Jeremy Roenick lambastes Thrashers for moving Dustin Byfuglien to defense

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roenick.jpgTo call Jeremy Roenick a “bombastic” would be correct. He’s got opinions and he’ll share them with whoever asks him for them. When Roenick took to the airwaves on his XM satellite radio show to discuss what he thought about the Atlanta Thrashers playing Dustin Byfuglien at defense, you could say that the results were as you’d expect them to be. Brash, controversial, and even tinged with bitterness towards the past.

“That might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.  Dustin Byfuglien as a defenseman.  I would love to play against Dustin Byfuglien as a defenseman.  I would turn him inside out, left, right and center every single time.  This kid, he made his living in front of the net scoring goals during the playoffs for the Chicago Blackhawks.  Why on earth would you put him back as a defenseman?  This kid is strong, he’s powerful, he’s a great skater.  Put him in front of the net as a forward.  That’s where you want him to do all his damage.

“Playing him as a defenseman?  Maybe that’s why the Thrashers are 0-3 in preseason.   Maybe that’s why nobody comes to watch their games.  It’s crazy.  What are they thinking?  They already have a GM [Rick Dudley] that doesn’t know the game whatsoever.  But, hey, that’s just my opinion.  Like me or hate me if you don’t [agree].  I’m not a big fan of Atlanta for a lot of reasons but the fact that they’re going to play Dustin Byfuglien [as a defenseman], my goodness gracious.”

There’s so many things to try and handle here. First of all, why isn’t Roenick a big fan of Atlanta? Perhaps he had a bad time at the World of Coca-Cola once. (Edit: As it turns out, you fans know your Roenick/Atlanta history better than I do. Roenick is apparently still angry about then Atlanta GM Don Waddell leaving him off of the 2006 Olympic team. Coincidentally, Roenick still thinks that Waddell is the GM of the Thrashers. We’ve all learned a lesson here I think.)

Secondly, Roenick missed out on Byfuglien’s early career in the minor leagues coming up with the Blackhawks because he spent all of that time as a defenseman. Hell, Byfuglien even played some defense for the Blackhawks this past season in the playoffs.

His point about wanting to leave Byfuglien up front as a power forward is one that we tend to agree with. Problem there is the numbers don’t necessarily back it up. He was great in the playoffs, but he’s a 15 goal scorer as a forward which means he’s not maximizing his output there during the year. Craig Ramsay believes he can be a 15-goal guy from the blue line, which if that happens, makes him a more valuable commodity provided he’s not a defensive liability.

For Roenick, however, until he becomes a team general manager or a coach, lashing out like this is going to come off as crazy ramblings from a media darling. It’s not that his point was wrong, Byfuglien might indeed end up back at forward in the future as it is and prove JR to be right, but delivering it in such an impassioned and exasperated way is only going to get people like us to talk about him and not his message.

Touché, Roenick. Touché.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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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.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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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.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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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.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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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.