NHL Training Camp News: Domi returns; Lemieux finally suspended

When the Canadiens hit the ice on Monday they were joined by Max Domi. The forward, who is a Type 1 diabetic, had not taken part in Phase 3 after it was decided they would take time to make a decision if he would participate.

Head coach Claude Julien said Domi is on board to play, but complications could arise given his situation.

“He’s back, but we know that anything can happen,” Julien said. “If there’s something that comes up that would put him at risk, he can leave again.

“For now, it was a good first day for him. He figured out quickly that the pace was pretty good for a team that’s only been practicing for a week. It was good to see him out there, and he seemed very upbeat and very encouraged by the fact that we have a group that’s healthy.”

Also at Habs camp today, goaltender Michael McNiven took a Shea Weber slap shot to the mask. Ouch.

Julien said McNiven suffered a cut on his face but did not have a headache or any other injury.

Lemieux finally suspended

It’s been 129 days since Rangers forward Brendan Lemieux had his hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety for interfering with the Sharks’ Joonas Donskoi. On Monday, he finally learned his fate as the league announced a two-game suspension.

Lemieux will be able to play in New York’s lone exhibition game on July 29, but will have to miss Games 1 and 2 of their Stanley Cup Qualifier series against Carolina.

Ferland inches closer to return

Concussions limited Micheal Ferland to only 14 games during the regular season. When the Canucks opened training camp opened last week the forward was deemed “unfit to play.”

But there Ferland was taking part in Sunday’s scrimmage with the team’s main group. A sign that he’s closer to returning.

“I’m feeling really good and looking forward to a couple of scrimmages and getting my cardio and game shape better,” he said before the game. “It’s obviously different in practice, but I’m ready to go. It’s just the stimulation. Seeing a bunch of bodies moving around and going at full speed. That’s what I need. “I need to re-wire my vestibular system and get out there with full pace and contact.”

Canucks head coach Travis Green is eager to see how Ferland progresses, leaving the door open for him to be part of the line up when they take on the Wild.

“If he’s ready to go, it’s another body we have to take into consideration,” Green said. “We’re going to have to make some hard decisions. The next couple of weeks are going to be important for a lot of guys, It’s no secret we signed [Ferland] for these type of games when things get heated. His physical presence is well known.”

Crosby remains out for Penguins

The Penguins captain was again absent on Monday as the team held an intrasquad scrimmage. Head coach Mike Sullivan gave the usual “unable to comment” answer when asked about Crosby’s status.

Meanwhile, the nine players who were held out at the beginning of training camp were cleared to join the team for Phase 3. Those players had been sidelined after possible secondary exposure to a person who had contact with a COVID-19 positive individual.

“We chose to give them an opportunity to get a couple of days of skating amongst themselves, first and foremost, before they rejoin the group,” Sullivan said. “We thought it made the most sense to give them a couple of days of an opportunity to skate and get their legs underneath them.”

Coaching in empty arenas

One interesting thing about playing hockey in rinks with no fans is the communication between players, and between players and coaches. A coach shouting directions to his team will likely be heard by everyone, as opposed to a normal situation where maybe it’s heard by those closest to the bench.

How does one adjust to that new kind of setting?

“There aren’t that many secrets,” said Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer. “Everyone’s got four guys on the bench and usually one guy on the other bench is watching your bench anyway. We’ll have to get creative with some of the stuff we’re trying to put in at different points.”

Brind’Amour using camp to “sharpen the blade”

As the Hurricanes continue preparing for the Rangers, there’s plenty of work to do after a four month break.

“I’d like to get sharp,” said head coach Brind’Amour. “I think we’ve covered a lot of stuff but it’s the sharpness. I think we’ve got to sharpen the blade.”

One area bolstered due to all the time off has been the blue line. Dougie Hamilton and Sami Vatanen are healthy and Brady Skjei is getting more time to fit in following the February trade.

“We have a great, deep D corps right now,” said defenseman Jaccob Slavin via the News and Observer. “Through the playoffs, anything can happen and you see injuries happen and you see some guys get hot and some guys get cold. To have eight guys is going to be extremely helpful. It’s a deep corps and anybody can step into almost any role and play that.”

Anderson on ice

Josh Anderson was a surprise face at Blue Jackets practice on Sunday. The forward had shoulder surgery in March and still needs to be cleared for contact.

If Anderson can return at some point during the Stanley Cup Qualifier series against Toronto — or later on if they advance — that will be a big boost to their group up front.

“Although the break, no one really wanted this to happen, it certainly helped this team getting guys healthy,” head coach John Tortorella said. “We’re excited about that opportunity to play with a full team.”

MORE:
Two COVID-19 positive tests during  first week of NHL camps
2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers schedule
Teams hit hardest by flat $81.5M salary cap

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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.

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    Stars expect to open camp without unsigned scorer Jason Robertson

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    FRISCO, Texas — Young 40-goal scorer Jason Robertson is expected to miss the start of training camp for the Dallas Stars because the team and the restricted free agent haven’t agreed on a new contract.

