Tag:New York Rangers
Posted on: October 3, 2011 8:55 pm
 

Rangers' Staal to miss opening games in Sweden

By Brian Stubits

Now might be the time for New York Rangers fans to begin worrying about their blue line.

Marc Staal, one of the team's alternate captains and a leader among the defensive corps, will miss the start of the season. He won't make the trip to Europe, instead staying back in the State to continue working with doctors as he battles post-concussion symptoms stemming from a hit last season from his brother Eric of Carolina.

Not long ago, the team decided to withhold Staal from the final preseason games as he dealt with the symptoms. But we were told it was just precautionary and Staal would likely join the team for the regular-season openers in Sweden. The message was that it was nothing more than the Rangers being extra careful.

“Marc Staal continues to work with his people [in New York] and he’s not coming on the trip,” Tortorella told the media after the Rangers' 8-4 exhibition loss in Zug, Switzerland. “He will not be [in Stockholm]. He continues to work with the doctors out there, so we thought it was best to leave him alone right now. So he won’t open the season with us.”

You never can tell how players are going to progress as they try and get over post-concussion issues, so it makes sense the Rangers are taking their time. At this point they probably figured it wasn't worth sending him on a plane trip halfway across the globe if they weren't 100 percent on his playing status.

It's not all gloom and doom, though, as Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record and Ranger Rants blog reports, Staal was practicing with the Connecticut Whale. So perhaps he isn't facing a long-term injury stay with an IR visit like Sidney Crosby, but the fact that he still isn't well enough to make the trip and play is of slight concern.

The Rangers would obviously like to get Staal back as soon as they can. Because without him, the Rangers will take on the Ducks and Kings with a defensive corps that consists of Dan Girardi, Steve Eminger, Brendan Bell, Stu Bickel, Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh and Mike Sauer. Hopefully for the Blueshirts, Henrik Lundqvist will thrive being back in Sweden.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 10:09 am
 

Daily Skate: P. Kane fares well in center tryout

By Brian Stubits

CENTER STAGE: Patrick Kane played his first game of the preseason last night, and the Blackhawks went throught with their plan to try him out at center. The reviews are in and they aren't bad. When asked if there was anything about the experiement that wasn't good, coach Joel Quenneville said “No, we liked it." COuld get interesting. (ESPN Chicago) Bonus note: Kane joined the Twitterverse on Wednesday, he can be found @88PKane and has over 14,000 followers after just two tweets.

RIPPING AVERY: Boy, this year's 24/7 will be good. The animosity continues to grow in the Broad Street vs. Broadway rivalry. Things got very ugly on the ice in Philly on Monday between Sean Avery and Wayne Simmonds. At one point, Avery was overheard on TV saying he didn't want to have to f***** kill (Claude) Giroux. So the Flyers' Danny Briere took Avery to task for being hypocritical and just seeking attention. (Philly.com)

AV APOLOGY: The Colorado Avalanche were whipped up and down the ice by the Kings on Wednesday, including a hat trick for Anze Kopitar. After last year's second-worst record in the NHL, it caused some bad flashbacks in Denver. Soon after, Matt Duchene took to Twitter to apologize: “Sorry to all the fans that paid their hard earned money tonight to watch that terrible performance of ours. We WILL be better” (Denver Post)

SLOW START: Speaking of not being pleased with preseason results, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was upset at Washington's 4-1 loss in Nashville on Wednesday. “It’s time we started to get our act in gear and start playing better.” If they don't, Boudreau's seat could be awfully warm come Thanksgiving. (Capitals Insider)

MOVING ON: James Wisniewski of the Blue Jackets received the toughest punishment from new chief Brendan Shanahan this preseason, but he's not dwelling on it. “I’m going to be around here, but I’m not going to be down about anything. No pouty face from me. It’s over. It’s done. That’s how it has to be.” (Columbus Dispatch)

SANTORELLI SETBACK: The Panthers will be missing one of their few holdovers for the first month of the season. Mike Santorelli, who had somewhat of a breakout season last year with 20 goals and 21 assists, will sit out with a shoulder injury until Halloween. (Miami Herald) Speaking of Halloween, the Panthers will give free tickets to kids who are willing to trade in candy for hockey. (Miami Herald)

GETTING TO KNOW YOU: Alex Ovechkin took time before returning to the States for the season to have a lengthy sit-down interview with Elena Khanian at Sobesednik in Russia. Here's the entire transcript in English. Among the interesting parts is this bit about his taste in women: "I think I will only marry a Russian, well, I mean, a girl from Russia. Russians are sincere, understanding and cook well." I imagine an influx of Russian women to the D.C. area soon. (Alex Ovetjkin)

