Joe Thornton’s suspension appeal shot down; crazy talk fills the air to support him

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Suspended Sharks forward Joe Thornton, who received a two-game suspension for his illegal check to the head of Blues forward David Perron, filed an appeal with the NHL to try and overturn his suspension. As ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun found out, Thornton’s appeal was denied by the NHL and Thornton’s agent, John Thornton, had some choice words for the league about it.

John Thornton, Joe’s brother and agent, issued a scathing statement afterward: “The league once again failed to follow any precedent they have set when making disciplinary decisions. They stated this was most similar to the [Nick] Foligno hit [earlier this season]. which only resulted in a $2,500 fine.

“When Joe asked the league, directly, what he could have done differently, they could not clearly explain. I guess being 5’9″ was Joe’s only solution to avoid this suspension. We are extremely disappointed with the league’s decision and feel the continuing uncertainty with league actions will only hurt the fans of the NHL.”

The league, when told of John Thornton’s comments, declined to comment.

John Thornton’s comments are a bit out of hand, all things considered. After all, we’ve seen Chris Pronger use the height differential excuse for when he’s been busted for elbowing players in the head.  In this situation, Thornton’s height has nothing at all to do with him flying out of the penalty box and cranking an unsuspecting player in the head.  Thornton doesn’t have a history of doing these kinds of things, but in this case he’s in the wrong.

If you’re wondering about how Perron is doing after the fact, especially considering he stayed in the game and scored a goal against the Sharks, he missed tonight’s game with Boston because he was having headaches. Some fans and media, like Sharks broadcaster Jamie Baker, thought that Perron was embellishing the hit to help get Thornton punished.

That line of thinking is so completely ludicrous it’s stunning to think that a team would have a player do that in order to ensure an opposing player gets spanked by the league. Head injuries don’t always appear immediately and they should be taken seriously. In Jamie Baker’s case, as a former player himself, he should certainly know better.

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.