NHL Roundup: Chara returns to Isles; Drouin on why he left Habs; Wild upset Karpizov unsigned; Coyotes rebrand and more

A majority of NHL training camps will open up tomorrow, as we fast approach the start of the 2021-22 campaign.

Let’s take a tour around the league and check in on some of the top stories.

NHL Roundup: Chara full circle back with Islanders

The 44-year-old veteran of 1,608 games started his career with the Islanders, who drafted him in the third round in 1996. He played last season with the Washington Capitals, contributing two goals and eight assists in 55 games.

This past weekend, he signed a one-year deal to return to where it all began.

It’s kind of a full circle,” Chara said. “Who would know this would work out the way it did after 20-something years. I’m certainly very honored to be an Islander again. Obviously, the organization went through some transitions over the course of 20 years, but we all see the progress and the positivity that is where the team is at.”

Jonathan Drouin on why he left the Habs

Montreal Canadiens forward Jonathan Drouin said Monday that his leave of absence from the team last season was due to anxiety and insomnia.

The 26-year-old Drouin told Canada-based RDS that he has issues with anxiety for several years and hit a breaking point before the third contest of a five-game road trip in April.

“When I first started feeling anxiety, it was difficult to go see someone or ask for help. I wasn’t able to recognize my problems or what was going on,” he explained. “That’s where it hit a wall for me. It was time to step away from the game. Literally take a step back from everything and enjoy life.”

Drouin went on to say that he was happy with his decision even though he missed out on the Habs playoff run.

Wild upset Kaprizov still unsigned

NHL Roundup
Mar 14, 2021; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov (97) catches the puck out of the air against the Arizona Coyotes during the second period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Kirill Kaprizov led all rookies in goals with 27, points (51) and power-play goals (eight) in 55 games this past season. His totals in goals, assists (24) and points served as records by a rookie in franchise history en route to the Calder Trophy.

Minnesota’s GM, Bill Guerin is still working on getting a deal done. Michael Russo of The Athletic connected with him over the weekend to get an update.

“I’m disappointed that we don’t have him signed, but we are not the only team in this situation,” Guerin said. “Training camp starts next week. And when that starts, we’re gonna focus on the guys we have there. This happens all the time, but we’ll just move ahead.”

The possibility of a holdout now looms large as they continue to negotiate.

Coyotes rebrand

The Arizona Coyotes are rebranding and doing so by going back to the past to address the future.

The club announced Monday that it is rebranding with a focus on “our vision to become a long-term winning team in Arizona and our dedication to impact, inclusivity, and innovation,” president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez said in a team statement.

The rebrand is starting with the re-introduction of the popular Kachina as its permanent logo. The team wore black Kachina-logo jerseys at some home games last season, and now is extending it to the white jerseys — last worn by the team in 2003.

Travis Zajac retires

The NJ Devils gave 36 year-old Travis Zajac a one-day contract in order for him to retire as a member of the franchise that drafted him.

The first round selection, 20th overall from the 2004 Draft played 1024 games with the Devils before being traded to the Islanders at the deadline this season for 13 more.

“After just taking time off I really didn’t have that desire to keep training, keep pushing myself. I kind of feel like I ran out of a little gas, and being around the family a lot more was starting to have a real big impact on my life,” Zajac explained his decision. “Being home for dinners, being around the kids’ sports, involved in school, that was a lot of fun to me and I really love being a part of that. The sacrifices you have to make to continue to play, I didn’t have that internal push to really keep going.”

Zajac finishes his career with 1037 games played, 203 goals, 349 assists, for a total of 552 points.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report