Adrian Aucoin uprooted to Columbus, yet might never play there

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In one of the stranger lockout twists, veteran defenseman Adrian Aucoin could end up being a Blue Jacket in name only.

That’s something the 39-year-old acknowledged in speaking with the Columbus Dispatch over the weekend.

“Like it or not, I have to think about it,” he told the paper. “In a perfect world, I’d play forever.”

Aucoin’s current situation is far from perfect.

After spending the last three years in Phoenix, he signed a one-year, $2 million deal with Columbus at the start of free agency, to (theoretically) provide experience on a young defense that would (theoretically) feature Ryan Murray, Tim Erixon and John Moore.

But that plan’s gone awry.

In November, Aucoin acknowledged his future might’ve gone awry too, telling the Dispatch losing the season means a “huge possibility” for his retirement.

“I’m not naive,” he said at the time. “I think we all saw what happened [with the last lockout], and there’s really no reason to think it would be different.”

What’s more, Aucoin didn’t just move to Columbus — he brought the whole family along with him. His wife and five children relocated to the Midwest, a decision based largely on Aucoin’s research.

“One guy I keep in touch with is Freddy Modin and he still lives in Columbus, which is a surprise because most Swedish guys go home as soon as they’re done,” Aucoin explained. “The conversations I’ve had over the years with guys like Luke Richardson and Scott Lachance and Ray Whitney — these guys had nothing bad to say about it.

“They all said when the hockey gets on track, it’d be one of the better places in the league to play.”

Aucoin isn’t the only veteran realizing the lockout could end his career. Jamie Langenbrunner spoke about the possibility, as have Edmonton’s Andy Sutton and Boston’s Shawn Thornton.

Older players realize that a year away from the game can essentially force a curtain call, which would be too bad for Aucoin, who really wants to play for the Jackets.

“My older daughter doesn’t want to leave Columbus,” he said. “My 10-year-old plays hockey, so he has a team and a set of friends. His buddies know I’m on the Blue Jackets and they want to see me play.

“They ask me when the lockout is going to end.”

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.