NHL notes: Blues finally get McDonald back
|Blues forward Andy McDonald shoots the puck against the Wild at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Miss., Jan. 14, 2010. (DILIP VISHWANAT/Getty Images/AFP)
After an absence of 51 games, Andy McDonald returned to the St. Louis Blues lineup Sunday against the San Jose Sharks.
McDonald was activated off injured reserve before the game, his first since being concussed Oct. 13 against the Dallas Stars. He started skating nearly two months ago but wasn't given clearance to play until Sunday.
"I'm excited. It's been kind of a tough recovery," McDonald said before the game. "Obviously a long time, but I'm excited that this day is finally here. That was the hard thing, watching the team's having so much success and you want to be out there and be a part of it. Unfortunately, I missed a large chunk of the season, but hopefully we have a large part left to play."
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who took over for the fired Davis Payne while McDonald was out of the lineup, is anxious to see where the winger fits in.
"I don't know him that well," Hitchcock said. "I know him at practice, he looks like a helluva player. I don't know him that well from coaching against him. We're not having any reservations about how much he's playing or whatever. We'll just play him on a regular shift, play him on the power play and see how he looks."
Forward Matt D'Agostini took McDonald's spot on IR. D'Agostini, who has a concussion, has nine goals and nine assists in 52 games this season.
NO RUSH FOR HOWARD
Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard expects to play Friday against the Nashville Predators.
Howard practiced -- and faced live shots for the second straight day -- on Sunday before the Red Wings played the Philadelphia Flyers. His broken right index finger is healing but he's not quite ready for game action yet.
"There's no reason to rush back," Howard said. "Give it a couple more days to heal and allow me to get a couple more practices under my belt, so I can get my game back to where it was."
Joey MacDonald has started four straight games in Howard's absence.
The agent for New York Rangers forward Ruslan Fedotenko is ticked that Tampa Bay Lightning forward Dominic Moore got off with just a fine for a head hit on his client.
Allan Walsh said he thought Moore should have been suspended for the hit on Fedotenko Saturday, telling the New York Post he was "bewildered" by NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan's ruling.
"I'm bewildered that a blatant blindside hit to the jaw of a player nowhere near the puck that knocked him out did not warrant a suspension," Walshtold the Post via email. "How is this anything other than an intentional reckless hit to the head of an unsuspecting player?"
Shanahan ruled that Moore's hit forced Fedotenko's own stick into his face, causing the injury that kept him out of Sunday's game against the Washington Capitals.
SPACEK GOES TO 'CIRCUS'
Jaroslav Spacek will return to the Bell Centre big-top Monday.
The Carolina Hurricanes defenceman will play in Montreal for the first time since being traded by the Habs for Tomas Kaberle. After the deal, Spacek said he was happy to be out of Montreal and "the whole circus" around the team hiring Anglophone coach Randy Cunneyworth.
He clarified, sort of, those comments to TSN on Sunday.
"I like Cunney (as) a coach," said Spacek. "Lots of respect for him and it's a little sad, maybe, that he'll maybe lose his job. You can have a good coach and it doesn't have to be a French-speaking coach. But I know the community here is more French-speaking and I respect that, too.
"This city is always special to play in. If the hockey doesn't go well, it's a mess, as I said."