Patrick Sharp

Seguin (knee) wants to open Stars camp sans-brace

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Given how well Tyler Seguin played with a knee brace, news of him getting rid of it is kind of a big deal.

“I want to go free,” Seguin told the Dallas Morning News this week, confirming he’s skating without a brace and hopes to open training camp the same way.

“I’m sure you can use a smaller brace or a lighter brace, but they say that once you start relying on them, you never get off. I like skating without one, and I want to keep it that way.”

Seguin missed 10 games last February/March following a hit from Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov. Originally scheduled to miss up to six weeks, he returned in three to aid Dallas in its (ultimately futile) late playoff push, admitting the knee was “definitely not anywhere near 100 percent.”

Not like it mattered an awful lot.

Seguin had eight goals and 10 assists in 16 games after his return and then, just a few weeks after the regular season ended, scored a tournament-high nine goals in 10 games to help Canada capture gold at the Worlds.

It’s easy to see why Seguin wants to go full-stop right out of training camp. He knows last year’s slow start was a big reason why Dallas missed the playoffs, something the club expects to change after an exciting offeason in which it acquired Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya and Antti Niemi.

“After the slow start, we spent the next 60 games trying to catch up, and we were never able to do that,” Seguin explained. “The start is important, obviously, there are too many good teams to try to fight through a bad start.”

PHT Morning Skate: Yep, Patrick Sharp’s Stanley Cup photos with his kids are adorable

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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.

OK, so this is actually field hockey related, but still pretty wild stuff about Cuban players defecting. (AFP)

Continuing with the theme of “peripherally about hockey but mostly about another sport” reads, check out this fascinating story about AVM, the company that in many ways spearheaded baseball’s stats movement. Hey, there’s at least a mention of Corsi. (Grantland)

The oral history of Lou Lamoriello’s New Jersey Devils’ days is absolutely worth a read. (The Hockey News)

Twenty-one things to note from Steve Moore’s Smashfest IV, which happened this past weekend. (Sportsnet)

A profile of Gilles “Bad News” Bilodeau. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

Is it time for the Edmonton Oilers to find a new captain as Andrew Ference fades from relevance? (Oilers Nation)

ESPN’s Scott Burnside is the latest to take a stab at the “who missed the playoffs last season but will make it in 2015-16?” question. (ESPN)

Get this, these photos of Patrick Sharp, his children and the Stanley Cup are awfully cute. Shocking, right?

Dallas d-man Johns, acquired in Sharp trade, says he’s ready for the NHL

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Patrick Sharp isn’t the only former Blackhawk looking to make his mark in Dallas.

Defensive prospect Stephen Johns, acquired by the Stars two weeks ago in the Sharp deal, is looking to make his big-league debut next season and challenge for a spot on the blueline.

“I am just going to be like every other guy here, battling for a spot, competing and doing whatever I can,” Johns said, per NHL.com. “Personally, I think I am ready, but it’s not up to me.

“I am going to do the best that I can, play the best hockey I can and try to impress them.”

Johns, 23, was held in high regard by the ‘Hawks, who took him 60th overall at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He’s big (6-foot-3, 229 pounds), showed good offensive upside in Rockford this year — 21 points in 51 games, missing time to a knee injury — and garnered some consideration as a darkhorse candidate to step in on Chicago’s defense in the playoffs, following Michal Rozsival‘s season-ending ankle fracture in Round 2.

A broken forearm kept Johns from making that leap, but a new opportunity came calling two weeks ago when he and Sharp were flipped to Dallas for Trevor Daley and forward Ryan Garbutt.

Dallas’ blueline is hardly set in stone; while the likes of John Klingberg, Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers and Johnny Oduya are all experienced NHLers, Johns should (theoretically) compete with fellow youngsters Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak, Jyrki Jokipakka and ’14 first-rounder Julius Honka for minutes.

It also remains to be seen where Jordie Benn, who struggled mightily last season, fits into the grand scheme of things.

Stars hoping Sharp can show them ‘the right way’ to play

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The Dallas Stars are counting on Patrick Sharp’s Stanley Cup-winning experience to help put them over the top.

“Going back two seasons ago, we sat down and we’re trying to figure out our organizational depth chart,” GM Jim Nill said Monday, per the Dallas Morning News“We knew we had a young core coming along, but the one missing piece we knew was going to be, how do you find these experienced guys that have won Cups, who do things right?” 

In Sharp’s case, they found him in a trade with the cap-crunched Blackhawks.

“I’m all about resumes and the resume that he has, that’s what we need,” Nill said. “We’ve got some great young players here that are going to learn from him. I think the young players are going to energize him also.”

Sharp didn’t disagree with that last point. The 33-year-old winger said that “coming to a team like Dallas, with so many young players and so much enthusiasm, it kind of reignites the passion to play hockey.”

The Stars also added Cup-winning experience in free agency, signing both defenseman Johnny Oduya and goalie Antti Niemi.

Sharp won three Cups in Chicago, Oduya two, and Niemi one.

“The Chicago Blackhawks have not won three Cups in the last six years because they have played the way they wanted to play,” Nill said. “They all bought into playing the right way and that’s how we’re going to play.”

Toews: With new contracts there’s ‘more pressure than ever’

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Expectations are nothing new to Chicago Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but even for them next season might be different.

In all likelihood, they will enter the campaign as the top two players from a salary cap perspective thanks to their matching eight-year, $84 million contracts kicking in. That pay raise from their previous five-year, $31.5 million deals combined with a smaller cap increase than expected has squeezed the defending Stanley Cup champions, leading to them parting ways with Patrick Sharp, Johnny Oduya, and Brandon Saad over the summer.

None of that is to suggest that Kane and Toews aren’t worth top dollar after leading Chicago to three Stanley Cup champions, but they are aware that the expectations thrust upon them will only increase with their salary.

“As soon as the next season starts everyone tends to forget about what happened last year and it’s time to go to work again,” Toews told the Chicago Tribune. “We’ve shown we can do that and we know given the fact we just lost … important teammates and the focus is on us and our contract that there is more pressure than ever.”

Kane has thought about it a bit this summer too and realizes that that he will be expected to “live up to that contract.”

The good news from Chicago’s perspective is that the duo has been able to step up in the past under pressure, so it’s not unreasonable to believe that they will be able to rise to the occasion again. That being said, they’ve never single handily won anything for Chicago nor can they do so going forward. A big part of the Blackhawks’ strength has been their superb supporting cast and with some key members of it now gone, the pressure will be on others to step up and fill the void as much as it will be on Kane and Toews to continue to lead the charge.