Author: Mike Halford

Washington Capitals v Ottawa Senators

Phillips (back) to miss Sens camp, out ‘about a month’

Yesterday, we passed along word that veteran Ottawa d-man Chris Phillips suffered a “significant setback” in his recovery from back surgery.

Today, we found out just how significant it is. From the Sun:

Phillips, 37, is the Sens’ franchise leader in games played and heading into the last of a two-year, $5 million deal with a $2.5 average annual cap hit. It remains to be seen what Ottawa will do in his absence;  though he’s gotten long in the tooth and isn’t as big a contributor, Phillips was supposed to be in the group of seven defensemen Ottawa would rely on this year, along with Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, Cody Ceci, Patrick Wiercioch, Mark Borowiecki and Jared Cowen.

The Phillips injury could open the door for Chris Wideman, a minor-league standout that won last year’s Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s top defenseman.

Stars prospect Ritchie (wrist) out 3-4 months

Pittsburgh Penguins v Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars suffered a blow on Tuesday, as GM Jim Nill announced right wing Brett Ritchie would miss the next 3-4 months recovering from wrist surgery.

Ritchie, 22, made his NHL debut last season and fared well, scoring six goals and nine points in 31 games. A former scoring sensation with OHL Niagara — 57 goals, 106 points over his final 83 games in junior — Ritchie is a tantalizing prospect; he’s big (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and was a solid offensive presence with AHL Texas over the last two seasons, scoring 36 times.

Ritchie was projected to battle for a roster spot during the preseason and training camp.

Dallas’ second-round pick (44th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Ritchie is the older brother of Anaheim prospect Nick Ritchie, who the Ducks took 10th overall in 2014.

Myhres, suspended four times by NHL for drugs, hired as Kings’ player assistance director

Brantt Myhres headshot

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Kings announced a fairly profound hire — ex-NHLer Brantt Myhres, who will be coming aboard as the club’s player assistance director.

“It just so happens Dean [Lombardi] was the first general manager to be proactive enough to approach me on it,” Myhers explained, per the L.A. Times. “This is an in-house program that we’ve structured. They’re going to have every resource available to them, whether it’s about drugs, alcohol or domestic violence or gambling.

“They’re going to have resources to be able to use at any point of their playing careers.”

More on the 41-year-old Myhres, per the Times:

Myhres, who played for six NHL teams and was suspended four times by the league for what he called “dirty” drug tests and then hit with a lifetime ban, arrived in Los Angeles over the weekend and will be on hand for the Kings’ training camp and available to players and coaches throughout the season.

Myhres said he has been clean and sober for more than seven years and long held a vision about assisting current players, circulating proposals to NHL teams and the NHL Players Assn. about creating a specific in-house program. He previously studied substance abuse behavioral heath at Mount Royal University in Calgary and said he also had talks with the NHLPA in July before deciding to join the Kings.

The move comes after three Kings were embroiled in legal issues this past season.

  • Defenseman Slava Voynov pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges in July, and is now being held at an unspecified U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility.
  • Mike Richards — who had his contract terminated by the Kings in late June due to “a material breach” — was charged with possession of a controlled substance in late August. Per the Manitoba RCMP, the charges came after Richards was involved in an incident at the U.S.-Canada border crossing in Emerson.
  • Jarret Stoll had his felony cocaine charge — stemming from an April arrest in Las Vegas — reduced to a pair of misdemeanors and, shortly thereafter, signed with the New York Rangers.

In the wake of these incidents, Lombardi conceded that “clearly we could do more” when it came to educating players about the consequences of their actions. Kings executive Michael Futa echoed that sentiment.

“I think it’s just re-educating and reminding them how important it is that when you leave the rink that same professionalism you bring to the ice has to stay in tact, no matter what you make or who you are or some of the special treatments you might get,” Futa said. “It’s a privilege to be an NHL player, not a right.

“And you can’t abuse that privilege.”

Related: Under Pressure: Dean Lombardi

Agent: I ‘totally believe’ Patrick Kane is innocent

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five

Patrick Kane‘s agent, Pat Brisson, says he believes his client is innocent of an alleged sexual assault.

“I totally believe [Kane],” Brisson told ESPN Chicago on Tuesday. “He’s always been honest with me. I’ve known him for a long time. I’ve been doing this a long time as a sports agent. You get to know people and get to know the character of an individual.

“Spending more time with Patrick over this situation, I do believe he is innocent.”

As has been documented over the last month, Kane is the subject of a police investigation for an alleged rape of a female at his Buffalo-area home in early August. The Chicago star has been out of the public eye ever since, and some entities have distanced themselves — EA Sports dropped Kane from the cover of its NHL ’16 video game and Kane’s former OHL team, the London Knights, dropped the “Team Kane” moniker from its annual training camp routine.

On Tuesday, there were more developments.

Per multiple sources, Kane’s grand jury was postponed amid reports of the “possibility of ongoing settlement talks between attorneys for Kane and the victim,” according to the Buffalo News. Later, an AP source said the grand jury had been pushed back two weeks.

News of that postponement came after a Blackhawks official said he was unable to answer questions about Kane’s presence at training camp, which gets underway on Friday, Sept. 18 at the University of Notre Dame.

Brisson was also asked about whether Kane would be at training camp or not, but said it was too early to provide an answer.

“We are going to decide as we get closer here,” Brisson said. “We’re going to take it a step at a time. It’s too premature to tell.”


Report: Hawks feel Kane ‘disrespected’ team, have received trade calls

O’Reilly apologizes, but ‘not going to say exactly what happened’ in DUI incident

Nashville Predators v Colorado Avalanche

Interesting bit here from the Buffalo News on Sabres center Ryan O'Reilly, who on Tuesday made his first remarks after being charged with impaired driving in July.

“After this week it’ll be sorted out and I can comment more on it, but it’s an unfortunate situation,” O’Reilly explained. “I think with the way the Sabres have invested in me and seen light in me, to be involved in a situation like that it’s definitely unfortunate. I would never want to do that, so I definitely apologize to all the fans and just the kids that see the situation.

“I’m not going to say exactly what has happened. That’s going to come out in court.”

Back on July 13, news broke that O’Reilly had been charged by Ontario Provincial Police with impaired driving and leaving the scene following an alleged incident at a Tim Horton’s restaurant.


O’Reilly, 24, from Bluewater, Ont., had been charged with driving a motor vehicle while ability impaired (alcohol) and care or control over 80 mgs.

He was also charged under the Highway Traffic Act with failing to remain at the scene.

According to Middlesex County OPP, a green Chevrolet pickup struck struck a commercial building on Richmond St. last Thursday morning (July 9) just after 4:00am. An employee of the Lucan Tim Hortons confirmed to AM980 that there had been a motor vehicle incident, but was unaware of the driver’s identity.

After the collision, police say a suspect drove the vehicle southbound on Saintsbury Line, before abandoning it and traveling by foot with another, unnamed, male occupant.

The OPP report says the individuals were later found, with police determining the driver had been drinking alcohol.

O’Reilly’s first court appearance — which he wasn’t required to attend — was on Aug. 20, at which time the decision was made to continue the case until Sept. 10, which is two days from now.

In discussing the incident, the former Lady Byng winner said he felt “horrible” about the situation and re-iterated his apology to Sabres fans — but he also left some ambiguity as to what actually happened on the night in question, and how it will be resolved.

“I’m not saying the outcome is set yet,” he said. “But just to be in a situation like that and have it come out the way it’s been spun, it is unfortunate.”