Patrik Berglund will not be returning to the NHL this season. He won’t be playing any hockey at all, in fact. A month after the veteran forward was suspended by the Buffalo Sabres for failing to report to the team and then subsequently waived and terminated, Berglund has opened up to the local newspaper in his home town of Vasteras, Sweden. Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News dissected that article for North American audiences, filling in the gaps of the strange series of events that led to Berglund’s departure. Playing in his first season in Buffalo following the trade that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the St. Louis Blues, Berglund states that he “lost his passion and joy for hockey”. As a result, Berglund opted not to join the Sabres for a two-game road trip, which earned his suspension and eventually his release. Even though Berglund walked away from more than $12MM in the four remaining years of his contract, he doesn’t regret the decision, saying that his mental health means more than money right now. It is for that exact same reason that he has decided not to resume playing, in the NHL or in Europe, this season. Berglund did express remorse for leaving the Sabres short-handed – even if his termination does help the team long-term – and reiterated that the club and his teammates did nothing wrong. Instead, it simply seems Berglund was so disappointed in his exit from St. Louis that he lost the will to play. Berglund stated that “I hope I can find the joy to play again. Right now, I can’t tell whether I will play again or not. I’m in the process of healing.” A well-regarded two-way forward and only 30 years old, Berglund will have the opportunity to play again somewhere if he so chooses, but it seems that the decision of his next steps professionally is still a ways off.
- Lee Stempniak joined the Boston Bruins on a PTO in training camp this fall, but did not earn a contract. Yet, months later, he continues to practice with the team on a regular basis. At this point, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Stempniak will be earning a contract with the team once rosters expand for the stretch run and postseason, much like how the Bruins added Brian Gionta late last season. Stempniak, 35, is not the player he once was, but surely could have found employment overseas this season if not for the promise of a future payoff with Boston. Stempniak is just a year removed from an 82-game, 40-point season with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2016-17 and the year before that he recorded 51 points, including ten in 19 games with these same Boston Bruins. With the emergence of Peter Cehlarik over the past week as a good match on the second line with David Krejci and Jake Debrusk, paired with the additional option the signing of right-shot Stempniak would bring, the speculation is that the Bruins could be content with their second-line right wing situation and instead be focused on adding a third-line center at the trade deadline. However, given his familiarity with the roster and determination to return to the NHL, Stempniak could end up being the most valuable piece that the Bruins add in the coming weeks.
- The son of Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Niedermayer has made his college selection and it will turn some heads. Southern California-native Jackson Niedermayer has opted to stay close to home and has committed to Arizona State University. His current team, the BCHL powerhouse Penticton Vees, announced the decision, adding that Niedermayer expects to play two more seasons with the team before making the jump to the NCAA. Niedermayer, 17, had his season cut short by a hip injury this year, making his NHL Draft stock in his first year of eligibility a question mark. Nevertheless, his hockey genes and previous production at the U-16 level in California could be enough to earn a selection this year. Regardless of his draft status, when Niedermayer joins Arizona State, he will easily be the biggest name to have played for the fledgling independent program that is still gaining its foothold in college hockey.