In this morning’s roundup of notable early morning NHL headlines: Chris Pronger makes an impressive return to the Flyers…Patrick O’Sullivan hopes to get his NHL career back on track…Andrej Sekera takes nothing for granted on the Sabres blueline…Red Wings’ Brendan Smith awaits disciplinary decision…Jacob Markstrom wins backup role with Panthers.
PHILLY.COM: Flyers captain Chris Pronger made a successful return to action after a four-surgery season, keying the club to a 2-1 preseason victory over the New Jersey Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was considerable concern over Pronger’s health and how it would impact his performance this season. While one preseason game does not a season make, it’s still a promising start.
ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Patrick O’Sullivan hopes to get his NHL career back on track this season with the Phoenix Coyotes. Since netting 22 goals and 53 points in his first full NHL season in 2007-08, O’Sullivan has struggled, bouncing among several NHL teams before landing with the Coyotes this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Playing for Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett, who is widely liked and respected by those who’ve played for him, could be just the tonic for O’Sullivan.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: Defenseman Andrej Sekera may have re-signed a four-year, $11 million contract with the Sabres, but given their now-deeper blueline, he’s taking nothing for granted. Sekera hopes to perform with better consistency this season.
CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith awaits his fate today, as league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan is expected to rule today on a nasty shoulder check to the head of Blackhawks right wing Ben Smith during a recent Blackhawks-Red Wings game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looking at the video, it appears this will be a suspension, but that’s up to Shanahan to decide. It certainly seemed to be a targeted hit to the head.
**Update** Brendan Smith has been suspended for the remainder of the preseason and the first five games of the regular season.
MIAMI HERALD: Jacob Markstrom has won the backup role with the Florida Panthers over Tyler Plante. The role became open when Scott Clemmensen underwent minor knee surgery, and could be sidelined for several weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Markstrom seizes this opportunity, it could create an interesting situation in goal for the Panthers. It would be hard to justify demoting him when Clemmensen is ready to return if he plays well.