SUN Hockey Pool

NHL notes: Jackets GM takes one in the gut

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:58 PM ET

General manager Scott Howson says the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets started the season with a high level of optimism and positive energy.

"What has transpired since has felt like we -- management, coaches, players and fans -- have been punched in the gut," Howson wrote Tuesday on the Blue Jackets website.

"No one saw this coming ... The first three weeks have been extremely difficult for all of us.

"The responsibility for where we are lies with me, our management staff, coaches and players. It does not lie with Brendan Shanahan or the NHL or the officials. It is not about luck."

Howson said he understands the anger and frustration that has built up among the fans.

"We can't change the first eight games, but we will stand and fight starting (Tuesday night). We will focus on being the best we can be today and then being better tomorrow.

"Ninety percent of our season remains and that is more than enough time to reach the goals we set for ourselves. We are bent, but not broken, and very determined to get back on track."

STILL NO TIMETABLE

For centre Sidney Crosby, it's not just a matter of getting some physical contact to see if he is ready to return to game action, Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Tuesday.

"It's not just having enough practices that have contact, he's still in the process of his rehab," Bylsma said of Crosby, who is recovered from a concussion suffered more than nine months ago.

"While we'd all like to put a timetable on it, we haven't. It's not about missing games or projecting when that game might be, he has just got to continue to go through the process."

PRONGER OUT TWO WEEKS

Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger, who was hit near the right eye with a stick Monday night, will rest in bed for three days and likely be sidelined for 10 to 14 days, coach Paul Holmgren said Tuesday.

Pronger, who was cut when struck by Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski's stick, saw an eye specialist Tuesday.

HELP FOR HURRICANES

The Carolina Hurricanes recalled forward Zach Boychuk from Charlotte of the AHL after placing forward Zac Dalpe on injured reserve.

Boychuk, the 14th overall pick in the 2008 draft, has seven goals and nine assists in 56 career NHL games. Dalpe has been sidelined since Oct. 14 with a lower body injury. He has no points in five games this season.

BRIEFLY

Rick DiPietro has been cleared to return to the New York Islanders after recovering from a concussion suffered in practice Oct. 12. He was expected to back up Evgeni Nabokov against the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night ... Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman James Wisniewski also was set to return after serving an eight-game suspension.


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