Will 2011-12 break record for most coaches fired in a season?

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Coaches — they’re hired to be fired.

That’s the old adage, anyway, but it’s holding true as the NHL reaches the midpoint of its season. Seven coaches have been turfed already, two shy of the record first set in 1981-82, then matched in 2000-01.

Coaches relieved of their duties this season were Davis Payne (St. Louis), Bruce Boudreau (Washington), Paul Maurice (Carolina), Randy Carlyle (Anaheim), Terry Murray (Los Angeles), Jacques Martin (Montreal) and, most recently, Scott Arniel (Columbus). That’s seven coaches fired during the first-half of the regular season, a pretty staggering number.

But oddly enough, this season is shaping up a bit like the coaching massacre of 2000-01. That year, only two of the nine coaches dismissed managed to make it through all 82 games — Florida’s Terry Murray and Chicago’s Alpo Suhonen were canned shortly after missing the playoffs — meaning seven faced the guillotine during the regular season.

Pat Burns was fired by Boston after eight games, Montreal canned Alain Vigneault after 20, Craig Ramsay got 28 games in Philly before he bit the bullet and Craig Hartsburg coached 33 before Anaheim let him go. Steve Ludzik got to game No. 39 before Tampa gave him his walking papers and two coaches — Butch Goring (Islanders) and Don Hay (Flames) made it to games 65 and 68, respectively.

So…what are the chances of this year’s coaching death count getting to nine?

Slim, but not nil. The argument could be made that Islanders coach Jack Capuano is on thin ice, but he’s barely had a full year on the job. Same goes for Randy Cunneyworth who, barring an epic collapse, will get to finish the season in Montreal. The Flames could part ways with Brent Sutter if they fall out of the playoff picture (it’d be their third straight missed postseason) and so could the Leafs with Ron Wilson, especially if they fall short of the playoffs.

The wildcard in all of this is timing. Teams that did the business early in the season were able to hire coaches of their choosing — St. Louis got Ken Hitchcock, Carolina got Kirk Muller, Washington got Dale Hunter, Anaheim got Bruce Boudreau and LA got Darryl Sutter — while the teams that waited too long ended up with second choices. No offense to Cunneyworth in Montreal or Todd Richards in Columbus, but both seem like stopgap solutions (at best.)

Teams looking to make a change now might just wait until the season’s over, so they can conduct a more thorough search and have all potential candidates available.

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.