SUNRISE, Fla. - The Florida Panthers are locking up general manager Jacques Martin to a long-term deal.
The NHL team announced Friday the two sides have reached an agreement for Martin to remain as GM through the 2011-12 season.
Martin, 55, joined the Panthers organization four years ago as head coach and assumed general manager duties on Sept. 3, 2006. He has previously worked as a head coach with the Ottawa Senators and St. Louis Blues.
The Panthers were 11th in the Eastern Conference this season with a 38-35-9 record.
While the loss of the two centers is a crushing blow in the short-term, this team is positioned too well to lose assets in a hasty trade scenario
The Montreal Canadiens will be without top center Alex Galchenyuk and fellow pivot David Desharnais for at least six weeks, perhaps even eight. Both players sustained knee injuries in recent games and the news is obviously not good. But GM Marc Bergevin would make it even worse by jumping into a hasty trade.
True, the Habs now look skeletal down the middle (though Tomas Plekanec isn't a horrible choice for the top line and Andrew Shaw can help out), but this is a short-term problem. Montreal is the top team in the Eastern Conference right now and with netminder Carey Price, they can win more than a few games in the next month or so just on the strength of his gifted play. And the Shea Weber-led defense has been better than expected, so even if the Habs are super-boring and conservative until February, they'll get some results.
Will Montreal still be on top by then? Maybe not, but as long as they don't lose like, 20 games in a row, they'll still be in a playoff position with enough runway left to climb back up the rungs. And as the Los Angeles Kings have proven twice already, you can win the Stanley Cup as long as you get into the playoffs, particularly if your goalie is one of the best on the planet (caveat: being a great possession team helps and the Canadiens are only middling).
But a trade is not the way to go, particularly since the Canadiens aren't deep to begin with. They don't have many attractive pro prospects right now – unless they can drum up interest in a Charles Hudon or Nikita Scherbak – and their best recent draft pick is defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, who should be seen as untouchable. I mean, if Pittsburgh offers up Evgeni Malkin for the 2016 first-rounder and a couple other goodies, you make that trade – but I don't think that's going to happen.
If anything, Montreal needs to build their pipeline up, instead of taking assets away from it. The Canadiens ranked just 23rd in the NHL in our most recent Future Watch edition and Sergachev was the only pick they made in the first two rounds this summer. They do have two second-rounders for 2017 (their own and Washington's selection), but again: they need those.
Galchenyuk and Desharnais will be back and in all likelihood, the Canadiens will still be in a playoff position. The short-term may seem a little bleak, but the price of a quick patch isn't worth the long-term loss. Patience is a virtue here.
The Rangers started the season as one of the league’s hottest teams, but have come back down to earth lately. Getting back on track will be a bit harder without the services of Rick Nash for the next week.
Another year, another ailment for Rick Nash, but luckily for the New York Rangers winger this one won’t be keeping him out of the lineup long-term.
Nash, 32, was forced to the leave the Rangers’ loss to the New York Islanders early on Tuesday, suffering a lower-body ailment that put him out of the game, and an MRI on Wednesday revealed that Nash will be sidelined for somewhere in the neighborhood of one week due to a groin injury.
Considering Nash was forced out of action due to the injury, that he’ll miss only one week is about as good as the news could be. Most Rangers fans would have thought the worst when Nash was forced to leave the game, especially given he missed nearly a quarter of the 2015-16 campaign due to a knee injury.
Being out for a week would force Nash, currently third on the Rangers in scoring behind J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes with 18 points, to miss anywhere from four to six games, depending when he’s feeling fit to return to action. Only one of those games are divisional games, which is a slight bonus, but the set of games against the Chicago Blackhawks is certainly a pair the Rangers could use Nash for, and getting by the New Jersey Devils and Winnipeg Jets without Nash in the lineup is going to require someone else stepping up.
Nash is in the midst of quite the bounce back season, too. While it may be a far cry from his remarkable 2014-15 campaign in which he scored a career-best 42 goals to go along with 69 points, Nash has already potted 11 goals this season and, prior to his injury, was on pace for another 30-goal campaign.
Even if Nash reaches the 20-goal mark this season, though, it would be a step up from his past campaign. He managed only 15 goals and 36 points in 2015-16, making for the lowest full-season goal total of his career.
Nash isn’t the only injury concern for the Rangers right now, however. New York will also be without Matt Puempel for the foreseeable future due to a concussion and Mika Zibanejad’s broken fibula will likely keep him out of action for at least another month, if not more.
The Rangers, who started the season as one of the league’s hottest teams, are just 4-5-1 in their past 10 games.
Eric Semborski landed himself the opportunity of a lifetime when he strapped on the pads as an emergency backup for the Blackhawks, and now Topps has commemorated the moment with a Semborski trading card.
