Rask (abdomengroin) almost ready to return

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Rask (abdomengroin) almost ready to return

WILMINGTON, Mass. Tuukka Rask has admitted previously that this is his first go-around with a groin or abdomen injury.

As such, theres a little bit of a learning curve as he returns from the injury he sustained on Mar. 3. Rask has talked with teammates like Andrew Ference and Greg Zanon -- both of whom have experienced similar injuries -- and a couple of his friends who have gone through the rehab process.

But there is some unfamiliarity with it all so Rask took it as a cautiously optimistic first step when he made it onto the practice ice with his teammates on Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena.

It will be just about six weeks from the injury when the first round playoff series against the Washington Capitals opens Thursday night, and the Finnish netminder is hoping he can be ready.

Even if hes not ready by Thursday, it won't be long after that he returns to his role as Thomas backup.

At this point Rask feels no tightness or soreness in the area. Its a matter of building up strength without setbacks a process that could be undone if the 25-year-old tries to push it too hard.

Well have to see. Im not making any calls on that. Claude Julien is going to have to make that call when Im ready, said Rask. Its not easy. Its been five weeks and a couple more days. Its been tough trying not to push it too much because you miss playing, being out on the road and being with the guys.

One thing that wont be an issue: any mental block from the injury. Rask said hell be free, easy and athletic as he ever was when hes ready for game action. He looked pretty good with his first action on Monday.

Claude Julien said that Rask is in the day-to-day mode with Johnny Boychuk, and both could very easily be ready by the time the postseason puck drops.

Youre just trying to keep your head in it knowing youre going to get back in there, but make sure youre getting better at the same time, said Rask. Im just going to go out and try to stop the puck. I talked to a couple of guys that have had these injuries. You have to stretch it out and do all kinds of funny stuff, but you cant think about it.

If youre thinking about it too much then youre not ready. What I try to do is make sure Im doing all of the movements I need to without even thinking of getting hurt again.

Theres every possibility Rask could do all of the work to get ready to play, and not even see a single minute of ice time during the playoffs. But thats something hell gladly accept on his way to returning to his dutiful role behind Tim Thomas.

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want.