Tampa Bay Lightning Tattoos
Dennis Goddard, Gibsonton, Fla.
Tampa Bay Lightning Tattoos
Dennis Goddard, Gibsonton, Fla.
The new KHL expansion team in China appears to still be learning some of hockey's customs.
China is a potentially massive emerging market for hockey. Beijing will host the Winter Olympics in 2022 and even if NHL players aren’t at the 2018 Games, it seems like a no brainer to return for 2022 to try to increase the sport’s popularity there.
The KHL already has a foot in the door in China, thanks to its newest expansion team, Kunlun Red Star, which is based in Beijing. Fans are embracing the game to various degrees, but it seems there are some nuanced hockey customs that haven’t fully caught on yet.
Take this ceremonial puck drop, for instance.
This unintentionally hilarious puck drop was prior to a September 18 game between Kunlan and Tolyatti Lada. The unidentified man in the suit, after getting a puck-dropping lesson, seems content to just throw the puck at the ice like it’s a grenade and get on with his day. No waiting around for both captains, no hand shakes, no photos.
The confused captains are Lada’s Vladimir Malenkikh – who tries in vain to get the man to wait – and Red Star’s Janne Jalasvaara, who is still adjusting his helmet when the puck drops. The two captains exchange a confused look.
Another subtle hilarious moment is Red Star left winger Max Warn, in the top right corner of the video, trying to usher the two men off the ice.
Ten games into their inaugural KHL season, Kunlun is experiencing many ups and downs. They are a somewhat respectable 4-6 on the season, but are struggling at the gate. Reports say there were only 550 spectators for a recent game in Shanghai, where they are playing a handful of games this season.
Rasmus Ristolainen (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
Restricted free agent Rasmus Ristolainen is skating with the Buffalo Sabres. But that likely won't have any impact on the value of a new contract.
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is breaking convention by attending an NHL training camp despite not having a contract as a restricted free agent. Ristolainen was been practicing with the Buffalo Sabres as a “good will” gesture while waiting for a new deal, his agent Mike Liut told the Buffalo News.
But, according to Sabres GM Tim Murray, Ristolainen’s actions aren’t likely to have their desired outcome. Murray told the Associated Press that Ristolainen’s decision to attend training camp will have little to no bearing on contract talks. Murray also indicated the two sides aren’t particularly close on a new pact.
“Unless you ask him that when he got here that he got all lovey-dovey and wants to play for what we want to pay him,” Murray said.
The 21-year-old blueliner is coming off an appearance for Finland at the World Cup of Hockey. He was held without a point in three losses. Luit said his client wants to continue his preparations for the season.
“Everyone knows how dedicated he is to his training, and he wanted to continue to build on the gains he made this summer,” agent Mike Liut said in an email to the Buffalo News. “He skipped the World Championship so he would have a full 16-week training session leading up to the World Cup, so he’s more prepared than ever and wants to keep it that way.
“In the end, this made sense to him, at least in the short term.”
The Sabres have three more pre-season games before opening their season by hosting the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 13. Ristolainen can’t play in them without a contract.
For a team trying to return to the playoffs after a five-year absence, not having Ristolainen in the lineup when the season starts would be a big blow. Ristolainen led the club in average ice time (25:16), was tied for second in assists (32) and was fourth in points (41). Last season with his third with the organization after being drafted eighth overall in 2013.
The Sabres finished seventh in the Atlantic Division and 23rd overall in the NHL with 81 points (35-36-11). However, their 2.62 goals-against average was tied for 15th. While some of Ristolainen’s advanced statistics weren’t favorable such as his -7.3 Relative Corsi rating (shot attempt differential when on the ice as opposed to when off of it), he only started 44.1 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. All stats per behindthenet.ca.
"It’s great that he wants to (be here),” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told the Buffalo News. “The contract negotiation is between Tim and the agent and obviously Rasmus is involved, but he wants to be back on the ice with his teammates, and that’s a good thing."
Ristolainen is among seven prominent players in need of new contracts from their teams. None of the others are attending training camps.
Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell missed the World Cup for Sweden after having surgery to fix issues related to his appendectomy last spring. His Ducks and Swedish teammate Hampus Lindholm is also a restricted free agent and is training in Sweden.
Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary/North America), Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg/North America), Tobias Rieder (Arizona/Europe) and Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay/Russia) were all seen at the World Cup despite their contract statuses – or lack thereof.
Clarke MacArthur isn’t giving up after his latest concussion and said that he intends to try to make a comeback to the Ottawa Senators as soon as he can.
Clarke MacArthur’s concussion symptoms in November and December of 2015 were such that the 31-year-old admitted he thought he could be forced into retirement, and that made the most recent concussion MacArthur suffered during a Senators training camp scrimmage feel as though it could be devastating news for the 31-year-old winger.
MacArthur’s concussion came Sunday when defenseman Patrick Sieloff crushed MacArthur along the boards during an inter-squad game, and the hit left MacArthur down on the ice for a short while before he was helped off the ice by teammates. Following the scrimmage, Senators GM Pierre Dorion announced MacArthur had suffered a concussion and had been driven home to rest. It appears the time away from the rink immediately following the concussion has helped MacArthur, too.
