Gonchar happy to be back in Therrien’s system


With his career winding down, Sergei Gonchar would like to win one more championship. The fact that it might come with Michel Therrien overseeing him certainly doesn’t hurt.

The Dallas Stars traded Gonchar to the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 11, reuniting the defenseman and coach that last worked together with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2005-09. Apparently working under Therrien’s system is just like riding a bike for Gonchar.

“I feel comfortable already,” said Gonchar, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “When I’m in Mike’s system, I always feel comfortable. It’s good to be back with him. Hopefully, we can win together.”

During their first stint together, Gonchar had 179 points in 210 games. The 40-year-old isn’t the blueliner he once was, but he already has two assists and a plus-two rating in three games with Montreal. Therrien has been giving Gonchar an average of 17:57 minutes per game, with 3:17 coming on the man advantage.

He’s taken defenseman P.K. Subban’s spot on the top power-play unit, but the 2013 Norris Trophy winner doesn’t seem to mind. As talented as Subban already is, he’s hoping to take this opportunity to learn from one of the all-time great offensive defensemen.

“He’s already being very vocal with me,” Subban said. “And that’s a really good thing for me. I’ve actually encouraged him to be as vocal as possible with me. I want to learn everything from him that I possibly can.”

Subban went on to describe Gonchar as “awesome” and “exactly what we thought he would be.”

Montreal has won six straight games to improve to 14-4-1 this season. It’s still early, but the Canadiens have the best record in the league so far.

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

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.