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.
A carbon monoxide leak at Poppy Waterman Ice Arena during a Minnesota Junior Hockey League game led to 81 people being hospitalized. (StarTribune)
Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.
Brenden Dillon, who San Jose acquired from Dallas on Nov. 21, has been a great addition to the Sharks’ blueline. (CSN Bay Area)
Sean Couturier doesn’t want to be known as just a defensive forward. Lately he’s been contributing at both ends of the ice. (Philadelphia Daily News)
Highlights from Pittsburgh’s 4-2 win over Tampa Bay:
The Columbus Blue Jackets might get Fedor Tyutin back tonight as they look to extend their winning streak to seven games. (Columbus Dispatch)
AHL Grand Rapids Griffins forward Mark Zengerle skated hard to make goaltender Richard Bachman pay for coming out of his crease to charge the puck (H/T Puck Daddy):
Dustin Byfuglien will continue to serve as a defenseman for Winnipeg Jets for at least a little longer. (Winnipeg Sun)
The reigning World Junior champs could be getting a big addition in their quest to repeat.
Julius Honka, the defenseman taken 14th overall by Dallas at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, will be released to the Finnish junior team if he’s not called up to the NHL by Dec. 23, the club announced on Tuesday.
Honka, 19, was part of the Finnish club that captured gold at last year’s tournament. He’s spent all of this year playing for Dallas’ AHL affiliate in Texas and has fared pretty well, scoring two goals and eight points in 22 games.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Stars do grant his release. The team’s defense has been sub-par all season long and GM Jim Nill’s said he wants to go with a youth movement on the back-end; that said, Honka’s still in his first pro season in North America and is relatively small (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) — pushing him up to the NHL level this early could be asking a lot.
Anthony Duclair doesn’t want to go back to junior. Even if it means playing a much smaller role with the New York Rangers than he’d get with the Quebec Remparts. And, yes, even if it means the odd healthy scratch.
“I’d rather be here than in juniors playing first line, that’s for sure,” Duclair said today, per NHL.com.
“I think it’s better for me to stay up here. To be honest, it doesn’t matter if I’m not playing every game. Practicing with these type of players every day and being around a pro environment definitely will help me in the future. I think if I go back to junior I don’t have much to prove there anymore.”
The Rangers have already burned the first year of Duclair’s contract, so that’s not an issue. What is an issue, though, is the fact he’s been a healthy scratch the past three games, ever since that “unacceptable” loss to Edmonton.
But Duclair will be back in the lineup tonight versus Tampa Bay. Can he convince coach Alain Vigneault to keep him there?
“For myself, I have to make sure when I’m in there I have to make an impact,” he said.
Duclair has one goal and five assists in 12 games this season, but no points, and just two shots, in his last three outings.
Related: Rangers make trade, open spot for preseason star Duclair
Mirco Mueller played in five of San Jose’s first six games of the year, but will be a healthy scratch for the second straight time tonight when the Sharks host the Jackets.
For those wondering if Mueller, 19, will be sent back to junior prior to playing nine games at the NHL level, head coach Todd McLellan had a pretty blunt reply:
Mueller, San Jose’s first-round pick (18th overall) at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, is one of the club’s young cornerstones on defense thanks in part to his size — 6-foot-3, 205 pounds — and . He’s currently parked in the press box in the wake of a bad outing against the Rangers and, while the Sharks do have the option to send him back to WHL Everett, it sounds as though the club will stick with the “tomorrow team” philosophy and keep Mueller in the mix for the duration of the campaign.
San Jose Sharks associate coach Larry Robinson has been traveling with the team, but he might scale back his road trips as the season progresses. At the age of 63, the Hall of Fame defenseman is interested in slowly reducing his role as a coach.
“I’m just getting tired,” he admitted to the Bergen Record. “I still enjoy the game, but it’s not as much a passion maybe as it used to be. I still enjoy the hockey part and being on the ice with the guys.”
He wants to spend more time with his family too, which is one of the reasons he left the New Jersey Devils in the first place. His daughter and grandchildren live in the Los Angeles area, so he had hoped working for a team closer to them would allow him to visit more frequently. Unfortunately with the compacted schedules resulting from the lockout and then Olympics, things haven’t played out that way over the previous two campaigns. He’s hoping this season will be different.
Even if he cuts back on his duties as an associate coach though, he’ll still be contributing to San Jose in other ways. He accepted the title of director of player development when the Sharks retained his services for the 2014-15 campaign.
“I’m hoping to be able to spend a little more time going down to see our farm system,” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of good, young kids down there and just seeing how they’re developing and who knows? Maybe even getting over to see a couple of our kids that are playing in junior as well.”
The idea is that he’ll mostly shed his duties as an associate coach in 2015-16 and instead focus primarily on the team’s player development.
He’s a nine-time Stanley Cup champion, with six of those victories coming as a player and another three as a coach.