Datsyuk’s agent denies report longtime Red Wing has signed KHL contract

Jared Clinton
Pavel Datsyuk (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Pavel Datsyuk, his agent and Detroit GM Ken Holland have said on several occasions that Datsyuk won’t be coming to a final decision on his future with the Red Wings until after the World Championship, so imagine the surprise when a report surfaced that he had signed a KHL deal.

According to a report from Russian outlet Sportfakt, Datsyuk has agreed to a two-year deal with the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg without actually signing on the dotted line. Financial terms were not reported, but Sportfakt said the contract would be signed around the time the World Championship came to a close.

However, shortly after the report surfaced, Datsyuk’s agent Dan Milstein told The Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan that the report was “inaccurate,” saying the Russian center hasn’t spoken with any team or media about his contract status. Milstein reiterated that Datsyuk and the Red Wings are slated to meet in mid-June after Datsyuk comes back from the World Championship where he is captaining the Russian squad and has one goal and eight points in nine games. Read more

Rumor Roundup: If Avalanche make Tyson Barrie available, Rangers could be a good trade partner

Tyson Barrie. (Getty Images)

During a recent appearance on Edmonton’s 630 CHED radio, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman created some buzz by suggesting Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie could be in play this summer.

Barrie, 24, is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. Coming off two seasons with 53 and 49 points respectively, he’ll want a substantial raise over his current annual average salary of $2.6 million. He could fetch a deal comparable to that of teammate Erik Johnson (seven-years, $42 million), which might not fly with Avs management.

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Penguins’ Daley has ‘lower-body injury,’ seen leaving Game 4 on crutches

Jared Clinton
Trevor Daley (via NHL.com)

The Eastern Conference final is now tied after the Penguins dropped Game 4 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but worse than Pittsburgh’s loss Friday is the impact an injury to Trevor Daley could have on this series going forward.

Late in the second period Friday, Daley was hit behind the Penguins’ net by Lightning winger Ryan Callahan. Though it seemed like an innocuous hit, the kind of which happens on a regular basis throughout the course of a game, the collision resulted in Daley going down in obvious pain before crawling to the front of the Pittsburgh net on all fours. When play finally stopped, Daley rolled onto his back in agony before being helped off the ice: Read more

Manitoba singer brings new life to beloved, old hockey songs

The Hockey News
Del Barber.

By Michael Fletcher

Juno-nominated singer-songwriter Del Barber grew up in southern Manitoba, so of course the Winnipeg Jets and hockey meant everything to him.

His fourth album, The Puck Drops Here, is a collection of songs inspired by his love of hockey and his dedication to the game. “I was up late and I was expecting to read about a hockey album that somebody has made along the way in Canada,” said Barber. “So I sent (True North Records) an email about a hockey album and they said let’s go, let’s make this thing”.

The album offers covers of songs that resonate with Canadian hockey fans, like a second national anthem. You’ll find remakes of songs like Stompin’ Tom Connors’ ‘The Hockey Song’ to the former ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ theme song. “Its like a hymn to us,” Barber said. “We recorded that song (‘Hockey Night in Canada’ theme) twice because we thought people would recognize it and ask themselves is that what I think it is?”

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Lightning get third-period scare, but hang on for huge Game 4 victory

Jared Clinton
Tyler Johnson (Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Lightning needed their best game of the Eastern Conference final in Game 4, because through three games the series looked as though it belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Even in Game 1, a game the Penguins lost, Pittsburgh looked like the better team but simply weren’t able to solve Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy in. And though Game 4 was undoubtedly the best game Tampa Bay has played in the series, the 4-3 victory didn’t come without a scare.

That said, out of the gate, it seemed like it would be all Lightning, all the time. On the very first shift of the game, only 27 seconds into Friday’s contest, Victor Hedman let go a shot from the Pittsburgh blueline that was tipped in front by Lightning winger Ryan Callahan and past Penguins netminder Matt Murray. Callahan’s second goal of the post-season, and the Lightning’s fast-paced start, was a sign of what much of the first 40 minutes would hold.

