Kesler won’t forgive Umberger


Columbus Blue Jackets centre R.J. Umberger is not on Ryan Kesler’s Christmas card list and when the two former Ohio State University teammates went head-to-head Monday night in the home of their alma mater there weren’t any pre- or post-game ‘how-you-doing’ handshakes.


Columbus Blue Jackets centre R.J. Umberger is not on Ryan Kesler’s Christmas card list and when the two former Ohio State University teammates went head-to-head Monday night in the home of their alma mater there weren’t any pre- or post-game ‘how-you-doing’ handshakes.

“We’ll chat tonight, but it won’t be friendly,” Kesler said before the Vancouver Canucks met the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. “Everybody knows we’re not a big fan of one another.”

Kesler and Umberger, who were both selected in the first round by the Canucks, have been on the outs ever since Umberger publicly used Kesler’s first contract with Vancouver as leverage in his own negotiations with the team.

“We got along as linemates at Ohio State, everything was fine until I signed and then I think there was a little jealously from his part,” Kesler said. “He and his agent (were) going on radio stations and talking down to me. I just didn’t think that was very classy.”

Umberger said it was just business and expressed surprise that Kesler continues to harbour a grudge.

“I know when we were linemates at Ohio State, I did nothing but try to help the kid as a rookie and I put myself out there for him,” Umberger said. “It’s a shame to have him say stuff about a former teammate. If he wants to keep playing that way I am going to play him hard and tough and we’re just going to keep battling it out.”

Umberger never did come to terms with former Canuck general manager Brian Burke and his rights were eventually dealt in March 2004 to the New York Rangers.

Young Kostitsyn in Carbonneau’s doghouse

The book on Sergei Kostitsyn says he has the potential to be better than his older brother, Andrei, but Montreal Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau is running out of patience with the 21-year-old Belarusian.

“He’s been in the league for two years and he acts like he’s been in the league for 10 years,” Carbonneau said during his post-practice remarks to the media.

Kostitsyn found himself on one of the bottom two lines Saturday night when the Canadiens played Buffalo. The way things have been going lately, the third and fourth lines have been carrying the offensive load for the Canadiens by working hard and creating chances but Sergei Kostitsyn appeared to be sulking and he took three penalties, all of which fell into the lazy, unnecessary and dumb categories.

He has the same number of points as his brother (nine) but, in the what-have-you-done-for-us-lately department, he has failed to earn a point in nine of the last 10 games. And he now has 30 minutes in penalties and only tough guys Tom Kostopoulos (35) and Mike Komisarek (30) have more.

Carbonneau may be forced to dress Kostitsyn for Tuesday’s game against Atlanta but, with Alex Tanguay and Georges Laraque returning to health and newcomer Matt D’Agostini playing well, don’t be surprised if the younger Kostitsyn spends some time watching from the press box. It’s also possible the Canadiens might provide him with a reality check by sending him back to Hamilton of the American Hockey League.

Blowing his top?

Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish had a post-game “conversation” with a fan in the American Airlines Arena in Dallas — an exchange that drew some interest back in Edmonton where there was conjecture it was a sign of troubled times.

He said it was just one of those moments.

“We didn’t hear from him all game then he was right in my ear as I was walking off. Obviously not all that pleased,” MacTavish said. “But it was just one of those things. No big deal. It could have happened in a five-game win streak. I’m just noticing I’m getting a lot of face time. I’m just noticing I’m on the camera a lot more when I do the breakdowns of the game.

“The producer must be looking for the top of my head to blow off.

“So far, I’ve been able to disappoint him.”

Injury bug bites Senators

The Ottawa Senators will be looking south to Binghamton of the American Hockey League for help for Wednesday’s game against the Atlanta Thrashers.

Defenceman Alexandre Picard (wrist) and forwards Dean McAmmond (sore throat), Chris Neil (knee) and Ryan Shannon (concussion) are not expected to play.

Cody Bass was recalled Monday, but the Senators will still need another body, likely someone such as Ilya Zubov.

McAmmond was the only one of the group who didn’t skate Monday. Neil, recovering from knee surgery, and Picard skated apart from the team, while Shannon skated with the team, but he still needs to be cleared by team doctors before he can play again.

Upper-body injury sidelines Nilsson

Robert Nilsson got his game going but he might not be going any further than treatment room.

Injured in the third period of Sunday’s game in Dallas, the Edmonton Oilers winger isn’t expected to be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Oilers get another crack at the Stars.

He may not even be back for the weekend games in Los Angeles and San Jose, which is why the Oilers were going to put in a call to the American Hockey League Springfield Falcons. Rob Schremp is leading the team with 18 points (one goal, 17 assists) but right behind him, is Ryan Potulny (10 goals, six assists) and Gilbert Brule (eight goals, four assists in 14 games).

Nilsson, meanwhile, is out with what is being described only as an upper-body injury.

Fourth line first to sit

The bottom line for Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish is that the fourth line can’t be any worse than minus-1 so if they are burned early, they will sit even longer, as was the case on the weekend — all of which doesn’t bode well for Marc Pouliot who was skating with Zack Stortini and Liam Reddox.

He played just 3:32 in Saturday’s win in St. Louis and 3:02 in a loss to Dallas on Sunday.

“They got scored on early in St. Louis and in Dallas and took a couple of penalties. It’s the fourth-line blues,” MacTavish said. “You can’t get scored against and they did in these couple of games. They have to be more productive.”

Rolston, Madden hope to return Thursday

New Jersey_Devils forward Brian Rolston could be in the lineup Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

“I hope I’m playing Thursday,” he told the Bergen Record. "That’s what I’m shooting for.”

Rolston suffered a high-ankle sprain on Oct. 16 and hasn’t played since.

Centre John Madden could also be back to face the Flyers after missing four games.

“I’m planning on playing,” Madden told the paper. “I’m practising to play. So we’ll see if I get back in there.”

Ice chips:

Jonathan Cheechoo will not be in the San Jose Sharks lineup Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs as he deals with an upper-body injury, according to the San Jose Mercury News. . . . Florida Panthers forward David Booth is expected to miss at least a week with a shoulder injury according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. . . . Carolina Hurricanes forward Justin Williams, who has missed the whole season with an Achilles tendon injury, could return to the lineup this week according to the Raleigh News & Observer. . . . Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward will miss the team’s next few games with a groin injury, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. . . . The Boston Bruins recalled defencemen Johnny Boychuk and Matt Lashoff from the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. Boychuk has posted a team-best 23 points on four goals and 19 assists in 22 games this season for Providence. This is Lashoff’s second recall to Boston this season. However he has yet to appear in any NHL games this year. In 18 games for Providence this season, Lashoff posted four goals and 12 assists. The Bruins also played defenceman Andrew Ference on the long-term injury list. . . . The New York Islanders recalled centre Mike Sillinger following a three-game conditioning stint with the club’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. The team also announced that winger Tim Jackman and centre Jeremy Colliton were reassigned to Bridgeport. Sillinger, 37, has missed the Islanders’ first 24 games of the season as well as the team’s final 29 games of the 2007-08 season recovering from micro-fracture hip surgery. In 11 games with the Islanders this season, Jackman has one goal and one assist. Colliton has played in five games for the Islanders this season, recording one assist. . . . The National Hockey League Players’ Association is raising money for the Luc Bourdon Memorial Fund through an online auction that was launched Saturday. The auction features memorabilia donated by NHLPA members, NHL Clubs and various hockey organizations.

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