of the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Washington Capitals at th Verizon Center on February 6, 2011 in Washington, DC.
AIRDRIE, Alberta (AP) — The parents of a paralyzed Humboldt Broncos hockey player are preparing for the next phase of his recovery – his return home.
Ryan Straschnitzki is undergoing physiotherapy at the Shriners Hospital in Philadelphia after being paralyzed from the chest down in a crash between a semi-trailer and a bus carrying the junior hockey team at a rural Saskatchewan intersection in April.
The 19-year-old is expected to return home to Airdrie, just north of Calgary, in a matter of weeks.
His father, Tom Straschnitzki, says he’s already gone through six training programs on how to care for his son once he’s no longer under the constant watchful eye of medical personnel.
The programs include basics of day-to-day care, medication his son is taking and warning signs if something goes wrong.
”Because he can’t feel anything, if there’s a wrinkle, he’ll turn all red and his blood pressure will drop. We’ve got to figure out the signs and try and fix the problem,” Tom Straschnitzki said in an interview at his home with The Canadian Press.
”It’s scary. Hopefully we’ll know what to do and they’ve trained us pretty good.”
Tom Straschnitzki says the family home is about to be renovated to accommodate his son. An elevator is being installed, walls are being knocked down, doorways widened and bathrooms adapted. The reno could take up to six months and, during that time, they’ll need to find a new place to live.
”It’s daunting,” he said. ”It’s a lot of work, like building a brand new house.”
The basement where his son will be living is crammed with souvenirs he collected growing up and a lot more that have come in since the accident.
”That’s Connor McDavid‘s stick over there,” he said as he pointed to a corner in the basement. ”There’s boxes and boxes of letters and we ran out of room here so we put the rest in his room.”
Two books on the floor included ”99” by Wayne Gretzky and ”Against All Odds”, the untold story of Canada’s university hockey heroes.
A fundraiser to help with the family’s costs was scheduled for Saturday night at the Genesis Centre in Airdrie.
Cody Thompson, Ryan Straschnitzki’s former trainer and the event’s organizer, said it’s important the young man have access to treatment and resources.
”Any time you talk to anyone with a spinal cord injury, the first thing they will tell you is the younger you are, the more expensive it becomes, because of the longer time you will live with that injury,” he said.
”If you have the financial wherewithal, the likelihood of you coming out of this with more meaningful movement, mobility and strength to lead a normal life is exponentially higher (than) if you don’t have that ability.”
This time last year, Thompson said, Ryan was focused on playing with a junior A hockey team.
”Now he’s focused on gaining his ability to walk again and gaining full control over his body.”
Sixteen people died, including 10 players, and 13 others were injured as a result of bus crash.
• Andrew Berkshire breaks down the Alex Galchenyuk for Max Domi trade that the Canadiens and Coyotes made on Friday night. Their skillsets are different, but both players can become valuable contributors to their new teams. (Sportsnet)
• Caps forward Devante Smith-Pelly is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, but his goal is to re-sign with Washington. “On the ice and off the ice I feel like this is the best situation I’ve been in. Obviously, never know what’s going to happen but I found a place and I want to be back.” (NBC Sports Washington)
• Top 2018 draft prospect Quinn Hughes has been shaped by his relationship with his brother, Jack, who could be the top pick in the 2019 draft. (Sportsnet)
• The Toronto Marlies came away with the AHL’s Calder Cup this year, so Pension Plan Puppets break down which players on the Marlies roster they think have a chance of cracking the NHL. (Pension Plan Puppets)
• Offer sheets could be a fun way to make the NHL offseason even more fun, but general managers don’t seem to want to go that route very often. Sean McIndoe looks at how he would fix this broken system. (Sportsnet)
• If the 1998 NHL Entry Draft was to be done all over again, Vincent Lecavalier wouldn’t be the top selection. That honor would go to Pavel Datsyuk. (NHL.com)
• In the latest edition of his “Off-season Game Plan” series, TSN.ca’s Scott Cullen breaks down what the Capitals have to address during the upcoming offseason. (TSN.ca)
• The NHL Entry Draft gives struggling teams a chance to turn their fortunes around in the future. Toronto Sun writer Micheal Traikos writes about the potential for turnaround and he answers some of the hot topics surrounding this year’s draft. Will the Sens make a trade or two on Friday night? (Toronto Sun)
It’s been noted that Galchenyuk scored almost as many goals in one season (30 in 82 games during the 2015-16 campaign) as Max Domi has during his entire NHL career (36 in 222 games). Brutal, right?
Yes, but it probably oversells the gap between the two as overall players, even if Galchenyuk has undoubtedly enjoyed the superior career.
For one thing, Domi’s enjoyed his moments. He scored 18 goals during his impressive rookie season, the only year he’s enjoyed a respectable shooting percentage (11.5 percent).
As you zoom out, the comparison gets less lopsided. Glance at overall points and things get closer. Domi’s generated 135 points over his 222-game career, good for an average of .60 points per contest. Galchenyuk, meanwhile, comes in at .61 (255 points in 418 games). So, if those averages stood during an 82-game season, Galchenyuk would score 50 points while Domi would generate … a fraction less than 50 points.
Now, you can counter those observations by fairly noting that goals come at higher premium than assists. Again, it’s clear that so far, Galchenyuk’s been more dynamic.
But that’s not the point. Instead, one should realize that Domi is a superior threat as a passer, not a shooter. (Galchenyuk, meanwhile, can be a deadly sniper.)
Domi’s teammates seem to notice that distinction, especially Brendan Gallagher, who won gold with him at the 2016 World Championship.