IS HE READ-Y? One of the big revelations from Flyers camp -- outside of the fact that Jaromir Jagr can still play -- has been Matt Read. He leads the NHL preseason list in points and is still sticking with the big club. The unsigned free agent out of Bemidji State is doing all he can to make the roster, and it's looking good. (Philly.com)

Photo: US Presswire

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 28, 2011 4:11 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 11:44 pm
 

Flyers' Sestito gets two-game regular-season ban

By Brian Stubits

It's another day and we have another Brendan Shanahan ruling laid down.

Tom Sestito of the Philadelphia Flyers came from another state to nail the Rangers' Andre Deveaux that helped send that game into a spiraling mess that ended up with some other controversial moments. For that hit, Sestito will be forced to sit out the remainder of the preseason (two games) and two regular-season matches.

Here's the ruling explained from Shanahan.

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The morning after the hit, Sestito was placed on waivers as part of the process of sending him down to the AHL, although that was likely to happen regardless of the hit. Sam Carchidi at the Flyers Report says that Sestito will be recalled from the minors and sit the two-game suspension then.

Sestito commented on his Twitter feed, mentioning his lack of priors was a factor in getting just the two games.

"Verdict is out, luckily I haven't had a previous suspension things could have been a lot worse! Time to move on and get the season going."

That's obviously a very big factor for Shanahan in making these rulings. It's why teammate Jody Shelley received a five-game ban after his hit on the Maple Leafs' Darryl Boyce, which left Boyce with a broken nose.

Oh, and this happens to come down on Sestito's birthday. This is quite a present from the NHL. More like coal in the stocking.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 28, 2011 10:03 am
Edited on: September 28, 2011 10:27 am
 

Daily Skate: Doughty stalemate, K.C. auditions

By Brian Stubits

STANDING STRONG: There's a lot more going on these days, but don't forget that Drew Doughty is still not in camp with the Kings, stuck in a contract stalemate. President of the Kings' parent company Tim Leiweke is on GM Dean Lombardi's side in an informative conversatoin with Helene St. James. (L.A. Times)

KANSAS CITY AUDITIONS: Once again Kansas City played host to an NHL exhbition game and once again the city showed well for the game between the Penguins and Kings with 17,779 packing the Sprint Center. But the latest audition still doesn't do much to boost the city's chase for a new team. (Kansas City Star)

DON'T I KNOW YOU? Not everybody hates Sean Avery, the New York Rangers' world-reknowned pest. Check out this look-alike fan in Prague, where the Rangers are getting ready for their season opener. What's one thing Petr Rada likes about Avery? "He's a very funny guy." I'm curious how many agree to that. (NHL.com)

THRILL FROM KIRIL: Looking to get a roller-hockey game going on Long Island, one of the players realized they were short a man. Being friends on Facebook with Kirill Kabanov of the Islanders, one player decided to take a shot in the dark and ask Kabonov to join them. Next thing you know, the Isles prospect was there, creating one Wild roller game. (New York Times)

SPEECH THERAPY: There has been a ton of discourse regarding Wayne Simmonds (apparent but not proven) use of a gay slur on the ice. Here's an excellent one from Bruce Arthur asking why, if the NHL can get rid of the dangerous hits in its league it can't get rid of other hurtful actions. (National Post)

MOVING ON UP: That didn't take long. The No. 2 overall pick in this summer's draft, Gabriel Landeskog to the Avalanche, was declared the most NHL-ready prospect there was. Now he's showing it. The Swede has already worked his way on to the top line in Colorado with Paul Stastny and David Jones. (Denver Post)

SHARK CENSORSHIP: For many years you have been able to see shirts near the penalty box and benches in San Jose for Bad Boys Bail Bonds. The owner, a long-time season ticket holder, advertised with the team last year but didn't renew, saying the exposure wasn't worth it. Now the Sharks are banning patrons from promoting or marketing their businesses. There are some unhappy people. (Puck Daddy)

NOTHING BUT NET: In an attempt to help fans see the action on the ice through the mesh netting, the Capitals tried something new on Monday at the Verizon Center, debuting a new white net, hoping it would blend in better and be less obtrusive. Early returns from the fans say not so much. It could be back to normal sooner than you'd think. (Capitals Insider)

