NHL notes: Vesa Toskala retires from hockey

Ex-NHL goaltender Vesa Toskala has retired from hockey. (QMI Agency file photo)

Ex-NHL goaltender Vesa Toskala has retired from hockey. (QMI Agency file photo)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:50 AM ET

Former NHL goalie Vesa Toskala announced his retirement Tuesday.

He had a record 129-82-5-25 in 266 NHL games over eight seasons with the San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames. The 35-year-old had a career goals-against average of 2.76 and a save percentage of, 902.

Last season, Toskala played for his hometown team, the Tampere Ilves, in Finland.

RUFF OK WITH EUROPE

Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff doesn't have a problem with his players taking off to Europe during the NHL lockout.

Four Sabres -- Tyler Ennis in Switzerland, Thomas Vanek in Austria, Christian Ehrhoff in Germany and Andrej Sekera in Slovakia -- are staying in shape during the lockout by playing overseas. Clearly, Ruff approves of their decisions even though the players could be injured during their foray abroad.

"My feeling is if you can play, play, whether you're a half a world away or not," Ruff told the Buffalo News. "Playing's a good thing. You can keep your skills sharp. I worry more about the guys that are, after a month or so, just playing a little bit of shinny hockey and practicing a little bit. It's tough to stay sharp. You don't have that physical challenge.

"You don't have the challenge of elite players playing against you, and I think those players have a bigger challenge than those guys that are going and playing."

BIG KHL SIGNING

Now that's one big signing for HC Lev Praha of the KHL.

The NHL's biggest player, Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, signed Tuesday with the Prague-based team, according to his agent, Matt Keator. It will allow Chara to play close to home during the NHL lockout.

"He has friends there, and it's within hours of his home in Slovakia," Keator told USA Today. "(Prague) is a great hockey city."

Chara, 35, will join two other locked-out NHLers -- Jiri Hudler of the Calgary Flames and Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers -- on the Praha roster.

Meanwhile, Montreal Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov might also be on his way to the KHL. Vityaz Chekhov team is believed to be negotiating a contract with the 33-year-old, according to Russian media Sports Express.

NASH HURTING

New York Rangers forward Rick Nash, who is spending the NHL lockout playing for HC Davos in Switzerland, missed Tuesday's game against the Zurich Lions due to a shoulder injury.

Nash was hurt last week when he was hit into the boards by Lugano defenceman Ilkka Heikkinen. Although Swiss reports said Nash was left "groggy" by the hit, the injury was described as minor -- an MRI showed it was a bone bruise.

Nash's agent, Joe Resnick, said his client would sit out a game or more as a precaution.

BENN FREEZES UP

Young Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn is jumping into the Freezer.

As in Hamburg Freezers, who announced Tuesday that they've signed the 23-year-old restricted free agent. Benn will play for the German Elite League team, presumably until the NHL lockout ends, but there's no guarantee he'll return to the NHL this season since he doesn't have a contract.

Benn finished up his three-year, entry-level deal last season and failed to ink a new contract before the lockout. He had 26 goals and 37 assists in 71 games last year.

MEET THE NEW BOSS

Nashville Predators forward Craig Smith is going to work for two Philadelphia Flyers rivals.

Smith signed a deal with Finnish team KalPa Tuesday to play with the second-division club until the Christmas break, unless the NHL lockout ends before then.

Two of his bosses will be Flyers Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell, both of whom own minority shares of the team along with ex-Philly forward Sami Kapanen. Formerly the KalPa CEO, Kapanen, 39, played last season and had 25 points in 35 games.

The 23-year-old Smith signed a two-year, $4 million contract with the Predators just before the lockout.

HOSSA CLAMS UP

Marian Hossa's head has stopped hurting and he's returned to the ice for solo workouts with the Chicago Blackhawks coaching staff.

But he's not ready to talk about the concussion woes he suffered after taking a shot from Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres during the NHL playoffs last spring. Hossa hasn't talked to the media --he declined a request for an interview by CSNChicago.com Tuesday -- since July but he appeared to be skating hard during his on-ice session with several 'Hawks coaches, including skating and conditioning coach Kevin Delaney.

Hossa is allowed to skate with the coaches because he hasn't been medically cleared to play.

DUCHENE OFF TO SWEDEN

Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene has signed a two-month contract to play in the top Swedish league with Frolunda, the team announced Tuesday.

"Can't wait to arrive in Gothenburg on Thursday evening and to get an Indians jersey on," Duchene said on his Twitter account.

Frolunda said on the team website that Duchene won't play until early next week.

Duchene, 21, had 14 goals and 14 assists in 58 games with the Avs last season. He's played 219 NHL games in his career.

BERGERON BOOKS IT

Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins signed with Lugano of the top Swiss league, the team said Tuesday.

Bergeron, who will play against Bruins teammate Tyler Seguin (EHC Biel) during the lockout, was signed using funding from outside the team, according to a press release from the club.

In 81 games for the Bruins last season, Bergeron had 22 goals and 42 assists.


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