Habs will name new captain before start of 2015-16

Associated Press
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After opting for four alternate captains during the 2014-15 season, the Montreal Canadiens are going to give one guy a “C” before the 2015-16 season begins.

GM Marc Bergevin said that the franchise’s 29th captain will be named by the end of training camp.

“We look for a leader who is respected by his teammates. I think that’s important,” Bergevin said on Thursday. “The transition that began last year has changed us a lot and has helped us make a decision as to whether the team was ready. And after a long discussion, we believe it is.”

“But who will it be?” screamed/typed the teeming the masses.

Sadly, no obvious foreshadowing took place. Neither Bergevin nor head coach Michel Therrien even dropped a hint regarding who will be the first captain since Brian Gionta left town.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though; it’s easy to at least identify the most likely candidates.

Max Pacioretty, P.K. Subban, Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov served as the four alternates in 2014-15. You might be able to throw Carey Price‘s name in the hat, even if the goalie-as-captain thing didn’t work out too well when Vancouver tried it out with Roberto Luongo. You might even throw in a dark horse candidate such as Brendan Gallagher.

Pacioretty, 26, may not get healthy soon enough to be ready to play on opening night, but he sounds game if management decides that he’s the guy.

“I think last year prepared me a lot for this,” Pacioretty told the team website. “I think whether you have a ‘C’ on your jersey or not, you are expected to lead this team and we expect everyone to be a leader but like I said, I would be honored if that opportunity came.”

Interestingly, PHT readers voted Subban as the right choice for Canadiens captain back in August 2014. What about today?

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.