Dustin L. Nelson The Hockey Writers
Nurse Out 3 Months, NWHL Departure & More News
Edmonton defender Darnell Nurse is going to miss up to 12 weeks of play after undergoing surgery to repair ankle ligament and bone damage. He hasn’t skated since suffering the injury on Dec. 1 in a win over the Winnipeg Jets.
After some struggles in his rookie campaign, Nurse got off to a strong start this season and was providing reliable depth for the Edmonton blue line. He hasn’t provided a ton of offense, recording three goals and five points in 25 games, but he’s been vastly improved defensively.
The current recovery timeline puts his return somewhere in March.
Briere, Murray Tapped for AHL All-Star Classic
The AHL All-Star Classic will be hosted by the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Monday, the league announced that Daniel Briere and Terry Murray will serve as honorary captains at the event. The honorary captain is with the team in the locker room and “coaches” on the bench.
Before cementing himself as an NHL fixture, Briere spent the majority of his first four professional seasons skating in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons. He won the Dudley “Red” Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s best rookie in the 1997-98 season. He also skated in the 1998 AHL All-Star Classic.
Murray, who is now an assistant coach with the Sabres, is a two-time winner of the Eddie Shore Award for the AHL’s best defenseman. He was given the honor in the 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons playing with the Maine Mariners, who won back-to-back Calder Cup championships in those years. He played 363 AHL games and was a three-time First Team AHL All-Star before becoming an NHL coach (15 seasons) and an assistant coach (11 seasons) at the NHL level. Murray also served as an AHL bench boss with the Baltimore Skipjacks (1988-90) and the Adirondack/Lehigh Valley Phantoms (2012-15).
The AHL All-Star Classic will take place Jan. 29-30 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Spacey in Space
While you can take the Kevin Spacey out of the Panthers, you can’t take the space out of them. They’re about to host a Star Wars theme night when they face the Buffalo Sabres on Dec. 20.
In honor of the occasion, the team has put together an impressive Star Wars-themed poster that features the ageless one as a Jedi master.
Also, sticks as light sabers? High five.
Bilic Leaves NWHL
Former Bemidji State defenseman Ivana Bilic has played her final games in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), the league announced via release Monday.
In mid-November, the NWHL announced that financial troubles would force the league to cut player salaries for the remainder of the season. Those cuts are reported to be in the 60-65 percent range by multiple players. That no doubt played a role in the 22-year-old’s decision to leave the league.
“We hoped every player would stay with us,” said NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan in a statement, “but we knew there could be departures after the announcement of necessary salary reductions, and we respect and understand those decisions. Ivana is an outstanding player and person and was a welcome addition to our league this season. We wish her all the best.”
It was Bilic’s first season with the league. She is the second player to depart following the announcement of salary cuts. Morgan Fritz-Ward, 22, of the New York Riveters announced her retirement on Dec. 2. She left the league because of the financial situation and to focus on school.
Odds & Ends
– Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook, who have both been out of the lineup for the Blackhawks, are traveling with the team to New York for Tuesday’s game against the Rangers. There is no official word on whether or not they’ll be able to lace up.
– Leading scorer for the University of Michigan, freshman Will Lockwood, is going to miss time with a shoulder injury, according to Wolverine 247. He was selected in the third round (64th overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Vancouver Canucks.
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