by Patrick Hoffman on 03/17/11 at 03:58 PM ET
Joe was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to give us his thoughts on concussions and what the NHL is doing about them as well as his thoughts on the playoff races.
PH: How do you think the NHL will handle the concussion issue now that some rules have been put in place? Do you think they’ll work?
JT: Nothing really seems to be effective for any duration, so I guess it will work until the next time somebody crosses the line. Heatley and Marchand were suspended as the GM meetings wrapped up. But I applaud everything that the NHL is doing to try and curb the situation as best they can. They can’t, nor should they, ever take hitting out of the game so the next best thing is to levy extra punishment for the crime and take steps to deal with safety concerns. It’s really always going to be up to the players to figure it out on their own, but that’s not going to happen, period.
PH: What else do you think came out of the NHL general managers’ meeting that was positive for the league?
JT: There’s always a positive aspect to these gatherings; new ideas get tabled, brainstorming never hurts. Some good rules that are now in place probably sounded laughable at one time. So while I’m not willing to pinpoint anything as significantly positive, I always encourage the process. And when I see names like Shanahan and Blake and Yzerman on the sounding board, I know at least the discussions are going to be intelligent and progressive. There’s hope, is what I’m saying.
PH: What do you think about the playoff races this season? Which stands out as the most intriguing to you? Why?
JT: Well, the ridiculous parity this season is outrageous and the results any given night could send it reeling again. I can’t imagine anything being settled before the final weekend and I couldn’t even venture a guess on who’ll be left at the curb. There’s only room for 8 on each side though – them’s the rules. The intrigue in the East is the teams – Toronto, New Jersey – that literally had no shot at making it. Not in any universe. Now they can both end up at the dance. And in the West, it’s much the same, but I have to say that my compelling story in that Conference is how the Chicago Black Hawks are responding. They were pretty much written off as a Stanley Cup non-factor. They might still miss the playoffs, but I wouldn’t want them in the first round if it goes their way.
PH: If you had a crystal ball, which eight teams would you see making the playoffs in each conference come April? Why?
JT: I think Calgary will flame out at the end, but again, that’s another team that we buried months ago. I have to learn to stop doing that. I honestly think the Sabres will hang on in the East and Ryan Miller will be a key to that – and I like Carolina for the same reason…Cam Ward. And I think Nashville takes out Dallas. So, I have Vancouver, Detroit, SJ, Chicago, LA, Phoenix, Nashville, Anaheim (3 teams from California –wow). In the East. it’s Philly, Washington, Boston, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Buffalo and Carolina. Sorry New York. Whatever you do…don’t take that to the bank.
PH: Any other thoughts you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
JT: We have some surprises coming your way – most of which are confidential at this point—as the NHL Playoffs kick off. But rest assured, you’ll get the same 24 hour hockey coverage you’ve come to expect, plus every game all the way to the final buzzer. It’s our sixth season already and most of us have been here since the very start. Proud about that…but kind of amazed as well.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at email@example.com.