Updates from the Canadian and American Men’s Olympic orientations camps, Alexander Ovechkin models Russia’s Olympic jersey, and the latest on Evgeni Malkin, Brad Richards, Dan Girardi, Mikhail Grabovski and Mike Komisarek.
CBC.CA: Adjusting to a bigger ice surface will be a priority for Team Canada in the Sochi Olympics, as the club engaged in a friendly game of ball hockey during its orientation camp. Another invitee, San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, canceled his trip to the orientation camp owing to the illness of his two-month old son River. Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux was forced to miss camp due to a hand injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: High insurance costs are why Team Canada (and Team USA) are unable to engage in on-ice scrimmages. Ball hockey is a good way for the players to bond. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for Thornton’s young son.
SPORTSNET.CA: Goaltending depth won’t be an issue for Team USA, with Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick, Jimmy Howard, Cory Schneider and Craig Anderson attending their orientation camp. Miller backstopped the Americans to a silver medal in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Team USA GM David Poile admitted Minnesota Wild forward Jason Pominville (who holds dual American-Canadian citizenship) probably should have been invited to their orientation camp, and acknowledged Pominville will be scouted during the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Team USA will certainly hold an edge in goaltending, which could make the difference at the Sochi Games. As for Pominville, he could play his way onto a spot with Team USA.
SPORTSNET.CA: Alexander Ovechkin recently modeled the new Olympic jerseys for Russia’s Men’s Olympic hockey team.
SPORTSNET.CA: Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin good-naturedly “fought” a seven-year-old player during a recent charity game in Russia.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Brad Richards believes the club’s off-season coaching change (replacing John Tortorella with Alain Vigneault) will be good for him and the team. Relations between Richards and Tortorella became strained during last season, with Richards becoming a healthy scratch during the Blueshirts final two playoff games last spring. Richards said he’s “reached out” to Tortorella but there’s been no further communication between the two.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Last season was the worst in Richards NHL career, leading some critics to suggest Tortorella was at fault. We’ll find out this coming season if a coaching chance was all that was needed to rejuvenate Richards career.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: NY Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi will wear a visor for the first time in his NHL career this season. The reason could be the serious eye injury suffered last season by teammate Marc Staal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s as good a reason as any.
WASHINGTON POST: Former Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke sang the praises of former Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski, who was bought out by the Leafs earlier this summer by Burke’s successor. Burke called Grabovski, who recently inked a one-year deal with the Capitals, a “class act” and believes he’ll be a good fit with the Capitals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Grabovski has a strong “bounce-back” performance, and the players signed by the Leafs as a result of buying out his contract (David Clarkson or Tyler Bozak) struggle, the Leafs could end up regretting the buyout.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Former Maple Leaf defenseman Mike Komisarek is hoping to get his NHL career back on track with the Carolina Hurricanes. Komisarek was demoted by the Leafs last season and received a compliance buyout in June. He signed a one-year, $700K contract with the Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: High expectations and a series of injuries conspired to scuttle Komisarek’s performance with the Leafs. He could rebound in Carolina facing less pressure and with hopefully a healthier season.