Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Yzerman Has The Final Say On Mantha’s Return

(12/13/2019)

from Ansar Khan of Mlive, “We just want to make sure we’re putting him in the right position, but he certainly has tested it and feels good about it,” Blashill said. “I anticipate that he’ll play, but until I chat with Steve, I just want to make sure.” Mantha is eager to return. “I wouldn’t be saying I was ready to go if I wasn’t,” Mantha said. “It’s still earlyish in the season and I can risk it. I feel perfectly fine, the (test) results are good, and I did off-ice testing (Thursday) and everything was good, so I don’t see a reason why I wouldn’t be in except we’re starting two-in-two (games) these next two days.”... If Mantha plays Saturday, Blashill said they’ll see how he feels before deciding whether to play him Sunday at home against Los Angeles. “You don’t love, necessarily, putting him in back-to-back, but we’ve had so many guys out you just love the fact he wants to play,” Blashill said. “Obviously, it’s Montreal. I get it. If he’s sore, we’ll be precautionary.... Blashill said he anticipates Athanasiou returning after missing two games with an undisclosed injury. Dylan Larkin did not practice Friday, having been sick the past couple of days, but he’ll play Saturday, Blashill said.... Jonathan Ericsson, injured in Thursday’s game, is doubtful for Saturday, but Blashill said, “He’d like to push to try to play, so we’ll see.” more

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Tim Thomas Is A Survivor

(12/13/2019)

from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, The first question for Tim Thomas at the Marriott Marquis was as basic as it gets. The former Bruin and one-time greatest goaltender on the planet was asked what the honor of being inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame meant to him. But as he immediately hinted at the emotion welling up inside of him, it was clear that this was not going to be a boilerplate media scrum with the ever-thoughtful Thomas. In a session marked by tears — and a few laughs, as Thomas himself did his best to lighten the mood — the goalie described a living hell that he’s been going through since suffering a concussion in his final NHL season in Florida and Dallas, his complicated relationship with the game that once was all-consuming and, later with a just a couple of familiar reporters, his fleeting thoughts of suicide. “I’m a survivor,” said Thomas prior to the induction dinner. That was not a boast, but rather a declaration of gratitude of what could have, but did not befall him, having avoided the fate of deceased hockey players that he knew such as Steve Montador, Derek Boogaard and Wade Belak. Though he still needs a couple hours each morning to “re-order things,” he has started to feel like himself in just the past couple of years. While Thomas did not know how many concussions he had suffered during an active lifetime that’s included boxing on the street in Flint, Michigan, playing football and, of course, hockey, the one that sent him for a tailspin occurred while he was with the Panthers in 2013-14 when, in warmups, he took a puck off the chin. continued