Morning Skate 516: No calls for LucicHorton

Morning Skate 516: No calls for LucicHorton

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON It appears Bs forwards Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton are two of the first beneficiaries of the toughened up stance by Colin Campbell and the NHL Hockey Operations staff. There has been nary a hearing or a phone call to the Bs forwards after the brouhaha between the Bruins and Lightning at the end of Game One that resulted in a pair of punches thrown by the Bs linemates that dropped two Tampa skaters in non-hockey fight situations.In the closing minutes of Tampas solid win at the TD Garden, Dominic Moore cross-checked David Krejci and was then decked by Nathan Horton with a stiff right hand. That was followed by two of the biggest players on the ice Milan Lucic and Tampa defenseman Victor Hedman getting entangled during a scrum with Lucic dropping Hedman with a right-handed jab. The Horton hit looked as if it came with some pretty legitimate force, but the Lucic punch dropped a giant human being like Hedman a bit too easily.Both players were tagged with roughing minors and game misconducts for the infraction, and the NHLs silence is deafening when it comes to supplemental discipline in each case. It was simply boys will be boys type rough play that can escalate at the end of a playoff game. Its actually very similar to the punch Aaron Ward took to his face via Scott Walker during the middle of the HurricanesBruins series three years ago that similarly went unpunished. The Walker sucker punch on Ward was also a bit starker in nature, and that makes sense in it not leading up to any extended fanfare aside from a few Lightning torch-bearers in the media.Bruins coach Claude Julien had already moved on from the topic when it was broached with reporters.I dont know if the referees need to call those things; thats their call, said Julien. I think its part of frustration sometimes in games and liberties are taken. Same thing as usual, its always easy to look at the punch . . . just like that penalty Johnny Boychuk took. How we end up shorthanded is tough to see when Vincent Lecavalier jumps him after a clean hit. Those are things that happen in the game and we can whine and cry about things. We take care of our own business. We are moving on to the next game and we are not even thinking about that.On to the links:Derek Boogaards family decides to donate their late sons brain to the Boston University medical facility thats doing studies on the effect that concussions have on the human brain. Thats a truly selfless act and ray of hope from an utter tragedy.The New York Islanders blog, Lighthouse Hockey, laments the possible passing of the Nassau Coliseum. It is absolutely a dump, but it also honestly has some of the best sight lines from the press box at any NHL rink.It sounds like Jaromir Jagr is determined to remain in the KHL, but never say never when that mullet is involved.Newsdays Katie Strang has an amazing story about a Derek Boogaard punch that changed NHL tough guy Todd Fedoruks life and career forever.The Atlanta Journal Constitution asks if the other NHL owners could save the Atlanta Thrashers. Given that theyre already attempting to save the Phoenix Coyotes, it would appear that their collective plates are full.The Tampa Bay Lighting are outraged theres been literally no reaction by the NHL toward Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. Maybe because there was no wrongdoing aside from what was penalized already during the game. Duh.Vancouver Province has a good look at Maxim Lapierre, Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen forming a deadly cocktail of a checking line for the Canucks during the playoffs. Lapierre brings some deadly flopping to the mix.Nashville Predators players see their stocks rise and fall during a fun rush to the second round of the playoffs. Smashville never looked and sounded so good before.An excellent piece by the New York Posts Larry Brooks about the legacy left behind by Derek Boogaard following his untimely passing at the age of 28 years old.Another great piece in the Prince George Citizen about Boogaard including an interview with a former teammate he was set to live with in New York City. Boogaards concussion was still bad enough that his head would start spinning in the back of a taxi cab.

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

Haggerty: Trouba deal is one Bruins need to get done

Haggerty: Trouba deal is one Bruins need to get done

Bruins management has been in a holding pattern waiting for something to “shake free” in the top-four defensemen department and that might have finally happened this weekend.

With the news on Saturday that Jacob Trouba won’t be reporting to training camp with the Winnipeg Jets and has asked for a trade, a player is becoming available that the Black and Gold have had their eyes on for months and months.

