Simon Despres was one game into a five-year contract extension when he was placed on the long-term injured reserve by the Anaheim Ducks, and it sounds like he’s not expected back anytime soon.
Anaheim Ducks defenseman Simon Despres preparation for the season came with hope that he would be able to suit up and recapture the form that led to him inking a five-year, $18.5-million extension in October 2015. Instead, he finds himself one game into his new deal with questions about when he’ll even be able to return.
Despres, 25, dealt with concussion issues for much of the past season, and though Ducks GM Bob Murray hasn’t confirmed that it’s once again what Despres is battling through, it sure seems as though the young rearguard is fighting through concussion issues once again.
"The Despres situation is one that is a very sensitive issue and it’s one that my whole goal hopefully is make it that Simon at the end of all this lives a happy, healthy, normal life," Murray said, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. "It’s going to take some time before we get to that point. Really, it’s all I want to say at this time on that because it is sensitive and I feel real bad for Simon."
That’s awfully ominous considering just how much time Despres was forced to miss during the 2015-16 season due to concussions and related symptoms.
Despres’ fight with concussions started with a knock he took from Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie just days after signing the contract extension. The hit seemed somewhat innocuous at the time — it went without a penalty call and it took some time before it was clear what had put Despres out of the mid-October 2015 contest — but it resulted in Barrie being handed a three-game suspension. For Despres, it resulted in 42 games on the sideline.
He eventually worked his way back into the lineup, but before long, Despres again found himself on the shelf with a head injury. This time he missed six games. He was able to return to close out the season, and played the final four games of the year before suiting up in all six post-season games. He wasn’t completely healthy at the time, though.
The concern now becomes Despres’ future. He hasn’t played since opening night and he’s been out with an “upper-body” ailment since the second game of the season. At 25, he no doubt had a lot of hockey left in him, but it appears he now finds himself in a similar situation to that of Ottawa Senators winger Clarke MacArthur, having suffered multiple concussions in a short period of time.
As Murray said, though, the hope has to be not for Despres’ return to the ice, but for him to be able to live a “happy, healthy, normal life” away from the rink.
The Bruins could be missing their top goal scorer for a game or two after David Pastrnak left his feet to deliver a high hit on Rangers blueliner Dan Girardi.
David Pastrnak, Dan Girardi and high hit. If those were the two names and one action you had to make an NHL ‘Mad Libs,’ you’d likely come out the other side with a story about how the New York Rangers defenseman had crushed the young Boston Bruins winger and was heading for a meeting with the Department of Player Safety.
But my, how wrong you’d be.
Following Wednesday’s game between the Bruins and Rangers, it’s Pastrnak who is facing a possible suspension for delivering a high hit on Girardi.
The hit came midway through the second period when Girardi went to field a puck that had been flipped high into the air and out of the Bruins’ zone. As the Rangers rearguard looked up to catch the puck, eyes focused on making the play, Pastrnak came from across the neutral zone and delivered a solid jolt that left Girardi down on the ice. Take a look:
The case can certainly be made that Pastrnak is going to find himself sitting for at least a game or two after seeing the slow-motion of his hit on Girardi, and it’s a pretty strong case, too. It’d be one thing for Pastrnak to leave his feet and make shoulder-to-shoulder contact, but he jumps into a hit that appears to make direct contact with Girardi’s head.
As a result of the hit, Pastrnak ended up with a minor penalty for checking to the head, and Girardi was forced to leave the game briefly before returning later in the second frame. It doesn’t appear the Rangers defenseman will be missing any further time, but the evaluation was necessary after he took a forceful blow to the head.
If the league does decide to suspend Pastrnak, it will help him that this is his first offense and that Girardi didn’t appear to suffer any lasting injury. Even still, it feels as though a game or two ban is heading Pastrnak’s way.
For the Bruins, losing Pastrnak right now would be incredibly disappointing, especially with how well he’s been producing early this season. Through seven games, Pastrnak has five goals and eight points while skating on the second line, and only Brad Marchand has contributed more to the attack than Pastrnak.
UPDATE: The NHL's Department of Player Safety announced Friday that Pastrnak has been suspended for two games for his hit on Girardi. NHL director of player safety Patrick Burke said that Pastrnak "unnecessarily extends up and into the head of Girardi, delivering a blow to the head and knocking him to the ice." While Girardi was eligible to be hit, it was the extension upwards instead of through the body that resulted in the suspension, especially considering Girardi's head didn't change position moments before or just as Pastrnak delivered the check.
