Kukla's Korner

Puckin' Around With Spector

Musings on the first week of the ‘11-‘12 Season.

- League disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan’s efforts to crack down on targeted hits to the head remains a laudable project, but I have to agree with agent Alan Walsh’s complaint that his client, Minnesota Wild winger Pierre-Marc Bouchard, was undeserving of a two-game suspension for a slash to the face of Columbus Blue Jackets winger Matt Calvert.

Yes, players should be responsible for their sticks, and while Bouchard clearly only meant to slash the hands of Calvert after the latter initiated contact jockeying for position during a faceoff, the fact the Calvert was injured on the play meant the Wild winger deserved to be punished.

But a two-game suspension for an accidental injury by a player like Bouchard, who has no history of dirty play and no priors on his resume, seemed overly harsh. A stiff fine would’ve been more appropriate.

-The Montreal Canadiens opened the season with Lars Eller, Ryan White and Andrei Markov sidelined by injury.

Two games into this season, they lost Chris Campoli (hamstring – out for perhaps four months), Mike Cammalleri (one-two weeks – cut to his knee) and Jaroslav Spacek (upper body).

If they keep going at this rate, the Habs will be icing the entire lineup of the Hamilton Bulldogs by month’s end.

- The longer Phoenix Coyotes center Kyle Turris continues his holdout, the more convinced I am he’s receiving poor advice.

He’s done nothing in his short NHL career to justify salary demands of $3-4 million per season.

Some observers speculate this is a ploy by the Turris camp to force a trade, but Coyotes GM Don Maloney will have none of it, insisting if the 22-year-old wants to play in the NHL this season, it’ll have to be with the Coyotes.

If he’s not signed to an NHL contract by December 1st, he’ll be ineligible to play for the rest of the season.

Turris doesn’t have much leverage, and he’s not doing his reputation any favors by holding out.

- The New Jersey Devils may have named Zach Parise their new captain, but that hasn’t prevented rumormongers from naming him a possible trade candidate later this season.

That’s because of the one-year contract he signed this summer with the Devils, which would make him an unrestricted free agent next July.

It doesn’t matter both sides mutually agreed to this contract, in order to buy themselves more time to find a workable long-term deal, nor does it matter how often Parise insists he wants to remain a Devil.

Until he’s signed to a new, long-term contract, Parise’s name will continue to pop up in the rumor mill this season, especially if the Devils should struggle to make the playoffs this season.

-The NHL’s efforts to raise its visibility in Europe by having its teams stage exhibition games and season-openers in European cities is certainly worthwhile. After all, a large percentage of the league’s players come from European nations, so it only makes sense to tap into that market as best they can.

But after watching the NY Rangers play three exhibition games against European teams and two season-openers in Sweden in seven days, resulting in the Blueshirts dropping the last two in extra time, the league must find a better way to stage these series in the future.

The Rangers were clearly exhausted when they faced the Anaheim Ducks in the second game, and thanks to a late goal by Brad Richards and an outstanding performance by goalie Henrik Lundqvist, the tired Blueshirts were fortunate to escape with a point from a shootout loss.

Now it can be argued that it’s no big deal, it’s only two games, the Rangers got a point in each, so no harm no foul.

But those lost points could make the difference later in the season, particularly if the Rangers find themselves in a battle for a playoff berth.

Perhaps for next season, the NHL should look at perhaps two exhibition games and one season opener in Europe, so that the teams have more time to rest and recuperate between games.

- Monday’s Washington Capitals-Tampa Bay Lightning game wasn’t much of a defensive contest, nor was it one goaltenders Tomas Vokoun and Dwayne Roloson will fondly remember, but it certainly had a 1980s retro feeling.

The Capitals triumphed in a 6-5 victory in a game in which the Lightning took the lead four times, only to see the Caps rally back to tie, before going on to win by a shootout goal from Alexander Semin. It got my vote as the most exciting game of the opening week of the new season.

Semin’s shootout marker aside, the game was notable for none of the big guns of either team factoring into the scoring in regulation and overtime. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, along with Washington’s Semin, Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom all came up with goose-eggs.

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In reference to your comment: “But a two-game suspension for an accidental injury by a player like Bouchard, who has no history of dirty play and no priors on his resume, seemed overly harsh. A stiff fine would’ve been more appropriate.”

Probelm is NHL can’t dish out stiff fines….CBA only allows max fines of $2500 or something paltry like that.

Posted by Brian from Hamilton on 10/12/11 at 01:16 PM ET


To be fair to both, Vokoun robbed Stamkos of about 5 sure goals in that overtime.

Posted by steviesteve on 10/12/11 at 02:35 PM ET


In reference to your comments about the NHL premiere in Europe…

(a) if each team only has one regular season over there, then the participants aren’t being treated equally in terms of losing home games from their schedule. I always assumed this was the reason for the double-header. But changing up the exhibition schedule in Europe certainly would be a smart move (those games are a lot more competitive than their Stateside equivalents!) - assuming it’s the league who organise these games.

(b) putting four regular season games in Europe, but then selling the TV rights to a group of financial vultures with no interest in growing the game long-term, who haven’t yet managed to do a deal for NHL TV rights anywhere in Europe, is like buying somebody a drink but then stealing their wallet. Europe is Not Bloody Impressed with the NHL right now.

Posted by fcjbencard on 10/12/11 at 03:20 PM ET

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About Puckin' Around With Spector

I’m Lyle Richardson. You might know me from my website, Spector’s Hockey, my thrice-weekly rumor column at THN.com, my weekly column at Eishockey News (if you read German), and my former gig as a contributing writer to Foxsports.com.

I’ll be writing a once-weekly blog here with my take on all things NHL. Who knows, I might actually find time to debunk a trade rumor or two.