Kukla's Korner Hockey
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from the Toronto Star,
Oh, Canada, they are standing on guard for thee. The home and native sons are having an outstanding season in our national game’s top competition.
Not that statistics tell the whole story or that citizenship matters so much within the National Hockey League melting pot, but check the passports and there’s a blaze of maple leafs among the scoring leaders.
The top four points men entering yesterday’s play were Canadians – Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier, Joe Thornton and Martin St. Louis – as were seven of the top eight.
By George James Malik:
When Wayne Gretzky speaks, the hockey world listens. Gretzky’s impassioned plea to the NHL’s referees (and front office), demanding more accountability for the vicious and violent hits that have become commonplace in the 2006-2007 season, was completely justified. Whether you believe that Craig Janssen, Chris Neil, and Ryan Hollweg were “finishing their checks” or wantonly attempting to injure their opponents, the resulting body count can’t be denied. In the case of Chris Simon, an uncalled boarding penalty resulted in the ugliest incident in NHL history since Todd Bertuzzi’s attack on Steve Moore.
Referees seem to refuse to call more than one set of penalties in our post-lockout NHL, and it’s bafflingly frustrating to see players regularly line up their opponents, cruise in, and pop their hard-plastic-covered shoulders up as they intentionally direct their momentum and body mass upward instead of outward, making contact with chins, temples, and the Reebok logo on the backs of NHL jerseys instead of chests, arms, or team crests. Allowing “battles” for the puck has devolved into a tacit approval of anything that isn’t interference.
The latter half of Gretzky’s statements, however, have been pounced upon by he NHL’s commentators:
from the Toronto Sun,
Colin Campbell is most often referred to as the National Hockey League’s chief disciplinarian. His official title is the NHL’s executive vice-president and director of hockey operations. The Tillsonburg, Ont., native is a former player and coach. He’s been front and centre when dealing with issues of rule changes, rule enforcement and discipline. This week, he chatted with Sun Media columnist Morris Dalla Costa….
Q: Will there come a time when any check to the head will result in a penalty?
We’ll discuss it. But I’ve talked to leagues where any check to the head is a penalty and . . . if this rule is out there, you’re getting players coming into our league who have played all the way up, knowing they are not going to get hit with a shoulder to the head, they come to the NHL and won’t be prepared for it. I remember when I played, I got nailed by Willi Plett. I remember I was out on the ice. I remember thinking,: “The coach is going to think; ‘How can I expose myself that way?’ ” My dad is going to give me crap for exposing myself. We’re to the point where we’ve gotten rid of a lot of things that have caused injuries. Now we’re looking at head checking. We’ll beat it up and discuss it with everyone involved.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Chicago GM Dale Tallon is expected to make big changes this summer. Getting RW Martin Havlat from Ottawa wasn’t enough—the Blackhawks and the club needs to put some talent around him. While the Hawks are trying to keep C Michal Handzus from going to unrestricted free agency this summer, there’s also talk the club will be free-agent shopping. The Hawks could make a pitch for Buffalo C Daniel Briere and Islanders LW Ryan Smyth.
much more from Garrioch… and we all know most every team will have an interest in Smyth, Briere and Drury…
from Michael Russo at the Star-Tribune,
Boogaard said he thinks it’s time the NHL eliminates the last-five-minute instigating rule because it gives opponents license to go after star players during that time.
“The players should decide the game, not other people,” Boogaard said. “Some guys say that rule’s not in the back of their heads, but it is. It’s probably never good to cost your coach 10,000 bucks.”
No kidding. Just ask Kyle Wanvig, whose career with the Wild effectively ended when Lemaire wrote that $10,000 check for Wanvig instigating a fight with Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik late in a December game last season.
Boogaard’s contention that the rule should be eliminated comes on the heels of NHL general managers recommending that players should draw an automatic two-game suspension for their fifth instigator penalty, rather than their third.
from Jeff Z. Klein & Karl-Eric Reif at the New York Times (Sunday edition),
Despite a number of injuries in the past few years as a result of illegal or malicious play by fellow union members, the union’s only action — in marked contrast to similar bodies in soccer and football — has been to represent the assailants at disciplinary hearings.
“The N.H.L.P.A. will be reviewing and checking hits to the head with our membership at our annual player meetings this summer,” the union’s director of hockey affairs, Mike Gartner, said Friday in an e-mail message. “The issue of head shots will likely be an item of discussion for the competition committee as well,” he added, referring to a league committee.
much more on the NHL, inlcuding a nice feature on Paul Stastny…
from the Edmonton Sun,
But as playoff and divisional races become so tight that one point will likely mean the difference between making and missing, or clinching home ice and opening on the road, a lot of teams in the tourniquet are only now beginning to appreciate the value of those shootout spoils.
“I don’t know if our team really realizes how many points we have lost,” said Teemu Selanne, whose Anaheim Ducks have seven shootout losses this season, most in the Western Conference and second most in the NHL.
“We don’t really practise it. Maybe three, four times in the whole season, and I don’t think that’s enough.”
from the Associated Press:
“We seem to spend so much time worrying about hooking and holding. We lose focus,’’ said Gretzky, the Phoenix Coyotes coach. “In my mind, I see much more charging. Hitting from behind is a little bit more blatant than it used to be. Late hits are getting blown up, obviously.
“I don’t think it’s a question (whether) anybody wants it or likes it. In some ways, we seem to be forgetting about it.’‘
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
With owner Charles Wang at the controls, anything is possible — perhaps both Smyth and Blake will receive the sort of long-term commitment that the Islanders have become infamous for. But if they miss the playoffs or exit meekly in the opening round and all three players flee in the summer, the Islanders will effectively be back at square one — with Alexei Yashin’s monstrous contract acting as a millstone and most of their skill deploying an exit strategy.
It’s why there is always a danger in taking a short-term snapshot — this year’s unexpectedly effective season — to assess the long-range impact of the Islanders’ moves and subsequent progress. Just as there was a rush to bury them last summer, there is now a stampede to praise them as a result of their unexpected rise.
read on... plus numerous NHL bits…
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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