SUN Hockey Pool

NHL notes: Leafs' Carl Gunnarsson goes home

Toronto Maple Leafs Carl Gunnarsson (R) is tripped up by New York Islanders Travis Hamonic in the...

Toronto Maple Leafs Carl Gunnarsson (R) is tripped up by New York Islanders Travis Hamonic in the third period of their NHL hockey game in Toronto January 23, 2012. (REUTERS)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:12 PM ET

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Carl Gunnarsson is going home.

To his hometown team, that is.

Gunnarsson signed with Orebro HK of the Swedish second division Monday after spending some time practicing with Linkoping. Even though he played roughly 150 pro games in his native Sweden, none were with his hometown team, Orebro.

"Of course it feels great, it's fun to be back," Gunnarsson said on the team website. "It's cool to be back home. It's been a long time since I played a game, so it will be well to take a while to get into it."

Gunnarsson is coming off a solid third season with the Leafs. He partnered primarily with Dion Phaneuf on the top defence unit and chipped in with four goals and 15 assists in 76 games.

COWEN ON ICE

If the ridiculous NHL lockout is solved soon and the Ottawa Senators return to the ice, they'll be without one of their up-and-coming building blocks on defence.

And it could be for a lengthy period of time, if you believe the speculation.

Senators general manager Bryan Murray confirmed Monday that 6-foot-5, 230-pound defenceman Jared Cowen will require a surgical procedure for a lower-body injury that was sustained while playing for the Binghamton Senators last month.

QMI Agency's Don Brennan wrote that the "lower-body injury" was a hip flexor.

After Cowen sat out seven games for the B-Sens, it was decided that he should have surgery this week.

The Senators won't comment until after the surgery so there's no way to know how much time Cowen will miss.

PAVELEC WON'T RENEW

Optimistic the NHL season will start soon, Winnipeg Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec won't renew his contract with Liberec of the top Czech league.

Pavelec's contract expired on Nov. 4, prior to the European leagues' international break, and he opted not to return, according to iSport.cz. The 25-year-old will, according to the report, "probably go back to Canada."

In 14 games with Liberec, Pavelec had a 3.50 goals-against average and .896 save percentage.

Although he has decided not to play (for now), he won't rule out a return to Europe if the NHL season is washed out completely.

"The influx of players to Europe then is likely to be huge," Pavelec told the Czech website (with translation from Sportsnet). "I'll sit down with an agent and see how to deal with my situation then."

GEOFFRION ON MEND

Montreal Canadiens prospect Blake Geoffrion is out of intensive care and on the road to recovery but the outcome could have been very different, his father told the Tennessean newspaper.

The 24-year-old forward, who is playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL, suffered a depressed skull fracture when he was hit by defenceman Jean-Phlippe Cote of the Syracuse Crunch during a game Friday in Montreal. He was forced to have emergency surgery despite skating off the ice under his own power.

"We're lucky that he's alive," Danny Geoffrion said. "Parts of the skull had gotten into the brain. So they cleaned all that out, and took care of the little bleeding he did have, which was another major thing. He was very, very lucky.

"They removed the piece of his skull that was about the size of a silver dollar. They had to replace that with titanium and metal mesh. And that's what the plate consists of, with the screws and all that, so he now has that in his head. It was unreal."

Geoffrion was taken out of intensive care on Sunday and posted an update on his condition to his Twitter account Monday.

"Thank you to everyone for their kind words and support," he said. "Today has been a little tougher but continuing to get better."

PRED CHANGES TEAMS

Nashville Predators forward Patric Hornqvist will join Djurgardens of the Swedish Allsvenskan league after a short stint in Switzerland.

Hornqvist had seven goals and seven assists in nine games with the Martigny Red Ice of the Swiss second division but left the team and was replaced by Boston Bruins forward Chris Kelly. He'll join a Djurgardens team he previously played for at the junior and senior levels before jumping to the NHL in 2008.

The 25-year-old Swede will have a pair of locked-out NHLers -- Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog and San Jose Sharks blueliner Douglas Murray -- as teammates in Djurgardens.

BRIEFLY

Ottawa Senators forward Eric Condra will move to SC Riessersee of the German Bundesliga after playing with lower-tier team EV Fussen. Condra joins NHLers Rick DiPietro and Matt D'Agostini with Riessersee ... Forward Roman Cervenka of the Calgary Flames signed with Lev Praha of the KHL, according to the team. Cervenka was playing with Slavia Praha of the top Czech league ... Leafs prospect Leo Komarov of the Toronto Marlies will miss Tuesday's game against Oklahoma City after being suspended one game for a head check Saturday in San Antonio.


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