Kane a prankster


Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane said no teammates pulled any pranks on him on his 21st birthday on Friday, but if they did he knows how he’d get his revenge.<br />


Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane said no teammates pulled any pranks on him on his 21st birthday on Friday, but if they did he knows how he’d get his revenge.

“Actually, I’ve got the big prank machine now,” Kane told NHL.com. “I’ve got this phone (device) . . . say I was calling (teammate and prankster Patrick Sharp), I could (program) it so it would look like a call from (Jonathan) Toews. So I think (Sharp’s) a little worried now. I think he’s trying to stay low.

“So, yeah, (the birthday has) been good so far — no pranks. It’s been pretty low-key, to be honest. For your 21st birthday, you usually do it up pretty good. Growing up watching the Sabres, I’d always check the schedule to see if the Sabres played on my birthday so I could maybe go to the game for my birthday present.

“It’s a good feeling. Being 21, it’s pretty cool. This is a good birthday. Everyone says once you turn 21 you don’t want to get any older.”

Sedins keeping eyes on homeland

Daniel Sedin is excited and not only because he’s close to returning to the Vancouver Canuck lineup after a six-week absence.

Sedin and his brother Henrik are both pleased to see what’s happening back home in Ornskoldsvik, where their hometown Swedish Elite League team, MoDo, has been revitalized by the addition of Peter Forsberg and the impending return of former Canuck captain Markus Naslund.

"They are struggling right now," Daniel said of MoDo. "There are not a lot of people in the stands and financially they are not doing that good. This is going to help them a lot. They are pretty much sold out (Thursday night)."

That sellout crowd went home happy after Forsberg scored two goals and set up another in MoDo’s 4-0 win over Lulea. That’s two wins and six points in two games for Forsberg since he joined the team.

Both Daniel and Henrik acknowledged this week that they think about doing what Forsberg and Naslund are and return to play there in the twilight of their careers.

"It’s a long way down the road, but every player who has come up through that organization wants to come back and help the team again and I think we feel the same way," Daniel said. "But we’re going to be here for at least another five years, so I haven’t really thought about it."

Ceremony on hold

Vancouver Canuck general manager Mike Gillis, who was Markus Naslund’s longtime agent, was not surprised to see his former client come out of retirement. Naslund is set to return to MoDo of the Swedish Elite League.

"I think MoDo gave a lot of those guys their start and there’s an obligation to give back to the community and do more and Markus is that type of guy, we all know that," Gillis said. "I’m not surprised."

In fact, the feeling that Naslund might indeed return to play for MoDo was one of the main reasons the Canucks decided not to schedule a jersey retirement ceremony for Naslund this season.

"We had to give the NHL notification of a certain date and that date passed," Gillis said. "It was in September and whatever we are going to do will have to wait until next season."

Bad header

Injured winger Michael Grabner watched much of Thursday’s practice standing on crutches behind the Vancouver Canucks bench. The Austrian rookie broke his right ankle while playing a warm-up soccer game with some of his Canuck teammates before the Nov. 1 game against the Colorado Avalanche.

"It’s just bad luck," he sighed. "I’ve been playing soccer all my life, since I was six."

Grabner said he was jumping to head the ball and landed awkwardly against the wall in the narrow GM Place hallway. By the time Grabner is healthy again, maybe in another three weeks or so, there likely won’t be a lineup spot available (assuming there is no further epidemic of injuries).

NHL defends replay officials

The NHL’s video review officials had no choice but to uphold the controversial no goal call in Wednesday’s Detroit/Dallas game according to the league’s vice-president of hockey operations.

Mike Murphy told XM radio’s NHL Live that since referee Dennis LaRue intended to blow the whistle before the puck when in the net on a shot from Red Wings winger Brad May, there was no way to overturn the call. Replays clearly showed the whistle came after the puck was in the net.

