Toews returns/veterans rule!: Tuesday notes

Luca Sbisa’s signing made it tougher. The roster deadline today squeezed things. Devon Toews got sent down, and he joined the Sound Tigers this morning.

“Take it in stride,” Toews said. “I’m going to help this team win, and any way I can do that, I will.”

You Can Never Have Enough Defensemen, so who knows what tomorrow will bring. But right now the Sound Tigers have 10 defensemen to go with 16 forwards: The Islanders also sent veteran Czech centerman Jan Kovar to Bridgeport. He was not yet in town. Andrew Gross yesterday said they’d chatted about adapting to the North American game, so this could give him a chance to do that.

(Jan Kovar, incidentally, is more properly Jan Kovář. That last letter is tricky, which is why “KOH-var” became “KOH-vash” as training camp went on, and even that’s not quite it, because your average local tongue doesn’t have much like that consonant. It will be fun to practice.)

Otherwise the same group. The Islanders have to set their 23 at 5 p.m. today. They’re roughly there, not counting the injured players (John Stevens and Matt Lorito have been passing a puck back and forth after practice here the past couple of days; word is they’re making good progress but still no clear timetable) or their two remaining tryouts, Stephen Gionta and Dennis Seidenberg. Tom Kuhnhackl cleared waivers, but he stays up in the NHL at the moment.

Kovar, meanwhile, makes seven full veterans to go with Chris Casto, who can count as the one veteran under 320 games. Five of those seven full veterans can play in a given game. It has been a long while since Bridgeport had an actual veterans problem. (Bridgeport technically had a veterans problem to start 2015-16, but Louis Leblanc was let go before he played.)

Kieffer Bellows got clipped up high in the middle of practice; he went off for a few minutes but came back. BTW, couple of DVD extras from today’s Bellows feature. Asked Brent Thompson if he liked having a veteran opposite Bellows, as they’ve run Bellows-Hitchcock-Bernier in practice for about a week: “I think Bernier will really help — things can change day to day,” he added, but “I like the speed element with Hitch and the big, physical presence and leadership that Bernier brings. … Bellows has that same kind of bite that Bernier has, and Bellows finds those little corners. We’ll see how that plays out.”

Bellows liked it, too: “It’s been really good. Hitch and I are pretty close, and actually my first preseason game was on a line with Bernie up in MSG. There’s a little bit of chemistry there. We’re three really unique players that have a good skill set but know hard work, battle level and determination are the keys to hockey.”

Meanwhile, opening weekend will be free on the new AHLTV.

Team-building day tomorrow, so they won’t skate. More Thursday unless warranted.

Michael Fornabaio