From Comcast SportsNetEL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -- Pau Gasol was diagnosed with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot Wednesday, indefinitely sidelining the 7-foot Spaniard at a key point in the Los Angeles Lakers' belated rally to get in playoff position.Gasol felt a pop in his foot Tuesday night late in the Lakers' 92-83 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. An MRI in Boston revealed the injury.The Lakers (23-26) are losing Gasol right when their mostly miserable season is starting to improve with six wins in seven games, including three straight on their longest road trip of the season. Los Angeles also played the last three games without All-Star center Dwight Howard, who has a torn labrum in his right shoulder, and top backup big man Jordan Hill is out for the season with an injured hip."I'm hoping to recover asap so I can be back with the team and keep fighting until the end of the season," Gasol tweeted.Gasol will fly to Los Angeles on Thursday to be examined by team physician Steve Lombardo and foot specialist Kenneth Jung. The Lakers announced they will give a timeline for Gasol's return after the examination, but the injury conceivably could keep Gasol out for several weeks or more if he undergoes surgery to repair the damage.Gasol has been bothered by tendinitis in both knees and fasciitis for at least two months, hindering his progress since shortly after new coach Mike D'Antoni took over. The four-time All-Star big man also missed five games in January with a concussion, and Gasol largely has been coming off the bench for the Lakers since then.Gasol is averaging a career-low 13.4 points per game and 8.0 rebounds while playing in just 36 of the Lakers' 49 games.The Lakers finish their seven-game road trip with three games in four days, starting Thursday in Boston and concluding Sunday in Miami. Rookie center Robert Sacre is available to D'Antoni, and Howard isn't certain when he'll return from an injury that's troublesome, but likely manageable.Salary cap-strapped Los Angeles could sign a replacement for Gasol after getting a disabled player's exception last week for Hill, who had season-ending hip surgery. But the pool of available free-agent big men is awfully thin, including Lakers retreads such as Troy Murphy and Brian Cook.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, after a busy morning celebrating my 3-year-old’s birthday at the trampoline park. Yee-ha.
*PHT writer Joey Alfieri says that adding toughness was a big offseason priority for the Montreal Canadiens.
*There’s at least one big fan of the Edmonton Oilers trade that brought defenseman Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils, and that fan’s name is Mark Letestu.
*Here’s everything you need to know about the Ice Guardians movie premiering this fall that takes a long, balanced look at the NHL enforcers.
*Roberto Luongo has an alibi for the robbery in Winnipeg with one suspect getting away in goalie equipment, and it’s funny as you would expect it to be.
*CSN Washington takes a look at the New York Rangers in their season previews for the Metro Division.
*I’m not entirely sure whether this “RIP Harambe” thing is genuine or meant to be ironic by the largely millenial group that seem so enamored with it, but I think it’s just stupid. I think the same with the crying Jordan meme…also stupid.
*For something completely different: a look at how Triumph the Insult Comic Dog learned how to poop on Trump’s politics.
The Patriots have signed linebacker and special teamer Jonathan Freeny to a two-year contract extension through 2018, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported.
Freeney, 27, was originally signed by the Patriots to a one-year free-agent deal in March 2015 after spending the first four years of his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins. He then earned a one-year extension last September and played 13 games, seven starts, with 50 tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.
From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Danton Heinen.
Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin.
Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.
What happened last year
Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.
Questions to be answered this season
The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.
What they're saying
“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.
While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing.