Big meeting in Vancouver — Vigneault’s fate on the agenda


Sometime today in Vancouver, the future of Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, and perhaps even general manager Mike Gillis, could be decided.

The GM and the club’s owners, chairman Francesco Aquilini and his two brothers (Roberto and Paolo), will reportedly meet to discuss what to do about a team that won its second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy then fell in five games to the Kings in the first round.

In his season-ending press conference, Gillis said he has “every bit of confidence” in Vigneault, so we can assume the GM wants his coach back.

Among the scenarios that could play out:

—- Gillis convinces ownership that Vigneault is worth keeping, and both are back.

—- Ownership demands that Vigneault is fired, so Gillis fires him.

—- Ownership demands that Vigneault is fired, so Gillis quits.

Both GM and coach have a year remaining on their contracts, and neither will want to go into the season without an extension.

An interesting side story involves the two local newspapers, one (the Vancouver Sun) that’s been calling for the coach to be kept, the other (The Province) to be fired.

That in itself isn’t interesting, but Province columnist Tony Gallagher was instrumental in convincing Aquilini to hire Gillis after Dave Nonis was fired in 2008, and Gallagher has been calling for Vigneault’s head since long before the Canucks flamed out in the first round.

As Vancouver Sun columnist Iain MacIntyre notes, “if the Aquilinis can be successfully lobbied once, it can happen again.”

Related: Could Alain Vigneault become the next coach of the Canadiens?

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

Rasmus Sandin
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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.