JUST SHOOT ME: If the Predators are looking to increase their scoring on the power play, there's a pretty simple suggestion: shoot more! Here's a breakdown of how often (or little) Nashville is shooting with the man advanatage among other Western Conference teams. (Pred Gold)

BACK ALREADY: It was just on Monday when it was said that Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda was expected to miss a couple of weeks with a knee injury. Yet on Tuesday Hejda was right back on the ice, joining the Avs in practice without skipping a beat. Just in case you didn't believe it, Adrian Dater included some video. (Denver Post)

Photo: Dan Rosen

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 27, 2011 6:08 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 6:12 pm
 

Atlantic Division Preview: Penguins climb to top

Atlantic1

By: Adam Gretz

Since the NHL went it to its current divisional alignment with Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Jersey and both New York teams occupying the Atlantic Division it's pretty much been a three-team race at the top every year.

Since the 1998-99 season only three teams have managed to win the Atlantic outright -- New Jersey (seven times), Philadelphia (four times) and Pittsburgh (one time). The Rangers and Islanders have never won it, while only one of them, the Islanders during the 2001-02 season, has finished higher than third (second place).

Will it be one of the same three teams fighting for the top spot this season, or will one of the New York clubs find a way to win it for the first time under this current setup?

This year the division is loaded with story lines. The Flyers, the defending division champs, re-tooled their roster over the summer, while the Penguins may have to start the season without their best player -- and arguably the best player in the world -- as Sidney Crosby continues to recover from a concussion.

The Islanders look to be a team on the rise, while the Rangers landed the biggest free agent that hit the open market over the summer (of course they did). Meanwhile, the Devils look to build on the momentum of a strong second half and have to figure out what to do with Zach Parise, playing on a one-year deal, as he's eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Atlantic Division (in predicted order of finish):

PenguinsPittsburgh Penguins: Playing without Jordan Staal for the first half of the season and without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for the second half of the season the Penguins still managed to finish tied for the top spot in the Atlantic last season with 106 points, losing in a tiebreaker to the Flyers. That's an impressive accomplishment given how the team is built around those three players. Malkin and Staal look to be ready to go this season, and assuming Crosby returns to his former self, the Penguins should have the personnel to not only finish on top of the division, but also make up for two straight early exits in the playoffs.

Strengths: How did the Penguins manage to stay competitive last season without their three best players for such a long period of time? An outstanding defense anchored by Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Zbynek Michalek and Paul Martin. Combine the defense with the goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson and the Penguins finished the regular season allowing the sixth fewest goals per game in the league. Even if Crosby isn't ready for the start of the season the Penguins still have excellent depth down the middle with Malkin, Staal and Mark Letestu, a nice two-way player that excels in the faceoff circle.

Weaknesses: When you have so much money invested down the middle (centers, defense and goaltending) it's going to be difficult to fill in talent on the wings. James Neal is supposed to be the goal-scoring winger they've been searching for, but he struggled in his debut season with the Penguins after coming over in a trade with Dallas. Steve Sullivan signed a one-year deal this summer and can still provide some offense, assuming he's able to stay on the ice.

The Penguins power play has been, well, pretty awful the past three years, even with the talent they're capable of putting on the ice. There are a lot of reasons they went out in the first round last year, and their 1-for-35 showing on the power play is at the top of the list.

RangersNew York Rangers: Surely you're not surprised that the biggest free agent available (Brad Richards) landed with the New York Rangers. Especially when said free agent has such a great track record playing for coach John Tortorella. The two spent a number of years together in Tampa Bay, including the 2003-04 season when the Lightning won their Stanley Cup, while Richards took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Still, a lot of their success will depend on how well Richards and Gaborik play together, and whether or not Gabork bounces back from a disappointing season a year ago.

Strengths: Henrik Lundqvist is as steady and durable as they come in the crease, and a goaltender that's capable of stealing a game by himself. Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan bring a nice mix of skill and grit to the top lines.

Strong team defensively -- and Lundqivst certainly helps that -- even if their blue line, which is anchored by Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, doesn't contain a single player over the age of 27.

Weaknesses: Speaking of Staal, he's still dealing with some symptoms as a result of a concussion he suffered at the end of last season, which is not a good thing. Gaborik, for all his skill and ability, is always one shift away from his next injury (and yes, that's technically true for every player, but Gaborik's career speaks for itself: he's played more than 65 games just five times in 10 years). Mediocre power play during the regular season that scored one goal in 19 attempts during their first-round playoff loss to the Capitals.

