NHL News Update
Here is an overview of the latest stories in the National Hockey League, including a coaching dismissal, a sudden retirement, a record-tying point streak, a horrific injury and a player’s second long-term injury of the season.
Penguins Fire Johnston
The Pittsburgh Penguins fired head coach Mike Johnston Saturday afternoon, naming Mike Sullivan as the replacement coach.
The Penguins were 58-37-15 under Johnston over the past two seasons. The Penguins made the playoffs on the last day of the regular season last year but were eliminated by the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal; the Penguins lost the series 4-1. Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had an excellent series, but the Penguins failed to score more than one goal in each of the team’s four losses.
“I want to thank Mike Johnston for his contributions to this team,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. “I felt with where we are right now, and how we’ve played over the first part of this season, that this team has more to give. We have some areas where we need to be a lot better. We have to have more will to win. Our power play has to be better.
Sullivan has been the head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate, this season. He has led the AHL Penguins to an 18-5 record so far, good enough for first place in the Atlantic Division.
But he has plenty of NHL experience as well. Sullivan coached two seasons with the Boston Bruins. He has also served as an assistant coach for the Bruins, Lightning, Rangers and Canucks. He was a player development coach for the Chicago Blackhawks last season when the team won the Stanley Cup.
The Penguins also fired assistant coach Gary Agnew. Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet will remain with the team. Jacques Martin will now be on the bench as an assistant coach.
For more information and for insight on the coaching change, click here.
Dupuis Forced to Call it Quits
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis announced his retirement earlier this week, citing a medical condition related to blood cots as the reason for ending his career prematurely.
Dupuis missed most of last season with a medical condition related to blood cots but had returned this season and was starting to build chemistry with long-time linemate Sidney Crosby. Dupuis had played 18 games this season while simultaneously taking blood thinners for his condition. Though this can be dangerous, it is something that can be managed, as evidenced by defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who played on blood thinners during the playoffs last year after missing the whole season with blood clots in his legs and lungs. However, one would imagine the risks increase when playing on a long-term basis, and Dupuis obviously had additional medical complications. In fact, Dupuis recently experienced multiple medical incidents that were possibly related to his condition, which forced him to leave games early, including the Penguins’ December 1 game against San Jose. As a result, Dupuis, his family and team physicians made the difficult decision that he should stop playing.
“It was very difficult for me to make this decision to have to step away from the game,” Dupuis said. “My wife and four children have always been my first priority, and playing with my condition has become a constant worry for all of us. I want to thank my teammates and the Penguins organization for their unwavering support during this difficult time.”
Crosby and Dupuis have been linemates since Dupuis arrived in Pittsburgh via trade in the 2007-2008 season.
“I don’t think I can get through it,” Crosby told the Penguins website. “It’s definitely a difficult situation. Most guys wouldn’t have been able to even come back after what he went through the last couple of years. But it’s something he needs to do at this point in his life. He has a family and he has to look out for himself. But we’re going to miss him a lot. He’s a great guy, great teammate. I know he’ll have a hard time staying away from the rink, so hopefully we’ll see lots of him.”
In 871 career NHL games spanning 15 seasons with the Penguins, Wild, Rangers and Thrashers, Dupuis scored 190 goals and 219 assists for a total of 409 career points. He was a member of the Penguins’ 2009 Stanley Cup-winning team.
The Streak Continues
Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 25 games on Friday by scoring a power-play goal in the second period of the Blackhawks’ 2-0 win against the Winnipeg Jets.
Kane has already set two NHL records during his current streak. He now holds the longest point streak of any American-born player as well as the longest point streak in Blackhawks history. However, he will go for another record in the Hawks’ game against Vancouver tonight.
By reaching 25 games, Kane has tied Sidney Crosby for the longest point streak since the 1992-1993 season.
“It’s not really important, but I think it’s one of those things when you realize what elite company you’re in, when you’re with these great players that have had these great streaks, it definitely humbles you,” Kane said. “I obviously feel honored and very fortunate to be involved with names like those.”
Kane currently leads the league in points (45) and is second in goals (19). He has scored 16 goals and 23 assists during his 25-game streak; Crosby scored 26 goals and 24 assists during his 25-game point streak in the 2010-2011 season.
The Blackhawks host the Vancouver Canucks tonight at 7:00pm EST.
Hamhuis Out At Least Two Months
Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis will miss at least two months after suffering a horrific injury.
Though the timetable is still unknown, Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins confirmed that it will be at least months.
Hamhuis took a slapshot to the face in the team’s 2-1 win against the New York Rangers on Wednesday. Hamhuis underwent surgery on Friday to repair a facial fracture and will now begin a long-term recovery.
“It’s just a terrible thing when you see somebody get hurt like that,” Desjardins said. “It’s a great game, we love the game and we love how hard it plays. But you forget how vicious the game is sometimes. Dan said two games before that (a shot) went right by his visor. He said he didn’t see it, he heard it go by. That happens on a regular basis and it’s probably surprising that more guys don’t get hit.”
Hamhuis was hit above the mouth by a short-range slapshot taken by Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle.
Many players on the ice were in shock when Hamhuis got injured. As tough as hockey players are, it was obvious something was seriously wrong when Hamhuis lay face down on the ice, kicking his legs. He was helped off the ice, leaving a trail of blood on the ice. He was then taken by ambulance to the hospital.
Canucks defenseman Matt Bartkowski said he had never “seen that much blood, that quickly, on the ice ever.”
Canucks goalie Ryan Miller also spoke about the injury.
“When you see something like that, it’s shocking,” Miller said. “You feel really bad for Dan. It’s really painful and it’s going to be some intensive surgeries to get everything back to looking like Dan.”
WARNING: Some may find this video very graphic.
Logan Couture will be out of action indefinitely after having surgery Thursday to repair a small arterial bleed in his right leg, according to a statement released by the San Jose Sharks.
Couture sustained the injury in the second period of the Sharks’ game against the Oilers on Wednesday. It was Couture’s second game after missing 23 games due to a fractured ankle, an injury he sustained October 15 against the New Jersey Devils.
“It’s unfortunate for Logan,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer told the San Jose Mercury News. “This is a guy that worked his tail off to get back. Another fluky thing he’s dealing with. But when it rains it pours. Hopefully this will be the end of it and we’ll have a healthy Logan Couture in the second half once he gets through it.”
Couture sent out the following tweet about the matter. “It has been a very difficult 4-month stretch personally. Really just a quick thanks to everyone for the support through this, means a lot.”
The Sharks have recalled Ryan Carpenter from the team’s AHL affiliate. Carpenter has two goals and 18 points in 20 AHL games this season.
Featured image credit: Don Wright-Associated Press