Since Friday last, the speculation on the nature of Jeff Skinner's undisclosed injury seemed to focus on numerous views and reviews of a hit delivered by Andy Sutton in Edmonton in the final minutes of the game there last Wednesday. [Link to video.]
Today, the Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford confirmed the team's doctors had determined that Skinner was concussed. He also had the same diagnosis to report for Joni Pitkanen, who left the game in Calgary the night prior and returned to Raleigh last week.
When interviewed on 99.9 the Fan this afternoon, Rutherford added that Jay Harrison, who has been out since Thanksgiving, was also recovering from a concussion. It's possible Harrison will be cleared to play Sunday when the team travels to Florida.
All the links from Raleigh, reaction across the League, Muller's early reviews, plus stories on the Hurricanes prospects making news around the world.
Today's news from Raleigh
- Canes GM Rutherford discusses Skinner and Pitkanen's concussions - WRALSportsFan.com [10 minute audio] ★★★★★ or read the accompanying text of the highlights.
- Rutherford on concussions: 'You hate it for the players' - Chip Alexander, Canes Now "...you hate it for the players," Rutherford said. "And especially with a young player such as Jeff at this point in his career. He's a player who plays so hard and loves the game so much." ★★★★★
- Asking the GM, "what now?" Skinner, Pitkanen out with concussions - Kirk Dusterberg, NHL.com ★★★★
"There aren't any forwards out there on the trade market that could come in here and make a difference in our team," Rutherford said. "I know first-hand because I've been on the phone for three weeks, not only looking with a potential injury, but because we're a team that's potentially short a couple forwards to be one of the good teams.
"We just have to work together as a team and work our way out of the situation we're in and deal with the present."
- Skinner, Pitkanen have concussions - Kurt Dusterberg, HurricanesBeat.com ★★★ "We've got guys in the system we've been developing. We've talked about bringing younger players in, and that's where we will look to."
Almost as a footnote, the N&O's Chip Alexander tweeted that veteran back-up goaltender Brian Boucher would be out a couple months after a lower body injury that occurred at the end of practice in Calgary last Monday. Justin Peters, who cleared re-entry waivers and was recalled to Raleigh today, may be here longer than we originally thought.
Rutherford said Boucher likely out another couple of months. Said would not look to acquire another backup. "We'll stick with our guys."
Reaction to the news across the League
- Of course Skinner and Pitkanen and Harrison are not the only ones: Sorry NHL, concussions won't just go away - Cam Cole, National Post ★★★★ When the sun came up Wednesday morning, the world’s best hockey player, Sidney Crosby, the NHL’s leading scorers in both points (Claude Giroux) and goals (Milan Michalek), one of its most enduringly great defencemen (Chris Pronger), its 2010-11 rookie of the year (Jeff Skinner), and a host of other high-profile stars (Mike Richards, Kris Letang, Andy McDonald, Marc Staal) were all plagued by concussions.
The NHL All-Concussion Team would win a lot of games - Puck Daddy Seriously - this is something. ★★★★★
- NHL concussion tracker - USATODAY.com Photos Apologies for the annoying opening video ad - but still quite a powerful slideshow to see the breadth NHL talent sidelined by concussions this season. ★★★★
Hurricanes lose Skinner, Pitkanen to concussions - TSN.ca ★★★★ AP Story has several quotes from the players reacting to the news.
- Well put. Skinner, Pitkanen join "out indefinitely with concussion" list | ProHockeyTalk Come on. I mean, really — this is getting stupid.
Looking at Muller 7 games in
- Canes Battling Injuries, Consistency - Michael Smith, Tracking the Storm "They understand the X’s and O’s of it. So now we’re preaching accountabiliuty of doing it every shift," Muller said. "We’re looking for consistency. I thought last night is a good game to build on that." ★★★
- Muller the second consecutive 'nice guy' behind the Carolina Hurricanes' bench - Vancouver Province ★★★★
- A Thunder Bay writer on how Muller is connecting with their homeboy Eric Staal, now bringing Improved play - Thunder Bay newswatch.com ★★★★
- 30 Thoughts - Elliotte Friedman, CBC Sports - Items 21 and 22 (below) are highly pertinent, but do read #28 too. ★★★★★
21. Kirk Muller has a lot of fans. The one question, though, is: What will his system be? "We know he'll get his team to work hard," one GM said. "We know he'll have a good rapport with players. But we're not sure how his teams will play."
22. Karl Alzner said earlier this year that Eric Staal was the unluckiest player in the NHL. "Every time I see him, he's hitting the post or getting stopped by a great save." While that may be true, his low numbers were affecting his play. A few coaches/GMs saw Staal cheating offensively because he so badly wanted to score. That would explain the bad plus/minus.
Practice Notes: I made it to practice today. There were only 10 skaters and the versatile Jorge Alves served as practice goalie, giving Cam Ward the day off. Jay Harrison was one of four defensemen with Jamie McBain, Justin Faulk, and Derek Joslin . Six forwards participated: Tuomo Ruutu, Tim Brent, Drayson Bowman, Andreas Nodl, Jiri Tlusty and Anthony Stewart . Kirk Muller was not on the ice; instead, John MacLean led the drills with Rod Brind`Amour and Dave Lewis also actively contributing. The practice was really about skills, (puckhandling, passing, skating agility, etc) and not so much about full team play. Practice lasted about 45 minutes.
The unusual case for Justin Faulk
- On the impending matter of the World Juniors Tournament: Faulk gets one answer, awaits another - Canes Now "(Ron Francis) asked me if I had any preference on it and I said I didn't really want to be the one making that decision," Justin Faulk said. "I'll leave it up to them."
