• Boston Bruins lose Torey Krug, dig deep into their prospect pool for reinforcements

    Ryan Kennedy
    Torey Krug (Photo by Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

    On the eve of the new season, I was talking to Boston coach Claude Julien about the importance of Zdeno Chara to his younger defensemen. The behemoth captain naturally gave a boost of confidence to his mates when he was out there and one of the beneficiaries was Torey Krug. The young offensive defenseman had a pretty sweet rookie campaign for the Bruins and Julien expected Krug to have a big opportunity to continue that success this season. Then Chara went down with a knee injury.

    Now, Krug has been sidelined with a broken finger that will keep him out of the lineup for two to three weeks. With Kevan Miller also on the shelf and Johnny Boychuk traded to the Islanders, the Bruins defense corps is in dire need of reinforcements. Do they have the right personnel?

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  • Eric Gryba on Artem Anisimov: Predatorial headshot or clean hit?

    Eric Gryba (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

    When people talk about the director of player safety being the most thankless job on the planet, they might want to reference the hit Eric Gryba of the Ottawa Senators put on Artem Anisimov of the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night.

    Because that hit epitomizes the rock-and-a-hard-place situation in which Stephane Quintal and his lieutenants often find themselves. If he suspends Gryba for the hit, he comes under fire from those who don’t see anything wrong with it and claim the NHL is trying to take checking out of the game. He allows it to go unpunished and he comes under attack from observers who believe the NHL is being complacent when it comes to making headhunters accountable for their actions.

    For the record, Gryba received a match penalty and a game misconduct for the hit, which popped Anisimov’s helmet off before his head struck the ice. He did not return to the game and is out day-to-day with an apparent concussion.

    Here’s a look at the hit from two different angles:

    I’ve watched this hit numerous times from several angles in slow motion and I still can’t figure out whether or not it deserves a suspension. Do his feet leave the ice? Doesn’t appear so? Is the principle point of contact the head? Looks like a shoulder to chest hit more than anything? Was Gryba headhunting an unsuspecting player? Well, we’ll never know exactly what was going through Gryba’s head during the play, but it certainly doesn’t look like it.

    Two things we should keep in mind here. The first is that Gryba is a repeat offender by the NHL’s definition for the suspension he received for his headshot on Lars Eller in the playoffs in 2012. But it’s also important to remember that his status as a repeat offender should, and will, have nothing to do with determining guilt or innocence here. That’s why a person’s criminal past is not allowed to be used as evidence during a trial. Now if he’s deemed to be guilty, then his status of a repeat offender will be held against him.

    The second is the extent of the injury. It’s impossible to tell 100 percent whether Anisimov received any damage from the impact of the hit itself, but its indisputable that his bare head hit the ice when he fell. Whether Gryba was headhunting or not, should he be held liable for the fact that Anisimov did not secure his chin strap enough to prevent it from popping off his head upon impact? The answer is, of course, no.

    It certainly wouldn’t be outlandish for the NHL to decide to not have a hearing with Gryba for this hit, unlike the in-person hearing it’s going to have with John Moore of the New York Rangers over this hit:

    That one will probably earn Moore a six-game suspension. But with the Gryba hit, it’s difficult to determine whether there’s even any recklessness at play here. Was this just a case of a big guy seeing an opportunity to make a hit and making the most of it – nothing wrong with that in anyone’s NHL – or someone who was truly trying to do more than separate his opponent from the puck? When a 6-foot-4, 225-pound guy makes moving contact, sometimes it’s not going to turn out well.

    One thing I do know: I wouldn’t want to be occupying Quintal’s chair on this file.

  • Buffalo, Carolina playing beer league-caliber hockey – with no end in sight

    Matt Larkin
    The NHL hasn't fielded two teams this poor at the same time in more than 20 years. (Getty Images)

    The before: my summer conversation with Buffalo Sabres right winger Chris Stewart.

