Hat Trick with Mike Milbury – Gleason’s KO is OK

Each week here at ProHockeyTalk, NHL on NBC’s Mike Milbury gives us his take on three hot topics of discussion around the league. We’re happy to have Mike join us and give us his unique and fiery opinions on what’s going on in the NHL.

Some Leafs players were upset by Carolina’s Tim Gleason squaring off with non-fighter Nikolai Kulemin. What’s your take on that fight?

I thought Kulemin pushed Gleason and Gleason pushed him back. There’s no sign anywhere that says you can’t fight a European. You know, he pushed him several times and I don’t blame him at all for fighting him.  I thought it was a well deserved slap in the head. If you don’t want to fight then do what the animals square off in the forest: Avert your eyes, don’t look at him. You put yourself in that position you deserve to get whacked.

I will say this though. Ron Wilson says he put himself in the position to get whacked and he got whacked. Why would he say that? That’s how I feel and I think he’s right, but I’m tired of hearing him throw his own guys under the bus. He does that way too often for my liking. He can be a terrific coach but it looks like he’s had his fill of it. It’s disappointing when you see a guy do that to the player.

Marc Savard is out with yet another concussion.  Should this be it for his career or is he going to have to be really careful next time around?

I think everybody should be really careful any time around with concussions. It’s not just because of the original problem and now this is a follow up to that. Maybe it’s a separate incident this time, but nobody knows. I think they’re going to give him plenty of time and he’s gone home early to hang out and I’m glad they’ve done that.

He can get out of the view of everyone and not sit around and answer questions like “How you feeling, how you doing” and nobody’s going to mess with him once he’s home. It’s just a matter of time and evaluation and some people here have suggested they shut him down for the year but I’m not going to play doctor and pretend to get inside Marc Savard’s head.

Closing it out with a light question: Wayne Gretzky turned 50 and aside from that making us feel a bit older, is Gretzky the greatest player of all time?

Wow jeez, it’s his birthday. You don’t want me to give him an un-present. He’s amongst the top four or five greatest players ever. You can make a case, obviously, with statistics he’s the greatest player ever. Those things differ generation to generation but there isn’t any question that he’s one of the greatest players and the greatest business assets the NHL’s ever had.

I think it’s a shame it ended so badly in Phoenix for him and the league. I think that fence needs to be mended. If I gave him a birthday present it’d be to give him a position in the league or with an organization that reflects the status and respect that he has so richly earned.

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.