NHL trade deadline: Maple Leafs acquire center Brian Boyle from Lightning

The Maple Leafs have acquired center Brian Boyle from the Lightning in exchange for forward Byron Froese and a 2017 conditional second round pick.

Toronto was in the market for a bottom-six center, and reportedly had interested in Red Wings center Riley Sheahan.

Boyle has 13 goals and nine assists in 54 games this season but more importantly is regarded around the league as a tough, defensive-minded center who is solid on faceoffs.

Boyle has plenty of postseason experience that the Maple Leafs, the the second-youngest team in the NHL, can desperately use as well. He’s appeared in 100 postseason games with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers and Lightning over his 10-year career, and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Boyle is expected to be in the lineup on Tuesday when the Maple Leafs begin a three-game road trip against the San Jose Sharks.

No player is more important to his team’s success than McDavid. After missing 37 games with a broken collarbone last season, he has developed into not only the top young player in the NHL, but maybe even the game’s best player.

McDavid led the league in points (100) and assists (70). He’s is in the middle of everything the Oilers do. He was involved in a league-leading 41.1 percent of the Oilers’ goals this season. That’s four percentage points more than the second-best rate Kane contributed.

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I’ll give this one a solid B- because it makes a little sense for both teams.

Except there are a couple of catches. The first is that the Cubs already have five starting pitchers with a recent history of success. And while it’s easy for me to write, Just kick Lackey out of the rotation!, it’s a little trickier to convince the Cubs to give up some of their best prospects to do that, especially when they’ve just given up two of their best prospects to get Quintana.

The second catch is that Darvish is a rental, and he would possibly leave after the season, along with Arrieta and Lackey, with no obvious replacement ready within the organization. While the trade would also serve as a recruiting period for Darvish, who might be the Cubs’ preferred target anyway, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be hard for them to give up top prospects for two months of the regular season and however much postseason they’ll get to enjoy.

Lynn has quietly been one of the more consistent pitchers in baseball, with an adjusted ERA of 130 (2.99 ERA) over his last three seasons combined. He’s almost certainly better than Jason Hammel and Ian Kennedy, the two starters the Royals dumped money on during their last win-now frenzy, and he isn’t likely to cost something silly, like Hunter Dozier.

If the Royals aren’t going to win for a while, they probably wouldn’t mind giving up some prospects from the middle of their top 10 for a three-month rental who could help them get back to the postseason.

On the other hand, they’re just .500 and they’ll have a dozen holes to fill this offseason. Every young, cheap player is sacred.

I’ll give this one a solid B- because it makes a little sense for both teams. It loses points for a) not being mentioned in the danged article at all, and b) that part where the Royals dip into their farm system right the season before they’ll need their farm system more than ever.

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Justin Bieber bounces back from big hit by Chris Pronger

Justin Bieber swapped his superstar swag for skates on Saturday, and it worked out better than most would have imagined.

The 22-year-old pop singer and Ontario native put on an impressive performance during the NHL All-Star Celebrity Shootout as part of the NHL All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, but first received a warm welcome that included a taste of the Staples Center glass.

Bieber showed off some of his offensive skills before he was pinned against the glass by Coyotes defenseman Chris Pronger to create one of the greatest hockey photos of all time.

Rod Brind’Amour (No. 9) played two seasons for the Blues before being traded to the Flyers in a bad deal. He finished with 452 goals and 1,184 points in a near-Hall of Fame career. The Blues also picked defenseman Bret Hedican (No. 198) and tough guy Tony Twist (No. 177) in the Class of ’88.

Drafting two of the three best players in team history is a pretty nice haul. Vinny Lecavalier (No. 1) and Brad Richards (No. 64) both scored more than 900 points and were critical to the franchise’s 2004 Stanley Cup win.

The Maple Leafs have struggled to collect quality at times and almost always quantity in the draft. The two best options here are 1973, which included Lanny McDonald and Ian Turnbull, and 1970.

Darryl Sittler (No. 8) played for the Leafs for far longer than McDonald did, and finished with more than 1,100 points. Errol Thompson (No. 22), Gerry O’Flaherty (No. 36) and goalie Ron Low (No. 103) were also part of this class.

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Red Wings player loses temper, retaliates with brutal high stick

This was absolutely brutal.

During Sunday’s game between the Red Wings and Wild, Detroit forward Gustav Nyquist lost his temper after he was cross-checked by Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon.

Nyquist retaliated with a terrifying and vicious high-stick to the face of Spurgeon.