Eric Semborski’s dream came true when he stepped on the ice as an NHL goaltender, albeit an emergency backup, on Dec. 3, and now he’s got an incredible piece of memorabilia to show for it.
Just days after the 23-year-old made his rookie debut, trading card company Topps has unveiled the official Eric Semborski rookie card. That’s right: the 23-year-old has his very own trading card. The card is part of Topps’ NOW series, which features milestone or memorable moments and are made available shortly after the achievement.
Semborski’s stint as the Blackhawks emergency goaltender came due to regular starting netminder Corey Crawford was sent to hospital to undergo an appendectomy. The Blackhawks were scrambling to find a replacement for Crawford, and a backup for Scott Darling, when they started asking around to find an emergency amateur netminder to fill in.
Semborski, a former goaltender at Temple University, was working with children at the Flyers’ practice facility when he was called to sign on for emergency duty. Hilariously, Semborski wore a Blackhawks No. 50 jersey — which most will recognize as Crawford’s number — when he took the ice for warmup. Of the chance to stop NHL shots in warmup, Semborski said it was the best moment of his life.
Possibly the only thing that could have made the moment better was if Semborski actually got into the game and, as it turns out, that was very nearly the case. Post-game, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said that had the Flyers scored on the empty net to stretch their lead in the Saturday afternoon contest, he would have thrown Semborski into the net for the final minute of the outing.
As for the card, there’s no chance it will be worth anything near what a Connor McDavid rookie card will be worth in a decade, but it’s certainly a nice piece of merchandise for the one-day NHL netminder.
Philip Larsen got knocked unconscious, the Canucks retailiated without knowing what happened, and they could have hurt their teammate even worse in the process.
The incident was horrific. We can all agree on that.
Tuesday night in New Jersey, Vancouver Canucks blueliner Philip Larsen skated behind his net to retrieve a puck. He had no idea Devils left winger Taylor Hall was pursuing the same puck. They collided heavily. Larsen bashed his head on the ice and was knocked out cold.
It was a scary scene, undoubtedly, one that understandably evoked a ton of emotion from Larsen's teammates. It was hardly a surprise to see a flurry of Vancouver players swarm Hall and make him fight.
It was a shame, however, for multiple reasons. First off, the hit wasn't dirty. It wasn't even a deliberate bodycheck. Hall leaned back on his skates to slow his momentum and held out his arms as if protecting himself from imminent impact. It was more of a crash than a bonecrushing hit. We can debate whether Larsen's head was the principal point of contact – I don't believe it was at all – but it's irrelevant when assessing Hall's guilt. There was no intent there. He won't be disciplined by the NHL for an accident.
And yet, thanks to the sport's culture of immediate and forceful vengeance, Hall had to fight anyway. In the spur of the moment, in the heat of elite competition, players are simply too jacked up to take a breath and assess the situation. They see a comrade fall and, in mere milliseconds, seek and destroy whoever caused the harm.
“You always have a problem with a hit when one of your guys gets hit hard," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins told the Vancouver Province's Jason Botchford after the the game. "It doesn’t matter if it’s a clean hit. You have a problem when a guy gets hit that hard. I think all coaches would.”
The ironic thing about this tough-guy mentality is that it could end up pushing one of the toughest things about hockey out of the game: good, clean hits. If the swarm mentality goes on much longer, the only guys willing to lay opponents out with big hits will be those ready and willing to drop the gloves right afterward. Sooner or later players might decide it's not worth sitting five minutes and/or risking injury just to put a lick on a guy. And, in Hall's case, he wasn't even trying to drill Larsen.
Will we ever stop seeing players attacked after clean hits? I doubt it. The revenge assault is a crime of passion, a snap decision. But maybe, just maybe, the Canucks and players all over the world can learn a bit from what happened right after Larsen got hit. Watch:
The first instinct, sadly, is not to help Larsen, but to destroy Hall. Center Michael Chaput immediately starts a fight. That causes a pileup of players from both teams – all around the unconscious Larsen. It's downright disturbing to see him getting kicked in the head by his own teammates’ skates. Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom tries to box out Larsen and keep him safe. Markus Granlund tries as well but has to step over and onto Larsen in the process. It’s a miracle Larsen wasn’t cut. None of that would've happened had Chaput thought of Larsen first.
The ugly scene is a reminder that, right after a teammate takes a massive hit, the first priority should be to protect him. The best way to do that isn't to attack his attacker. It's to attend to the teammate first. There's plenty of time to review what happened and take down the perpetrator's number for later in the game. That's what jumbo-tron replays are for. And, in cases like Hall's, the violence would be averted altogether if players watched the replay and realized it was an accident.
Sadly, the idea is a pipe dream, and I don’t expect players to learn from Larsen's fate anytime soon. But we can always hope.