Pro Pets: Gritty spends a day with his new pet, Claw’d

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Gritty made a new friend this summer. During a summer stop at the Jersey Shore — and likely in-between his daily routine of gym, tan, and laundry — the Philadelphia Flyers’ beloved mascot found a hermit crab and promptly named it Claw’d after his best friend, Claude Giroux.

In a new NBC Sports short-form digital series that shows athletes and personalities with the animals they love, it was clear we had to see how life was these days for Gritty and Claw’d.

The debut episodes, which are available now, feature: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers tight end (NBC Sports Bay Area); Lawrence Guy, New England Patriots defensive lineman (NBC Sports Boston); Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears head coach (NBC Sports Chicago); Jacob Martin, Seattle Seahawks defensive end (NBC Sports Northwest); Gritty, Philadelphia Flyers mascot (NBC Sports Philadelphia); and Wes Martin, Washington Redskins offensive lineman (NBC Sports Washington).

Athletes and personalities appearing in upcoming episodes include: Elena Della Donne, Washington Mystics forward; Lucas Giolito Chicago White Sox pitcher; Kendall Gill, former NBA player and Chicago Bulls TV analyst; Rhys Hoskins, Philadelphia Phillies first baseman; Shane Lemieux, Oregon Ducks offensive lineman; Zarek Valentin, Portland Timbers defender; and John Wall, Washington Wizards guard.

Check out the video above to see how Gritty and Claw’d are getting along in the first episode of our Pro Pets series.

New episodes featuring different athletes and their fur-iends will be published on the respective regional sports sites each Monday for six weeks. In all, the original content initiative will include six episodes per market, for a total of 36 videos, through Sept. 9.

The Pro Pets short-form episodes will be published and archived on dedicated pages on the sites of NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports Boston, NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Northwest, NBC Sports Philadelphia, and NBC Sports Washington. The content will also be featured on the networks’ social media platforms, and fans can join the conversation by using #ProPetsNBC.

MORE GRITTY:
Meet Gritty, the Flyers’ horrifyingly delightful new mascot
Gritty’s grand entrance highlights Stadium Series pregame

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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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

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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

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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.