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Archive for May, 2011

May
31

With home ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final, the Vancouver Canucks will host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday. The seven-game series is expected to be a hard-fought battle as both teams hope to end longtime droughts. The Canucks have never won a Stanley Cup in their 40-year existence, and the Bruins haven’t been to the Final since 1990.

NHL.com has posted the TV viewing schedule for the Final. Check your local listings for coverage (all times listed are Eastern Time): http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=563806&intcmpid=nhln-button

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May
31

Vancouver Canucks forward Manny Malhotra did not attend the team’s morning skate, nor was he available for Media Day interviews. Canucks GM Mike Gillis said that the centerman was at a doctor’s appointment and until further notice, his status will be listed as “day-to-day.”

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May
31

Forward Manny Malhotra of the Vancouver Canucks has been cleared to play in the Stanley Cup Final just two months after being sidelined by serious injury. During the second period of a game on March 16 versus the Colorado Avalanche, Malhotra and Avs defenseman Erik Johnson were chasing a loose puck when it deflected striking Malhotra in the left eye. He left the game for immediate treatment and hasn’t appeared in the lineup since.

A week after the incident, the Canucks’ team doctors and specialists initially stated that Malhotra would not return to the lineup for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs. Likewise, associate coach Rick Bowness stated that it would take a “complete miracle” for the 31-year-old centerman to return this season. Surprisingly, Malhotra began skating by himself on May 11 and with his teammates the following day.

Having already had two surgeries on the eye, Malhotra is expected to have a third. However, according to GM Mike Gillis, the final procedure is not necessary for him to resume playing.

Speaking of his return to the lineup, Malhotra said, “I’ve been monitored almost daily the past two months now. The doctors were pleased with the progression and the way things were looking and with the exercise I was doing, [and] the activity I was getting into. There was no change in my status. They felt and saw that it was an opportunity, if I felt confident enough and physically ready enough with the contact and the awareness out there, playing could be a possibility.”

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May
31

This morning, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and members of True North Sports and Entertainment Limited held a press conference to announce that the company has acquired the Atlanta Thrashers of the league’s Southeast Division and will relocate the team to Winnipeg, Manitoba. This marks the second time in NHL history that an Atlanta hockey franchise has moved to Canada. The city’s previous team, the Atlanta Flames, moved to Calgary, Alberta in 1980. Ironically, Winnipeg lost its previous NHL team to a U.S. city when the Winnipeg Jets relocated to Arizona prior to the 1996-97 season and became the Phoenix Coyotes.

The sale of the Thrashers is still pending approval by the NHL Board of Governors. A vote will be taken on June 21 whereby transfer of ownership requires a 75 percent approval. To move the team, a simple majority of sixteen out of thirty votes is needed.

In response to the announcement of the sale, the Atlanta Thrashers released a statement on the team’s website: http://thrashers.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=564242

The press conference was held at the team’s new home, the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, which is home to the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. The arena seats 15,015 for hockey and has hosted NHL preseason games.

During this morning’s announcement, no mention was made as to what the team’s new name would be. The NHL will issue updates as news develops.

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May
26

One day after Brian Rafalski announced his retirement, fellow Michigan-bornĀ NHLer Doug Weight called it a career today. The New York Islanders captain and 19-year veteran won’t go far, however, as he has accepted an assistant coaching position with the team. He will also serve as special assistant to Islanders GM Garth Snow.

Like Rafalski, Weight has an enviable resume having won the Stanley Cup in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes, a Silver Medal in one of three Olympic turns, a Gold Medal in the World Cup of Hockey, and makingĀ five All-Star appearances.

“Of course saying goodbye and never going to play again in the League is terrible. It’s tough,” Weight said. “It’s a sickening, sad feeling, but it’s also a new chapter to hopefully the greatest part of my life.”

Just as with Rafalski, nagging injuries played a part in Weight’s decision to retire. However, the 40-year-old centerman’s mind wasn’t made up for sure until recently.

“I don’t think you’re ready until that season because you’re always trying to get back, and over the last month I was fairly sure,” Weight said.

In his new coaching position, Weight will spend less time at the rink now that he won’t be training and practicing as a player. He looks forward to taking his career to another level.

“As an assistant coach, he’ll predominantly work on the power play. I think he has a lot to offer in that area,” Snow said. “Obviously with the production he’s had in this League and international tournaments, the wealth of knowledge, it’s a great hockey mind that can help get our team to the next level.”

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