There was a time when ice hockey ranked last among sports – even lower than NASCAR.  As Bob Dylan said, “The times, they are a-changin’.”  Ice hockey is now growing quickly around the world and has found a huge target in the UK.  The country has its Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL), which is attracting huge amounts of fans, and it’s about to get a big boost thanks to one player.  Henrik Samuelsson, son of NHL defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, has signed with the EIHL’s Manchester Storm and is ready to take the plunge.

UK Hockey To Welcome Henrik Samuelsson

The younger Henrik Samuelsson, now 25, was a first-round draft pick in 2012 and went to the Phoenix Coyotes.  His pro career wasn’t everything it was expected to be, but he’s been doing well in the minors.  Given that the Storm ranks last out of ten teams, they need some big support and hope to find it with the 6’3” forward.

The Pittsburgh Penguins lost 3-2 against the New York Rangers last night, and the team’s captain believes now is a good time to take a break.  Sidney Crosby has been putting off surgery for a sports hernia, since the team is already struggling with a lot of injuries, but he has indicated that he might move forward with the operation now.  If he decides to go under the knife, he’ll be out 4-6 weeks while he recovers.

Ilya Kovalchuk will be seen practicing with the LA Kings, but that’s about the extent of his involvement.  He has been told by the team that his services won’t be needed “for the foreseeable future,” but no concrete details on what happens to the forward next have been revealed.  Kovalchuk, now 36, signed a three-year contract in 2018 worth $18.75 million and will most likely retire from the NHL – again.

Vladimir Tarasenko wants to be back on the ice with the rest of his St. Louis Blues team, but he’s singing the blues instead of playing with them.  He suffered a shoulder injury last month and is still in recovery following surgery on October 29.  The initial recover period was to be for five months, effectively ending his time on the ice for the season, but he wants a “chance to come back” and is going to try to push up the recovery timeline.

Ryan Murray is officially back for the Columbus Blue Jackets.  He has been activated from injury reserve after breaking his hand last month in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers, but the defenseman has apparently recovered nicely.  In order to bring him back to the lineup, Adam Clendening is on his way down to the minors.

The big story comes via the Great One.  Wayne Gretzky, who stepped down in September 2009 as the head coach of the Coyotes, wants to lead a team again.  Hockey Canada is reportedly trying to coax him into a job that would see him return to the ice ahead of Christmas and Gretzky is calling it an “immense honor” to have been asked.  He’s still unsure whether or not he’ll make the return as Canada seeks to become the next Spengler Cup champ.

Don Cherry got thrown under the bus.  After being dismissed by Sportsnet for “discriminatory” comments he made on the air during his Hockey Night in Canada program, partner Ron MacLean initially backed the long-time hockey personality.  Later, though, MacLean changed his tune and turned his back on Cherry and “buried” him, siding with Sportsnet.  At least Cherry knows who his real friends are, and MacLean isn’t part of that group.