Wakeup Call: NHL ruling comes back to bite Pacioretty

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Wakeup Call: NHL ruling comes back to bite Pacioretty

Here's your wakeup call -- a combination of newsworthy andor interesting tidbits -- for Tuesday, February 12:

BASEBALL
You may sit unsigned until the beginning of spring training, as Michael Bourn did, but Scott Boras usually always comes through for his clients . . . as long as you don't mind playing in Cleveland. (AP)

Bourn is certainly in the Braves' rear-view mirror, judging by how enthusiastic they are at the start of camp. (AP)

Chris Carpenter is hoping against hope that, somehow, he'll pitch again. (AP)

That elbow flareup that's prevented Ryan Madson from throwing since Feb. 1? Nothing to worry about, insists Mike Scioscia. (AP)

The A's players are letting bygones by bygones with Bartolo Colon, whose 50-game suspension for PED use last August left them in the lurch a bit during their hunt for a playoff spot. (CSN Bay Area)

Carlos Marmol defends himself -- passionately -- against sexual-assault allegations leveled against him in the Dominican Republic. (CSN Chicago)

Cavan Biggio? Kacy Clemens? Josh Pettitte? Yep, they're all the sons of who you think they're the sons of, and they're all playing high school baseball in the Houston area. (CSN Houston)

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Whaddya know? Indiana remains No. 1 despite its loss to Illinois last week. (AP)

Colorado State cracks the national rankings for the first time since the days of President Eisenhower and I Love Lucy. (AP)

Things return to normal in what's been a mixed-up Jayhawks Nation, as Kansas routs arch-rival Kansas State. (AP)

It's not how you start, it's how you finish. Georgetown -- suddenly holding the inside track for the regular-season Big East championship after its 63-55 win over No. 18 Marquette -- is proving that. (NBC's College Basketball Talk)

If Myck Kabongo knew then what he knows now, he'd have cooperated with the NCAA way back when. But he didn't, he got suspended, and now, finally, he's back on the court at Texas. (CSN Houston)

Off the court, and perhaps for a long time, is UConn's Enosch Wolf. (AP)

It should just be two games for Butler's Andrew Smith, though. (AP)

Albany? Eighth-best in women's basketball? So says the UPS Team Performance Index -- though not the voters in the AP poll, who don't even have the Great Danes in the top 25 -- but coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson says she isn't surprised her team ranks so high. (AP)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
And here we thought no one would believe the Paterno family's report. (AP)

It looks like Penn State's getting its checkbook out. (AP)

The NCAA's loosening of recruiting rules has the Big Ten coaches all nervous. (AP)

Tyler Gaffney's decided baseball's not for him, after all, and he's returning to the Stanford backfield. (CSN Bay Area)

Dennis Erickson's decided retirement's not for him. after all, and he's returning to college football as co-offensive coordinator at Utah. (AP)

Charlie Weis gives Dave Campo a promotion. (AP)

HOCKEY
Mikhail Grabovski's little nip at Max Pacioretty -- sorry, alleged nip -- apparently wasn't caught on camera, so he's going to get away with it. Oh, to be listening to the Montreal talk stations today . . . (AP)

Remember when the Sharks were sailing along as one of the NHL's elite? Yeah, me neither. (CSN Bay Area)

San Jose was "outworked, out-executed, out-detailed, out-goaltended, out- a lot of things" in last night's embarrassing 6-2 loss to the Blue Jackets, according to coach Todd McLellan. Um, Todd? Take a page from the Belichick book and throw "out-coached" in there, too. Just to keep it egalitarian. (NBC's Pro Hockey Talk)

The "home stand from hell"? That's not good, is it, Blues? (Pro Hockey Talk)

If misery loves company, St. Louis will be hanging with the Islanders these days. (AP)

In the injury department, the Maple Leafs may be without starting goalie James Reimer for a while after he got hurt in Toronto's 5-2 win over the Flyers . . . (AP)

. . . and the Avalanche may have lost defenseman Erik Johnson for a spell in their overtime loss to the Coyotes. (Pro Hockey Talk)

And here you thought baseball had the market cornered on obscure records. (Pro Hockey Talk)

PRO BASKETBALL
Tim Duncan? Tony Parker? Manu Ginobili? Who needs 'em? Certainly not the Spurs. (AP)

And this is why Tom Thibodeau thinks San Antonio is the gold standard of the NBA. (CSN Chicago)

Once the Clippers got their stars back, they got back to having fun . . . like last night in Philadelphia. (AP)

No, Andrew Bynum's not playing. No, he's not practicing. But, honest, any day now. (CSN Philly)

James Harden is day-to-day with a sore knee. Uh oh, isn't that what they said about Bynum in, like, October? (CSN Houston)

In more mundane injury news, Danny Granger is about to return. Jealous, Sixers Nation? (AP)

I thought basketball uniforms with sleeves went out with the peach baskets, but the Warriors are bringing 'em back. (NBC's Pro Basketball Talk)

PRO FOOTBALL
The Richard Seymour Era is over in Oakland. (CSN Bay Area)

Did you wonder over the weekend what would happen if a storm like Nemo hit the New York area during next year's Super Bowl? Well, so did the NFL . . . and it started drawing up contingency plans. (NBC's Pro Football Talk)

Bill Polian thinks he has the answer to make the game safer: Widen the field. (Pro Football Talk)

In one of the first surprises of the Chip Kelly regime, the Eagles bring back Michael Vick. (CSN Philly)

The NFLPA still wants the Chargers' team doctor to go, even though an independent panel "totally exonerated" him. (AP)

The Giants give the oft-injured Terrell Thomas another shot. (AP)

The Bills, however, are through with Nick Barnett and George Wilson. (AP)

He's baaaccck . . . or so he hopes. (CSN Bay Area)

Morning Skate: Another setback for Flyers top pick Nolan Patrick

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Morning Skate: Another setback for Flyers top pick Nolan Patrick

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering what Melissa McCarthy is going to do now that Spicey is gone.

