Goalies make mandatory switch to new pants, and some aren’t happy about it

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Today is the day NHL goalies must switch over to the new streamlined pants. As you can imagine, some in the fraternity are not happy about the move.

A number of goalies have spoken on the subject. Arizona Coyotes goalie Mike Smith has let his objections be known, as has Chicago’s back-up Scott Darling.

The obvious objections include the timing of the implementation of this new equipment, to safety concerns of wearing thinner pads. Streamlining the goalie equipment is a decision designed  to help increase scoring around the league.

“We’re pretty much being punished for getting better at our position,” said Darling, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “While the forwards get better and stronger equipment and better sticks, they’re taking away protection from goalies. There’s nothing we can do about it. You’ve just got to deal with it and adjust and get used to it and then try and stay safe.”

By contrast, Sergei Bobrovsky of Columbus recently said he feels “comfortable” with the new pads, so there are varying opinions on the subject.

The mandatory change date comes with just over two months remaining in the regular season. Smith has certainly been vocal about a mid-season change, calling it “crazy,” especially for the goalie position.

But violation of the rule can be costly — not just for the goalie.

From NHL.com, which quoted Kay Whitmore, senior director of hockey operations and goaltender equipment:

Whitmore said the League originally intended to implement the change prior to the start of the season, but there were safety concerns with the new pants that had to be addressed with the manufacturing companies, causing a delay. Nearly a quarter of the League’s goalies already are wearing the new pants.

“We addressed the safety concerns and felt it was the right decision to implement as soon as possible, regardless of the fact that it was midway through the year,” Whitmore said.

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.