Wild’s Koivu sends thoughts to hometown in Finland after knife attack

Mikko Koivu had plenty to say about the fatal stabbings that took place in his hometown of Turku, Finland.

"Friday's events in Turku were shocking," the Minnesota Wild captain said in a statement issued by the club Saturday. "This is my home and I have so much love for this community. My thoughts are with my fellow residents of Turku and all the people of Finland. Mostly, I am thinking of the people who died and were injured, and am sending my support to their families and friends."

Police stopped the suspect by shooting him in the thigh, but not before two people died and nine were stabbed in an attack that targeted women, according to The Associated Press.

Koivu said he and his family weren't harmed.

"I am extremely thankful to say my wife and children, our extended families, and those closest to us are all safe," he continued. "Like our fellow Finnish countrymen and women, we are extremely grateful for the quick actions of the police, emergency services and other first responders."

The Finnish Security Intelligence Service is treating the incident as a likely terrorist act.

Koivu said he was touched by the outpouring of support since Friday's deadly attack.

"I am moved at how many people have sent their support to the city of Turku and the country of Finland," he added. "I know my fellow countrymen and women will use the upcoming days as a chance to cherish those closest to us, and to be thankful for our great country."

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This new KHL mascot will haunt your dreams

Leave it to a team owned by a petrochemical company to provide some nightmare fuel.

The KHL's HC Neftekhimik revealed a terrifying new mascot Saturday while unveiling its new wolf-themed uniforms.

Here's a look at the frightening new character, as seen in a video released by the club of the ceremony:

Here it is sharing a moment with the team's previous mascot:

And here are a couple more mildly disturbing screenshots:

Neftekhimik fans can seek sympathy from supporters of the Edmonton Oilers, whose club was roasted last September after introducing Hunter the lynx.

Watch the full video of the Neftekhimik unveiling here:

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Lehtera blames poor season on added World Cup schedule

Extra games on the calendar left Jori Lehtera playing on fumes.

The veteran forward, who was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers from the St. Louis Blues at this year's entry draft, believes a busier than usual schedule last season contributed to his dip in production.

"It was different than before. It made it a little bit harder," Lehtera told Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We started to skate so early, so I was kind of out of gas the second half."

In 64 games with the Blues last season, Lehtera put up just 22 points, down from 34 and 44 points in his past two campaigns.

The Finnish forward, who made his NHL debut with the Blues in 2014-15, was called upon by his home nation to skate in last year's World Cup, a tournament in which his country finished dead last and Lehtera was held pointless in three contests.

That inability to score carried over to the regular season, and the Blues, surely unhappy that Lehtera wasn't living up to his $4.7-million cap hit, shipped him to Philadelphia in the deal that brought Brayden Schenn to St. Louis.

Still, Lehtera is happy to get a fresh start with the Flyers.

"It's always tough to leave when you know all of the guys and the city," Lehtera added. "But hockey-wise, it's going to be good for me. I didn't play well at the end, but I think a new start will be really good for me."

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Watch: Don Cherry sings ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’ at Wrigley Field

During the seventh-inning stretch of Saturday afternoon's bout between the Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays, Don Cherry took the mic to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

Cherry, most famous for hosting "Coach's Corner" and coaching the Boston Bruins to four first-place finishes in the 1970s, curbed the issue of his rooting interest by adding "root, root, root for the best team" into his rendition, and topping it off with "Go Hawks."

Amazingly, Cherry kept it very short without the help of Ron MacLean letting him know how much time he had left.

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Leivo ‘excited’ to get another chance with Leafs

Josh Leivo isn't going anywhere.

That much was evident when the Toronto Maple Leafs protected the winger ahead of the expansion draft, leaving fellow frontman Brendan Leipsic free for the taking by the Vegas Golden Knights.

And while a move to Sin City would have offered a fresh start for Leivo, he's excited to remain with the club that originally drafted him six years ago.

That enthusiasm was shared by Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, whose message to Leivo in the team's year-end meetings in April was an early reveal to Leivo that he'd be sticking around in Toronto.

"You didn't know what was going to happen at the time, but when they informed me they wanted to keep me, it was wonderful to hear," Leivo told Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun. "They wanted to develop me and keep me on the roster. I'm very excited they gave me that opportunity. I just want to go out this year and prove myself to them."

A series of unfortunate injuries limited Leivo's appearances last season, as did a bout of healthy scratches courtesy of Babcock. All in all, Leivo wrapped the year with 13 games with the Maple Leafs, in which he compiled an impressive 10 points. He also skated in five games with the AHL's Marlies.

Where he fits on Toronto's roster going forward, particularly one already crowded with young talent, remains to be seen. The 24-year-old also understands that it could be now or never to get his NHL career on track, and he's thrilled to have the chance to make his mark with the Maple Leafs.

"As you get older, you realize what's at stake and you want to make the most of the chance," Leivo added. "We have a group who built a lot of chemistry last year. Even when I wasn't playing, they were still great to me and when I got in, I felt like I hadn't missed a game. Hopefully this season is even better."