“He plays extremely hard, he competes hard, but he’s a pass-first kind of guy. It was shocking at times, the way he sees the game,” Gallagher said to Dan Braverman of the Canadiens website. “If you’re out on the ice with him, you have to be ready to shoot the puck, because he’s looking to feed his linemates, which is always nice to play with.”
In a fascinating breakdown for Sportsnet, Andrew Berkshire points out that playmaking has been an issue for the Canadiens for quite some time, even with the addition of a creator like Jonathan Drouin. Berkshire wonders if Domi (who Berkshire deems a “borderline elite playmaker”) could make a big difference in that regard.
Domi spent a huge chunk of last season playing on a line with Christian Dvorak, and he shot 9.9 per cent after scoring on 17 per cent of his shots last season, so his presence doesn’t guarantee anything, but the playmaking ability Domi displays is absolutely something the Canadiens are trying to address here, and I think they’re banking on adding that playmaking ability to a group of shooting forwards making a bigger impact on team goals than Galchenyuk’s style of play would.
Again, this isn’t to say that Domi is more valuable than Galchenyuk. (Berkshire ultimately describes Galchenyuk as “the better, more talented, more dynamic player,” for example.)
Interestingly, it’s easy to imagine both Galchenyuk and Domi enjoying improved results in 2018-19, at least if healthy. Domi might not be much of a goal threat, but it’s tough to imagine him suffering through another six shooting percentage. Galchenyuk fell off his typical goal pace thanks in part to an 8.9 shooting percentage in 2017-18 (versus 16.3 percent in 2016-17 and 12.4 for his career).
There’s also the matter of Domi’s cap hit ($3.15 million) coming in cheaper than that of Alex Galchenyuk ($4.9M), but you can dive deeper into those aspects here.
Does this mean that the Canadiens won the trade? Right now, the answer seems to be “No.”
The point is that this might not be remembered as the sort of head-shaking disaster that the Subban – Weber trade ended up being and the Mikhail Sergachev – Jonathan Drouin swap looks like after the first year.
That said, it’s still worth giving Marc Bergevin a hard time about, because “maybe not as bad as it looks” isn’t the ideal peak for a GM’s recent trades.
More on the Domi – Galchenyuk trade
- The main story.
- Cheap Domi extension makes Habs look a little better.
- Galchenyuk gives Coyotes another reason to get excited.
PHT’s Adam Gretz placed the St. Louis Blues fifth in his power rankings for potential Ilya Kovalchuk destinations earlier week, citing the team’s need for a boost on offense (while highlighting the tantalizing potential of Kovalchuk with Vladimir Tarasenko).
It sounds like Blues GM Doug Armstrong is throwing his team’s name in the hat, if nothing else. He confirmed the Blues’ interest in Kovalchuk, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“Always looking to improve our team,” Armstrong said. “We’re like all teams. He’s 35 years old, there’s risk involved with players of that age. But he could be Jaromir Jagr. He could start slowing down at 41. Or he could come back and hit the wall. You never know.”
Armstrong also mentioned that, unlike teams such as the Sharks and Kings, the Blues didn’t arrange a face-to-face meeting with Kovalchuk. It’s unclear if that fact indicates a lower level of interest from St. Louis and/or Kovalchuk.
The age comments are more than just pointing out the obvious, by the way.
Kovalchuk would count as a 35+ contract, and with his most recent ask being a manageable cap hit yet a deal that would ask for some term at three years, a team would need to be confident that signing him would be worth it in the future. Not just now.
Taking a look at the Blues’ Cap Friendly page, such a risk would be reasonable for St. Louis, yet they would need to mull over the ramifications.
Three especially noteworthy players currently have three years remaining on their contracts: Jaden Schwartz, Jake Allen, and Alexander Steen. It might surprise some to realize that Steen is already 34, but Schwartz and Allen are young enough that the Blues must acknowledge that raises could be coming.
(Personally, that seems most pressing for Schwartz, as Allen has his critics as an up-and-down No. 1 goalie.)
A couple other looming raises could make Kovalchuk’s hypothetical three-year deal a bigger burden, as such a deal would run concurrently with raises in 2020-21. Both Alex Pietrangelo ($6.5 million cap hit) and Brayden Schenn ($5.125M) stand to make a lot more money once their bargain deals expire after 2019-20.
Overall, the Blues are in a fantastic situation to make it all work.
They only have about $62M committed to 18 players heading into next season, and the only plus of Robby Fabbri‘s terrible injury luck for St. Louis is that the RFA is likely to sign a team-friendly contract. (Assuming that Fabbri gets a clean bill of health.)
The Blues stand as a dark horse candidate for John Tavares for the same sort of reasons that Kovalchuk would make sense. While last season’s failure to make the playoffs was a disappointment, they’ve generally been competitive. A big-time addition could really accelerate that improvement, and this team has money to burn (for now). St. Louis also boasts some prominent players in the thick of their primes.
And, sure, Tarasenko’s presence cannot hurt.
St. Louis isn’t exactly like the Ducks, a team that hasn’t drafted a Russian player since 2009. While Tarasenko is the most prominent countryman on the Blues roster, St. Louis also employs Ivan Barbashev, Dmitrij Jaskin, and Nikita Soshnikov. (Czech forward Vladimir Sobotka also isn’t far removed from a three-year sojourn in the KHL, for whatever that’s worth.)
Long story short, the Blues have plenty of reasons to legitimately pursue Kovalchuk, and there’s some reason to believe that St. Louis would be a good fit for him.
That said, they’ll need to get in line … and they may not be in the front of that queue when free agency begins in July.
MORE ON THE KOVALCHUK SWEEPSTAKES
- Sharks, Kings make sense and show interest.
- Power rankings for sensible landing spots. Includes some teams who are also in the mix, and a couple who are not interested.
- Bruins rank as potential suitors, too.