Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel compares his team to ‘pee wees’ after 7-3 loss against Canucks

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From the looks of things, the not-so-Merry-Christmas feeling among coaches might extend beyond fired New Jersey Devils coach John MacLean and Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff (who looks to be without important center Derek Roy for some time).

Columbus Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel will go into the brief Christmas (or “holiday”) break fuming, at least if his post-game comments following his team’s 7-3 loss against the Vancouver Canucks are any indication.

It’s hard to blame Arniel for being so embarrassed after this game. Vancouver stormed out of the gate with a 3-0 lead in the first period and scored the first six goals before R.J. Umberger finally got the Blue Jackets on the board late in the second.

Arniel’s frustration must be building at this point. After opening the season with their best start ever, the team is plummeting back to earth in a dramatic way. Perhaps losing back-to-back games against the Detroit Red Wings when they were close to taking a Central Division lead deflated the team, because they’re 3-8-3 since that first game on Friday, November 26th. Here’s what Arniel said, via the Associated Press.

“It didn’t look like we really wanted to play tonight in the first period, let alone the rest of the game,” Arniel said. “It was an embarrassing game. I want to apologize to the fans. Professional athletes are paid to perform and when you don’t do your job you’re going to get criticized.”

(snip)

“There were a ton of things that bothered me very early in that game,” Arniel said. “The turnovers, the no compete and lack of professionalism bothered me, and that wasn’t just the first period.”

Thomas Reed of the Columbus Post-Dispatch captured a little more of Arniel’s anger.

More #CBJ‘s Scott Arniel on 7-3 loss to #Canucks: “It was men against pee wees out there.”

Harsh, but fair. The question is: can Arniel build them up from pee wees to the varsity and then finally back to a professional hockey team? If not, he might get some free time to coach real pee wees in the near future.

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.