- Faulk's participation is generating some great discussion: 2012 WJC Roundup: Making a Case for Faulk; Canada’s Roster - The United States of Hockey in which Chris Peters delves into the options for the Canes: ★★★★★
However, I spoke with a gentleman at Monday’s U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame ceremony who has a very close knowledge of this tournament and he made an awfully compelling case for Faulk to join Team USA. That got me to thinking. Could it be potentially beneficial for all parties if Faulk were released?
- 'Canes not ready to decide on Faulk release for WJC - Mike Morreale, NHL.com Rutherford went on to say that "this will be a tough decision for us. As much as we would like him to participate in the WJC, he is playing as a top-four defenseman with our club at this time."
- And just cuz: Meet the NHL's Fa(u)lk-ers - CBC Sports explaining that there are two of them: Justin Falk and Justin Faulk - all sorted out. ★★★
World Juniors is getting closer. The tournament opens on December 26th with many games over the following week set to be broadcast on the NHL Network.
One surprise early this morning: Canes 2011 first round pick Ryan Murphy did not make the cut for Team Canada's WJC roster.
- MORNING ADD: He seems to have an excellent grasp on the circumstances and the most positive way to respond. Good on him!:Ryan Murphy takes world junior snub in stride - CBC.ca ★★★★
- WJC2012: Ryan Murphy tops list of Canada’s notable cuts - Buzzing The Net - Yahoo! Sports This is fascinating (for WJC junkies at least) ★★★★★
- Canada makes final cuts for World Junior Championship team - NHL.com leads with Murphy as the surprise of the morning. ★★★
- From the hometown paper near Kitchener, The Waterloo Record - Murphy is an offensive defenceman and tried to show he could play defence too. ★★★
"I kind of look back at it and wish that I was playing like myself," Murphy said. "Maybe I didn’t have to change my game, maybe I just have to be aware of other aspects of my game."
"It’s pretty difficult," Murphy said. "Getting woken up at 6 a.m. is not the easiest thing and knowing it’s you and not your roommate is also not an easy thing. I’ll be back next year maybe and hopefully make the team then."
- This was linked in the comments earlier this week. Even more relevant today: Fun for juniors ... until the phone rings - Edmonton Sun ★★★★
Like Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers. "It goes by so fast. And then you’re saying goodbye," he said. "When you get here, it’s a dream come true.
"Growing up, every Boxing Day, I sat on the couch watching the World Junior. And then you go to camp and experience this and start to think you’re pretty close and then ..." Then the phone rings. "My heart just dropped," said Murphy.
- Big NHL names who never made the cut for a world junior team - thestar.com It’s hard to believe now, but players like Eric Staal, Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy and Cam Ward were never selected for a Canadian entry at the world junior championship. ★★★★
- Jeff Skinner never went either - though he did play for Hockey Canada's Mens team in the World Cup last Spring. Some comments on the WJC from Skinner last week here: Canada’s best will be missing from world junior hockey championship - The Globe and Mail ★★★★ Instead of wearing the Maple Leaf, Skinner is preparing to play the Toronto Maple Leafs in NHL action Tuesday night. And though this is exactly where the Markham, Ont., native wants to be, Skinner will concede that there is a small part of him that wishes, just once, he could have played the world juniors.
- Swiss call 33 players for WJC Evaluation camp - IIHF.com The Canes 2011 pick Gregory Hofmann among 19 forwards on the list.
The USA Hockey camp opens this weekend, apparently waiting till most of their invites are through college exams. In addition to Justin Faulk, Canes 2010 pick Austin Levi was invited to attend.
Other talent in the pipeline
but not even in the WJC conversation
- Defenseman Alt Named WCHA co-Offensive Player of the Week - GopherSports.com Canes 2010 draft pick Mark Alt led all WCHA players with five points (2g-3a) last weekend. LATE ADD: Even more impressive than this recognition from the WCHA, Alt makes PuckDaddy's Hockey Hugs at #4. Congrats, Mark! (Bet he is so glad he's not playing football in Iowa.)
- Surging Whalers Crack BTN's Dynamic Dozen - Plymouth Whalers The Whaler's #1 goalie is Scott Wedgewood who will be with Team Canada for the WJC week. In the interim Canes 2011 goalie pick "Matt Mahalak being second in the league in GAA, they should handle the absences well enough."
- Excellent Q&A Frederik Andersen taking SEL by storm - Hockey's Future ★★★★ (Andersen's too old for WJC - but is the leading men's goalie in Denmark Hockey)
HF: What kind of contact and feedback have the Canes held/shared with you thus far? For example, have they expressed certain expectations or long term plans?
FA: I believe they technically have time until the next draft to sign me, so I can't really do anything about things on that front now and thus, I'm going to continue focusing on my game here in Frolunda. If I were to think too much about it, I probably wouldn't be able to play well here.
This and that
- Oh Say, Can Jussi .... When sports fans alter national anthems - The Globe and Mail Crowds altering pregame songs irks some, pleases others ★★★★★
- Hockey’s History, Woven With Violence - NYTimes.com It is one of sport’s biggest mysteries: how did hockey come to tolerate fighting? ★★★★★
- NHL Salary Cap 'Mules': Players Who Carry Teams To The Cap Floor - SBNation.com Ridding themselves of Kaberle wasn't as simple as putting him on waivers. They needed to find a trade where salary came back the other way ★★★★
- Georgia on my mind: As memories, landmarks fade, fans cope with loss of Thrashers | Atlanta Journal Constitution Still, last week’s Hurricanes-Jets game from Winnipeg registered an un-measurable ratings number: The game drew an Atlanta audience smaller than required for a 0.1 rating, or 2,400 households. ★★★★★