FlyersPhiladelphia Flyers: Talk about a team that went through a transition this summer. When all was said and done the Flyers basically swapped Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Ville Leino, Daniel Carcillo, Sean O'Donnell and Darroll Powe for Ilya Bryzgalov, Jaromir Jagr, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Andreas Lilja and Max Talbot. Better? Worse? The same? Paul Holmgren and Flyers fans are about to find out.

Strengths: Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk are excellent young forwards, and Van Riemsdyk could be ready to have a breakout season following his impressive postseason run from a year ago. Danny Briere is still around to be one of their leading offensive weapons.

In a bizarre twist, goaltending moves from an area weakness to one of their biggest strengths thanks to the offseason addition of Bryzgalov from the Phoenix Coyotes.

Weaknesses: Unfortunately, in order to improve their goaltending the Flyers had to make a series of moves that involved trading Richards and  Carter, while also losing Leino to free agency. That's three of their top-five scorers from a year ago.

It's possible the addition of Bryzgalov, combined with the development of the young players and draft picks they acquired in the Richards and Carter deals, could allow this to  allwork out for the better in the long run, but they may have taken a step back in the short-term.

Will Giroux and Briere be as productive now that they'll be facing the other teams best players in the absence of Richards and Carter?

Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen are both a year older, and Pronger's health was a big problem last season.

DevilsNew Jersey Devils: When it comes to making coaching changes, no league seems to make more than the NHL, and within the NHL, no team seems to make more than the New Jersey Devils. After a summer-long saga involving their pursuit and eventual signing of Ilya Kovalchuk (who they acquired at the trade deadline of the previous season), the Devils had a disastrous start to last season, winning just nine of their first 31 games, resulting in the firing of head coach John MacLean.

Who did the Devils turn to at the point? Jacques Lemaire, naturally, for his third different stint with the team.

They finished with a 29-17-3 record under his watch and managed to stay in the playoff race longer than anybody could have expected following their awful start. Pete DeBoer takes over behind the bench this season, making him the 9th different coach to lead the team since the start of the 2000-01 season.

Strengths: The Devils should have a strong top-six once Travis Zajac returns, and they'll also benefit from the return of Zach Parise after he missedall but 13 games of last season. He's also playing on a one-year contract (perhaps a "show me" contract. As in, show me you're fully recovered and can once again be one of the top left wingers in the league before we sign you long-term).

As always, they finished with strong numbers defensively allowing just over 2.5 goals per game. Will they be as strong defensively without LeMaire running the ship?

Weaknesses: Who on the defense is going to provide some offense? No defenseman scored more than Andy Greene's 23 points a season ago. Adam Larsson, the Devils first-round pick in June, looks to have a ton of upside but some growing pains should be expected as a rookie.

Martin Brodeur is a Hall of Famer and one of the best goalies to ever play in the NHL, but he's clearly not the player he once was. And if the Devils do make it back to the playoffs, well, he's been pretty bad in two of his past three postseason appearances, while the Devils haven't made it out of the first round since 2006-07.

IslandersNew York Islanders: The New York Islanders made headlines last season because of a massive on-ice brawl in early February. They should make headlines this season because they're an improving team that's going to compete for a playoff spot thanks to their impressive collection of young forwards, with the recently signed John Tavares leading the way.

The Islanders offseason didn't see them bring in anybody significant from outside the organization, unless you're counting on Brian Rolston returning to his 30-goal form from four years ago, but they are getting back their top defenseman, Mark Streit, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury, and that can be a huge addition to a team that's thin on the blue line.

Along with the return of Streit, a full-season for Kyle Okposo, an excellent two-way forward, will be a welcome addition as well.

Strengths: Definitely their forwards. They're young, they're productive, and many of them are signed long-term for what could be excellent value against the salary cap. The Islanders had eight different players score at least 10 goals last season, and seven of them are returning this season (the only one that isn't is Rob Schremp and his 10 goals).

Michael Grabner, Matt Moulson, Tavares, Blake Comeau and P.A. Parenteau all scored at least 20 goals for the Islanders a year ago.

Frans Nielsen is one of the NHL's most underrated defensive forwards and showed last season he's also capable of chipping in some offense, scoring 13 goals. He finished sixth the voting for the Selke Trophy which goes to the NHL's best defensive forward.

Weaknesses: Even with the return of Streit, as well as the presence of emerging young defenseman Travis Hamonic, who looks like he's going to be quite a player, there is still a lot of questions about this team defensively and in goal, and in the end that could prove to be their downfall this season. 