Two nights later, Stamkos scored to draw even with Crosby and Ovechkin by scoring his 48th, but the Penguins captain also tallied, pushing him back into the outright lead. The very next night, Ovechkin lit the lamp twice, giving him 50 on the season, and putting him one ahead of Crosby on the Richard leaderboard. A night after that, Stamkos scored twice, pulling him even with Ovechkin at 50, and setting up the final day of the NHL season: Stamkos 50, Ovechkin 50, Crosby 49.

Stamkos scored against the Panthers, his 51st of the season. Then, in dramatic fashion, Crosby got two against the Islanders, reaching 50 for the first time in his career while drawing even with Stamkos in the dying moments of the regular season.

The wait was finally over when Crosby and the Penguins took the ice for against the Devils Oct. 5, 2005. After the 2004-05 season, what would have been Crosby’s rookie year, was canceled due to a lockout, Pittsburgh and its teenage wunderkind traveled to New Jersey for his first true NHL action. And though the Penguins lost, Crosby got onto the scoresheet, recording his first career NHL point with an assist early in the third period on a Mark Recchi goal.

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NHL referee blurts several F-bombs into live mic during penalty call

As the old broadcasting adage goes, always assume the mic is hot.

NHL referee Frederick L’Ecuyer learned this the hard way during Thursday’s game between the Blue Jackets and Predators. L’Ecuyer skated to center ice to announce an interference penalty on Ryan Murray when he decided to share a few choice words with another player on the ice, forgetting his mic was live. You know the rest.

Crosby joined elite company in 2015 at the IIHF World Championship. Already with a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal to his name, Crosby and the rest of Team Canada traveled to the Czech Republic, looking to end an eight-year gold medal drought in the tournament.

With Crosby serving as captain, Canada flexed its international hockey muscles, out-scoring opponents 49-14 in the seven group games and 17-1 in the three knockout rounds. Canada defeated Russia 6-1 in the championship game, and Crosby had a goal and an assist in the winning effort. Crosby became the first player to join the triple-gold club (Stanley Cup, and Olympic and IIHF gold), having captained all three teams, and finished the tournament with 11 points in nine games.

Canada dominated the 2014 Winter Olympics, and did so without the goal-scoring services of Crosby, for the most part. Despite Crosby being held without a goal in Canada’s first five games, the defending Olympic champions were still rolling, outscoring their opponents 14-3.

But Crosby came through in the tournament’s biggest moment, giving Canada an insurance tally against Sweden and a 2-0 lead in the second period. Crosby broke in all alone on Henrik Lundqvist before sliding the puck past his left skate, his first goal of the 2014 tournament.

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Bruins’ team plane diverted due to Fort Lauderdale airport shooting

The Boston Bruins’ charter flight to Fort Lauderdale was diverted Friday afternoon following the shootings at the city’s airport.

The team issued a statement saying it landed at nearby Miami International Airport at 5:05 p.m. The Bruins are scheduled to play the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

The thoughts and prayers of the Bruins organization are with the victims of today’s shooting and the entire Fort Lauderdale community, the statement concluded.

This was an extremely difficult decision and was made with an enormous amount of consideration for what we have accomplished in our past, said Dan Beckerman, president and CEO of Kings parent company AEG. But the present and future of our organization is the highest priority.

Sutter, who was hired in December 2011, leaves with a 225-147-53 record in the regular season — the best by a coach in the franchise’s history — and a 42-27 record in the playoffs, another team high.

Lombardi, who also was president, had been the longest-serving general manager in Kings history, having been in Los Angeles since 2006.

Words cannot express our gratitude and appreciation for what Dean and Darryl have accomplished for the Kings franchise, Beckerman said. They built this team and helped lead us to two Stanley Cup Championships and will forever be remembered as all-time greats in Kings history.

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Hurricanes’ Bryan Bickell continues battle with MS, headed to AHL

Bryan Bickell’s battle against MS will continue in the AHL but with an eye toward the NHL.

The Hurricanes placed the veteran forward on waivers Thursday with the intent of assigning him to the Charlotte Checkers, the team announced.

The Checkers are scheduled for back-to-back games Friday and Saturday, the start of a six-game homestand a little more than two hours from Raleigh.

When the Stars announced the attendance for Saturday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals, they poked fun at the disputed number.

Trump claimed the media has lied about the number of people in Friday’s crowd. Trump press secretary Sean Spicer doubled down on Trump’s claim, saying Friday’s crowd was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, a statement that photographs clearly show to be false.

