Ex-Shark Malhotra appears on ice with Canucks

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Ex-Shark Malhotra appears on ice with Canucks

May 13, 2011

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (APCSN) Even though Manny Malhotra still can't play for the Canucks, his surprise return to the ice Thursday provided a pick-me-up to his Vancouver teammates.

Out with a career-threatening eye injury since being hit by a deflected puck on March 16, Malhotra skated with the team for the first time since being hurt as the Canucks began to prepare for the Western Conference finals against the San Jose Sharks.

San Jose advanced Thursday night with a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7.

RELATED: Sharks-Canucks series schedule

Associate Coach Rick Bowness said there was "no chance" Malhotra, who already had at least two operations on his injured left eye, was coming back during these playoffs. Still, the Canucks were happy to see him.

"It was a thrill for all of us to see him on the ice," Bowness said. "Getting back in the room and getting ready for practice, there's always excitement back in the air - we're getting back at, we're getting ready for the next round - but when Manny walks in and goes on the ice with them ... it just gave everyone an extra boost and the guys really enjoyed having him on the ice with them."

Wearing a Canucks-colored tracksuit and full-face shield on his helmet, Malhotra skated around before practice. He even joined the team for warm-up drills and took part in few line rushes before returning to the bench after 15 minutes.

"Just a couple shifts, but it was nice to see him out," goalie Roberto Luongo said. "To be on the ice with the boys like that, it was really special."

It's not like Malhotra hasn't been around during the playoffs.

Named an assistant captain in the first season of a three-year, 7.5 million deal he signed as a free agent, the 12-year NHL veteran has become an extra coach during the playoffs.

He's in penalty kill meetings for a unit he helped lead the league in the regular season, and dishes advice on everything from shooting to faceoffs, which he was second in the NHL at 61.7 per cent.

Bowness compared it to seeing Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby, out with a concussion, wearing a headset while watching the Penguins play in the playoffs.

"He's helping out a lot," added forward Daniel Sedin. "Everyone respects his opinion and he's been around this league for a long time so guys are going to listen when he talks. He's being a good, positive impact on a lot of guys."

Malhotra's advice could become more meaningful in the Western Conference finals - Vancouver's first trip this deep into the playoffs since 1994 - especially because the Canucks will open the series at home against San Jose on Sunday. Malhotra played last season for the Sharks.

"He gives tips on what's going on in the game," defenseman Sami Salo said. "He sees the game from upstairs and the TV so he has little inside scoops."

Malhotra, 30, still hasn't addressed the media other than releasing an April 6 statement thanking the surgeons, organization and fans for their support. His teammates are thankful for his support in the postseason.

"He's so positive every day even with what he's gone through," Salo said.

Salo knows better than most how hard that can be. He missed the first four and a half months of the season recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon suffered last summer, yet another injury in a career filled with injuries.

"It is tough, especially when the team is in the playoffs right now," Salo said, "but he's been really positive and supportive and it's been good to have him in the locker room. That shows you what kind of a great character he is."

And why he was such a good candidate to be an assistant captain so soon.

"Maybe he should have an A on his T-shirt right now," Salo said.

Bowness said Malhotra won't need the A for his jersey anytime soon. The team announced Malhotra's season was over just a few days after a hard pass glanced off a stick and struck him in the left eye, and that hasn't changed.

"Unless there is a complete miracle, no chance," Bowness said of a playoff return. "He's getting a little workout with the guys, it's a big thrill for all of us to see him back on the ice, but nothing has changed."

In terms of Malhotra's impact off the ice, that's a good thing.

Malhotra spent the 2009-10 season with the Sharks, signing as an unrestricted free agent just prior to the start of the season. He scored a career-high 14 goals before signing with the Canucks last summer.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs

BOX SCORE

Hit five home runs, and a team has to like its chances of winning.

The A’s simply couldn’t keep up with the Houston Astros’ bats, however, in an 11-8 loss Wednesday night that snapped Oakland’s four-game winning streak. Khris Davis went deep twice, and Ryon Healy, Jed Lowrie and Matt Olson all went deep as the A’s set their season high for home runs.

But Houston racked up 17 hits against Jesse Hahn (3-6) and four relievers and evened this three-game series at a game apiece. It was the second time Hahn has gotten knocked around by Houston inside of a week.

The A’s took an early lead, 5-4, in the third on the second of Davis’ two homers, part of a four-run rally for Oakland. But the Astros answered right back with five runs in the bottom half, and the A’s never recovered from that momentum swing.

Hahn’s struggles continue: Hahn was trying to rebound after the Astros hung nine earned runs on him last Thursday at the Coliseum. Things didn’t improve Wednesday at Minute Maid Park, as the right-hander lasted just two-plus innings and allowed six runs on nine hits. Is this a case of one team simply having Hahn’s number or do the A’s make a move and try someone else in the rotation? It bears watching.

Krush Davis x 2: It was apparent early this would be a slugfest, with Khris Davis homering twice within the first three innings as the A’s tried to keep pace. He led off the second with a shot to left field, then came back with a three-run blast to left in the third that put Oakland up 5-4. The homers were his team-leading 20th and 21st.

Reddick-ulous night: Josh Reddick filled up the stat sheet against his old team in every way imaginable. He went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs, and twice caught the A’s by surprise by stealing third base. For good measure, he turned in an excellent running catch in right field to rob Yonder Alonso.

Strange offensive night: What to make of this night offensively for the A’s? They hit a season-high five homers but also struck out a whopping 17 times. No matter … you can’t hang this one on the offense, because …

The pitching staff just couldn’t hold things down: Josh Smith was called upon to hold down the fort after Hahn departed in the third, but Smith was tagged for three runs on four hits. Daniel Coulombe and John Axford also got touched for runs. Rookie Michael Brady did turn in 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”

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