Senators owner wants huge changes to suspension system

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Senators owner Eugene Melnyk wants to see the league crack down on head hits and he’s got some big proposals for how to do that.

“I have, for the longest time, said there is no room in this game for that kind of play,” Melnyk said. “No. 1, these are elite hockey players. They’re not just plastic figures you can kick around and think they’re going to come back.”

One of the changes Melnyk wants is for repeat offenders to be booted from the NHL.

“If there’s a one-off, mistaken hit, fine,” Melnyk said. “That’s up to the league to decide, but if you have a repeat offender then that person should be out of the game without question. They have no business playing in the NHL. It’s the equivalent of getting a junkyard car driver in the Daytona 500. Why are you putting a reckless driver in an elite group?”

It’s worth noting that New York Rangers’ Carl Hagelin, who elbowed Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson in the head, was not a repeat offender and thus would not have been removed from the league under Melnyk’s proposed system. That being said, Melnyk has other proposed changes that might have impacted the Senators’ situation.

Melnyk wants to see hockey players put into A, B, and C tiers, so that if a C-tier player takes out an A tier player, the other team will lose one of their A-tiered players as punishment.

“It’s very simple: You rank your players ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’. You take out of my ‘A’ players during a playoff series, I get to select one of your ‘A’ players that’s not going to play,” Melnyk said. “Forget about the goon, he doesn’t care if he plays again, he’s getting paid, but give me a choice of who I can take off of your roster.”

So let’s say for the sake of argument that Raffi Torres is a C-tier player. After Torres’ devastating hit on Marian Hossa, Chicago would then get to point to Ray Whitney or Shane Doan and say that player can’t play.

Melnyk thinks this is going to “get elevated to much more full-scale discussion at the (next board of) governors’ meetings.” We’ll see what comes out of that.

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.