Nashville Predators

NHL Notes: Vernon Fiddler retires after 14 seasons

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NHL Notes: Vernon Fiddler retires after 14 seasons

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Forward Vernon Fiddler is retiring from the NHL after playing 877 games over 14 seasons in the league with four different teams.

Fiddler announced his decision Wednesday in a story for The Players' Tribune.

The 5-foot-11 center says he thought the New Jersey Devils would be his final team when he signed during the 2016 offseason. But Fiddler wrote that Nashville general manager David Poile and Devils GM Ray Shero, who launched his professional career, worked out a trade sending him back to the Predators where he started in the NHL.

Fiddler says coming full circle was special with the Predators' run to the Stanley Cup Final a "perfect way to finish my career."

He finished with 104 goals and 261 points and also played for the Coyotes and Dallas.

Avalanche: Hejduk's No. 23 to be retired in January ceremony
DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche will retire the number of forward Milan Hejduk in a January ceremony.

Hejduk played all 14 of his seasons with Colorado and helped the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup title in 2001. He finished with 375 goals and 805 points in 1,020 games.

The 41-year-old Hejduk will have his No. 23 raised to the rafters on Jan. 6 against Minnesota. He becomes the sixth Avalanche player to have his sweater retired, joining Joe Sakic (19), Peter Forsberg (21), Patrick Roy (33), Adam Foote (52) and Ray Bourque (77).

Sakic, who's now the team's general manager, described Hejduk as a "quiet leader who led by example and always represented this organization and himself with class."

Hejduk was selected by Quebec in the fourth round of the 1994 draft.

NHL Notes: Sidney Crosby hangs with rookies as Penguins prep for Cup defense

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NHL Notes: Sidney Crosby hangs with rookies as Penguins prep for Cup defense

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Sidney Crosby likes his summers short. Really short. Short summers for Crosby means long playoff runs for the Pittsburgh Penguins, ones that usually end with parades through the city in mid-June, the Penguins captain holding the Stanley Cup aloft.

There is no other feeling like it. So the question isn't why would Crosby want to cut the celebration short, but why would he want to put off starting the process all over again?

So just 88 days after Pittsburgh closed out Nashville in six games to become the first team in nearly two decades to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, Crosby found himself out on the ice with assorted prospects, many of whom have little chance of making it to the NHL this season.

That didn't stop Crosby and his familiar No. 87 jersey serving as perhaps the most decorated "welcome wagon" in professional sports. For the better part of an hour the face of the game skated with the newcomers. Later in the afternoon the more established players went through a workout of their own, well aware of the message Crosby's appearance in the building earlier in the day sent (see full story).

Predators: Ellis out 4-6 months after knee surgery
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis will need a full six months to recover from offseason knee surgery, and general manager David Poile says they don't expect him back until possibly 2018.

Poile gave an update on injuries Thursday to Ellis and new center Nick Bonino after a rookies' practice. Both were hurt during the Stanley Cup Final that Nashville lost in six games to Pittsburgh , and Bonino was playing for the Penguins.

"The discussion with our doctors at this time, they would like to take it a little bit slower with his recovery," Poile said of Ellis.

The original timetable called for a recovery of four to six months. Poile said the Predators and doctors feel Ellis will need the full six months to recover.

"Ryan is not skating yet, probably will be skating in approximately another three weeks and the recovery will go from there," Poile said. "We don't expect him back until at the end of the year, maybe the New Year, maybe right around Christmas time" (see full story).

Jets: Coach Maurice, GM Cheveldayoff get extensions
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Winnipeg Jets co-owner Mark Chipman had no doubt general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and coach Paul Maurice deserved the contract extensions that were announced Thursday.

The team has only made the playoffs once since relocating to Winnipeg in 2011 with Cheveldayoff as a rookie NHL GM. Maurice, who replaced Claude Noel in January 2014, was behind the bench for the first-round sweep at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks in 2015.

"I'm just very happy that we can give Kevin and Paul the opportunity to move this group forward," Chipman said. "They deserve that and I'm excited to watch it move on from here."

Chipman wouldn't reveal the length of the contracts, but described Maurice's as "medium" term and Cheveldayoff's as longer. Both were entering the final year of their contracts.

"(Cheveldayoff) is exactly what we thought we were hiring six years ago," Chipman said. "He has that rare combination of a high degree of competence and a very high degree of character" (see full story)

Capitals: Ovechkin sees his effect on Washington
SPRINGFIELD, Va. -- Even though Alex Ovechkin doesn't want to talk about the upcoming season just yet, he got a chance Thursday to survey evidence of his 12 seasons with the Washington Capitals.

Another pair of NHL-sized rinks is set to go up in the suburbs next year, a testament to the so-called Ovechkin effect on the growth of hockey in the area.

"I don't think it's an `Ovechkin effect,'" Ovechkin said. "But it is nice to be part of it. It's nice to be involved. And it's nice to see how fast it grows. It's just an unbelievable feeling when you see the place gets crazy. It's amazing."

Ovechkin talked in front of a construction site for The St. James, a planned sports complex that will focus on hockey and other athletic opportunities for children. Hockey has taken hold significantly in the D.C. area since Ovechkin arrived as a precocious teenager in 2005 who barely spoke English.

"It was very interesting for me when I just came here from Russia to find a new world, a new place," Ovechkin said. "It was kind of hard decision for me and my family to come to D.C. because I was 19 years old. It was a different world for me. Different culture, different people, different atmosphere. But as soon as I get in here I start to feel like everybody love me, everybody can't wait to see me on the ice" (see full story).

Predators sign Ryan Johansen to franchise-record contract

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Predators sign Ryan Johansen to franchise-record contract

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- General manager David Poile has made it clear he's been looking for a top center since first hired to build the Nashville Predators 20 years ago.

He believes he has just that in Ryan Johansen, and that's why the Predators rewarded the 24-year-old center Friday with an eight-year, $64 million contract. It's the biggest deal the franchise has ever handed out.

"I think he is ready to take that next step to become an elite player in the National Hockey League," Poile said. "Your actions say volumes about what you and how you feel, how this is the longest contract that we've ever given out since I've been here. Eight years, the money is significant, but we feel we got the right man to be our No. 1 center for a lot of years."

The Predators now have Johansen under contract at an average of $8 million a year through the 2024-25 season, and linemates Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson are signed for the next five years after Arvidsson signed a seven-year, $29.75 million deal last weekend.

Poile said that was the goal this offseason.

"We got our whole core signed up for a lot of guys for a lot of years, and I hope we've chosen correctly," Poile said for a team that lost the Stanley Cup in six games to Pittsburgh in June. "I believe we've chosen correctly."

Johansen, who turns 25 Monday, tied for the lead in scoring with 61 points (14 goals, 47 assists) over 82 games this season. He had 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 14 playoff games this spring before acute compartment syndrome ended his postseason in the Western Conference final. Johansen said he is fully recovered and working on conditioning with the team's strength coach.

Nashville traded for Johansen in January 2016, swapping defenseman Seth Jones to Columbus for the young center. Johansen says he tried to embrace the challenge of proving in the Predators' run to their first Stanley Cup Final that he is a top center and sees Nashville as the place where he belongs.

"Just the class that they've shown with myself and committing and trusting me and believing in me for these next eight years is just so humbling and so excited for the next chapter, which is coming up fast with the short summer," Johansen said.

This leaves only one big decision remaining for Nashville. Captain Mike Fisher, 37, is expected to decide within the next week whether he wants to return or retire.