ECHL team invites opponents to forfeit after Lil B blessing

Lil B's blessing of the Brampton Beast is giving the club a sudden boost of confidence.

The Montreal Canadiens' ECHL affiliate is all but planning the parade after receiving a blessing from the "BasedGod," inviting its opponents to forfeit now that the rapper notorious for placing curses on athletes has spared the organization.

"The 'blessing' may very well mean a Kelly Cup Championship is in the cards for the Beast for the upcoming 2016-17 season," the team wrote in a release Tuesday.

"The Beast would like to offer our ECHL competitors the opportunity to forfeit their scheduled contests against the Beast organization in an effort get a head start on the 2017-18 ECHL season."

The release includes a form opponents can submit to formally admit defeat:

(Courtesy: Brampton Beast)

The Lil B/Beast connection began when the team was followed on Twitter by the rapper, whose social media brand almost exclusively involves putting hexes on - or sparing - the likes of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and even the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto FC.

This could always backfire and become bulletin-board material for the Beast's rivals, but it's a bold move for a club that is clearly savoring the moment.

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Benn: Commitment to Stars takes precedence over World Cup

Given the choice, Jamie Benn ultimately decided to make sure he's fully ready to go when the puck drops on a new NHL season.

The Dallas Stars captain announced Tuesday he's pulling himself off Canada's World Cup roster in light of offseason core muscle surgery. While the six-week recovery timeline suggested he could indeed suit up for the tournament, Benn prioritized his NHL commitment over the national team.

Related: Sharks' Couture named to Team Canada, will replace Stars' Benn

"Giving everything I have to this organization is my main job, and I want to be ready to go when the season starts," Benn told Mike Heika Of The Dallas News.

"I'm 100 percent committed to the Stars. That's why we made the decision."

Still, the decision wasn't an easy one, as Benn would have had not only an opportunity to add another international win to his resume following a strong showing at the Olympics in 2014, but a chance to play with linemate Tyler Seguin for the first time in a Canada jersey.

"It's what you dream of growing up," Benn said of playing for his country. "It was a really tough decision."

At the end of the day, it's success with the Stars - in the regular season and especially the playoffs - that takes precedence over the World Cup, and Benn is indeed expected to be 100 percent for opening night on Oct. 13.

The 27-year-old signed an eight-year, $76-million contract extension on July 15 on the strength of a career-high 41 goals and 89 points this past season, and one year after winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league's highest scorer.

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Report: Avalanche to name head coach this week, as early as Wednesday

The Colorado Avalanche are on the verge of naming Patrick Roy's successor, and they might do it in the next 24 hours.

The Avalanche wrapped up interviews Monday and will name their new head coach this week, possibly as early as Wednesday, the club told Mike Chambers of The Denver Post.

Chambers and colleague Terry Frei reported Monday that Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen and San Jose Sharks assistant coach Bob Boughner have emerged as major candidates for the vacant Colorado job.

Other candidates reportedly include New York Rangers associate coach Scott Arniel, Washington Capitals assistant Lane Lambert, and a pair of AHL bench bosses - Jared Bednar of the Cleveland Monsters and Travis Green of the Utica Comets.

Roy announced his resignation from his dual role as Avalanche head coach and vice-president of hockey operations earlier this month after three seasons with the team.

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U.S. swimmer Ledecky inspires Islanders, majority owner uncle

Katie Ledecky's Olympic dominance made a big impact on an NHL team with a family connection.

The Rio 2016 quintuple medalist and niece of New York Islanders new majority owner Jon Ledecky inspired her uncle's club.

"One of the players texted me, 'Katie's got her gold medals, now we have to get us a Stanley Cup,'" the elder Ledecky told Cristina Ledra of

The Islanders co-owner made the trip to Brazil to watch Katie race and was shown on NBC enthusiastically cheering on his niece during the 200m freestyle final.

"We are lucky to have great owners that are extremely passionate about the team," Islanders forward Anders Lee said.

