Morning Skate 221: Lucic readying for trip home

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Morning Skate 221: Lucic readying for trip home

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com
Looking forward to the four-day Milan Lucic homecoming set for Vancouver at the end of this week that will include his second career game against his hometown Canucks in the city he grew up in, thousands of bobble heads handed out at Milan Lucic Night on the Friday before the game and close to 10,000 fans crowded into the Pacific Coliseum to fete one of their favorite suns in scenic Vancouver.Lucic is trying to maintain a business-like atmosphere through a very important road trip for team-building and locking their team into place in the standings, but thats a challenge when so many once-in-a-lifetime type things are on tap for big No. 17.Its going to be a lot of fun, obviously, but more importantly we have a job to take care of while were out there, said Lucic. Thats what Im focusing on. Ive been here for four years and its only my second time going out West in Canada, so it doesnt happen that often. On to the links:

SportsNets Ian Mendes always shows off a pretty good sense of humor in his blog posts, and this week he creates the trades hed like to see made in the NHL purely for the comedic value. Interesting take from Vancouver Sunwriter Cam Cole after the Canucks shut it down for a day on their most recent road trip, and didnt allow any media access. I dont see things ever getting as dire as Cole does, but I guess Im just an optimist. Good piece by Friend of Haggs (FOH) Mike McMahon on Jordan Heywood and his amazing comeback this season at Merrimack College after playing through blood clots in his lungs during junior hockey. The Carolina Hurricanes retired Rod BrindAmours number last weekend, and the heart and soul of the Hurricanes deserved every second of the praise. A good look by ESPNs Pierre Lebrun at the future of outdoor hockey in the NHL, and what could be ahead for both the Winter Classic and the Heritage Classic after Sunday nights one-sided win for the Calgary Flames. Puck Daddy contributor Ryan Lambert learned that the Heritage Classic was a poor mans Winter Classic, and doesnt have the brightest of futures. It appears that Colorado coach Joe Sacco and GMGreg Sherman will survive whats becoming a pretty rocky collapse for the Avalanche, no pun intended, and a remaking of the team following the Erik Johnson deal. Former Northeastern University standout goalie Brad Thiessen is putting up big numbers between the pipes at the AHL level, and has become one of the top goalie prospects knocking on the NHLs door. A great if overly colorful -- piece outlining etiquette and the proper way to act in the press box when its your first time. Everybody in the business has had their first day covering a pro sporting event at the highest levels, and this might just help you survive it in fine fashion.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Sabres' Okposo back on the ice

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Morning Skate: Sabres' Okposo back on the ice

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while officially in the Dead Zone of the NHL offseason.

*A great sight to see is Buffalo Sabres forward Kyle Okposo taking the ice in a summer league in Minnesota after a health scare at the end of last season.

*Nolan Patrick might be fresh off abdominal surgery, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be rushed if he plays for the Flyers.

*Here’s an offseason power ranking of the offseason moves for the NHL teams, and the Bruins rank 28th out of 31 teams with the organization being “stuck” in the estimation of this writer. I don’t disagree that they’re kind of paralyzed right now until David Pastrnak signs an extension, with other things being held up because of that. The Paul Postma and Kenny Agostino signings were about as small time as you can get on July 1. But the Bruins’ goal for this summer wasn’t to win in the offseason moves department, but instead continue to let their interesting mix of young players and established veterans grow into an effective mix. Winning the offseason power rankings really isn’t the thing for the Black and Gold, and that’s perfectly okay given their situation.

*There’s a wide gap between the Detroit Red Wings and Tomas Tatar with salary arbitration looming.

*It’s a good thing that Barstool Sports is here to ask the really tough questions, like whether Jaromir Jagr is being treated unfairly by NHL teams because of his hair.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Johnny Gaudreau really high on the window for the Calgary Flames to compete over the next three years with the young, talented group they have in place.  

*Nico Hischier is looking to be a playmaking force for the New Jersey Devils right off the bat after being the No. 1 overall pick in Jersey.

*A slew of soon-to-be college sophomores starred in development camps across the NHL and showed what they learned at the NCAA level.

*Classy tweet from the Arizona Coyotes wishing war hero and distinguished statesman John McCain well in his battle with brain cancer.

*Players that are on AHL contracts will be allowed to participate in the Winter Olympics this season. While the loss of NHL participation would be a difficult blow to the Olympics and fans, part of me is happy that some of these AHL guys will get to experience playing for their country when they might not have been able to otherwise.  

*For something completely different: Paul Pierce sees some very good things with first-round pick Jayson Tatum, but he’ll need to see “killer instinct” from the Celtics rookie for him to live up to the Pierce comparisons.

 

AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

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AHL allowing players on minor-league deals to go to Olympics

Players on American Hockey League contracts will be eligible to play in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

President and CEO David Andrews confirmed through a league spokesman Wednesday that teams were informed they could loan players on AHL contracts to national teams for the purposes of participating in the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The AHL sent a memo to its 30 clubs saying players could only be loaned for Olympic participation from Feb. 5-26.

The Olympic men's hockey tournament runs from Feb. 9-25. Like the NHL, which is not having its players participate for the first time since 1994, the AHL does not have an Olympic break in its schedule.

The AHL's decision does not affect players assigned to that league on NHL one- or two-way contracts. No final decision has been made about those players.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report that the league had told its 31 teams that AHL players could be loaned to play in the Olympics. It was an AHL memo sent at the direction of that league's board of governors.

When the NHL announced in April that it wouldn't be sending players to South Korea after participating in five consecutive Olympics, Andrews said the AHL was prepared for Canada, the United States and other national federations to request players.

"I would guess we're going to lose a fair number of players," Andrews said in April. "Not just to Canada and the U.S., but we're going to lose some players to other teams, as well. But we're used to that. Every team in our league has usually got two or three guys who are on recalls to the NHL, so it's not going to really change our competitive integrity or anything else."

The U.S. and Canada are expected to rely heavily on players in European professional leagues and college and major junior hockey to fill out Olympic rosters without NHL players.