By Ryan Black, Sports Talk Philly staff writer
In just a couple of days, the long wait will be over. NHL hockey will kick off with 4 games on Wednesday night. As teams ready-up their rosters for the regular season, let’s take a final look around the league before the games start to count.
Weber Takes the 'C' in Montreal
Shea Weber will be the 30th player to wear the 'C' for the 101-year-old franchise, assuming the role after the Canadiens traded Max Pacioretty to the Las Vegas Golden Knights in September. Weber, who arrived in the summer of 2017 when the Habs shipped P.K. Subban to Nashville in exchange, has had a rough start in Montreal. After a strong first season in the bleu-blanc-rouge, the bulky defender played only 26 games last season while dealing with a lingering foot injury.
And Weber still won’t debut his newly-decorated uniform for a few months. In July, it was announced that he would undergo knee surgery to repair a meniscal tear, a procedure that typically requires five-to-six months of recovery time. If Weber stays on track, he may see the ice again in December.
Weber also served as captain of the Predators before he was traded, and his current and former team alike are hoping that Weber can put his injury woes behind him. The 33-year-old defenseman still has eight years left on the colossal 14-year, $110 million deal drafted by the Flyers as an offer sheet in 2012. Because Nashville is the team that actually signed the contract, it could hypothetically be on the hook for a staggering cap recapture penalty if their former asset retired early.
Hartsy Calls it Quits
After 17 NHL seasons, veteran forward and beloved former Flyer Scott Hartnell announced his retirement from the league on Monday. Hartnell saw limited time last season playing for Peter Laviolette’s Nashville Predators, but still managed 13 goals and 11 assists in 62 games.
Hartnell began his career in Nashville, joining the Flyers after they traded for his free agency rights in the summer of 2007. Philly fans will remember the personality he displayed through his 7 hard-working seasons in the orange and black, where he contributed mightily to the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup Finals run and posted a career-high 37 goals during the 2011-12 campaign.
The left winger retires with 707 points, including 327 goals, through 1,249 regular season games played.
Wilson Throws Another Questionable Hit
Capitals winger Tom Wilson, fresh off a Stanley Cup victory and an eyebrow-raising 6-year, $31 million contract extension, might find himself at the whim of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety once again.
During his team’s final preseason game against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday, Wilson threw a hard blindside hit that may’ve hit Oskar Sundqvist directly in the head. The incident drew an ejection, and Wilson has received criticism from pundits and players alike.
“We’ve talked about it a lot with him. He still chooses to make those hits…I just don’t know how many opportunities you need. Obviously the point hasn’t been made yet,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. A jaw-breaking Wilson hit on Zach Aston-Reese during last year’s playoffs broke the young Penguin’s jaw.
Despite being the most-penalized player in the NHL since entering the league in 2013, Wilson has only been suspended 3 times.
Islanders Launch Alternate Jersey
The New York Islanders became the 14th team in the league to introduce a third jersey today, rolling out a predominantly-blue kit that looks like an update of the alternates that the team wore in 2014-15. The new jersey features the same squared-off shoulders seen on a number of Adidas uniform templates, and it carries a stripped-down “NY” letter mark with 4 orange tape marks on the hockey stick “Y” to represent the franchise’s 4 Stanley Cups.