Mike Babcock regrets talking about McDavid’s ice time after earlier game, says it wasn’t right


Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs are in Edmonton on Tuesday night for their final meeting of the season with Connor McDavid and the Oilers (you can watch it on NBCSN).

When the two teams met earlier this season on Nov. 1, the Maple Leafs were 3-2 winners after they successfully shut down McDavid, limiting him to zero points and a minus-2 in close to 23 minutes of ice-time.

After that game Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock talked about his team’s ability to slow McDavid down. He specifically referred to the amount of ice-time the Oilers’ captain had during the course of the game, perhaps suggesting that coach Todd McLellan had worn McDavid down too early in the game by playing him more than eight minutes in the first period.

On Tuesday, before the rematch, Babcock made it clear that he regretted the comments, calling them “ridiculous and not right,” and that he later called McLellan to clear things up.

“It’s all on me. All my fault. Not my intent, but it does not matter what your intent is,” Babcock said on Tuesday when asked about his post-game comments earlier this month. He also acknowledged that Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan had brought the comments to his attention, and then when he looked back at them a day later he realized they were not right

“Todd McLellan is going to be friends with Mike Babcock and my family for a long time after hockey, so … don’t get in the way of yourself and keep your mouth shut,” Babcock said.

McLellan was an assistant coach in Detroit for a period of time under Babcock.

If you missed them the first time around, here is part of what Babcock had to say after the Nov. 1 game.

The two big ones in there are probably, “You jam a guy out there every shift, and like three in a row, it’s hard to have the same pop.” And then later, “I never expected the guy would play that much, he is a good player and all that, but so is Nugent-Hopkins.”

The only games this season where McDavid logged more minutes were the team’s season-opening 7-4 win over Calgary, and an overtime game later in November against the New York Islanders.

What’s kind of funny about this is that McDavid’s ice-time was limited it a bit in the games that followed, with three of his lowest ice-time totals of the season coming in the four games that followed that Nov. 1 game against Toronto. That includes two games where he played fewer than 19 minutes.

McDavid enters play on Tuesday as the NHL’s leading scorer with 29 points in 23 games. He is the only player in the NHL right now on track to top 100 points this season.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.