Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 11/07/05 at 11:32 AM ET
Niemenen, who has appeared a step slow since training camp — maybe because of the groin, maybe because of suspect conditioning — is one of those players who may become extinct in the new NHL. He's an agitator and baiter in a league that seems to have no place for those kinds of dinosaurs; certainly not for those who can't keep up with the pace and who can't keep their sticks down and to themselves. In the five games immediately preceding Saturday, Niemenen had picked up six minors; just about one every 7:45 of ice time. No one can expect to be penalized at that rate and keep his spot in the lineup, whether a veteran or rookie. In other words, these aren't the days when Tomas Kloucek would be benched for committing lesser and fewer blunders than the ones that never stuck to Teflon Igor Ulanov. This, rather, is the time when Niemenen can sit because of his penchant for taking penalties and Fedor Fedorov can be scratched because of a failure to engage. It's also the time when Renney can send a public warning — er, reminder — to his team not only in referring to Niemenen but while praising Petr Prucha following Saturday's coming out party.
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