Matt Martin

Keith Ballard

Report: Ballard, Leopold leaning towards retirement

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Veteran defensemen Keith Ballard and Jordan Leopold have likely played their final NHL game, according to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.

A concussion limited Ballard to just 14 games last season. The 32-year-old was the recipient of a Matt Martin hit on Dec. 9, which sent him to hospital. Ballard, who recorded one assist and a minus-3 rating while averaging 12:03 in ice time, is still not 100 percent nearly nine months later.

“I’m just trying to get healthy,” Ballard said. “If I make a full recovery from this one, I’ll chalk it up to good luck. But I admit, if I’m hit like this again, I’m a little freaked out about what would happen the next time.”

Ballard’s two-year, $3 million contract expired in July and he remains an unrestricted free agent. The Minnesota native appeared in 604 career NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, Vancouver Canucks and Wild.

Leopold, a fellow unrestricted free agent, doesn’t have his agent making calls to teams.

Leopold, who was dealt by the Blue Jackets to the Wild in March at the request of his daughter, appeared in 18 games with Minnesota last season registering one assist and a plus-1 rating while averaging 13:19 a night in ice time.

Russo reports that Leopold and his wife are in the process of opening an events and wedding center on the Bluffs of the Mississippi.

Neither player has formally announced their retirement.

Related: It’s Minnesota Wild day at PHT

Isles still irate with Wilson for Visnovsky hit

bighitwilson
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Safe to say Tom Wilson is now the Islanders’ public enemy No. 1.

The day after wiping out d-man Lubomir Visnovsky with a fierce hit — which netted a two-minute charging minor — Wilson, who Kyle Okposo called “an idiot” during postgame media availability, was a hot topic of discussion again on Wednesday:

The hit happened midway Washington’s eventual 2-1 OT win. Here’s the video:

Visnovsky left the game following the blast and didn’t return, finishing with just 7:50 TOI. Isles head coach Jack Capuano, who originally suggested Wilson left his feet to deliver the blow, had no comment on the hit today and no status update for Visnovsky, who didn’t practice and isn’t expected to play Game 5 on Thursday.

It is worth noting that, prior to Tuesday’s game, Wilson alluded to upping the physicality:

“I know Latts is fired up to get in tonight, hopefully, and it’ll be good to get back together and give them some of their own medicine,” Wilson said, referring to the Islanders’ fourth line of Matt Martin [22 hits], Clutterbuck [17 hits] and Casey Cizikas [7 hits].

Per ESPN, Wilson won’t face any supplemental discipline for the hit.

Related: Caps’ Fehr to miss Games 4 and 5 after Okposo hit

Okposo blasts ‘idiot’ Wilson after physical outing versus Isles

Washington Capitals v New York Islanders
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Kyle Okposo is not a Tom Wilson fan.

Wilson, a major physical presence for the Caps in their 2-1 OT win over the Islanders Tuesday night, was ripped by Okposo after dishing out big hits on Isles forward Josh Bailey and d-man Lubomir Visnovsky in Game 4.

“He’s an idiot,” Okposo said, per Newsday. “The guy runs around, hits reckless, leaves his feet. There’s no place for that.”

Wilson finished the night with a team-high five hits and a brief tangle with Cal Clutterbuck, but it’s the penalties taken in conjunction with the Bailey and Visnovsky collisions that likely drew Okposo’s ire:

The Visnovsky hit didn’t sit well with Isles head coach Jack Capuano either, as he suggested Wilson left his feet to deliver the blow. Visnovsky left the game following the blast and didn’t return, finishing with just 7:50 TOI.

It’s worth noting that, prior to tonight’s game, Wilson alluded to upping the physicality:

“I know Latts is fired up to get in tonight, hopefully, and it’ll be good to get back together and give them some of their own medicine,” Wilson said, referring to the Islanders’ fourth line of Matt Martin [22 hits], Clutterbuck [17 hits] and Casey Cizikas [7 hits].

Related: Caps’ Fehr to miss Games 4 and 5 after Okposo hit

NHL confirms working with Isles, Leddy regarding Twitter threats (Updated)

New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs
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The NHL has confirmed its security team is working with the New York Islanders and defenseman Nick Leddy regarding a series of threats via Twitter, as reported by TSN on Tuesday night.

Per Gino Reda, a woman had allegedly posted a series of tweets threatening Leddy, which included purported images of Leddy’s driver’s license and credit card. There were also pictures of Leddy with an unidentified female, and an image featuring Sydney Esiason — a host on NHL.com, girlfriend of Isles’ forward Matt Martin and daughter of former NFL QB Boomer Esiason.

The account that sent the threats has been shut down. The Islanders told TSN that Leddy and his family are “fine,” adding the organization is working with NHL security and local authorities to find the person involved.

While the league did provide confirmation to PHT, it declined to make further comment.

Per a source of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy, Leddy had been getting harassing messages “for months.” PHT followed up with the Islanders, who said they were not commenting further and directed us to the original TSN report.

Leddy, 24, is in his first season with the Islanders after spending the first four years of his professional career in Chicago. In late February, he signed a seven-year, $38.5 million extension with New York.

Update: Per the AP, the FBI is now also investigating the matter.

Habs ride brilliant Price performance to win vs. Isles

P.K. Subban, Carey Price
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If you look at Saturday’s Montreal Canadiens – New York Islanders game as a showcase between two potential Hart Trophy candidates (rather than two East contenders), then Carey Price got the best of John Tavares tonight.

Price was brilliant once again for Montreal, stopping 35 out of 36 shots as the Habs beat the Islanders 3-1. Tavares created some great chances – as usual – yet Price was game for all of his six shots on net.

Price’s stop on Matt Martin was probably the sexiest highlight of them all, though:

In reality, this wasn’t just about two stars, especially since there were plenty of other standout talents on the ice like P.K. Subban. It was a great night for Max Pacioretty (a goal on a gaffe by Michal Neuvirth) and a not-so-great evening for Kyle Okposo and Johnny Boychuk, who both suffered with -3 ratings.

The out-of-town scoreboard was also friendly to the Canadiens and unfriendly to the Islanders. While the Tampa Bay Lightning muffed their chance to keep pace with Montreal, the New York Rangers took care of business against the Buffalo Sabres. That leaves the Habs strongly in first place in the Atlantic Division while the Isles face an uphill battle to catch the Rangers in the Metro.

Both teams seem like they’re on the upswing overall, but it was Montreal that took a step forward tonight.