Through two periods of play, the Lightning mustered 30 shots on goal — the most they’ve had in the series — and they looked nearly unstoppable on the rush. In what was the best two frames of hockey the Lightning have played not just in the conference final, but throughout the playoffs, Tampa Bay showcased their ability to counter-attack, showed the lethal puck-moving ability that can make their power play so dangerous and made the Penguins pay for even the slightest mistake. Callahan’s goal was followed by markers by Andrej Sustr, Jonathan Drouin and Tyler Johnson, who was lucky to have been in the lineup following a puck to the face during warmup. Read more

Hitchcock announces Allen, not Elliott, will start Game 4 for Blues

Jared Clinton
Jake Allen (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Brian Elliott has been nothing short of outstanding throughout much of the post-season, but in a move to try and change the outlook of the Western Conference final, St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has declared Jake Allen will start Game 4 over Elliott.

The move comes following a Game 3 in which Elliott allowed three goals against on 14 shots and was pulled in favor of Allen in the third period. The move in Thursday’s contest wasn’t all too surprising given the Blues were in need of a wakeup call, but it was believed the St. Louis bench boss would stick with the goaltender who got his team this far as the season continued, even if the writing may have been on the wall when Hitchcock said he would sleep on it before coming to a decision.

Elliott, 31, boasts a 2.34 goals-against average and .925 save percentage through 17 games, and Allen, 25, has only seen 50 minutes of action in this post-season. However, what Allen brings to the table that Elliott doesn’t — and what could be the greatest cause for the switch — is Allen’s ability to move the puck.

“Some of it is just changing momentum…but part of it is also the luxury,” Hitchcock said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford. “I’ve got a goalie that gives a different look, he plays a different style. He’s very active in the net, he’s very active at moving the puck and getting us out of transition. He’s an awful good goalie just like ‘Ells’ is. Ells has run us quite a distance here and we just feel like Jake’s a guy that can help us help change the momentum of the series.” Read more

Lightning netminder Ben Bishop ‘getting closer,’ but won’t play in crucial Game 4

Jared Clinton
Ben Bishop (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he was optimistic about the chances of starting netminder Ben Bishop returning during the Eastern Conference final, and even though Bishop has been taking part in practices and facing shots, it won’t be Game 4 that the 6-foot-7 netminder gets back between the pipes.

Bishop skated again Friday ahead of the fourth game of the conference final, but it was 21-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy who was first off the ice at the morning skate and who will get the call in goal for the Lightning as they seek to tie up the series. Bishop remained practicing after Vasilevskiy left the ice and again faced shots, but that doesn’t mean the veteran goaltender’s return is imminent.

“Today was better than yesterday,” Bishop, who has been out since falling injured in Game 1, said. “We’re making progress here. We’re getting closer.”

Getting closer, though, doesn’t ensure Bishop will be back for Game 5, and in a series that could be 3-1 for the Penguins heading back to Pittbsurgh, that could mean time is running out for both Bishop and the Lightning to turn this series around. Read more

Bleackley pledges $20 for every Rebels goal at Memorial Cup to support those affected by Fort McMurray fires

Jared Clinton
Connor Bleackley (Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Red Deer Rebels center Connor Bleackley isn’t likely to suit up for the opening games of the Memorial Cup this weekend, but the 20-year-old will be watching the games intently in hopes the Rebels can run up the score in support of those affected by the wild fires in Fort McMurray, Alta.

Bleackley announced Thursday via his Twitter account that he will be donating $20 for every goal the Rebels score at the Memorial Cup to the Canadian Red Cross in support of the organizations efforts in Fort McMurray. He’ll continue his drive up until May 30, which is the day before the Canadian government is closing its window to match all donations. A native of High River, Alta., which lies more than 800 kilometers south of Fort McMurray, Bleackley said he knows how much the support can mean.

“The devastation these people have and will face is unimaginable,” Bleackley wrote. “Having gone through the 2013 floods in High Rivers with my family, I know how important and uplifting it is to receive the support from everyone across Canada and the world.”

The Rebels pivot also asked his Twitter followers to support in any way they can. Read more