"I've seen (co-owner) Charles (Wang) celebrate after we score a goal as if he's sitting in the seats with the die-hards. Now, witnessing Jon's passion for Katie during her races, and then his excitement after she won was great to see, and I look forward to seeing him do the same when we score goals this season."

Lee wasn't the only Islanders player to take notice of her performance.

"It's inspiring to see any athlete dominate their sport as Katie Ledecky did at the Olympics," defenseman Nick Leddy said. "The fact that she is American and we have a small connection with her because of our owner Jon, made it even more fun to watch."

The swimmer, who grew up in Maryland rooting for the Washington Capitals, will toss out the ceremonial first pitch before the Nationals host the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.

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Prust: ‘I’ve always wanted to play for the Leafs’

Brandon Prust is going to try to make a dream come true.

His own, that is, after signing a professional tryout offer with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.

"Growing up a Leafs fan, I know that's kind of where my heart is," Prust, who grew up and played junior hockey nearby London, Ont, told Dave Stubbs of "I've always wanted to play for the Leafs. I figure this will be a great opportunity for me."

Prust appeared in only 35 games for the Vancouver Canucks last season, and was shut down in March due to a nagging ankle injury that required surgery.

Despite his desire to stick with the Maple Leafs out of camp, he's hopeful a good showing will boost his stock if Toronto decided to go a different way.

"Every team wants to see that my ankle and my foot speed are good before I get a contract," he said. "That's one of the reasons nobody was willing to give me a contract outright - nobody was really sure how my recovery was or how I'd bounce back from last season.

"I just have to earn it now, prove that I'm back to 100 percent."

Prust has appeared in 486 career regular-season games - including three seasons with the rival Montreal Canadiens - and has 115 points and 1,036 penalty minutes to his credit.

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Raffi Torres likely to retire if unsigned by NHL club

Raffi Torres appears ready to retire from professional hockey if he doesn't land an NHL contract for the upcoming season.

The rugged 34-year-old winger has not played since the 2015 preseason, where he was suspended 41 games for a hit on Jakob Silfverberg of the Anaheim Ducks, but he is hoping to get an invitation to a training camp this season.

Supplementary discipline and various injuries - most recently knee surgery - have limited him to 44 regular-season games since the 2013 season, and Torres says he'll likely hang up his skates if he can't land a job with one of the NHL's 30 clubs.

"To be honest, I’ve never been one for Plan B’s," Torres, who was under contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs before becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1, told John Matisz of Postmedia. "I’ve been telling everybody (who asks about my future), it’s probably going to be The Show or no."

Torres added he's been training heavily for the past several months in order to test his knee, which he admits may not hold up under the rigors of an 82-game schedule.

That may be a tough sell. If he does choose to retire, his career would be capped at 635 games, 137 goals, and 497 penalty minutes.

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Couture: Crosby can cheat on faceoffs ‘as much as he wants’ at World Cup

Nearly three months after Logan Couture called out Sidney Crosby for cheating in the faceoff circle during the Stanley Cup final, the San Jose Sharks forward is singing a different tune.

Couture was added to Team Canada's World Cup of Hockey roster on Tuesday - in the wake of Jamie Benn's surgery and continued recovery - and admits he won't complain about Crosby's faceoff antics or preferential treatment from refs now that the two are teammates.

"He's on my team now, so he can do it as much as he wants," Couture said, according to Ryan Pyette of the London Press Press.

If you can't beat them, join them.

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Senators sign Ceci to 2-year, $5.6M deal

The Ottawa Senators signed defenseman Cody Ceci to a two-year, $5.6-million contract on Tuesday, the team announced.

Ceci - who had been a restricted free-agent - will make $2.25 million this upcoming season and see a $1.1-million raise for the 2017-18 campaign.

The 22-year-old is coming off his second-full season with the Senators since being drafted 15th overall in 2012. He notched a career-high 10 goals and and 26 points in 75 games last year, placing him second behind captain Erik Karlsson among Ottawa's blue-liners.

With Ceci under contract, the club has now addressed all of its pending free agents.

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