Rick DiPietro is still signed through the 2020-21 season and has appeared in just 39 games over the past three years.

NHL season preview schedule
Wed., Sept. 21: Step-back players Tues., Sept. 27: Atlantic Division
Thur., Sept. 22: Breakout players Wed., Sept. 28: Central Division
Fri., Sept. 23: Southeast Division Thur. Sept. 29: Northeast Division
Mon., Sept. 26: Pacific Division Fri., Sept. 30: Northwest Division

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 27, 2011 11:51 am
Edited on: September 27, 2011 12:50 pm
 

Simmonds to meet with NHL over use of gay slur

By Brian Stubits

Wayne Simmonds is going to have a hearing with NHL Vice President Colin Campbell regarding Monday night's on-ice incident with Sean Avery, according to ESPN.com.

In the heated contest, cameras caught Simmonds yelling at Avery and it's pretty easy to read his lips (that includes some NSFW language). As a result, he'll be hearing from the league.

In this case he has to report to Campbell instead of new discipline chief Brendan Shanahan since it doesn't fall under Shanny's player safety umbrella. According to the CBA, Simmonds could only face a fine of up to $2,500 for the incident. One obstacle to a fine might be the lack of audio from the video just in case he was possibly saying something other than it what it clearly appears.

But that might not be the end of it. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is getting involved in the matter.

Here's GLAAD acting president Mike Thompson's statement:

"Hate speech and anti-gay slurs have no place on the ice rink. The word that Simmonds used is the same word that is hurled at LGBT youth on the playground and in our schools, creating a climate of intolerance and hostility. He should not only apologize for this anti-gay outburst, but the Philadelphia Flyers and the NHL have a responsibility to take action and educate their fans about why this word is unacceptable."

GLAAD is in dialogue the Philadelphia Flyers as well as the National Hockey League (NHL) about specific next steps. Updates will be posted on www.glaad.org/blog as they become available.

Recently, GLAAD has worked with sports leagues including the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWE) to address issues of homophobia in sports.

To compare this to similar happenings in the past year, there were two high-profile cases in the NBA. Joakim Noah of the Bulls received a $50,000 fine for using the homophobic slur and Kobe Bryant was docked $100,000 for the same.

Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke also spoke up about the incident. Burke, who's deceased son Brendan was gay, has been an ardent supporter of gay rights. While he hadn't yet seen the video, here's what he told Katie Strang of ESPN New York.

"That type of comment has no place in the game," Burke told ESPNNewYork.com when reached by telephone Tuesday morning.

"If that happened, that is just so embarrassing and the league should not tolerate it," Burke said. "That should be treated on the same level as a racially charged incident. It's the same level of offensiveness and inappropriateness.

"I think sometimes it reflects the habitual rather than the homophobic," he said. "Players reach into their back pocket and that's what they say, not necessarily meaning to target someone's sexuality."

But that does not make the use of the word acceptable, Burke said.

"That does not make it OK," he said. "It's got to stop."

After the game, Avery confirmed Simmonds threw offensive language his way while Simmonds wouldn't elaborate, only saying things were said in the heat of the battle.

It's a classic case of Avery being Avery. Here's a very NSFW (language) video from the game in which you can hear Avery yelling at somebody about him not wanting to have to kill Claude Giroux during the game.

So clearly Avery was up to his usual antics and they got to the Flyers, Simmonds in particular. The agitator is no saint in this story by any stretch. But that doesn't absolve Simmonds for crossing the line that has been established. No matter what the actual intent was behind Simmonds' use of the word doesn't make it acceptable. Much like Shanahan did to explain the new rules, the league sends out memos to teams every year explaining what is acceptable and what is not as far as language goes.

It is something said to be an insult. Echoing some of Burke's sentiments, no matter if Simmonds is actually trying to insinuate Avery is homosexual or using it in a non-sexual orentation manner, the intent to insult Avery remains. And the particular insult he used is offensive to a segment of the population.

