Count Sam Gagner among the many of us surprised by his waiver placement and subsequent loan by the Vancouver Canucks. Sportsnet’s Luke Fox recently sat down with Gagner, now re-located to Toronto to play for the AHL’s Marlies this season, and found that the veteran forward “didn’t see it coming”. Just one year into a three-year, $9.45MM contract, Gagner said he was “shocked” that the Canucks had decided to move on so quickly. “I came to camp prepared, I had a really good summer of work, I did well on the [fitness] tests, I thought I played pretty well in pre-season…”, but it was all for naught, as Vancouver decided to move forward with their young players, leaving Gagner as the odd man out. To make matters worse, the Toronto native had just re-located his young family to Vancouver, only to get reassigned to Toronto, where he currently lives with his parents. Gagner has been a serviceable albeit streaky player throughout his playing days, but after this surprising and unfortunate shift in his career, one can only hope that a more permanent solution for Gagner and his family comes around sooner rather than later.
- TVA’s Renaud Lavoie reports that veteran defenseman Simon Despres has opted not to sign with the AHL’s Laval Rocket. Despres, a former first-round pick and NHL regular with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks, struggled with injuries and was more or less forced out of the league in recent years. After finally returning to full health last season and performing well with the KHL’s HC Slovan Bratislava, Despres expressed an interest in returning to the NHL this year. Interestingly, he specifically mentioned his interest in the relatively new AHL franchise in his hometown of Laval and signed a PTO with the Montreal Canadiens this summer in hopes of landing a two-way contract where he could play in Laval and potentially work his way onto the Habs’ roster. He fell short of that goal, but a one-way AHL contract with the Rocket seemed like the next-best thing. Instead, Lavoie indicates that Despres has chosen the unknown over minor league certainty. He has no plans for the season right now, but won’t be accepting an AHL contract and could certainly entertain offers back in Europe.
- The Philadelphia Flyers have announced their support group for captain Claude Giroux, naming their alternate captains for the season. Wayne Simmonds, an impending free agent but a fan favorite and respected veteran, will wear the “A” at all times this year. On the road, the elder statesman of the blue line, Andrew MacDonald, will serve as an alternate. Back at home, 2017-18’s breakout star Sean Couturier will be the other alternate. With a substantial number of young players playing key roles for Philly, their leadership corps has an important role to play if the Flyers are to be contenders this season.
- The Bruins have made things easier for Boston sports fans this Saturday. With the Boston Red Sox eliminating the New York Yankees in the ALDS on Tuesday night, the team moves on to the ALCS to face the Houston Astros with Game One taking place on Saturday night. The Bruins were also scheduled to play on Saturday night, facing the Detroit Red Wings at 7pm ET. However, the team announced that they have re-scheduled the game for 3pm ET to avoid the conflict with the Red Sox game. Head coach Bruce Cassidy recently spoke about his support for the Bruins’ baseball counterparts and the privilege of coaching in a city with so much fan support and success across all four major sports.