Author: Mike Halford

Report: Voynov facing deportation


The latest on the status of L.A. Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, from Russian news agency TASS:

US Immigration & Customs Enforcement Western Region Communications Director Virginia Kice told TASS that ICE’s decision to take Voynov into custody and place him in removal proceedings was based on “a comprehensive review of the case.”

“As with anyone who’s facing deportation, he’ll be afforded due process and the immigration court will ultimately determine whether he’ll be subject to removal from the U.S.,” she said.

An ICE official, who asked not to be identified, told TASS that ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations has declined to set a bond in Voynov’s case “given his prior conviction for a crime of violence.”

Last week, ICE moved Voynov from the Seal Beach Detention Center — where he served a three-month sentence for domestic violence — to an unspecified detention facility.

Prior to being detained, Voynov’s future with both the Kings and in the NHL was cloudy at best — so it’s extremely difficult to  envision where things go from here.

He remains under indefinite suspension by the league, and suspended without pay by L.A. (due to an Achilles injury suffered during non-hockey activities this past June.)

Southampton chairman Krueger to coach Team Europe at World Cup

Southampton v Bayer Leverkusen - Pre Season Friendly
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Team Europe — a squad comprised of players from European countries outside of the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden — has announced that former Edmonton bench boss Ralph Krueger, currently the boss at Barclays Premier League outfit Southampton, will be its head coach at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Krueger, 56, comes to the job with a wide and colorful resume. The former head coach of the Swiss National team, he spent one year behind the Oilers’ bench — during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign — before getting fired, which led to an interesting career change.

In February of 2014, Krueger was named club director at Southampton and, a short while later, was promoted to chairman. The club has achieved great success on his watch; last year, the Saints finished seventh in the BPL, its highest-ever Premier League rank, and qualified for the UEFA Europa League.

This isn’t to say, however, that Krueger has lost touch with his hockey roots — while at Southampton, he captured an Olympic gold medal as a consultant for Team Canada in Sochi.

Aiding Krueger at the World Cup will be longtime NHLer Miroslav Satan, who will serve as Team Europe GM. German Ice Hockey Federation president Franz Reindl will act as team president.

No extension talks between Habs, Plekanec

Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens - Game One
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Looks like there’s another quality, veteran forward heading into the year with no guarantee of a contract extension.

Tomas Plekanec, one of Montreal’s top centers and point producers over the last few years, is about to embark on the last of a six-year, $30 million contract — but has yet to discuss a new deal with the club.

“I’m not going to ask them if they want me,” Plekanec joked on Tuesday, per the Canadian Press. “If they want me, they would call, I guess.

“Should I call and ask, ‘Do you want me here?’ I have a phone number. I think it’s up to (general manager Marc Bergevin). If he wants me, I’m sure he’ll call the agent and start talking.”

Plekanec, who turns 33 in October, is an interesting case study.

Last year, he scored 60 points — his highest total since signing the six-year deal — and has always been a responsible, durable two-way center that occasionally waded into the Selke conversation. But he’s sort of been miscast as a No. 1 and, not surprisingly, the center position has been Montreal’s area of weakness in recent campaigns.

But could the Habs afford to lose him? It’s a question worth asking.

Alex Galchenyuk, the third overall pick in 2012, was drafted with the vision of eventually becoming that top-line center, but things haven’t gone to plan.

“[Galchenyuk] is not there yet,” Bergevin explained at Montreal’s end-of-year presser. “He might never be a centerman.”

If that’s the case, what’s the solution?

Highly touted prospect Michael McCarron played center in the OHL last season, but he’s just 20 years old and has never played an AHL game, let alone an NHL one. Lars Eller looks to be a third-liner that can be pushed into the No. 2 role in a pinch, and David Desharnais lacks the size and physicality to be more than an offensive-minded No. 2/3.

For now, Plekanec’s resigned to answering questions about his future in Montreal and, hopefully, the day when his agent, Rick Curran, gets on the phone with Bergevin.

“If he’s going to pick up the phone and call my agent, we’ll see,” he explained. “For me, all I can control is my game, and I’m going to focus on that.”


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PHT Morning Skate: Marc-Andre Fleury does a pretty good Denis Lemieux


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Marc-Andre Fleury channeled the spirit of Charleston Chiefs goalie Denis Lemieux in his Slapshot send-up, with Root Sports’ Dan Potash playing the role of of Jim Carr:

Flames power forward Michael Ferland said he’s not worried about the lack of a new contract, even though training camp looms. (Calgary Herald)

Jeremy Roenick and Derek Plante have been named head coaches for this year’s All-American prospects game in Buffalo. (Buffalo News)

Denis Gurianov, taken 15th overall Dallas at this year’s draft, will miss the next 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury suffered while playing in the KHL. (Stars Inside Edge)

In addition to Ray Emery, Tampa Bay is also bringing former Oilers and Panthers farmhand Ryan Martindale to camp on a PTO. (Tampa Bay Times)

Isles forward Frans Nielsen, who was hobbled by an ankle injury over the final two months of last season, says he’s fully recovered and feeling great. (Newsday)

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

Washington Capitals v Ottawa Senators

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.