    General manager Jim Nill said there’s been steady, ongoing negotiations over the last couple of weeks with Robertson and his representatives. Nill wouldn’t say what has kept the two sides from reaching a deal, adding there have been “very good discussions.”

    The Stars, with new coach Pete DeBoer, open camp Thursday in Cedar Park, Texas, at the home of their AHL team. They have three days of work there before returning to North Texas for their exhibition opener at home on Monday night. They open the regular season Oct. 13 at Nashville.

    “I think he’s disappointed he’s not at camp, we are too,” Nill said before the team departed for the Austin area. “I think it’s very important for a younger player and as you mentioned, the (new) coaching staff. … We do have some time on our side, but we wish he gets here as soon as he can.”

    Robertson had a base salary of $750,000 last season, the end of a $2.775 million, three-year contract. He still has five more years before he has the opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent.

    The left wing turned 23 soon after the end of last season, when he had 41 goals and 38 assists for 79 points in his 74 games. Robertson joined Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Modano, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin as the only 40-goal scorers since the franchise moved to Dallas in 1993.

    A second-round draft pick by the Stars in 2017, Robertson has 125 points (58 goals, 67 assists) in his 128 NHL games. He had one goal and three assists in his first postseason action last season, when Dallas lost its first-round playoff series in seven games against Calgary.

    DeBoer said he looks forward to coaching Robertson, but that the forward’s absence won’t change his plans for camp.

    “It doesn’t impact what I’m doing,” DeBoer said. “Listen, I laid awake at night with the excitement of coaching Jason Robertson, 40-plus goals, but he’s not here. So, you know, until he gets here, I can’t spend any energy on that.”

    Nill said the Stars are open to a long-term extension or a bridge contract for Robertson, who was part of the team’s top line last season with veteran Joe Pavelski and Roope Hintz. They combined for 232 points, the second-most in franchise history for a trio.

    “We’re open to anything. But other than that … I’m not going to negotiate through the media,” Nill said. “As I said, we’ve had good conversations. We’ll see where it goes.”

    Training camps open around NHL after another short offseason

    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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    Training camps open around the NHL after another short offseason, a third in a row squeezed by the pandemic. That doesn’t bother Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon one bit.

    For one of hockey’s best players and his teammates, it’s already time to get back on the ice and defend their Stanley Cup title, less than three months since they knocked off the back-to-back champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

    “I still feel like I just was playing,” MacKinnon said. “I took two weeks off, and then I started skating again. It’s just fun. I enjoy it, and I like the short summer. It feels like the season’s just kind of rolling over again.”

    The NHL rolls into fall coming off an entertaining playoffs and final with the chance to finally get back on a normal schedule. That means full camps for teams that got new coaches and the benefits of a regular routine.

    That means a mere 88 days between Game 6 of the final and the first-on ice practice sessions.

    “We’re kind of used to it now,” Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy said after he and the Lightning lost in the final for the first time in three consecutive trips. “It’s a little harder, of course, because you don’t have that much time to rest. It’s basically a few weeks and you have to get back at it. But, yeah, I can’t complain. You want your summers to be short every year.”

    It was a little longer for Connor McDavid and the Oilers after losing to Colorado in the West final. Despite the lack of downtime, McDavid “wouldn’t trade that in for anything” and aims to make it even further since Edmonton shored up its goaltending situation by adding Jack Campbell.

    A few spins of the goalie carousel ended with the Avalanche acquiring Alexandar Georgiev from the New York Rangers and Cup winner Darcy Kuemper landing with Washington. Joining new teammates, many of whom hoisted the Cup in 2018, Kuemper is not worried about less time off.

    “It was definitely a very unique summer,” Kuemper said. “With how short it was, you start getting back into the gym and you’re kind of a little bit worried that your training’s going to be so short. But you kind of felt like you weren’t getting back into shape. You were already there.”

    NEW COACHES

    The Oilers are one of several teams settling in for training camp under a new coach. Jay Woodcroft took over as interim coach in February but has the full-time job now.

    “Looking forward to a camp with him,” McDavid said. “He did a great job coming in during the middle of the season, but it’s never easy on a coach, for sure. I’m sure there’s things that he wanted to touch on that you wasn’t able to kind of in the middle of the year, so he’ll be able to to touch on all of it this year.”

    The same goes for Bruce Boudreau in Vancouver, 11 months since being put in charge of the Canucks. Philadelphia’s John Tortorella, Boston’s Jim Montgomery, Vegas’ Bruce Cassidy, Dallas’ Peter DeBoer, Florida’s Paul Maurice, Chicago’s Luke Richardson, Detroit’s Derek Lalonde and the New York Islanders’ Lane Lambert are all starting the job fresh.

    CAMP TRYOUTS

    Roughly 40 players are attending a camp on a professional tryout agreement with the chance to earn a contract for the season. James Neal has that opportunity with the Blue Jackets, and Derek Stepan returned to Carolina to seek a job with the Hurricanes.

