In today’s collection of notable NHL morning headlines:  Flyers captain Chris Pronger suffers eye injury…Kings Drew Doughty may be close to return….Hurricanes captain Eric Staal off to slow start…Avalanche center Matt Duchene hoping to snap out of early season slump…Penguins lose Milan Zbynek Michalek…Re-entry waivers could be hot topic in next round of NHL CBA talks.


Pronger sidelined by eye injury.

PHILLY.COM: Flyers captain Chris Pronger was struck close to his right eye by the stick of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski during the Flyers 4-2 victory over the Leafs on Monday.  GM Paul Holmgren said Pronger wasn’t hospitalized but after a thorough eye examination has been sent home for strict bed rest. “Pronger had a cut on his right eyelid, which caused swelling to the area. Now, the biggest fear is that blood could build up behind his eye in the form of a clot, which could cause permanent vision damage”, reports Frank Seravalli, who noted Pronger could be sidelined for at least 3-4 weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pronger’s injury would’ve been prevented had he been wearing a visor. Hopefully he won’t suffer any serious damage. Grabovski wasn’t penalized on the play because he was following through with his shot and inadvertently struck Pronger with his stick.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Injured Kings defenseman Drew Doughty has been practicing with his team, though he’s yet to be allowed contact. It’s possible Doughty, who suffered a shoulder injury back on October 15th, might be ready to play this coming weekend.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s good news for the Kings, who’ve won three straight games since Doughty’s injury, plus the game in which he was hurt, but they’re a better team with him in the lineup.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Hurricanes captain Eric Staal is off to a slow start, with 3 goals, four points and a plus-minus of -10. One reason is no one has yet been found who has the same chemistry with Staal as he enjoyed with Erik Cole, who signed with Montreal this summer. It’s also possible he might be distracted by the plight of his brother, NY Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, who remains sidelined by post-concussion symptoms resulting from a hit Eric threw on Marc during a Hurricanes-Rangers game last March.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Concern over his brother is probably one factor, but I daresay the inability thus far to find the right linemates for Staal is the biggest reason for his early season slump.

DENVER POST: Center Matt Duchene, recently demoted to the Avalanche’s fourth line, is vowing to return to form. Duchene only has a goal and three assists in his first eight games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: One would’ve expected Duchene to have that kind of slump last season, in his sophomore year. He admits he’s a slow starter, so it probably won’t be long until he returns to his high-scoring ways.

POST-GAZETTE: Defenseman Zbynek Michalek will be sidelined four-six weeks with a broken finger on his right hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yet another injury for the Penguins, who are currently missing Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Tyler Kennedy, though they recent got rugged defender Brooks Orpik back from injury. Remains to be seen how Michalek’s absence affects the Penguins, who’d done a fine job despite missing several key players this season.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The subject of re-entry waivers could be a hot topic in the next round of CBA talks. Some teams, notably the NY Rangers, use waivers to bury high-priced players (like Wade Redden, Sean Avery and Sheldon Souray) in the minors to clear their cap space from their books. Redden said he’d lobby to have the re-entry rule – whereby a team must clear re-entry waivers before being recalled, where if claimed by a rival club his salary would be split between the two teams – changed to ensure it no longer keeps players like him buried in the minors.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The issues of burying big contracts in the minors is likely going to be changed in the next round of collective bargaining. Small market clubs cannot afford that option, and players like Redden certainly don’t like it. Re-entry waivers allows teams to split salary, but it hasn’t been a popular options.