Kyle Draper has all the latest headlines and highlights for Thursday afternoon, including an update on Jared Sullinger's back and a quick preview of the Bruins and Sabres.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while fully ensconced in the Bruins' second exhibition game, on tap for tonight.
-- It’s awesome to see Wayne Gretzky back in the mix with the NHL, and serving as “official ambassador” for the NHL’s centennial celebration.
-- Tough times for former Bruins forward and former Czech national coach Vladimir Ruzicka, who was fined for some shady, fraudulent activity.
-- Andrew Shaw announced his presence in Montreal with authority. The only thing missing from this WWE-type performance was a Hulkster hand to his ear before the threw a punch.
-- A sad column from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Donnie Brennan, who says it’s time for Clarke MacArthur to retire after all the concussions. I remember writing the exact same thing about Marc Savard five or six years ago before he ultimately took one last big hit and retired.
-- It sounds like old friend Vladimir Sobotka is going to stick in the KHL, and isn’t coming back to the St. Louis Blues as many suspected.
-- For something completely different: A pretty fun Lyft commercial featuring David Ortiz, but how the hell did these people not recognize him?
FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowsi had what was, for him, an incredibly quiet game against the Texans on Thursday. He saw 14 snaps and ran just one route. He did see a target from rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett when he ran that route, but it floated high over his head and sailed out of the end zone incomplete.
In his first game action since suffering a hamstring injury on Aug. 15, the Patriots chose to being their All-Pro tight end along slowly, but he's hoping that he'll be more involved in the very near future.
"You’ve got to be careful with any injury, but I mean, if you research hamstrings, if you know anything about hamstrings, you’ve definitely got to be careful," he said. "You’ve got to progress. You can’t just hop back in and be full-go 100 percent. I wish it was like that. I can’t wait until I’m going freakin' crazy out there again. So I’m just progressing myself into it and feeling better every single day."
Gronkowski was back on the practice field for his team's workout in full pads on Wednesday. He was spotted running through drills and catching passes from tight ends coach Brian Daboll, and he did not appear to be visibly limited. After running around in a game, albeit briefly, Gronkowski explained that he experienced no setbacks.
"I felt good, definitely," Gronkowski said of playing under the lights. "You’re always sore no matter what after playing a game. No matter if you play 10 plays or 70 plays, [you’re] definitely sore like any other game. But no setbacks. No nothing. Feeling good and just progressing every day."
Regardless of who happens to be playing quarterback for the Patriots against the Bills on Sunday -- whether it's Jimmy Garoppolo or Brissett, both of whom practiced Wednesday -- having Gronkowski on the field and closer to his usual level of participation should help.
"They’re doing very well, very excellent," Gronkowski said of Garoppolo and Brissett's performances with Tom Brady out. "Every single day, they’re just trying to improve and progress every day. This week, you just see everyone throughout the team, everyone is just trying to progress . . . The coaches do a great job of getting the quarterbacks prepared. If there is something there that we need to get on the same page with the quarterbacks on, we’ll talk, but the coaches do an excellent job of getting the quarterbacks ready."