Clarke willing to shake Lindros’ hand at Winter Classic

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Bobby Clarke versus Eric Lindros is one of the most infamous and heated feuds in hockey history. But could it be coming to an end this December?

Clarke seems to think so.

Prior to the Flyers hosting the Rangers at the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic on Jan. 2, there’ll be an alumni game on Dec. 31 in which both Clarke and Lindros will play as teammates. The two haven’t spoken since Clarke acrimoniously sent Lindros to the Rangers back in 2001, but the former Philly GM seems ready to let bygones be bygones.

“As far as I’m concerned, (the feud) is over,” Clarke told the Burlington County Times. “I couldn’t be bothered one way or the other. He helped the Flyers, why shouldn’t he be with the Flyers? I’m not mad at him. I’ll shake hands with him. It’s not going to affect my life one way or the other if he doesn’t (reciprocate).”

Yep, sounds like he’s totally over it. No hard feelings there.

To be fair, Clarke v. Lindros was one of the ugliest, nastiest personal feuds in NHL history. The fact that was played out in the media only made it worse, and probably played a large role in why it still resonates today.

If you’re unfamiliar with the gory details, here’s a fairly concise recap from CBC:

Eric Lindros won an NHL MVP award in 1995 and led the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup final in 1997, but he quicky fell out of favour with Flyers GM Bob Clarke, who publicly questioned the towering forward’s toughness as he missed time with concussion problems.

The feud boiled over in 1999 when Lindros suffered a collapsed lung during a game in Nashville. Flyers trainers failed to diagnose the injury and were ordered to put Lindros on a plane back to Philadelphia. Lindros got to hospital only at the insistence of his hotel roommate, Keith Jones, leading Lindros’ father to write the team a letter saying his son would be dead had he listened to the Flyers’ medical staff.

After being stripped of his captaincy the following year, Lindros refused to re-sign with Philadelphia in the summer of 2000 and demanded that Clarke trade his rights to Toronto. The GM refused and Lindros sat out the following season, during which a defiant Clarke said, “I don’t give a s— if [Lindros] plays another game.” Eventually, though, Clarke gave in and shipped Lindros to the New York Rangers.

Clarke has maintained it was Lindros and his family that had a problem with the Flyers, not the other way around.

“I haven’t spoken to him,’’ Clarke said. “When he first went to the Rangers, he wouldn’t speak to me. But no big deal. The Lindros family caused the Flyers a lot of grief. (Eric) was bitter at us. They were the ones who were resentful, not me.’’

For the record, Lindros has stated he’s ready to bury the hatchet.

“I can’t wait to get back there, see them and play for the fans again. Looks to be a great event,” The Big E said in an email to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. “It was very nice of Bob to say some of the things he has said, and I too look forward to catching up with him.”

Islanders agree to terms with Mathew Barzal on 8-year extension

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Mathew Barzal has agreed to terms with the New York Islanders on an eight-year extension, a move that keeps the franchise’s top forward under contract for the balance of his prime.

The deal is worth $73.2 million with an annual salary cap hit of $9.15 million, according to a person with knowledge of the contract. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

Barzal has led the team in scoring, or been tied for the lead, every season since he became a full-time NHL player in 2017-18. He has 349 points in 411 regular-season and playoff games for the defensively stingy Islanders, who qualified for the postseason three consecutive times before an injury- and virus-altered last year.

“We feel recharged,” Barzal said recently. “We feel like everybody had good summers and worked hard, and we got that excitement back.”

Barzal, now 25, is coming off putting up 59 points in 75 games. The offensive star will now be asked to round out his game.

“I’m a fan because Mat has the ability to raise his game and to be a special player,” general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters at the team’s practice facility on Long Island. “And now, with this contract and our faith in him, (it) puts that responsibility on him. We’re trusting that. It’s up to him to respond to that.”

Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

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.