse Wideman’s subsequent actions.

“First, although he appears to get up slowly from being checked, Wideman skates steadily and purposefully to his bench, taking a half dozen strides to get there. Wideman also demonstrates his continued awareness of his circumstances and surroundings when, upon approaching the Calgary blueline, he raises his stick and taps it on the ice to alert his teammates that he’s coming off for a line change.”

The league also made mention of the fact Wideman refused medical attention while on the bench, and remained in the game.

The league didn’t want a “concussion defense precedent” to be set

This ties into the above. Bettman writes:

In short, the record as a whole does not support the contention that Mr. Wideman’s actions were the result of confusion, a failure of “impulse control” or a loss of balance.

Moreover, to find on a record such as this one that the Player was not responsible for the consequences of his actions would set a precedent that could be easily manipulated in the future in a way that would make the game more dangerous for all participants, including players.

The thought here, obviously, is that a Pandora’s Box could be opened in which players would excuse their on-ice behavior — and transgressions — because they’d just been shaken up, with that influencing their decision-making.

The NHLPA didn’t asked for a reduced suspension. It asked for no suspension at all.

From Bettman:

Although the NHLPA acknowledged that I have the authority to reduce the suspension imposed by Mr. Campbell, the Union did not actually request a reduced suspension, maintaining at all times that no suspension is warranted.

This is an interesting development, if only because the union has successfully reduced suspensions in the past — in 2012, the PA got Raffi Torres’ 25-game suspension reduced to 21. Now, the circumstances are different in the Wideman case, because asking for a reduction rather than no suspension could be seen as an admission of guilt.

However, it’s worth noting that had the suspension been reduced, Wideman could’ve been back in action sooner. He’s already sat out seven games.