Puck-based change (and all the naive optimism that comes with it) is in the air as training camp arrives this week for most NHL teams. Some will tell you that one of the biggest choices that many franchises face involves placing a “C” on the jersey of a deserving captain.
While the journey to find a new captain to replace Roberto Luongo in Vancouver has been well-publicized, the Montreal Canadiens still need an official leader since Saku Koivu departed. Playmaking center Scott Gomez thinks that it isn’t that big of a deal, but Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette disagrees.
Fisher also suggests a method of finding a new captain that reaches all the way back to the days of Jean Beliveau and “Boom Boom” Geoffrion: let the players vote for the captain.
Head coach Jacques Martin says he will name a captain before the Canadiens open the regular season after discussions with other off-ice officials. Bad move. Coaches and/or general managers don’t select captains. Players do. It’s the players who know better than any coach which player they want as a leader on and off the ice. I can’t think of a single instance when Canadiens players were not asked to vote for their captain.
Then again, Fisher wrote that a Habs vote that gave Beliveau the captaincy left Geoffrion in tears – a hockey player in an even tougher era who popularized the slapshot, for goodness sakes – so it’s far from a fool-proof concept. While it would be vaguely charming to imagine Hal Gill weeping into his gloves after he lost hockey’s version of Homecoming King, I think it might be best if coach Martin simply makes the best choice possible.
Or maybe they should just wait until the choice is obvious again … as long as it’s not Carey Price.
CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.
The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.
The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.
The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.
The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.
The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.
Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.
The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.
The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.
“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”
Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.
TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.
The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.
“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”
The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.
Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.