The Florida Panthers have sent Michael Hutchinson back to the minor leagues, indicating that Roberto Luongo is ready to get back into the crease. The veteran goaltender has been dealing with a lower-body injury, and is a huge part of the Panthers’ chances of competing for a playoff spot this year. When he’s healthy and on the ice the team looks almost completely different, despite his .902 save percentage.
Luongo is just 19 games behind Patrick Roy for second on the all-time games played list, and just nine behind Ed Belfour for third on the wins list. Those kind of numbers are going to make him a lock for the Hall of Fame, but it’s the Stanley Cup that remains just out of reach. Luongo will turn 40 in April, but has amazingly only been to the playoffs seven times and has just 70 postseason appearances under his belt. If that number is to increase the Panthers are going to have to put it together in the second two-thirds of the season.
- As expected, the Philadelphia Flyers have hired Rick Wilson as an assistant coach for the remainder of the season. Wilson, a long-time NHL assistant, had previously been hired by new GM Chuck Fletcher in his previous job for Minnesota. Head coach Dave Hakstol’s job appears to be safe for now, but it seems likely that Fletcher will re-evaluate the entire staff after the season.
- Two players have earned suspensions in the AHL. Dennis Gilbert of the Rockford IceHogs has been suspended three games for an illegal check to the head, while Alex Gallant of the Chicago Wolves is out for the next two games after earning a match penalty in Sunday’s game. Gallant, a 25-year old undrafted forward, has been suspended multiple times in the past by the AHL and doesn’t have a single point yet this season. Gilbert on the other hand is a third-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in his first professional season.