Ryan Malone offers public apology to Lightning, fans

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The short-term future is still blurry for free agent forward Ryan Malone, but he knows that he made some serious mistakes last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, both on and especially off the ice. He apologized to the Lightning organization and fans after an informal skate with the New York Rangers on Monday.

“I’d like to publicly apologize to Mr. [Jeff] Vinik and the Tampa organization,” Malone said, via the New York Post’s transcription. “They’re a first-class organization, Mr. Vinik has done so much for the community there. I obviously wish them the best.

“The fans were great, so I want to say thanks to them for their continued support.”

Here’s video of Malone’s full comments, including thoughts on possibly landing with the Rangers.

For what it’s worth, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks believes “it’s only a matter of when and for how much” the Rangers will sign Malone.

As you can see from the video above, the gritty forward provided a hypothesis regarding how he might fit in with the Rangers if these flirtations end up with a contract. The 34-year-old said that he expects to use his big frame in simple ways, possibly to stick up for teammates.

Let’s not forget that there’s still some potential for scoring here, though. Malone is a six-time 20+ goal scorer at the NHL level, managing the feat three times in Tampa Bay and three other times with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Rangers seemed to bleed away some of their vaunted depth this offseason, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the team asked him to contribute offensively as much as they’d want Malone to assert himself physically. (Again, if the team decides to sign him, which could be tricky from a salary standpoint.)

Wherever he goes, Malone will be looking for redemption on multiple levels.

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.