Chris Pronger return to the ice…Marian Gaborik sides with Sidney Crosby on banning head shots…Travis Zajac on his recovery from torn Achilles tendon…Blues make Backes their new captain…Wellwood’s potential worth to Winnipeg…Hurricanes consider playing pre-season game in Atlanta…Families of Kings scouts who perished on 9/11 persevere…Lokomotiv might not play this season in KHL…Is Brad McCrimmon worthy of HOF?…Chris Nilan’s life documented in new film.
PHILLY.COM: Frank Seravalli reports Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger hit the ice on Friday for the first time since April 30th after receiving clearance from his doctor after two off-season surgeries. He won’t be ready, however, for the start of training camp and isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for the Flyers season opener against Boston on October 6th.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pronger intends to ramp up gradually as he doesn’t want to risk re-injury. My guess is the earliest for his debut could be mid-October.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks reports Rangers star Marian Gaborik agrees with Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby that head shots should be removed from the game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaborik joins Brad Richards and Dan Hamhuis in support Crosby. If more notable players speak up, the more likely the league will have to take this issue seriously, as it cannot afford to have its best players sidelined indefinitely, or have their careers prematurely ended, from concussion resulting from deliberate hits to the head.
NORTHJERSEY.COM: Tom Gulitti reports Devils center Travis Zajac faces an uncertain time frame for his return from surgery on August 18th to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Initial estimate was three months, but it’s possible it could take up to six months.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This could be a serious blow to the Devils offense for the upcoming season. Sure, they can shuffle players into that first line center role, but they might not be able to replace Zajac’s contributions.
ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH: Jeremy Rutherford reports the Blues have named forward David Backes as their new team captain.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An excellent choice. Backes was already a player who led by example, and by all accounts, is well-respected by his teammates.
WINNIPEG SUN: Ken Wiebe reports Kyle Wellwood continues to be dogged by an unflattering picture from several years ago which made him appear out of shape, but he could become a solid pickup for the Jets in a defensive role.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wellwood fat jokes have gotten old, but the best way for him to silence his critics once and for all is to play well and make himself invaluable to his team.
NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Luke Decock reports the Carolina Hurricanes are considering playing a pre-season game next fall in Atlanta as they jockey with the Nashville Predators for the remaining hockey fans in that market, which lost its NHL team to Winnipeg earlier this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes and Predators will probably get some fans to transfer their loyalties, but it’ll likely take a long time for the rest to get over losing their team. Some may never get over it.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: Helene Elliott reports the families of Kings scouts Garnet “Ace” Bailey and Mark Bavis continue to keep their memories alive via charities and scholarships in their names. Bailey and Bavis were among the passengers of United Flight 175, one of two jet liners crashed into the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The thoughts of the hockey world will be with their families on the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Matt Reitz cites Russian sports site Sovietsky Sports claiming the team owner of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl said his team will not compete in this season’s KHL schedule. All but one member of the roster were killed earlier this week in a plane crash.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The other KHL teams had volunteered players, plus several Russian free agents also volunteered to join Lokomotiv. Evidently, and understandably,the logistics of putting together a new team so soon after this tragedy was just too cumbersome, as well as difficult emotionally, for the team ownership, as well as the fans and the city.
PHILLY.COM: Frank Seravalli wondered if Brad McCrimmon’s NHL statistics were worthy of induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. McCrimmon was head coach of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, and was among those who perished when the team’s plane crashed in Russia earlier this week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCrimmon had a very good NHL career, both as a player and as an assistant coach, and was remembered fondly by those he played with and coached over the years. In my opinion, however, his stats are not worthy of induction into the HHOF. Not to be cruel, but if McCrimmon hadn’t died tragically, I doubt anyone would’ve been making any case for his induction. That’s not to besmirch his memory, just stating the fact.
NEW YORK TIMES: Michael Cieply reports a new documentary was recently screened at the Toronto International Film Festival which highlights the lives of hockey enforcers. Titled “The Last Gladiators”, it focuses heavily on the life of former enforcer Chris Nilan, following the dark years post-retirement as he battled alcohol and drug abuse.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: In the wake of the deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak, this film could be worth watching for further insight into the role of enforcers in the game and the aftermath once those players retire.