By Lori Bennett
The NHL has a new Iron Man. Now there is a statement that doesn’t exactly call to mind the image of Phil Kessel. That’s the moniker that can now be applied to the veteran goal scorer. On Monday, Oct. 24, the Vegas Golden Knights welcomed the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Kessel took to the ice for his 989th consecutive game. The feat tied the record held by retired defenceman Keith Yandle. Vegas won the game 3-1, and Kessel got an assist on the opening goal.
Then on Tuesday, the Golden Knights were in San Jose to face the Sharks and the record was broken in fine style. Kessel put an exclamation point on his 990th consecutive game by scoring his 400th career goal and leading Vegas to the win. Not too shabby, Phil.
The Montreal Canadiens beleaguered netminder Carey Price can only wish he had Kessel’s longevity. Price is currently on Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR), still feeling the impact of injuries and surgeries that have left him with residual pain. Price is not yet ready to announce his retirement, but also acknowledged his body would not allow him to play professional hockey any time soon. He admitted to being unable to carry his children up and down stairs without pain. Price said his current goal is to live pain-free day-to-day, but that he has not given up on winning a Stanley Cup at some point in the future, in some capacity.
The Habs are reportedly scouring the market for a veteran defenseman, preferably a right shot. On Wednesday, Oct. 26 they added Nicolas Beaudin, a left-handed defender, from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Cam Hillis. Both players are minor leaguers, but Beaudin is still believed to have NHL potential as an offensive defenseman. The Habs will see if they can pull a little more out of him, but the more likely outcome is that they will soon add again. The Habs are managing injuries to two of their top-four blueliners – recent trade acquisition Michael Matheson is still weeks away, but Joel Edmundson is back to practicing with the team
The Toronto Maple Leafs are also dealing with injuries. Jake Muzzin was placed on long term injured reserve this week, where he joins fellow defenders Timothy Lilegren and Jordie Benn, as well as goalie Matt Murray. The Leafs have not had a strong start, and injuries are a factor. That fact is not stopping fans from growing impatient with the lukewarm beginning to the season.
The Ottawa Senators have also run into some injury trouble. The Sens had an absolutely potent off-season, trading for Alex DeBrincat and Cam Talbot and signing Claude Giroux in free agency. Expectations were high that these additions, along with growth of their young players, could take the Sens to the next level. A couple of injuries put a damper on that. Talbot was the first to go down, and this week centre Josh Norris suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery and may keep him out the whole season.
Change has begun in Vancouver. With the Canucks opening the season with an 0-5-2 record and in last place in the Pacific, rookie general manager Patrik Allvin is open to any and all options to improve the team. The first move came on Thursday evening when the Canucks acquired 23-year-old centre Jack Studnicka from the Boston Bruins for AHL goalie Michael DiPietro and defence prospect Jonathan Myrenburg.
Studnicka is expected to land a roster spot immediately with Curtis Lazar injured and expected to be out for three to four weeks. The deal is a low risk move for Vancouver, but it’s not the kind of deal to place high hopes on. Perhaps the message got through, because right after the trade was announced the Canucks took to the ice against the Seattle Kraken and eked out their first win of the season. It was the 600th career win for Coach Bruce Boudreau.
Hockey insiders are reporting that the Canucks are open for business, that they are active on the trade market in search of a defenseman, and that they are a team to watch.
Blue Jays Babble
The Toronto Blue Jays off-season has begun, and some details are being taken care of. Management has removed the “interim” tag from Manager John Schneider and given him a three-year contract extension.
Some hurting players are getting their injuries addressed. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. had surgery on his hand and is expected to be ready for spring training. George Springer is recovering from a concussion and shoulder sprain suffered on the collision with Bo Bichette in game 2 of the Wild Card Series. He also underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow.
CFL Catch Up
The final games of the 2022 CFL season took place this weekend, but playoff berths had already been established.
In the East, the Toronto Argonauts have clinched first place and earned a bye into the East Final. The Montreal Alouettes will host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East semi-final on November 6th, and the winner will be in Toronto to face the Argos on November 13th.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers claimed first place in the West and will await the winner of the West semi-final. The Calgary Stampeders will be in B.C. to face the Lions in that contest on November 6th with the winner heading to Winnie on the 13th.
The Grey Cup will be held on November 20th at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan. The road there promises to be exciting.