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Czechs tell NHL no Russians in Prague

(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

PRAGUE (AP) The war in Ukraine threw a wrinkle into the National Hockey League's planned return to Europe next month to play its first games outside North America since the start of the pandemic.

The Czech Foreign Ministry told two NHL teams opening their seasons in Prague that any Russian players would not be welcome because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It may not amount to an outright ban and league officials downplayed the potential impact, but it added a layer of uncertainty to a Global Series the NHL is proud of.

The Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks are set to play regular-season games Oct. 7 and 8 at Prague's O2 Arena as part of the series that is intended to put the world's top players on display, primarily in Europe. There are not many Russians on the two rosters: Nashville has forward Yakov Trenin and San Jose has Alexander Barabanov, along with Evgeny Svechnikov, who is in training camp on a tryout agreement.

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Avs focus on Cup defense as camp begins

DENVER (AP) Erik Johnson just didn't have enough hours in the day for all of the plans he had for his new companion, the Stanley Cup.

The veteran Colorado defenseman made the rounds the best he could this month as he celebrated the Avalanche's first title since 2001. For starters, there were the brunch-time cocktails ( Bloody Mary's featuring celery sticks and donut pieces ) out of the Cup, followed by taking the trophy for a Slip 'N Slide ride in the backyard. He showed it off to Colorado fans (the Cup got to hang out of a sunroof) before visiting an animal clinic. Then, he jetted off to California to display it at the Del Mar Racetrack, where it even got to meet the NBA championship trophy.

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Kane, Toews want to stay in Chicago

CHICAGO (AP) Chicago Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews haven't started making plans to leave the only NHL team they've ever played for. At least, not yet.

The franchise's marquee names said they aren't even thinking about it as rebuilding Blackhawks opened training camp Thursday.

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Pens' vet trio looks to make another run

CRANBERRY, Pa. (AP) The angst was real. For Evgeni Malkin. And Sidney Crosby. And Kris Letang. And just about everyone else associated with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The trio that's served as the franchise's bedrock for the better part of two decades understood they were heading into a summer of uncertainty, a time when the business of professional hockey might get in the way of their singular bond.

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Caps open camp without Backstrom, Wilson

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) The Washington Capitals opened training camp Thursday without two of the team's top players.

Longtime Alex Ovechkin running mate Nicklas Backstrom and big winger Tom Wilson are expected to miss at least the first portion of the season recovering from injuries. Wilson could be back as soon as December after rehabbing a torn ACL in his left knee while Backstrom is hoping to play sometime before the end of the season following hip resurfacing surgery.

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Relieved Wild welcome back Kaprizov

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Last summer, a long contract negotiation between Kirill Kaprizov and the Minnesota Wild - plus the complication of international travel and COVID-19 protocols - put the star left wing's arrival for the start of training camp in question.

That process turned out to be a snap compared to this year.

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Maurice era gets underway with Panthers

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. (AP) The Florida Panthers have been through exactly one day of practice. Preseason games start next week. The regular season starts next month and goes until mid-April. The grind is just beginning.

Nonetheless, Paul Maurice is in playoff mode.

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Kraken begin 2nd season with familiarity

SEATTLE (AP) For the players and staff who were around a season ago when the Seattle Kraken were racing to make their debut as an expansion franchise, what happened Thursday felt downright normal.

The Kraken started training camp with a group of players who had been on the ice together before, but were now able to be around each other in the locker room with COVID-19 protocols lifted to start the process of improving on what was a challenging and disappointing first season.

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Ex-G Rinne rejoins Preds in advisor role

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Nashville Predators have brought back former goaltender Pekka Rinne in a new role as a special alumni adviser.

General manager David Poile announced the move Thursday. Rinne is the only player in franchise history whose number has been retired.

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Sabres reward GM Adams with extension

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Though his rebuilding job is far from complete, Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams signed a contract extension on Wednesday, an indication that ownership believes he has the franchise pointed in the right direction.

Terms of the extension were not revealed. Adams, who's in his third season as GM, signed the deal as players reported for the start of training camp.

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