Coyotes Shane Doan suspended for three games for head shot on Dan Sexton

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We discussed Shane Doan’s questionable hit on Ducks forward Dan Sexton this morning and how the league would be looking into it and NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell has doled out some swift justice. Doan was suspended for three games by the league for his late, blindside hit to the head of Sexton (see video of the hit here). What didn’t help Doan’s situation was his hit earlier in the game that broke the nose of Ducks rookie defenseman Cam Fowler. While the league didn’t fine nor act on that hit, you have to think it was in the back of the mind of Campbell when figuring out how to punish the Coyotes captain.

Of course, like all suspensions in the NHL, there’s some controversy. Coyotes fans are upset because they’ll be without Doan for three games and they feel that the hit didn’t warrant such a stiff penalty, comparing it to Niklas Hjalmarsson’s hit from behind on Jason Pominville last week. There is a significant difference between the two, however, and the main one being that Doan’s hit is the exact sort of thing the NHL warned they’d be looking out for this season.

Whether you like it or not, Doan’s hit on Sexton is precisely the kind of hit needed to send the message that the NHL is going to be serious about enforcing this and trying to protect the players better, even on a play that went without a penalty call in the game (note: Doan wasn’t called for a penalty on the play). Even Colin Campbell makes specific mention saying “this is the type of hit we want out of the game.”

While we’re quick to poke fun at Campbell for his wild inconsistencies when it comes to punishment, if this type of punishment is going to be the standard for shots to the head, then it’s worthy of commendation. After the league fell asleep at the wheel in failing to punish Matt Cooke for his disgusting hit on Marc Savard, a change was needed. Concussions are no joke and making a reckless run at a player in the way that Doan did can put him out for an untold amount of time. Savard’s slow recovery from last year’s hit should stand out as an example of how bad things can be.

The key for the NHL here is to stay consistent in punishing players. If another play like this occurs and the player is either fined or, worse, let off without even a slap on the wrist then the entire thing is going to be left to stand out like a shining mockery of how to do things and the jokes about the Wheel of Justice will persist and with good reason. For now, this is a good first step for the league but they have to stay vigilant if they want players to start taking this seriously.

Blackhawks F Katchouk will be 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 Sunday.

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.