Author: Ryan Dadoun

Antti Raanta

Interviewer: Raanta’s rooting against Hawks quote is real, but needs context


A report from Ilta-Sanomat claimed that goaltender Antti Raanta hoped that the Nashville Predators would sweep his Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 2015 playoffs. Raanta has since denied making those comments, but the man who interviewed him, Juha Luotola, says he has it on tape.

At the same time, Luotola feels that the quote being passed around lacks context as it was just one line from a talk that lasted hours.

“Antti was frustrated after Chicago send him [a] second time [to the] AHL and he told me truly how he felt,” Luotola said, per CSN Chicago. “Statement looks bad if you read only one line from story. It’s easy to [be] misunderstood and get away from the full story. But I also know that Antti didn’t mean that in bad way. It was just his way to explain how frustrated he was: bad feeling last couple hours and after that, he was happy to be a part of team again.”

Luotola also noted that the goaltender had a lot of great things to say about his time with the Blackhawks.

Although Raanta had a 1.89 GAA and .936 save percentage in 14 games last season, he ultimately lost the backup job to Scott Darling. Chicago dealt him to the New York Rangers in exchange for Ryan Haggerty this summer.

Caps’ Backstrom won’t rush return from hip surgery

Nicklas Backstrom

Nicklas Backstrom is “not in a rush” to return from hip surgery and his status for the Washington Capitals’ season opener is very much in question.

“I’m going to be back to 100 percent before I start playing,” Backstrom told the Washington Post. “I’m not going to play on 90 percent. We’ll see how it goes. We don’t know yet.”

The Washington Capitals forward has been skating since the start of August and is feeling much better, but he realizes that he’s still very much in the recovery process and it’s hard to put a timetable on it.

When he’s healthy, Backstrom is Washington’s top center and one of the best playmakers in the world. He led the NHL with 60 assists in 2014-15 and has finished in the top-three in helpers on five separate occasions. The 27-year-old is projected to once again skate alongside Alex Ovechkin on the top line.

If he’s not healthy for the start of the season, then it will be interesting to see how Washington alters its lines in the short-term. Evgeny Kuznetsov is penciled in as the second line center, so we might see the sophomore play with Ovechkin in Washington’s first game.

Sharks to honor original owner Gund with banner

Columbus Blue Jackets v San Jose Sharks

To start off the San Jose Sharks’ 25th anniversary season, they will honor their original owner, George Gund III, per the Mercury News.

The plan is for the Sharks to raise a banner dedicated to Gund prior to the start of San Jose’s home opener against the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 10.

“George Gund’s love of the game of hockey, and his belief in the city of San Jose and our fans are the reasons we are all here today,” Sharks owner Hasso Plattner said. “His legacy deserves to be honored and remembered forever. This banner will serve to remind everyone of his impact on the game of hockey and the Sharks franchise.”

Attending the event will be Gund’s brother and former Sharks co-owner Gordon Gund as well as his son, George Gund IV.

George Gund III passed away in 2013 at the age of 75.

“Hockey was a passion for George Gund III, and that passion manifested itself in his love for the Sharks, for San Jose and for the Bay Area,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. “George made a commitment to bringing hockey to Northern California and did it in a way that excited the community and silenced the skeptics. We thank him for pioneering the Sharks tradition for generations of new fans.”