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Golden Knights made ‘impressive’ pitch to college free agent Butcher

Will Butcher could be the next star to take his show to Sin City.

The University of Denver defenseman, who became an unrestricted free agent Wednesday, held a teleconference with the Vegas Golden Knights this week and, according to his agent, came away impressed with what the expansion franchise has to offer.

"The conversation went well," Butcher's agent, Brian Bartlett, told Ben Gotz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "The management was well prepared and painted an impressive picture of their plan and how a player like Will would fit into that."

The reigning Hobey Baker Award winner, Butcher impressed with Denver last season as he netted 37 points in 43 games. Interest in his services grew as he captained Denver to its first national championship since 2005.

Butcher was originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 2013, but did not sign an entry-level deal. Bartlett stated in July: "We appreciate what Colorado has done, and we're not ruling out the Avalanche as a potential destination. But we just feel there will be other opportunities that should be explored too, and therefore we're going (to free agency)."

As for the Golden Knights, they aren't the only team showing interest in Butcher, who has reportedly heard from the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils. He's also expected to receive a pitch from the back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Why signing Pastrnak long term should be a no-brainer for Bruins

Remember what you were doing at 20 years old? Well, for most of us, it was spent working part-time jobs, partying late with friends, and figuring out when we could borrow the car from Dad next.

However, for Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak, it was spent wreaking havoc on opposing NHL defenseman. The now 21-year-old winger had a career year in 2016-17, finishing second on the Bruins in scoring while putting the league on notice that he was indeed for real.

Fast forward to today, and Pastrnak is still a restricted free agent. Unlike many of his young peers, such as Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Johansen, and Evgeny Kuznetsov, Pastrnak remains without a new contract for next season.

And, despite his All-Star-caliber campaign and seemingly limitless offensive potential, the young Czech and the Bruins seem no closer to agreeing on a deal than they did when the season ended in May.

But, why the hold up?

Here's a look into why inking Pastrnak long term should be a no-brainer for the Bruins:

He's worth the high price tag

In a short period of time, Pastrnak has proven that he can score with the best of them, and he's only just starting to scratch the surface of his potential.

Across 75 regular-season games last campaign, Pastrnak tallied 34 goals and 36 assists while playing on the Bruins' top line and No. 1 power-play unit.

The former first-round draft pick has also produced effectively when compared to others from his 2014 draft class.

Of the 24 players taken ahead of him at 25th overall, only one player has registered more points than Pastrnak's 123. Oh, and that guy (Draisaitl) just got paid $68 million across eight years.

Related: Oilers sign Draisaitl to 8-year, $68M extension

Obviously, paying a player with less than three full seasons in the NHL under his belt is a risk, but, considering Pastrnak's caliber and talent, it's one the Bruins should be more than willing to take.

His offense is irreplaceable

Pastrnak's value in Boston increases exponentially when he's compared to the rest of the Bruins' forward group. After Brad Marchand, the B's lack the elite scoring punch needed to take them over the top and back into Cup contention.

No disrespect to two quality NHLers in Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, but, after Marchand and Pastrnak, the drop-off in offensive potency is steep.

During the 2016-17 campaign, Pastrnak and Marchand formed a formidable duo on the Bruins' top line, combining to score an impressive 73 goals - good enough for 31 percent of the Bruins' total goal output.

Boston finished last season with a respectable 232 goals scored, 13th most in the league. But, subtract Pastrnak's 34-goal total, and the Bruins' offensive output plummets to the bottom third of the NHL.

He can play both wings, log big minutes (averaging 17:59 last year), and produce in the clutch - his six game-winning goals tied him with Evgeni Malkin and Connor McDavid for sixth most in the league.

Pastrnak's versatility and importance to Boston's offense make him an indispensable part of the Bruins' future and the team needs to lock him down for years to come.

The Bruins can afford it

With nearly 33 percent of their payroll committed to Krejci, Bergeron, and Marchand, Boston already has a sizable chunk of change earmarked for its forward group.

However, according to Cap Friendly, the B's currently have just over $10.1 million in available cap space for next season. So, in short, they can afford to give Pastrnak the money he's looking for.

It's been rumored that the talented winger declined the Bruins' initial offer of six years at $6 million per season, but, after seeing what Draisaitl and Johansen were paid, it's understandable if Pastrnak feels that he's worth more than what Boston is currently willing to pay him.

General manager Don Sweeney would be wise to pay the man his money.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)

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Look: Bishop to wear glow-in-the-dark mask with Stars

A move to a new team usually means a new look, but Dallas Stars netminder Ben Bishop will sport a familiar design in his first season in Texas.

The mask Bishop will wear is the latest work by Swedish artist David Gunnarsson and includes the Stars' logo and a map of Texas. It also covers the latest trend in goalie circles - a helmet that appears to change color.

Bishop was set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, prior to a May trade that sent his rights to the Stars, after which Bishop agreed to a long-term extension that will keephim in Dallas to 2023.

The 30-year-old split last season between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Los Angeles Kings, posting a 18-15-5 record with a .910 save percentage.

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Remember, we are all Canucks!