Nashville Predators will introduce 'Blogger's Row' during 2009-10 season

(Again, I know that blogger talk really only appeals to a select segment of our audience. If this isn’t interesting to you, feel free to click on another story.)

On Friday, it seemed like the future was pretty bleak for bloggers trying to gain access to the locker rooms and press boxes of NHL teams, but much like the credentialing process, it’s more of a case-by-case thing.

For teams who lack mainstream media support, bloggers can be a welcome resource to get their message out (or at least improve awareness of their “product”). The New York Islanders featured their “Blog Box” for years and On the Forecheck shares news that the Nashville Predators will experiment with a similar idea next season by creating a “Blogger’s Row.”

Yet, as Dirk Hoag notes, working in the press box/interviewing players in the locker room isn’t all fun and games. Some people might dream of the experience of witnessing a game without having to pay for tickets, but it is indeed a job with many of the stressful moments and worries that come with it (particularly if you’re on a deadline).

There’s no cheering on press row, and let’s be honest, hockey players aren’t generally known for providing the most interesting post-game quotes. Working a game is, indeed, work; there’s little time to enjoy the ebb and flow of the game, because you’re busy crafting a narrative of the contest, and trying to make note of questions to ask key parties afterward. Yes, the popcorn’s free, but it’s served in these tiny cups (I may try sneaking in a feedbag one of these days), and the view’s not very good. If you want to actually enjoy the game, you’ll have a much better time in the stands.

I can understand some NHL teams being reluctant to open their locker rooms and press areas to bloggers, particularly if they are already satisfied with their coverage. Being that they often lack journalistic experience, there can occasionally be a pretty steep learning curve.

Still, bloggers cover a very wide array of skills and experience levels; some are heartfelt fans with extensive vocabularies while others are beat writers in training and so on. Long story medium, teams should give bloggers a chance to prove themselves but have every right to avoid the potential headaches.

Yet, when you’re a fledgling team in a non-traditional market, beggars can’t be choosers. Good on the Predators for being proactive in generating more support. Considering their upcoming national anthem fan auditions, they might become The NHL Team of the People going forward.

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.