Around the NHL: Jack is Back, Crosby Nets No. 500, Historical Kraken Broadcast, Team Canada Wins Gold, More

The wait is over for Vegas fans! Jack Eichel made his return to NHL action and his debut at The Fortress in Sin City, but Darcy Kuemper had other ideas on Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena. What does Jack Eichel’s return mean for the Golden Knights’ roster the rest of the way? We’ll talk about that, Sidney Crosby’s latest accomplishment, Seattle’s historic broadcast, and why a repeat gold medal performance was not in the cards for the American Women’s National Hockey Team in Beijing.

Oh, but before I forget, the Blackhawks are starting to get some serious interest in Brandon Hagel from around the league. And these offers might soon get too hard to ignore.

Jack is Back!

On Wednesday night, Jack Eichel made his long-awaited debut for the Vegas Golden Knights, marking his first NHL action since March of 2021 after suffering a herniated disc while playing with Buffalo. The Golden Knights acquired Eichel in early November, allowing the 25-year-old to have his desired artificial disk replacement surgery to be performed.

Eichel failed to log a point in his first game back as the Colorado Avalanche shut out the Golden Knights 2-0 at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday night, but Eichel didn’t seem to have any restrictions as he skated 17:32 and logged a hit and a takeaway.

While it’s nice for Vegas to have Eichel in the lineup as the Golden Knights prepare for a Stanley Cup Playoffs run, his $10 million cap hit puts them in a bit of a salary cap dilemma. Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon moved Mark Stone to LTIR earlier this week, which made way for Eichel’s return as far as the cap is concerned. But here’s the thing, if Vegas plans on having Stone return at some point this season, they’re going to have to make a trade or two to clear some salary before the March 21 trade deadline.

Stone going on the LTIR buys Vegas some time to decide what they’re going to do with the veteran winger out for at least 10 games/24 days. Stone has 28 points in 28 games for Vegas, but he’s been dealing with a nagging back issue all year. According to McCrimmon, “it’s difficult to define exactly what the issue is with Mark Stone’s back,” therefore, there is no timeline for Stone’s return.

Sidney Crosby Reaches 500!

Sidney Crosby scored his 500th career goal on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. Crosby is just the 18th NHL player to score his first 500 career goals with one franchise. Crosby was drafted by the Penguins in 2005 and has logged 500 goals and 871 assists in 1,077 games with Pittsburgh.

Crosby’s parents, Trina and Troy, were in attendance for No. 500 on Tuesday night, and they can breathe easy now knowing that Sid has 500 in the books. According to Taylor Haase, Crosby’s parents have been living out of a suitcase as they followed Crosby and the Penguins around for the past couple of weeks so that they could make sure that they didn’t miss No. 500. That’s pretty cool.

JT Brown and Everett Fitzhugh to Make History

History will be made on Thursday night when JT Brown and Everett Fitzhugh team up for the NHL’s first all-Black broadcast during the Seattle Kraken and Winnipeg Jets game. With ROOT Sports Northwest’s John Forslund working a national game on TNT tonight, Kraken radio play-by-play man Everett Fitzhugh will join TV analyst JT Brown for one game this evening.

Seattle Kraken, senior vice president of marketing and communications Katie Townsend, said that the team planned on Forslund working a handful of national broadcasts this season and noted that having Everett and Brown pair up for the first time during Black History Month is an added layer of significance to this already monumentous event.

“We are fortunate to have an incredibly talented broadcast team. Everett and JT moved into NHL broadcasting this season, worked hard, and have made an immediate connection with our fans.”

JT Brown played parts of seven seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks, and Minnesota Wild. Brown last played during the 2018-19 season before retiring and beginning a career in broadcasting. Everett Fitzhugh was the first broadcast hire by the Seattle Kraken in the summer of 2020 after working as a play-by-play commentator in the ECHL.

Team Canada Tops Team USA for Gold in Women’s Hockey

The Canadian women’s national finished up their gold medal run in Beijing with a 3-2 victory over Team USA, who came into Beijing as the defending gold medal winners.

Marie-Philip Poulin scored two goals and assisted a Sarah Nurse goal in Team Canada’s 3-2 victory over Team USA in Wednesday night’s Olympic women’s hockey final. Marie-Philip Poulin became the first hockey player (man or woman) to score in four Olympic gold medal games.

Team Canada jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before Hilary Knight finally got the Americans on the board with a short-handed goal before the second intermission. Amanda Kessel cut the deficit with 13.5 seconds remaining in regulation with a power-play goal. Still, it was too little too late for Team USA in this one.

One-Timers …

•   The Colorado Avalanche are the heavy favorite to claim the Stanley Cup this summer.

•   Lol:

•   Darcy Kuemper spoiled Jack Eichel’s Vegas homecoming as he pitched a shutout against the Golden Knights on Wednesday night. Kuemper’s shutout in Vegas was his third of the season, and he’s been pretty dominant in net for the Avs with a 24-5-0-2 record, 2.38 GAA, and .921 save percentage this season.

•   A pair of Eastern Conference contenders in the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes got together on the national stage on Wednesday night, and a dog fight ensued. Sam Reinhart sent the game to overtime with the equalizer late in regulations.

•   Aaron Ekblad gave the Panthers the final laugh in this one as he buried the game-winning goal in between the blocker and the pad of Carolina goaltender Frederik Andersen as Florida escapes with an overtime victory over the ‘Canes.

•   The Breadman is at it again …

•   These are pretty sharp threads that the Sabres will be rocking tonight in the 2022 NHL Heritage Classic:

•   Want to make some money? The Athletic’s resident numbers guy, Dom Luszczyszyn, has you covered with his updated betting guide:

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written by

Patrick grew up in Chicago's Bridgeport and Garfield Ridge neighborhoods before moving to the Western Suburbs of Chicago before eventually relocating to the Las Vegas area with his family in 2023. He started with Bleacher Nation in 2021 and has spent time as a Staff Writer and on the Chicago Blackhawks beat. He is currently a writer and editor at Bleacher Nation covering the Chicago Bears and the NFL at large and the author of the Bleacher Nation Newsletter. Patrick is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA).

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