This week there was the usual slew of preseason injuries and teams waiving players right and left to trim their rosters down to size and/or clear cap space. There isn't much off-ice activity to report since it's so close to the start of the season, but there are a few entertaining tidbits. Without any further ado, here is your NHL news of the week:
-It's been officially decided that this season Brooks Orpik will be wearing the 'A' Gonchar left behind. I'm sure this doesn't come as much of a surprise and I know a lot of Pens fans felt Orpik was the best choice for the job. Congrats Free Candy!
-Jordan Staal update: Staal spoke to the media yesterday concerning his infected foot. I know there's been a lot of rumors going around about him being out longer than anticipated, but ignore anything you've heard. As of right now, there is NO TIMETABLE for Staal's return. He is hoping to restart his workouts by next week, but is still some time away from skating. Obviously, we will keep you updated on his condition as it improves or (God forbid) worsens.
-All the players the Penguins waived on Wednesday have cleared waivers and will be reporting to Wilkes-Barre.
-Time for a round of You know it's time to join a European hockey team when... This week's contestant is Jonathan Cheechoo. You know it's time to join a European hockey team when the Dallas Stars think you can't help their roster and release you from your camp tryout.
All kidding aside, I was rooting for Cheechoo to make the team and make a comeback. Hopefully he'll be picked up by an AHL team, or actually does go overseas to play with all the other people with cool last names. Good luck Cheechoo.
-One veteran that was able to find work was Donald Brashear. Just this morning, it was announced that Brashear has signed with the Sorel-Tracy GCI of the LNAH in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec (the terms of the deal have not been disclosed yet). Please tell me I'm not the only one who giggled at the thought of hearing Brashear speak French.
-So many players that no one has heard of have been waived this past week but here are three I felt were worth noting; Wade Redden, Cristobal Huet, and Sheldon Souray. Redden and Huet were obviously both waived to clear up cap space for the Rangers and Blackhawks, and because they weren't really contributing to their respective teams (and that's putting it mildly). Redden will be reporting to the Hartford Wolf Pack and Huet is now playing in Switzerland for Fribourg-Gotteron. I only felt Souray was worth mentioning because of his very public fallout with the Oilers. He cleared waivers this morning.
-The Flyers had some bad luck with injuries this week. Goalie Michael Leighton has a bulging disc in his lower back (ouch) and will be out for about a month. GM Paul Holmgren says there will be no outside move on goaltending in spite of Leighton's condition. Who needs a number one goaltender anyway? Forward Ian Laperriere is also out indefinitely with post-concussion symptoms. (GASP! Laperriere has a concussion? No one could've saw that coming!) Laperriere suffered from a concussion/brain contusion from last year's Stanley Cup playoffs, when a shot from Paul Martin hit him in the right eye in the opening round and required 70 stitches. He returned to play in the Eastern Conference Finals and then the Stanley Cup Finals. Laperriere played in the preseason opener against the Devils but admitted this week that he was still having issues over the summer and had been lying about his health so he could play for the Stanley Cup back in June. I suppose you can't blame a 36-year-old guy for wanting to play in his first-ever Stanley Cup Finals, but will it be worth it in the long-run if he suffers permanent brain damage?
-Even more unlucky than the Flyers are the Islanders. First they lost defenseman Michael Streit for the next six months to a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, after colliding with his teammate Matt Moulson. The injury is said to require surgery, although Streit is looking into other options. Then less than two days after Streit went down, it was reported that Kyle Okposo is going to need shoulder surgery too. He also has a torn labrum, but in his right shoulder, and is out indefinitely. I'm also ruling the playoffs out indefinitely for the Isles, as if they had a shot anyway.
-Wild backup goalie Josh Harding is likely done for the season. Harding tore his ACL and his MCL when Blues forward Bray Boyes was checked into him in a preseason game, and he'll need surgery. Yikes. It hasn't been reported whether the tears are complete or partial, but a partial tear of just an ACL or MCL is bad enough, much less both at the same time. I'm not even going to try and say anything funny or clever about that. Get well soon, Harding.
-Facepalm moment of the week; it came to light that Kris Versteeg's name was spelled wrong on the Stanley Cup. The mistake has been corrected, but the damage was already done:
How could the engraver spell "Hjalmarsson" correctly but mess up "Versteeg"?
Whoops. I enjoyed Kris Versteeg's take on the matter. He said that since he won't ever be on of the biggest names in the game, he'll take going down in history as one of the misspells on the Stanley Cup.
-There is a rumor going around that there are negotiations for Ovechkin recording a duet with Eminem. Yes, a rap song. Ovechkin. Rapping. With Eminem. After triple-checking to make sure I hadn't read the headline wrong, I started cracking up. How hilarious would that be to hear Ovechkin rapping in broken English with Eminem??? (I guess he already recorded a song with a Russian rap artist this past summer, for his girlfriend or something. You learn these things when you're friends with a diehard Caps fan.) I hope this is more than a rumor because I want to hear that song for comic relief. Whether this is true or not, it seems like Ovechkin is really focused on the upcoming hockey season and guiding his team to Lord Stanley's Cup huh?