The Toronto Maple Leafs took a major hit Tuesday night when defenseman Morgan Rielly left the game with a right leg injury. Rielly has been the Maple Leafs best defenseman this year and plays a major role both on and off the ice for the team. The 22-year-old is averaging 22:51 of ice time per game, and has recorded 17 points from the blueline while skating alongside Nikita Zaitsev on the team’s top defensive pairing – good for second on the team among defensemen.
Rielly leaves to go to the dressing room. Some sort of leg injury.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) January 18, 2017
The injury occurred in the first period when Rielly attempted to skate the puck out from behind his own net. He and Buffalo Sabres‘ forward William Carrier were tangled up with the latter ultimately falling awkwardly onto Rielly’s leg. The defenseman did return before ultimately leaving for the dressing room once again. The immediate fear from the Maple Leafs media and fanbase revolved around Rielly’s injury history. The young star had dealt with a severely torn ACL injury in juniors and as a result, the fear for the first immediately set in.
The Maple Leafs did ultimately win the game 4-3 over the Sabres, but the attention was focused mostly upon an injury update for Rielly. Following the game, Leafs’ head coach Mike Babcock wasn’t able to say much, or give a very concise answer to the extent of Rielly’s injury or on a potential timeline for his return.
Babcock on Rielly: Whether he's a week or 10 days or a month, I don't know.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 18, 2017
New York Islanders Get Permission to Interview Gerard Gallant
The New York Islanders are quickly setting their sights on a former employee following the firing of Jack Capuano as head coach Tuesday. It was reported by Elliotte Friedman that the Islanders received permission to speak with Gerard Gallant, who was fired from his role as head coach of the Florida Panthers earlier this season.
Hearing NYI have permission to talk to former Florida coach Gerard Gallant. He was an Islanders' assistant from 2007-09.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) January 18, 2017
Gallant was an assistant on the Islanders coaching staff from 2007-09, and his history coupled with his success as a head coach appears enticing to the Islanders. It was later reported by Bob McKenzie that the Islanders request for Gallant didn’t happen just hours or days prior to receiving the permission. As McKenzie mentions, the request was believed to have been made weeks ago, if not longer.
Earlier in the day, Islanders’ general manager Garth Snow made a brief statement highlighting the decision to fire Capuano and move forward with Doug Weight as the interim coach with the search for a new coach occurring immediately.
This is an organizational decision. It’s not a dictatorship. There’s lots of dialogue, all throughout the organization, when big decisions were made. At the end of the day, I don’t think that Jack was going to be a coach that we were going to bring back. To name Dougie Weight the interim head coach, we can start our coaching search now and not worry about the ramifications of that with Jack as the head coach.
– Garth Snow
Gallant was the head coach of the Panthers for parts of three seasons, including two highly-successful seasons in 2014-15, and 2015-16. He was even named a finalist for the Jack Adams trophy, awarded annually to the leagues’ best head coach, following the 2015-16 season. Ultimately, the Panthers slow start in 2016-17 led to his firing, though the entire hockey world seemed firmly behind Gallant who seemingly received the short end of the stick in the situation.
Teemu Selanne, Joe Sakic and Saku Koivu Named to International Hockey Hall of Fame
Some of hockey’s all-time greats were enshrined in the international hockey Hall of Fame Tuesday. Teemu Selanne, Joe Sakic and Saku Koivu were all named to the Hall of Fame for their efforts in international play. Their impressive resumes shined past just the North American NHL rinks, and they all received well-deserved nods as a result.
— theScore NHL (@theScoreNHL) January 18, 2017
Selanne had an amazing NHL career, scoring 1,457 points in 1,451 games with the Winnipeg Jets and Anaheim Ducks. His time spent in the NHL was legendary, but even more than that, he was a true national treasure in Finland. While representing his country, Selanne played in the Olympics six times, won a silver medal at the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, as well as three bronze medals in 1998, 2010, and 2014. He scored 24 goals and 43 points in 37 games at the Olympics and closed out his international career with six points in six games as the captain of Finland in 2014 at the Sochi Olympic Games.
Joe Sakic, the current general manager of the Colorado Avalanche, had a very impressive career at both the NHL and international levels. Sakic played his entire career that stemmed 20 seasons with the Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques franchise. He won two Stanley Cups with the Avalanche and ranks ninth in NHL all-time scoring with 1,641 points in 1,378 games. Sakic has represented Canada multiple times on the international stage, including the 1988 world junior championships – where he won gold, as well as the 1991 and 1994 World Championships, the 1996 and 2004 World Cups, and three Olympic appearances in 1998, 2002, and 2006. He ultimately won gold with Canada in 2002 and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He is also a member of the Triple Gold Club.
Saku Koivu was named to the Hall of Fame after being one of the most well-remembered NHL captains in recent history. Koivu played in 1,124 NHL games and recorded 832 points and will be best remembered for his 10 seasons as captain of the Montreal Canadiens. Koivu became the first European-born player to captain the Canadiens and is second only to Jean Beliveau in terms of tenure as the team’s head coach. His leadership led to many captaincies at the international level as well, including three times at the Olympics in 1998, 2006, and 2010. He won gold with Finland at the IIHF World Championships in 1995 – Finland’s first gold win in history at the tournament and was once again named the captain when Finland played in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.