Jets coach: If Green Bay can attract players, so can Winnipeg

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Jets coach Claude Noel met with the media Sunday to share his thoughts on the end of Winnipeg’s season.

Noel touched on a number of topics, including the team’s attitude towards winning, which he says must improve.

“We have to want and expect to be in the playoffs,” he said. “Our conduct, our existence just has to be better, that’s where it starts.”

But perhaps most interesting were his comments on the club’s ability to attract players to the smallest market in the NHL, and one that won’t find its name on the list of most exotic cities on the planet.

“I think we’ve got a good thing going here and not for one second will I take a back seat to anywhere else,” Noel said. “We’re a good team. This is a great place to play. It’s going to be a destination players are going to want to come to. And if they don’t want to, then don’t come. It’s that simple.

“Green Bay (Packers) wins. What the hell’s in Green Bay? You been to Green Bay? I mean, I’ve been to Green Bay. It’s a nice town, but… Winnipeg’s going to be a good place to play. I think players really like it and the response we get from our players is they love playing here. It won’t be for everybody. So be it. Some guys might want to golf all year round. Go ahead.

“I learned a long time ago you don’t sell your soul to get a player to come. You get him to come for the right reasons and you’ll win.”

Hard to disagree with Noel’s point. If you’re a hockey player that cares more about the game than the nightlife or weather, why wouldn’t you want to play in Winnipeg? There are plenty of opportunities to hit the bars on the road. There aren’t many, if any, places you can play in front of fans like that on a regular basis.

Granted, your wife or girlfriend might see things differently, but if that’s the way she’s going to be, fine, you’ll go to Florida.

“But we’re getting a hot housekeeper.”

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Blackhawks F Katchouk will be 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 Sunday.

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.