Thursday September 18th, 2014

An annotated guide to today's must-read hockey stories:

 Today's reminder that the Maple Leafs are a still total gong show: Assistant coach Steve Spott revealed at a clinic last month that he devised a new breakout plan for the team. One problem: When shown the plan, Phil Kessel said he wouldn't follow it. If the story is accurate—and there's no reason to believe otherwise—it reinforces Kessel's reputation as a clown. It's also the second “leaked” comment in as many weeks from a team staffer that makes the star forward look bad. Coincidence?

Need some good news, Hogtown? Here's a solid feature on dashing Toronto prospect William Nylander, whom one scout compares to Patrick Kane.

 Larry Brooks says Ryan Malone's addition could have an impact on Rick Nash's role with the Rangers. You might want to read this before picking up number 61 for your fantasy team.

 Vincent Lecavalier has arrived at the Flyers' camp in top shape, looking to put a dismal 2013–14 season behind him. The question now: Can the team find a role for him that makes use of the talents he still has?

Five NHL teams plagued by RFA dramas as training camp looms

• Torey Krug and Reilly Smith will miss the opening of the Bruins' camp today. Team president Cam Neely hopes both players understand why.

 With starter Josh Harding sidelined for two to three months—after reportedly breaking his foot by kicking a wall after an altercation with a teammate—the Wild have invited free agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to camp on a PTO. Crushing news for restricted free agent Darcy Kuemper, who will have to accept a two-way deal from Minnesota or start the season unemployed.

 Mike Russo has more on Harding and the goalie's broken foot.

New Ducks center Ryan Kesler says he wasn't a bad teammate in Vancouver. Those stories were the product of the media looking to throw people under the bus. Sounds plausible, right?

Joe Thornton says that the Sharks will have ”23 captains this season.” Culture change!

Blue Jackets president torches talks with RFA Ryan Johansen

With his contract talks stalled, Ryan Johansen has flown home to Vancouver to await the next offer from the Blue Jackets. From the sounds of things, he could be there a while ...

Michael Arace wonders whether there is a middle ground for both Johansen and Columbus. Of course there is ... if by "middle ground" he means a couple bucks north of the team's current offer.

Ex-NHL player Brad Marsh says that he can't wait for the season to start—and rips the “thug” NFL and a couple of hockey players named Dustin in the process.

Bobby Ryan says that seven years is a long time to commit to a team, which is why he needs some time to decide whether Ottawa is the place he wants to be. For what it's worth, Bob McKenzie reports that the rumors of Ryan rejecting a seven-year, $49 million offer from the Senators are hogwash.

Now that he's the man in New Jersey, Cory Schneider hopes to carry on the legacy of goaltending excellence established by Martin Brodeur.

Are the Panthers on the verge of prowling elsewhere? Not a chance according to an open letter to Florida's fans from the team's owners.

Jordan Subban reminds us that it's never a good idea to bite a hotel room door.

 The IIHF has released its annual survey of players participating in the game by country and the results are shocking.

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