Ex-Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson picked as next AHL president

Former Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson will be the American Hockey League’s next president and CEO.

The AHL’s board of governors Friday unanimously elected Howson as Dave Andrews’ successor. Andrews served in that role for the past 26 years.

“It’s a completely different challenge for me,” Howson said by phone. “I’ve seen the league just grow in reputation and stature and presence over the last 20, 25 years. Dave’s been a tremendous leader. I care about it. I want it to continue.”

The 59-year-old, who has a law degree from Canada’s York University, takes over effective July 1. He is currently the Edmonton Oilers’ director of player development and previously spent six seasons as GM for Columbus.

Howson’s first management job came in the AHL, and he’s familiar with the history and tradition. After falling out of touch with the AHL while running the Blue Jackets, the Toronto native reconnected in recent years and was intrigued by the possibility of succeeding Andrews.

“There’s a unique purpose to this: You’re serving others as opposed to trying to win every game,” Howson said. “You’re acting in the best interest of the whole league, and I find that quite appealing.”

Howson said making sure every franchise is healthy and continuing to build the AHL’s brand are among his biggest tasks. It helps that he has a rapport with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, deputy commissioner Bill Daly and many GMs.

“We know what we are,” Howson said. “We’re a development league. You’ve got to make sure that the relationship with the NHL head office and the NHL general managers and the teams, we’re serving their needs. You’ve got to take care of the product first and make sure that we’re serving the (NHL’s) needs.”

Andrews is retiring but will remain chairman of the AHL’s board of governors.

“The American Hockey League from where he took over to where it is today as a business has progressed enormously,” Daly said of Andrews. “I think his legacy will be as an innovator and somebody who’s really helped grow the American Hockey League.”

Howson assumes control of a 31-team league that now extends to California. Andrews during his tenure oversaw the merger of the AHL and International Hockey League and expansion across North America.

“All very significant moves forward,” said Daly, who has worked closely with Andrews for more than a decade. “He’s also been very innovative and worked closely with our general managers in terms of testing rules and helping us understand the pros and cons of those rules.”

The AHL tested versions of 3-on-3 overtime and hybrid icing rules before they were implemented by the NHL.

Scroll Down For:

    Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

    blackhawks
    Harry How/Getty Images
    13 Comments

    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

    Getty Images
    3 Comments

    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

    tampa bay lightning
    Scott Audette/Getty Images
    2 Comments

    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
    Julian Avram/Getty Images
    2 Comments

    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.