I imagine Simmonds will have a full and sincere apology coming soon enough and hopefully that will be the end of it. I'm just ready for some good ol' hockey.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 27, 2011 10:06 am
Edited on: September 27, 2011 10:12 am
 

Daily Skate: Marchand's champion tattoo typo

By Brian Stubits

WE ARE THE CHAMPIANS: Brad Marchand was one of the Bruins that celebrated the Stanley Cup victory by going out and getting inked up. Too bad the tattoo artist couldn't spell champions correctly. One of his teammates soon spotted the typo and Marchand had it corrected, but not before some photos were taken. (ESPN Boston)

STAAL STAYS BEHIND: While the Rangers headed to Europe after last night's controversy-filled game against the Flyers to finish out the exhibition schedule before the regular season begins in Sweden, Marc Staal stayed behind. The alternate captain of the Blueshirts is dealing with post-concussion symptoms, but coach John Tortorella expects Staal will join the team later and play in the games that count. (NHL.com)

QUESTIONING OVECHKIN: Here's an interesting question posed by Neil Greenberg of Capitals Insider: Is Alex Ovechkin an elite scorer or just a good shooter? The conclusion after stasticals analysis -- with charts! -- is that Ovie isn't the most skilled shooter around, he just gets more off than anybody by a large margin. (Capitals Insider)

BOOGAARD GETS A SHOT: After Derek Boogaard's death this summer, brother Aaron Boogaard was doing a lot of the speaking for the family, including explaining how his brother never quite overcame an addition to painkillers. But Aaron plays the game, too, and the former Minnesota Wild draft pick is all set to join the team's AHL affiliate in Houston. (Star Tribune)

ANOTHER WAIVER WONDER: It was about this time a year ago Dale Tallon was attempting to send Michael Grabner to the Panthers' AHL affiliate through waivers only for the forward to be claimed by the Islanders. we know how that turned out. Now another promising Panthers is on the wire, Michael Repik. While he doesn't seem to have Grabner's promise, here's one person who can't forget the gift Tallon gave them last year and would like to take a shot. (Lighthouse Hockey)

LOMBARDI AWARD: After the more high-profile cases of players sitting out after concussions such as Sidney Crosby and David Perron is Matthew Lombardi. The former Predators player who was shipped to the Maple Leafs this offseason is doing much better and looks like he'll be playing for Toronto. Feel-good story of the year candidate? Perhaps says James Mirtle. (Globe and Mail)

BATTLE UPDATE: In case you were wondering how the Battle of the Blades, the popular Dancing With the Stars meets ice skating show in Canada, here's your Week 1 recap. (Mile High Hockey)

ANYONE PUMPED UP YET? Came across this pump-up video for the Canucks this season. Surely they should have a lot of reason for optimism in Vancouver, but this video ... doesn't seem all that inpsiring. Set to Adele's Rolling in the Deep (which screams hockey) it mostly dwells on the Canucks losing to Boston, including Marchand punching Daniel Sedin. Excited?

Photo: ESPN Boston

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 26, 2011 11:33 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 9:14 am
 

Avery says Simmonds called him homophobic slur

SimmondsAvery

By: Adam Gretz

Less than a week ago Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds was on the receiving end of a racial taunt when somebody threw a banana peel at him during an exhibition game played in London, Ontario. Simmonds showed a great deal of maturity and class when talking about the incident after the game, and basically said that he allows things like that to roll off of his back and didn't really speak about it again.

On Monday night, during Philadelphia's 5-3 win over the New York Rangers, which featured a handful of intense moments, Rangers agitator and pest Sean Avery accused Simmonds of calling him a homophobic slur during one of the many heated exchanges that took place during the game.

The heated moment was caught on camera.

Simmonds claimed, via Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record, that he doesn't remember exactly what he said during the encouner.

Avery, who is paid to do whatever he can to get under the skin of his opponent and get them off their game, whether it be physically or verbally,  has a long history of controversial comments and actions, both on the ice and off of it.

A couple of examples: 1) He once called a press conference to talk about players dating his ex-girlfriends, resulting in a six-game suspension. 2) As a member of the Los Angeles Kings he was accused of making fun of one of his teammates, Dustin Brown, due to a lisp that had been with him since childhood. 3) He once forced the NHL to change its rules during a playoff series due to his decision to stand in front of Martin Brodeur, raise his arms in the air, and wave them back and forth. 

Yes, he's quite the character.

Off the ice he has been a vocal supporter of equal marriage rights and has spoken out in support of openly gay hockey players.

It remains to be seen whether or not the NHL will -- or can -- do anything, but in recent years the NBA has fined players such as Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah for using homophobic slurs toward officials and fans. TSN's Bob McKenzie pointed out on Monday evening that the NHL's policy is to check with on-ice officials to see if they heard anything, and if not, nothing usually happens as far as discipline is concerned.

Of course, with Brendan Shanahan running things now you can probably throw the old policy out the window because he seems intent on dropping the hammer.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com