*The debut for Philadelphia Flyers top pick Nolan Patrick has been scratched due to “an infection in his face.” Boy, this kid can’t get healthy, can he?

*Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill is 100 percent sure that the Winged Wheels will be making a return to the playoffs this season.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has hope returning to the city of Houston that they might get an NHL franchise one of these days.

*Travis Yost delves into shooting percentage and some of the nuances when properly trying to break it down statistically.

*There are new season ticket charges for Habs fans in Montreal, and boy are they pissed off about it. Feels like the kind of thing that could push them to riot in the streets or flood 911 emergency lines if the Canadiens aren’t too careful about it.

*Young Blues defenseman Colton Parayko signs a five-year deal with St. Louis to avoid salary arbitration while the D-man taken exactly one pick before him by the Bruins in the draft, Matt Grzelcyk, is going to be hard-pressed to move past the AHL level this season.

*For something completely different: What would Ivan Drago have been doing with his life after his showdown with Rocky in Mother Russia?

 

 

Vaakanainen lives up to skating reputation in first camp with Bruins

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Vaakanainen lives up to skating reputation in first camp with Bruins

Urho Vaakanainen was billed as a smooth-skating, solid defenseman when the Bruins selected him in the middle of the first round in last month’s draft.

That’s exactly what the 18-year-old D-man put on display at his first chance to participate in Bruins Development Camp earlier this month as one of the younger players taking his first paces with the B’s organization.

Vaakanainen skated with ease and smoothness and didn’t have much in the way of panic when he was breaking the puck out of the zone during workouts. To be sure, it was clear that many of the tools are there for the Finnish prospect. Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley had likened him to Hall of Famer Paul Coffey for his skating ability in the days after he was drafted last month in Chicago, and Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner used the equally impressive Devils player comparison of Scott Niedermayer when discussing Boston’s top pick.

The bottom line is that Vaakanainen would appear to be well-suited to an evolving hockey league where the skating game is arguably the most important quality and it’s pretty much a prerequisite for success if you’re going to be a D-man in the NHL.

“I think it’s the effortlessness that he skates with, it’s smooth," Langenbrunner said. "I think Scott [Bradley] had mentioned to me yesterday, Scott Niedermayer. That’s obviously high praise with a guy that is effortless and can skate

"[All] around the rink,” said Langenbrunner. “He seems to have a little bit of those tendencies that kind of floats on his skates a little bit. That’s something that I don’t believe you can really teach. Some guys have that and some guys, it’s a little more work.

“You’re talking about a 17-year-old kid that played in the Finnish Elite League. For him to put up huge offensive numbers, I think would be pretty tough. I think now, going into his second year there is a little more confidence. Obviously, you hear more growth. You’ll see maybe a little more of an uptick there. He’s a smooth skater. He sees the ice well, he’s got good size, and he can make plays. So, I think as the confidence grows, numbers will grow just if you’re making the right plays over and over again.”

Clearly, there is some polish still to come to Vaakanainen’s offensive game after watching him in drills with his fellow prospects at development camp. That’s reflected in the two goals and six points in 41 games for JYP in the Finnish Elite League last season as well, a level of production that caused some to question just how top-end he’ll be offensively in the NHL when he does mature into his 6-foot, 183-pound body.

Vaakanainen showed a decent, accurate shot from the point and some solid instincts when it comes to making plays with the puck, but it’s also clear he doesn’t have quite the same level of pure offensive as Charlie McAvoy. The good stick, solid defensive instincts and strength for his size were all there as advertised. The skating game will cover up a lot of the things that Vaakanainen still needs to work on.

Some of the young player’s lessons can be learned and improved with greater offensive experience afforded him when he returns to Finland for the upcoming season. Some of that may mean a modestly effective offensive player in Vaakanainen once he’s met his NHL potential. It’s simply too early to tell and a lot could be learned based on his level of improvement in Europe this season and the preview everybody will get when he plays in the World Juniors for Team Finland around the holidays.  

For his part, Vaakanainen had a great week at development camp learning the streets of Boston, meeting his fellow Bruins prospects and officially making a good first impression in his first action as a first-round pick.

“As the camp went on you felt so much better and relaxed, and I had so much fun,” said Vaakanainen, who actually stayed with Langenbrunner and his family at his house after the draft. “You’ll learn new things and you get to know all the new people that are in the Bruins organization. It’s going to help me in the future to know everybody.

“I think maybe they want to see more of my offensive game because there hasn’t been so much of that the last couple of years. The role might be bigger now and more offensive, so it’s coming. Of course, you have to work hard for that, but when you play more minutes it absolutely helps to get more comfortable with what you’re doing.”

The bottom line with this pick hasn’t really changed even as Vaakanainen showed what he could do in a week of practices at Warrior Ice Arena. The Finnish teenager is a fine D-man prospect who looks like he’ll going to enjoy a solid 10-year career once he actually cracks the NHL roster and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The one thing we’ll all see over the next few years is whether or not the Bruins could have done better for themselves with the No. 18 pick in a draft class with an admittedly shallow talent pool as compared to the past couple of seasons.