Injury bug bites Jets’ Evander Kane, Rangers’ Dan Boyle

Adam Proteau
Evander Kane (Getty Images)

With more than a few players seriously injured in the NHL’s 2014-15 preseason campaign, it should come as no surprise that pattern continued once the regular season began Wednesday. That’s exactly what happened the following night, as two key players were sent to the sidelines with what look to be significant injuries that could alter the fortune of their respective employers.

The Jets lost star left winger Evander Kane to an unspecified lower body injury after a first period knee-on-knee collision with teammate Mark Scheifele in a road game against Arizona. Kane skated one more shift after the collision, but left the game after that and did not return. The 23-year-old is arguably Winnipeg’s most talented player, and if the whispers are trueand the injury is serious, the Jets’ already-long-odds of making the playoffs just got a lot longer. Read more

Rangers confirm Ryan McDonagh as captain in a no-brainer decision

Adam Proteau
Ryan McDonagh (Getty Images)

When the New York Rangers had to name their 27th team captain in franchise history, they could’ve gone the greybeard route and given the ‘C’ to Martin St. Louis or Dan Boyle. But those two players are much closer to the ends of their careers than the beginning – and if they team was looking for a long-term captain, there was really only one choice to make.

The Blueshirts made that choice, naming 25-year-old defenseman Ryan McDonagh captain late Monday.

Now entering his fifth NHL season, McDonagh has become the Rangers’ best blueliner and is neck-and-neck with goalie Henrik Lundqvist as their most valuable player. Last season, McDonagh led the team in minutes (with an average ice time of 24:49) and set personal bests in goals (14), assists (29) and points (43). He’s also locked up at an almost criminally-low $4.7 million cap hit through the 2018-19 campaign, so you know he’s not going anywhere. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Will the Flyers trade a defenseman?

(Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Add the Philadelphia Flyers to the list of teams (the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks being the others) rumored to be shopping defensemen before the season opens next week. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the Flyers could trade a blueliner to shed salary. McKenzie claims Luke Schenn and Nicklas Grossmann as possible trade candidates.

That prompted a swift, angry denial from Flyers GM Ron Hextall, telling CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Panaccio not to believe everything we read. A report in the Philadelphia Daily News, however, suggests the rumors are credible, claiming the Flyers hope to move out a veteran or two to make room for younger defensemen. Read more

Bobby Orr pegs Gordie Howe No. 1 all-time – calls game today ‘dangerous’

Canada Post's 2014 NHL commemorative stamps (courtesy Canada Post)

On the day he was honored with his own stamp, the man many hockey fans feel was the greatest player of all-time gave his stamp of approval for that designation to Gordie Howe. Bobby Orr threw his support behind Mr. Hockey in the never-ending debate concerning the greatest player ever to play the greatest game. “Gordie is, in my mind, the greatest ever,” said Orr, who recently penned the foreword for Howe’s memoir, Mr. Hockey. “His numbers are outrageous and most of that was with the six teams, when it was a lot tougher. I don’t think there’s any question. Play any way you want to play…he was special.” Read more

Bruins beat Flyers in second round – does EA stand for ‘Errors Abound’?

(Image courtesy EA Sports.)

No need to play the 2014-15 season, National Hockey League. Yes, that may cut into the $4 billion in revenues you’re expected to generate, but think of the cost savings for teams that lose money.

Really, why actually play a season when a simulated NHL season has already been played, the Stanley Cup has been awarded and all the awards winners have already been determined? That’s what EA Sports, creators of the NHL 15 video game, have done. And they’ve determined that the Los Angeles Kings will become the first back-to-back Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and ’98. Read more

Electrifying Jeremy Bracco leads off Ryan Kennedy’s Hot List

Team USA's Jeremy Bracco (Photo courtesy of Tom Sorensen/USHL)

Welcome back to another season of The Hot List, my weekly update of who is making noise in the world of prospects. Players are eligible for the list as long as they haven’t stepped on the ice for a regular season NHL game; otherwise, they come from all different leagues and development points. Some will be on hot streaks, others will be new names you’ll want to bank in your memory. All will be potential NHLers one day. Hockey’s back, so let’s take a look at this week’s roundup.

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Pavel Datsyuk injury in pre-season money grab a bad omen for Red Wings

Pavel Datsyuk (Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

Well, this is just a lovely start to the pre-season, isn’t it? They’ve barely begun the series of games that determine one or two roster spots and make the owners more money and already the body count is rising.

And we’re not talking about fourth-liners here. Pavel Datsyuk, the player the Detroit Red Wings can least afford to lose, is out at least four weeks with a second-degree separation to his right shoulder after taking a hit along the boards from Rob Scuderi of the Pittsburgh Penguins late in a game Monday night

Speaking of the Penguins, none of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Chris Kunitz is ready for action. The nature of the injuries is clouded in secrecy, but it doesn’t bode well when three players who have had all summer to rest and heal basically aren’t ready for training camp.

Add to that a broken bone in Jordan Staal’s right leg in a Carolina Hurricanes pre-season game, a broken left leg for Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers, a possible concussion for Bobby Ryan of the Ottawa Senators, a broken nose for Darren Helm of the Red Wings and a fractured tibia for Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha and it looks as though you have a fully blown injury epidemic on your hands with two weeks still to go before the puck drops for the real games.

The Datsyuk injury, which looks as though it will keep him out of the first two weeks of the season, is disturbing. Four minutes left in a meaningless pre-season game and Datsyuk is on the ice and gets taken into the stanchion. Now the Red Wings, who face an uphill climb even with Datsyuk in the lineup, will have to try to get through the first two weeks without him. Making matters worse is the fact that the Red Wings play seven games in the first 14 days of the season.

(If I were running an NHL organization, I’d keep my star players out of these money-grab games and play them in perhaps the last one or two of the pre-season. Let the third- and fourth-line guys fill out the quota of NHL players each team must ice for these games. Sure, fans don’t get to see the stars in the exhibition games and they might grumble about that, but you’d have to think Red Wing fans would have rather seen Datsyuk suit up for the start of the season instead of playing in a meaningless game in September.)

Datsyuk has never before missed the start of the season and has, with the exception of last season, been a pretty durable player for them. Even when you factor in the fact that he missed 37 games last season, he has still played in 75 percent of the Red Wings games over the past four seasons.

Red Wings GM Ken Holland said during the team’s prospect tournament in Traverse City last week that the Red Wings will be a contending team if two things happened. The first is if Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg combine for 140 games between them and the second is Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar combining for 50 goals. The third, which was unstated, is if goalie Jimmy Howard can return to the form he displayed in 2012-13, not the one he displayed in ’13-14.

A healthy Daniel Alfredsson would also help. Alfredsson has made it clear to the Red Wings that he will either play this season for Detroit or he will retire from the NHL. Out of respect for the veteran, Holland is giving Alfredsson the duration of training camp to figure out whether his wonky back will be able to handle the rigors of another season of NHL competition. If not, the Red Wings start the season without their leading scorer from 2013-14.

So if Datsyuk misses seven games, that means the most for which he and Zetterberg could combine would be 157. That doesn’t leave much room for two veterans who combined to miss 74 games last season. If that happens again, the Red Wings can forget about making the playoffs for a 24th straight season and will have to concentrate on rebuilding, not reloading, for the first time in more than two decades.