After Rams leave, Blues owner sticks up for St. Louis

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The owner of the NHL’s Blues — unlike the owner of the NFL’s Rams — thinks St. Louis is a great place for a pro sports franchise.

“We love St. Louis,” Tom Stillman told the Post-Dispatch on Tuesday. “We know that it’s a tremendous place to live, to work, to raise a family and to be a sports fan. We also think it is a great place for a home of a sports franchise, mainly because the fans and other supporters are so loyal and dedicated and classy. I guess I don’t understand wanting to be anywhere else, no matter how big the market or the untold riches that might await. This is where we want to be.”

But it’s not where Stan Kroenke wanted his Rams to be. So they’re in Los Angeles now. And to make his case for relocation, Kroenke — who also counts the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche in his sports empire — argued that St. Louis “lags, and will continue to lag, far behind in the economic drivers that are necessary for sustained success of an NFL franchise.”

Which didn’t go over too well in the Missouri city, as you might imagine.

Stillman believes that that was just Kroenke making his case as strongly as possible, in order to get what he wanted. And Kroenke has since said, “This move isn’t about whether I love St. Louis or Missouri. I do and always will.”

Regardless, Kroenke is destined to go down in St. Louis lore as Art Modell did in Cleveland lore.

Hence, the tweet by Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop after he shut out the Avs on Tuesday:

As for the Blues, well, we can think of no better way to make St. Louis sports fans forget about the Rams than by going on a deep playoff run this spring.

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.