CSN was the first to report that the Bruins were putting together a plan for an offer sheet for the 22-year-old American-born defenseman back in June, but that never materialized. GM Don Sweeney eventually backed off that aggressive plan to nab a player they have tapped as a top-four, right-shot defenseman, but clearly there is still interest from a Boston team that literally did nothing to upgrade their back end over the summer.

Cam Neely admitted to CSN a couple of weeks ago that the Bruins were still positioned to make a move for a D-man if something opened up on the market.

“Basically from April to now everybody is talking about our back end, and not being able to land a top-four defenseman. We still have an opportunity as far as cap space goes if something shakes free, and I know Don [Sweeney] has been working hard trying to do something,” said Neely. “But I feel like as a group we can do better than we did last year.

“I think Tuukka [Rask] can play better than he did last year. If that happens we should be a better club. It’s going to be a challenge and it’s going to be competitive. But I feel like the changes we’ve made through the organization, and not just in player personnel, that there’s opportunity for our group to improve.”

Well, here’s a memo for the B’s brass on Causeway Street: things just opened up as high and wide as a vintage Rich Peverley shot off the high glass. The ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft is going to be made available and will undoubtedly be the best defenseman to move in trade between now and the start of the regular season.

He’d also go a long way toward providing the B’s with the kind of bridge D-man that could improve markedly in the present, and allow the back end to be much closer to good until young defenesmen Charlie McAvoy, Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon and Brandon Carlo are ready for prime time.

This Saturday night statement from agent Kurt Overhardt explains the situation succinctly, but basically Trouba doesn’t want wind his career away stuck behind Dustin Byfuglien and Tyler Myers on the right side of Winnipeg’s defense.

“Our client, Jacob Trouba, will not be attending the Winnipeg Jets NHL training camp. Since May, we have been working with the Jets management in an effort to facilitate a trade of Jacob’s rights. Both parties continue to work on this matter,” said Overhardt in the statement. “There has been no negotiation regarding the terms of a contract between our client and the Jets over the course of the last several months. The situation is not about money; it is solely about our client having the opportunity to realize his potential as a right shot NHL defenseman.

“To the Jets credit, the club has two outstanding right shot veteran defensemen and our client simply wants the opportunity to have a greater role. As a consequence of the Jets depth on the right side, we believe it is in both parties’ best interest to facilitate a mutually advantageous trade.

Our client has nothing but respect for the people and City of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Jets, its fans, management and ownership - our desire to get him moved has everything to do with opportunity. We will continue to work with the Jets in good faith to achieve this end.”

Clearly, Trouba will draw big interest around the league: he’s a 6-foot-1, 200-pound, right-shot defenseman who posted 10 goals and 29 points in his rookie season as a teenager and has averaged more than 22 minutes of ice time per game since entering the league. 

This is yet another chance for Sweeney and Co. to close a deal on a defenseman and finally start to address some of the damage done while shipping away Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton in successive years. It will undoubtedly cost a pretty penny in terms of assets, but there has to be a reason why Sweeney has been stockpiling centers headed into training camp.

A package of Ryan Spooner, Joe Morrow and a first-round pick would be considerable, but it also might not be enough to get a deal done for a high-demand talent in Trouba. Undoubtedly the Jets would also for a blue chip D-man prospect such as Carlo, or perhaps they’d be more interested in  veteran right-shot option Adam McQuaid, who could immediately replace Trouba in the Winnipeg lineup.

The worst-case scenario is Kevin Cheveldayoff taking a page from the Kevin Shattenkirk trade talks, and both starting and ending any conversations with David Pastrnak as the main trade chip. The Bruins have made it clear they’re done “sprinkling their talent around the rest of the league” as one B’s front office exec made clear to CSN.   

The bottom line: it’s not going to be easy, but this is exactly the kind of situation where Sweeney needs to become a closer rather than a lamenter who starts an explanation with “price are high” or “it takes two to tango.”

It takes a good manager to close a deal his team desperately needs. This Trouba situation is shaping up to provide the B’s with that opportunity. 
 

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.