With the holiday week having come and gone as well as an NHL roster freeze, hockey news slows down quite a bit, yet there was plenty of news despite the three-game respite last week. Here are the five biggest stories of the past week:
World Junior Championships Get Underway: Perhaps even bigger than the NHL is the IIHF World Junior Championships that started on Dec. 26 and continues to be ongoing. The leagues top propsects or soon-to-be prospects find themselves competing in Ostrava and Trinec in the Czech Republic. All NHL teams have at least one representative at the tournament with several teams possessing a host of prospects. The Los Angeles Kings have nine prospects representing their organization, while the Arizona Coyotes have seven. Five teams have just one prospect at the tournament.
John McCarthy Retiring Due To Health Concerns: He only appeared in 88 career NHL games, but San Jose Sharks forward and a long-time minor league player for them, John McCarthy, announced his retirement due to health concerns. While he played in 18 games for the Barracuda this year, his season and career came to a halt after suffering an Ischemic stroke earlier this month. While he has made a complete recovery, those health concerns have ended his playing career. He was drafted by the Sharks back in 2006 and played for the Sharks’ organization his entire career and the Barracudas’ captain immediately took a coaching role with the team.
Brent Seabrook, Calvin De Haan Out For The Season: Just before play was supposed to resume after the Christmas hiatus, the Chicago Blackhawks announced that they are losing one-third of their defense. Two of their defensemen, Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan, will miss the season due to surgeries. Seabrook is expected to have surgery on both his hips, while de Haan will have shoulder surgery. De Haan has been a consistent part of the team’s defense, leading the team in hits and blocked shots. Seabrook has similar strengths, but has seen his playing time cut and has even been scratched three times so far this season. Regardless, these are tough losses for a franchise hoping to get back into the playoffs.
Alex Ovechkin To Skip NHL All-Star Game: For the second time in as many years, Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has announced that he will be skipping the NHL All-Star Game. Ovechkin was voted in as Metropolitan Division captain, but he told media Friday that he will skip the all-star festivities to rest up for the second half of the season. Of course, Ovechkin will be suspended one game for skipping the league event. He must miss either the game before the all-star break or the game after. The team faces the rival New York Islanders, suggesting that Ovechkin will likely opt to miss the game after the break against the Montreal Canadiens.
Multiple Toronto Maple Leafs Players Injured: The Toronto Maple Leafs suffered three injuries upon their return from break. The team first revealed that forward Trevor Moore would be out indefinitely due to a concussion. Moore had been out with a shoulder injury and had only appeared in one game before getting injured once again. The team then lost winger Ilya Mikheyev who suffered a lacerated wrist after New Jersey’s Jesper Bratt ran sliced it with his skate. He is expected to miss a minimum of three months as he heals from the injury. Only hours after that, the Maple Leafs announced that defenseman Jake Muzzin would be considered week-to-week after suffering a fractured foot in that same game against the Devils. With all those injuries, it should make the team’s challenging of working their way up the Atlantic Division standings just a bit more difficult.