SUN Hockey Pool

NHL notes: Irony not lost on ex-Coyote MacLean

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:20 PM ET

In less than 24 hours, forward Brett MacLean found himself being waived by the team once known as the Winnipeg Jets and claimed by the 2.0 version of the Jets.

Instead of being sent to the Portland Pirates of the AHL, MacLean should be in uniform Sunday as the Jets face the Montreal Canadiens in their season opener.

"It's kind of interesting, I get to be the one guy who gets to play for the old Winnipeg Jets organization and now the new one -- it's pretty cool," said MacLean, who had two goals and three points in 13 games with the Phoenix Coyotes to go along with 23 goals and 50 points in 51 games with the San Antonio Rampage last season. "It's pretty crazy to come in here with the home opener on Sunday. I've heard the city is pretty excited and it's definitely a lot different than Phoenix. I'm excited to be around and be a part of it."

MacLean, 22, was a high-scoring junior with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL, who rode shotgun with current New York Islanders star John Tavares and produced 61 goals and 119 points in one season.

Jets coach Claude Noel wanted to keep the media guessing when asked if MacLean would suit up in the opener, but it appears he will after skating on a line with Alex Burmistrov and Nik Antropov Friday.

"He's a scorer and he seemed to have chemistry with that line right away," said Noel.

JUNIORS ADD TO STAFF

Former NHLer Scott Walker was named Friday as an assistant coach with Canada's national junior team.

Walker, in his first full season as head coach of the OHL's Guelph Storm, replaces Pascal Vincent on Don Hay's coaching staff for the 2012 World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Calgary, Hockey Canada said in a release announcing the move. Vincent gave up the national team gig after taking an assistant coach job with the Winnipeg Jets.

Walker, 38, George Burnett of the Belleville Bulls and Ryan Huska of the Kelowna Rockets will serve as assistants to Hay, the Vancouver Giants boss.

After playing 829 games in the NHL with four teams, Walker was hired by Guelph midway through last season. He also played for Canada at the world championship three times.

VOKOUN SITS

Michal Neuvirth, not Tomas Vokoun, will start in goal for the Washington Capitals in their season opener Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes, according to reports out of D.C.

Thinking is that Caps coach Bruce Boudreau has opted to reward Neuvirth for a strong training camp and preseason rather than go with Vokoun, a two-time all-star who signed as a free agent during the summer.

Neuvirth took over the No. 1 spot with the Capitals last season, going 27-12-4 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

NIEMI OUT, TOO

With Antti Niemi still not 100% healthy, the San Jose Sharks will turn to backup Thomas Greiss to start their season opener Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Sharks coach Todd McLellan confirmed that Greiss will start, adding that Niemi "is very close to being ready," according to the San Jose Mercury News. Niemi had surgery to remove a cyst during training camp.

"We anticipated having both of the Finnish goalies ready," McLellan said. "But we thought Greiss was valuable in our organization and now he's our No. 1 goalie."

Antero Niittymaki, the Sharks usual backup, is still recovering from hip surgery.

SMID CLEARED

Ladislav Smid has to carry a big load for the Edmonton Oilers this season and he's going to need two healthy shoulders to do it.

The good news for the Oilers is that Smid was cleared for contact Friday after straining his left shoulder last week in Minnesota. The defenceman took part in a full practice and should be ready to go for the team's season-opener Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"It's was pretty good," Smid said. "Sometimes I can feel it, but most of the time it's pain free. If I can't feel it, then it's not serious. I had a few battles (Friday) and it felt strong. They tested it before practice and the strength is there. In my mind, I'm good to go and now it's a coach's decision."

Smid injured his shoulder last Friday when he was hit into the board by Wild forward Colton Gillies. He came out for a couple of shifts after the hit, but was eventually forced to leave the game.

BRIEFLY

The Montreal Canadiens signed journeyman defenceman Joe Callahan to a one-year, two-way contract. The 28-year-old has played 46 NHL games with three teams, including 27 with the Florida Panthers last season ... Defenceman Kyle Cumiskey was put on waivers by the Colorado Avalanche. Cumiskey had one goal and seven assists in 18 games with the Avs last season ... The Buffalo Sabres signed forwards Riley Boychuk and Jonathan Parker to three-year, entry-level contracts. Boychuk played with Portland of the WHL last season while Parker was with Prince Albert.


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