    “You look at our team now and there are 13 or 14 new faces. So we come in and think of last year as an anomaly. There’s nothing we can do now. We can worry about the future. I hear everybody talking about tanking for Connor McDavid. That’s not in my DNA, personally.”

    The after: my conversation with Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers after Tuesday’s humiliating loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    “It didn’t go our way because we didn’t work. That was an embarrassing effort, top to bottom, from our group, including myself. We hung out our goalie (Michal Neuvirth). He battled as much as he could, and we didn’t give him any help.

    “Something’s got to change. This is probably the worst we’ve had it.”

    It’s not like optimism in Buffalo was sky-high entering 2014-15, but there was a glimmer of hope the team would improve. General manager Tim Murray brought back Matt Moulson and added a cadre of veterans, including Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges and Andrej Meszaros. Maybe, just maybe, the Sabres would trudge their way up the basement stairs.

    But, goodness, Tuesday in Toronto was a sight to behold. The Sabres’ 10 shots set a 44-year franchise low. They’ve been shut out four times in six games and are on pace to double the record for the most donuted team in one NHL campaign. They average 1.1 goals per game. After posting an NHL-worst 41.0 Corsi Close percentage last season, they sit at 36.6 percent after 10 contests.

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  • Rumor Roundup: Mike Green could be perfect fit for Colorado

    Mike Green

    Nearly a month into this season, the Colorado Avalanche stumbled from the gate with a 2-4-4 record. Poor defensive play is a significant factor behind their sputtering start, as they rank among the worst teams in shots-against and goals-against per game.

    This poor start is a far cry from last season, when they topped the Central Division with 112 points and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in four years. With their depth in young talent and 2013-14 Jack Adams Award winner Patrick Roy behind the bench, the Avs entered this season seemingly poised to build upon that success. Read more

  • Connor McDavid did this to a puck. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    Adam Proteau
    Connor McDavid's shattered puck (via Jay McKee's Twitter account)

    No, the picture you see above you is not computer-generated trickery. That is a shattered puck. Junior hockey phenom Connor McDavid did that. Not with the assistance of any explosive materials, but with his hands and a hockey stick. Is the NHL ready for this kid? Pucks, apparently, are not.

    McDavid didn’t break this poor, innocent puck during a game. He was at practice Tuesday with his Erie Otters team, when, according to assistant coach and former NHLer Jay McKee, the consensus No. 1 pick in the upcoming NHL entry draft did something he’d never seen in all his time at hockey rinks. Read more

  • Hockey icon Gordie Howe suffers major stroke

    Adam Proteau
    Gordie Howe (Getty Images)

    Hockey icon Gordie Howe is resting comfortably at his daughter’s home in Texas after suffering a major stroke Sunday, but the 86-year-old, famously known as “Mr. Hockey”, has lost significant function on the right side of his body and is having difficulty speaking.

    Dr. Murray Howe, one of three of Gordie Howe’s sons, told the Detroit News Tuesday his father fell ill early Sunday morning and is being cared for by Gordie’s daughter Cathleen and her husband Bob at their home in Lubbock, Texas.

    “He’s unable to stand without help,” Murray Howe said of Gordie. “He’s able to speak, but (it’s) very, very difficult to speak. He knows who he is. He knows the people around him. But it is very difficult for him to get up and walk around. So he is pretty much confined to his bed right now.” Read more

  • AHL suspends Brad Mills 20 games for failing performance-enhancing drug test

    Adam Proteau
    Brad Mills (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

    The American Hockey League announced Tuesday a 20-game suspension for Binghamton Senators Brad Mills after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

    The 31-year-old Mills, who had one goal and two points in 34 games of NHL experience with the New Jersey Devils and Chicago Blackhawks, was in his first year in Binghamton after an eight-year AHL career that included stops in Lowell, Albany and Rockford; he has already sat out four games after the Senators removed him from the lineup last week once the test result came in, and he’s eligible to return to the lineup Dec. 12. Read more