The largest crowd ever to attend an inaugural address is believed to occur in 2009 when an estimated 1.8 million people watched live as Barack Obama was sworn in as the nation’s first black president.

Why Trump has decided to continue his running war with the media over something as benign as an inauguration crowd is odd, but nobody should get bent out of shape over it. Just laugh about it and move on, as the Stars have taught us.

Joe Thornton, C ( Re-signed with Sharks ) With longtime teammate Patrick Marleau gone to Toronto, the Sharks upped the ante to keep Thornton in the fold with a one-year, $8 million deal. It’s a sigh of relief for San Jose to get Jumbo Joe back in the fold for another run at the Cup. He was courted by a number of teams along with Marleau. Not a bad 38th birthday present.

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He’s now working with Eric Cressey, who has worked with multiple Cy Young winners before

This one makes a lot of sense, given Sogard’s lack of production before 2017 mixed with Villar being responsible for the deepest hole in the Brewers’ lineup. Kinsler also isn’t in a situation like Justin Verlander where the money still owed to him is so huge that a deal seems unlikely even if it makes sense.

Kinsler to the Brewers is an A- rumor. It’s easy to believe it could happen, Kinsler is at a point in his career where the Tigers don’t really need to try to hold on to him any longer than they have, and the likelihood feels high given Milwaukee’s needs.

In his interview with The New York Times, Syndergaard says:

So much of what I’ve learned this year, is that I thought I was doing what I needed to be doing. But I realize now how messed up my body was, and I’m working hard to get it back to normal.

That includes doing too much yoga and Pilates, which he says were not exactly sports specific, focusing more on cardio, stretching to become a more well-rounded athlete, and working on his core strength and posture to avoid lower back tightness down the road.

He also qualified the amount of weightlifting he did, with previous estimates stating that he gained 17 pounds in muscle before spring training this year. Syndergaard says he wasn’t powerlifting but that when he was working with weights, certain things were incorrect about his form, especially in his lower body. He needs to build a better base to avoid such time away from the game in the future.

He’s now working with Eric Cressey, who has worked with multiple Cy Young winners before, and doing the Kinstretch program, which is a more athletic advanced yoga that helps with strength and flexibility.

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Sabres’ Kyle Okposo hospitalized in ICU; team ‘very concerned’

The Sabres are very concerned for forward Kyle Okposo, who is hospitalized and in intensive care with an undisclosed ailment.

WGR-AM 550 in Buffalo first reported Tuesday Okposo has been in the hospital undergoing multiple tests to determine the cause of an illness he’s been dealing with since March 28. Okposo is in in-patient care in the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General Hospital, The Buffalo News confirmed.

Sabres coach Dan Bylsma offered few details, including a diagnosis, while meeting with reporters Wednesday following the team’s morning skate.

Stamkos, who has been sidelined since Nov. 15, remains on the 4-6 month timeline he was initially given after tearing a lateral meniscus in his right knee and undergoing arthroscopic surgery. Though he still hasn’t ruled out getting back on the ice before the regular season ends on April 9, the team is still unable to update his return timetable.

He’s progressing well, general manager Steve Yzerman said, via the Tampa Bay Times. He’s doing well, but can’t give a return date yet.

Stamkos, 26, was tied for second in the NHL with 20 points when he got hurt. No stranger to the injury plague, he missed most of the 2013-14 season after breaking his leg in early November and missed seven weeks late last season after undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.

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Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth collapses in net without contact

Saturday’s game between the Flyers and Devils was suspended early after Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth collapses in net.

Neuvirth went down without any contact.

Neuvirth, 29, had made six saves while on the ice for the first 7:37. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher and replaced in net by rookie Anthony Stolarz, who was called up earlier in the day. Neuvirth was conscious and moving on the ice.

The Flyers scored the first two goals of the game and held a 2-0 lead at the first intermission. The Flyers went on for a 3-0 victory and Neuvirth was credited with the win.

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Neuvirth was awake and alert and was taken to Pennsylvania Hospital for observation. The team would provide more information on his condition on Sunday.

The Stars have been really bad at drafting hockey players for a long time. Actually, that’s not entirely true. From Mike Modano to Jarome Iginla to Jamie Benn, the Stars have selected some great players. They just never get two in the same draft. They’ve never drafted two 500-point scorers in the same year, and we’re going back to 1967 here. That’s pretty remarkable.

They also haven’t drafted a goaltender who became a consistent starter in the league since Marty Turco in 1994. There’s no one else in Modano’s class, but he’s the best player in franchise history.

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