    The most intriguing situation involves 37-year-old center Eric Staal, who agreed to the tryout with Florida the same time brother Marc signed a one-year contract. Younger brother Jordan was with Eric and Marc on the 18th green at Pebble Beach to witness the occasion.

    “They’re both just super pumped, as was I,” said Jordan Staal, who is the captain of the Hurricanes. “Eric is excited about the opportunity and Marc, as well. Really cool. Really cool thing.”

    EARLY START

    Before the puck drops on the NHL season in North America on Oct. 11, the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks play twice in Prague on Oct. 7 and 8. And those are not exhibitions.

    “We still play two important games,” said Sharks forward Tomas Hertl, who is a native of Prague. “It’s not just preseason where you coming here to warm up.”

    Colorado and Columbus will also play two games in Tampere, Finland, on Nov. 4-5 as part of the NHL’s Global Series.

    And just as the league gets used to a regular schedule, work is ongoing between the league and NHL Players’ Association to stage a World Cup of Hockey in February 2024, which is popular among players even if it knocks the calendar off kilter again.

    “I think they missed out on a huge, huge portion of the international game that’s really going to be missed,” McDavid said. “We need to figure out a way to get an international tournament in as quickly as possible.”

    Matthew Tkachuk, Panthers ready for 1st training camp together

    Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
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    CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — Aleksander Barkov was sound asleep at his home in Finland when the trade that brought Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers was finalized, which isn’t surprising considering it was around 4 a.m. in that part of the world.

    He woke up and read texts from friends reacting to the deal.

    And it wasn’t too long before he got a message from Tkachuk.

    “The first message was `(expletive) right’ and how he was excited to come to Florida,” Barkov, the Panthers’ captain, said at Florida’s media day. “`Let’s take this next step, let’s be a winning team for many years to come.’ That’s who he is. He wants to win. He wants to bring that character to this organization. And I think he’s done some damage already.”

    With that, Barkov was sold.

    And after a few weeks of informally skating with one another, the Panthers start the process of officially seeing what they have in Tkachuk when the team’s training camp – the first under new coach Paul Maurice – opens.

    “We’ve basically had everybody here for a few weeks,” Tkachuk said. “I feel like I’ve been in training camp for a couple of weeks. So today doesn’t feel that new to me. I’ve gotten to know everybody … so let’s get these games going. I’m sick and tired of just practicing and working. I want to start playing some games. I think everybody feels the same way.”

    Maurice was hired over the summer as well, inheriting a team that won the Presidents’ Trophy last season and went to the second round of the playoffs — the first series win for Florida since the run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996.

    He’s as eager as the players are for the first formal practice, calling it “our first Christmas.”

    “The house is bought. Most of the boxes are unpacked,” Maurice said. “I’ve got two kids that kind of came with me; one’s in Coral Gables, one’s in Estero. Their places are unpacked. They’re out of our house. Once you get down here, for me, you spend most of your days at the rink. So, experiencing all of South Florida, we haven’t gotten to that yet.”

    As part of the deal that went down on July 22, the 24-year-old Tkachuk signed a eight-year, $76 million contract. That’s not the only big cost that the Panthers had to agree to while executing the trade; they also sent Jonathan Huberdeau, the franchise’s all-time scoring leader, and defenseman MacKenzie Weegar to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a left wing who had career bests of 42 goals, 62 assists and 104 points last season.

    “I wish all the best to Huby and Weegs,” Barkov said. “They’re great. Everyone loved them. Only good things to say about them. It happens, and for sure, it was best for the team and organization to do this. We move on, and we’ll get ready for a new season.”

    BOBROVSKY’S SUMMER

    Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is Russian, still makes his home in St. Petersburg, and went there for the bulk of his offseason.

    He said it was not logistically difficult to travel there (or return to the U.S.) this summer, even as the war that started when Russia invaded Ukraine continues. Bobrovsky said last season that he was not trying to focus on anything but hockey, and when asked if it was difficult to be back in Russia as war continues he kept the same approach.

    “I had a good summer,” Bobrovsky said. “I saw friends, I saw family. It’s all been fine. I don’t want to talk about what’s going on. I’m not involved in that stuff.”

    CAMP ROSTER

    Florida is opening camp with 56 players – 31 forwards, 19 defensemen and six goalies. That group includes brothers Eric Staal and Marc Staal; Marc Staal signed as a free agent in July; Eric Staal is with Florida on a tryout contract.

    Coyotes sign Barrett Hayton right before training camp

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    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Coyotes signed forward Barrett Hayton to a two-year contract right before the start of training camp.

    Terms of the deal were not released.

    The 22-year-old Hayton was a restricted free agent and not initially listed on Arizona’s roster for camp.

    Hayton had 10 goals and 14 assists in 60 games with the Coyotes last season, all career highs.

    Arizona drafted the Peterborough, Ontario native with the fifth overall pick of the 2018 NHL draft. He has 13 goals and 18 assists in 94 career games with the Coyotes.