Since being injured on December 6th, Matt Beleskey hasn’t skated with the team once – until now. Beleskey returned to practice today to the cheers of his teammates, though he still was in a non-contact sweater. According to Joe Haggerty of CSNNE, the 28-year old winger was skating alongside David Krejci and David Backes when he did get into some rushes; otherwise that spot went to Frank Vatrano.
Beleskey was originally given a six-week timeline, which would be up on Tuesday, which looks like a possibility for the Bruins forward. Late next week might be more realistic, with Friday against Chicago being a likely target.
- The Maple Leafs are back in action tonight after their bye week, and new backup Curtis McElhinney will wear #35 according to Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun. The Maple Leafs claimed McElhinney off waivers and are expected to give him his first start tomorrow against the Ottawa Senators.
- The Maple Leafs are playing tonight at Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers are honoring Steven McDonald, a former police officer who passed away Tuesday. He had been a big fan of the Rangers since he was shot in the line of duty 20 years ago, and the team honored him by wearing throwback sweaters in warm-up that had #104 on the back – the number of McDonald’s precinct. McDonald was paralyzed from the neck down in the shooting, but instead of despair he has spread a message of forgiveness since his injury. Adam Graves and Mark Messier were on hand to escort McDonald’s wife and son to center ice.
- In other pre-game ceremony news, the Tampa Bay Lightning retired Martin St. Louis’ number tonight with former head coach John Tortorella on hand to speak (Torts’ Columbus Blue Jackets are in town to face the Lightning). “He is a man who has been told ’no’ so many times in his career… I just have so much respect for him in how he did it.” Steven Stamkos also spoke about St. Louis, saying “He was, he still is, and he forever will be the heart and soul of this organization.”