The NHL’s 32 training camps open today and for hockey fans, it’s like Christmas morning.
In Las Vegas, the Golden Knights are allowing fans to attend practice at City National Arena for the first time since the pandemic began two years ago and the NHL had to shut down. General Manager Kelly McCrimmon said at his news conference Wednesday that the team is excited to welcome the fans back. For the uninitiated, the Knights routinely draw large crowds to their practices with fans usually bursting into a spontaneous “Go Knights Go!” chant during workouts. For the newest team members, Evgenii Dadonov, Nolan Patrick and Brett Howden, this will likely come as a bit of a shock as they’re used to skating in relative anonymity.
The other piece of big news coming out of Vegas was the entire team and staff are 100% vaccinated which McCrimmon made sure he mentioned to reporters at the start of his remarks.
One person who won’t be skating is Evander Kane. The San Jose Sharks forward was exonerated by the NHL Wednesday amid allegations by his estranged wife that he gambled on NHL games. However, Kane is being kept off the ice for training camp by the Sharks as the NHL looks into other allegations of domestic violence against him.
Around the NHL …
Sportsnet.ca: While many NHL teams are completely vaccinated, including the Golden Knights, Bruins and Islanders, some teams have lingering issues amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak. Both the Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers are not fully vaccinated and their GMs have voiced their concerns to Sportsnet.ca over those who are holding out on getting jabbed.
ESPN.com: The St. Louis Blues are undergoing a bit of a front office makeover. Part of the changes bringing back a familiar face, Ken Hitchcock, to serve as an advisor to the team’s coaching staff.
From the National Hockey Now Network:
VancouverHockeyNow: The Canucks will be a bit shorthanded at the start of training camp as they have been unable to come to terms with RFAs Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.
“They’re complex negotiations,” GM Jim Benning said. “They’re two real good young players, they’re important to our organization. We’ve had a lot of conversations with (agent) Pat Brisson to try and find common ground and we’ll continue to have those conversations.
“I think we’re getting close … we’re gonna be talking again this afternoon and hopefully we can get something done quick.”
BostonHockeyNow: According to colleague Joe Haggerty, the Bruins are giving underachieving forward Jake DeBrusk a clean slate and hope he can get back to being a productive member of the lineup.
FloridaHockeyNow: George Richards reports that Aaron Ekblad is fully recovered from his broken leg and is ready to go for the Panthers. That’s great news for the Cats, who believe they are ready to take the next step in their quest to compete for the Stanley Cup.
PittsburghHockeyNow: The Penguins will have some tough decisions to make in the coming months. Do they resign veterans Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang? Or do they do with them like they did with Marc-Andre Fleury and let them walk? Our Dan Kingerski explores the potential dilemma for GM Ron Hextall.
PhillyHockeyNow: On the other side of the Commonwealth, the Flyers are trying to figure out who is going to play where. Now that Nolan Patrick is gone, does that open the door for someone like Morgan Frost to center the second line? The Flyers are already dealing with injuries as Kevin Hayes and Wade Allison will miss the start of the season and defenseman Samuel Morin is also out with a knee injury. Colleague Ryan Gilbert tries to guess what the lines will look like in Philly.