ANAHEIM, Calif. — It was not a media availability that I expected on Monday. Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jeff Carter, who was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career on Saturday, spoke with the media. We also did a deeper dive into the immediate future of other Penguins forwards, Jake Guentzel and Rickard Rakell, and if they fit into the Penguins’ long-term plans. There is increasing panic in Edmonton, where the Oilers look like a lottery team instead of a Stanley Cup contender, fans want Senators head coach D.J. Johnson to be fired, and when will the San Jose Sharks hit the NHL trade market to make changes?
Something must be wrong with me. I prefer Edmonton to SoCal. I prefer Anywhere/Everywhere to Florida. Columbus and Philadelphia are a couple of my favorite road trips. For some Vitamin D, I thought about hitting the beach Monday afternoon, but the closest one was closed because — get this — aggressive shark activity.
So, I treated myself to writing an extra-long Jeff Carter article and a chicken breast at Buffalo Wild Wings. Oh yeah, I’m living large on this trip!
Before we get into the Penguins’ day at the Anaheim practice facility, there were a couple of things I’d like to share. The 12- and 13-year-old youth hockey team scampered over in full pads because they heard Sidney Crosby was practicing. One yelled to another, and in a moment, the entire team ran to the glass to watch. “It’s Sidney Crosby!”
Goalie Magnus Hellberg was in the net to their right. He got a kick out of the kids as he waved to them while the team got instructions for the next drill.
Also, I have immense respect for Jeff Carter. He could have blown off the media, but he accepted the request to speak despite the negative circumstances. He faced it head-on. I can’t say I would have handled our questions with the same humor and grace.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguins Q&A only had two questions. We had more, but I chose to focus on two (otherwise, I could have written a few thousand words). Rickard Rakell is off to an achingly slow start, and Jake Guentzel will be a UFA. Could Rakell be on the NHL trade block? And what about goalie Tristan Jarry, too? Here’s the Penguins Q&A.
Sullivan said John Ludvig and Alex Nedeljkovic are skating back in Pittsburgh. That was the Penguins news on Monday.
And the big story. Sullivan and Carter addressed the situation, though the heavier truth sort of hung in the air unsaid. It feels like both sides are getting to the finality of a pretty darned good career, but slowly. You can see the raw video in the Jeff Carter story.
NHL Trade, News & National Hockey Now
San Jose Hockey Now: Credit Sharks GM Mike Grier for stepping to the plate. Monday afternoon, he took the heat for his team after coach David Quinn gathered the boys at center ice. Grier both apologized to Sharks fans and laid down the law for his team, “This can’t go on much longer.” Changes could be coming to the San Jose Sharks.
It appears very few players want to be in San Jose. That’s how they are playing. Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture could fetch a lot of love on the NHL trade block, at least when Couture is healthy. I also wonder — if Grier sees Kyle Dubas’s number on caller ID, how many rings before he rejects the call?
Sportsnet: Senators fans are booing and calling for D.J. Smith’s job. Brady Tkachuk tried to confront and quell the jeers, but it doesn’t seem to have worked.
Want to know a secret? This trend of chanting for coaches to be fired is a lot of people who really want to have a say and are taking out their frustrations on a scapegoat. As the professional saying goes, if you listen to the fans, you’ll soon sit among them. The tactic is quickly becoming overused.
TSN: The Oilers had a meltdown. Coach Jay Woodcroft was tossed. Leon Draisaitl got a misconduct. The Oilers lost to the Canucks. That’s Edmonton’s eighth regulation loss in 11 games. The Oilers are coming apart at the seams.
The Province: While Edmonton craters, the Vancouver Canucks are surging. Rick Tocchet seems to have the train on the right track, and they are playing pretty good hockey. Tocchet is pushing buttons, and the team is stockpiling wins.
Philly Hockey Now: Important injury updates on Sean Couturier and Carter Hart.
Carolina Hockey Now: Goalie Freddie Andersen is out indefinitely. During a physical, doctors found a blood clot. The team moved quickly and signed Jaroslav Halak to a PTO. The Carolina Hurricanes news.
And it sounds like Carolina is putting a player or two on the NHL trade block.