“The way we’ve always handled it and the way we will continue to handle it until we have a procedure change is the referees call on the ice stands. He sees the shot and he sees the save and doesn’t see the puck in the net and kills the play or blows the whistle,” Murphy told the radio show. “It’s not when you hear the whistle blow, it’s when he intends to blow the whistle. There is a little bit of a grey area there between when he intends and when the whistle sounds.”

The goal would have tied the game 2-2. The Stars went on to win 3-1.

Setback for Booth

Florida Panthers forward David Booth, out since suffering a concussion when he was checked violently by Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 24, has stopped exercising after suffering a setback in his recovery.

Booth won’t accompany the Panthers on their three-game road trip, which includes a Friday date with the Red Wings in Booth’s hometown of Detroit.

“We’ve kind of taken our foot off the gas and given him a few days off before we look to go back at it again,” Panthers coach Peter DeBoer told the Sun Sentinel. “But that’s anticipated. We knew going through this process there was going to be good days and bad. You just have to take them in stride.”

Booth, DeBoer said, hasn’t skated since suffering the injury.

“He has to exercise at a reasonable rate and not have any symptoms of (the concussion),” DeBoer said. “We had a few days of that and then he had a setback. Until we get a week of symptom-free exercise, we won’t even consider him skating. That’s still a ways away.”

Jokinen is shootout king

Question: Who has scored the most shootout goals since the game-deciding format was introduced five seasons ago?

Answer: Jussi Jokinen of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Jokinen became the first player to hit 25 shootout goals when he tallied Sunday against the Minnesota Wild, helping the ’Canes end a 14-game losing streak.

Jokinen beat the fellow Finn Nicklas Backstrom for the only goal of the shootout.

“He’s the guy I practised the most against in Finland because we’ve been playing on the same team for years and we practise shootouts with each other in the summer time,” Jokinen told NHL.com of Backstrom. “I didn’t want to shoot against him because he knows me too well. It was a big mental battle.”

Extension for Savard

An Internet report Thursday indicated Boston Bruins centre Marc Savard was about to sign a seven-year extension worth $39 million US.

Not so, the Boston Globe reported later Thursday.

Although the Bruins are in negotiations with Savard on a new contract, a source “familiar with the ongoing contract talks” told the Globe that a deal is not imminent. The source added that if Savard signs an extension, it won’t be as lucrative as $39 million.

The Globe reported that the deal would be worth closer to $32 million over sevens seasons — for an average salary-cap hit of $4.7 million. The Bruins would have an option to buy out the final two years of the deal.

Gomez needs to shoot more

With linemate Brian Gionta (broken foot) sidelined indefinitely, Montreal Canadiens centre Scott Gomez said it’s time for other players to step up — including himself.

“We all have to be a little better, and it starts with me,” said Gomez, who has gone 12 games without a goal.

Gomez, who added he has never concerned himself with numbers, said that part of his problem was that Gionta and Mike Cammalleri provided him with a comfort zone.

“I was looking to pass, to set those guys up, and I think that hurt our offence because the defencemen on the other team knew I wasn’t going to shoot,” Gomez said.

He realized there might be a problem when he was carrying the puck on a two-on-one break.

“I had the puck, but the defenceman didn’t bother with me . . . he just went and covered the other guy,” he explained.

Habs shuffle lines

With Brian Gionta out of the lineup for an indefinite period with a broken foot, Montreal Canadiens head coach Jacques Martin will do some more line juggling Friday night against the Washington Capitals.

Travis Moen joins Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri on the top line, while Glen Metropolit joked that he won the lottery when he found himself on a line with Georges Laraque, who will play for the first time since Oct. 20, and Tom Pyatt.

Defenceman Ryan O’Byrne will also return after missing 19 games with a knee injury. He will be paired with Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Kyle Chipchura and defenceman Jay Leach will be healthy scratches, while Gregory Stewart has been sent to Hamilton for a two-week conditioning assignment. 

Ice chips:

The Ottawa Senators will be without forward Alexei Kovalev for the next few games after the flashy forward returned to Russia following the death of his mother-in-law. Kovalev did play Thursday against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . The Dallas Stars placed forward Fabian Brunnstrom on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

Your voice