The suspension is the first of Pastrnak's career, and it will cost him $10,277.78 in salary, all of which will go towards the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
The case against Evander Kane stemming from a nightclub incident in June is coming to a close, and Kane, 25, will reportedly see the charges against him dismissed.
Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane found himself in legal trouble this off-season when he was charged with one count of criminal trespassing and four count of non-criminal harassment, but the case against the 25-year-old will reportedly be adjourned and dismissed.
Buffalo’s 7 Eyewitness News reported Thursday evening that an “Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal,” also referred to as an ACD, could be entered as early as Monday, which could eventually lead to the case against Kane being dropped.
According to 7 Eyewitness News, the ACD could see the case against Kane adjourned for more than six months and after a set period of time, the charges would be dismissed if Kane can display good behavior.
The charges against Kane stem from an incident at a nightclub in late June. It was alleged that Kane was involved in confrontations with four separate people, including a bouncer at a bar called Bottoms Up and a woman, who Kane allegedly grabbed by the throat and attempted to push into a car.
According to the Buffalo News, the police reports said Kane “threatened complainant and made derogatory comments to her,” and a second report alleged that another incident saw Kane grab a woman by the arms and attempt to force her out of the bar. The Buffalo News also reported a source said Kane engaged in a physical confrontation with the bouncer, and video had been captured of the altercation.
Kane voluntarily surrendered himself to police in late-July, leading to the surreal image of the Sabres sniper being handcuffed outside of the city’s Central Booking Bureau. Throughout the process, Kane has maintained his innocence and his lawyer, Paul Cambria, asserted that Kane would continue to do so.
The reportedly soon-to-be dropped charges against Kane aren’t the first time he has found himself in hot water during stay in Buffalo. Kane was previously under investigation relating to incident involving a woman in December 2015. He was cleared of any wrongdoing and no criminal charges were ever filed against Kane.
At the rink, Kane has also found himself in trouble with management and the coaching staff. Kane was suspended by the team in February for missing a practice after attending the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto. Sabres GM Tim Murray also said Kane’s off-ice incidents haven’t been good for the player or organization.
“Whether he has done these things or not or he’s guilty of these things or not, it’s not something I like getting up in the morning and reading about, that’s for sure,” Murray told the Olean Times Herald’s Bill Hoppe in July. “We’re going to let the process happen. We’ll go with whatever the ruling is. Whatever the ruling is, we’re obviously going to have a sit-down (talk).”
For the second time in one calendar year, Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen has been kicked out of a faceoff and handed an unsportsmanlike penalty for voicing his displeasure.
Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen was reminded Wednesday night that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And the reminder came in most bizarre fashion.
Johansen, 24, was lined up for a neutral zone faceoff just outside the Nashville zone during the Predators’ tilt against the Anaheim Ducks. Standing across from Antoine Vermette, Johansen seemingly pointed out to linesman Shandor Alphonso how the Ducks’ pivot was set up off center. Instead of Vermette moving, Johansen shifted away from the faceoff dot to mimic Vermette and it appeared that Alphonso didn’t take too kindly to Johansen’s actions, booting him from the dot.
After his ejection from the faceoff, Johansen set up on the wing, but his objections apparently didn’t end once he was lined up in the spot previously occupied by James Neal. Instead of dropping the puck, Alphonso turned around to address Johansen, which resulted in referee Kelly Sutherland getting involved and eventually led to Johansen taking a seat in the penalty box:
The call on the ice was unsportsmanlike conduct, though it will probably never be known exactly what went on between Johansen and Alphonso before the minor penalty was handed out by Sutherland. However, Johansen paid the price with more than just penalty minutes.
It didn’t help matters that Anaheim almost immediately rubbed salt in the wound by way of a Jakob Silfverberg power play goal a mere 10 seconds after Johansen took the penalty, but by the time the Predators center got back to the bench, he didn’t see another second of ice time until the start of the third frame. That’s a half-period benching for taking a bad penalty.
Incredibly, though, this isn’t the first time Johansen has found himself in this situation. During a game midway through the 2015-16 season against the Winnipeg Jets, Johansen was hit with an unsportsmanlike call for getting angry with a linesman for failing to drop the puck during a faceoff.
“The linesman’s job on a faceoff is to drop the puck,” Johansen said at the time, via the Tennessean’s Adam Vingan. “I didn’t say anything to hurt his feelings. I actually wish I said something else. I don’t want to get in trouble for saying anything. It’s a tough play. We’ve got our empty net, one-goal game late in the game like that, it’s pretty wild to get a penalty for getting mad at him for just not dropping the puck.”
But after getting tagged a second time for faceoff frustrations, don’t be surprised if Johansen is physically holding his tongue next time around.