Peter Forsberg advises Avalanche to bench and trade Matt Duchene


You know what’s a good way to feel old? When once-great players start to sound a bit like cranky old men.

Peter Forsberg didn’t torch Matt Duchene in a Swedish interview (translated by Sports Expressen’s Robin Lindgren, passed along by the Denver Post’s Mike Chambers). Even so, the criticism was pointed enough to make an impact: Forsberg believes that the Avalanche should bench and trade the speedy forward.

From a chemistry standpoint, that idea is understandable, whether Duchene is really “visibly unhappy with the team,” as Chambers writes, or if the admittedly amusing memes that surfaced ended up blowing things out of proportion.

Either way, Foppa’s idea would be wildly counterproductive.

For one thing, it’s difficult to claim that the effort isn’t there for Duchene. The 26-year-old scored a goal and an assist in the Avalanche’s first game of the season, and while he wasn’t able to score against the Devils, he fired five shots on goal.

He seems like he’s doing more than going through motions, whether it’s wishing people a happy holiday:

Or interacting warmly with young fans:

Is he enjoying this process? Probably not. Maybe there are times when he’s indeed surly, and his teammates probably don’t love the idea of answering questions about him for however long this takes (if a trade even happens).

But imagine how much worse it would get if the Avalanche scratched Duchene for … not smiling widely enough?

From a sheer practicality perspective, it makes little-to-no sense. Even if his attitude is less than optimal, it’s clear that GM Joe Sakic wants to get as much value as possible for Duchene in a trade. Having him rot on the bench would only drive that trade value down, especially if there are murmurs that he’s riding the pine because of attitude problems.

Nope, the Avalanche should take the opposite approach. As this PHT pre-season post argues, they should instead put Duchene in every situation to generate numbers, possibly even beyond what he could do over a longer haul.

In other words, Sakic probably respects Forsberg deeply, but he should ignore his former teammate on this one.

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.