Less than a week after suffering the concussion, MacArthur announced via his Instagram that there are some positive signs so far in his recovery and that he’s going to be fighting to make it back into action in the near future.
“We have been encouraged by how my body has reacted in the days since the injury and the team has been great giving me all the time I need to rest and recover,” MacArthur wrote. “I will continue to consult with doctors and my entire support group, but I felt it was important to let everyone know that my intentions are to work towards returning to the ice soon.”
In addressing his health, MacArthur also took the time to write about the hit from Sieloff, one that resulted in fights between he and Bobby Ryan, and a second dustup with Chris Neil. The fallout from the hit saw Sieloff told to take part in a later practice in order to avoid any further fights between teammates. However, MacArthur called the entire incident a “hockey play.”
“To me, it was simply a hockey play that ended in a hit causing me to suffer a concussion,” MacArthur wrote. “A play that could happen at any point.”
It would be outstanding for the Senators — and even more so for MacArthur — if he was able to full recover and get back into action before the season begins. He was limited to just four games during the 2015-16 season due to concussions and related issues, and he’s an important part of the Senators’ roster when he’s able to suit up.
During his first two seasons in Ottawa, MacArthur scored 40 goals and 91 points in 141 games while averaging second-line minutes, and he signed a five-year, $23.25-million contract with the Senators in August 2014. The concussion issues this past season mean he has only played four games under the contract, though.
Want more in-depth features and expert analysis on the game you love? Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.
Brad Marchand and Sidney Crosby.
Brad Marchand and Sidney Crosby.
Brad Marchand and Sidney Crosby have developed some chemistry at the World Cup. So much so that the Penguins could target the left winger if he becomes a free agent.
Boston Bruins left winger Brad Marchand and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby have developed a strong chemistry on Team Canada's top line at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. The pair meshed so well together that Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press ponders the possibility of them as NHL teammates in the near future.
Marchand, 28, is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. If he hits the open market, Whyno considers the scoring winger an intriguing option for the Penguins. By shipping out goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and his $5.75-million annual salary-cap hit before next June's NHL expansion draft, Whyno believes they'll have money to spend, especially if they pass on re-signing UFAs such as aging winger Chris Kunitz.
That's assuming, of course, the Bruins don't re-sign Marchand, whose current annual cap hit is $4.5 million. He'll likely seek over $6 million per season on a long-term deal. Earlier this month, Bruins president Cam Neely signalled his club's intent to re-sign Marchand, preferably before the start of the upcoming season.
Should Marchand decide to test next summer's free-agent market, there's no guarantee the Penguins can land him. Assuming they move out Fleury's cap hit before next summer, they'll have roughly $50 million invested in 12 players.
Among their notable free agents are goaltender Matt Murray, center Nick Bonino, left winger Conor Sheary and blueliners Trevor Daley, Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz and Derrick Pouliot. Murray will obviously seek a starter's salary, perhaps over $5 million per season. Retaining Bonino, center of the “HBK Line” that includes wingers Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel, is a must. Stronger performances this season from Daley, Dumoulin, Sheary and Schultz could put them in line for significant raises.
The Penguins could still have enough space to pursue a big-ticket free agent such as Marchand, but they won't be the only clubs with interest if he's available next July. A bidding war could push his next contract much higher than the Pens are willing to pay.
DON'T EXPECT KANE TO BE DEALT
The legal troubles of Buffalo Sabres left winger Evander Kane resulted in the 25-year-old becoming a frequent fixture in the off-season trade rumor mill. Kane faces misdemeanour charges stemming from an incident in a Buffalo bar in June. He's also launched a counter-claim against a woman who filed a civil suit claiming he sexually assaulted her in a Buffalo hotel last December.
A former 30-goal scorer, Kane was linked to the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks. Both clubs lack offensive depth on the left side.
TSN's Pierre LeBrun, however, doubts Kane will be dealt anytime soon. Appearing on TSN 1040, LeBrun doesn't believe there's interest in the winger at this time. If the Sabres hope to move Kane, LeBrun feels their best hope is for things to quiet down for him away from the rink while his on-ice performance improves.
STARS MAY LOOK TO TRADE NUCHUSHKIN'S RIGHTS
Dallas Stars winger Valeri Nichushkin's decision to sign a two-year deal with KHL team CSKA Moscow raises questions about his long-term future with the Stars. Selected 10th overall by the Stars in the 2013 NHL draft, the 21-year-old struggled through injury and inconsistency in his brief NHL career.
The Stars still hold Nichushkin's NHL rights while he's in Russia. If the two sides appear no closer to a resolution down the road, TSN's Darren Dreger speculates Stars GM Jim Nill could consider trading the young forward.
A report out of Russia earlier this year claimed Nichushkin was unhappy playing for Stars coach Lindy Ruff. Nill dismissed that story , while Ruff points out young forwards Matthias Janmark and Radek Faksa outperformed Nichushkin. Ruff also said he hopes to coach Nichushkin again one day.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.