Tag:Brian Stubits
Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:05 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 2:26 pm
 

Caps' Hamrlik questions Dale Hunter after scratch

Hamrlik has been statistically much better with Hunter than Boudreau. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Washington Capitals are imploding right before our very eyes. It's getting downright nasty in the nation's capital.

The most recent -- but check back in an hour -- development in How the Capitals Turn concerns veteran defenseman Roman Hamrlik. On the same day that rumors started to spread that he was on the trading block, coach Dale Hunter had Hamrlik as a healthy scratch in the team's 5-2 loss to the Senators on Wednesday night.

Before the game Hunter gave his reasoning to the Capitals media, explaining why Hamrlik was joining them in the press box.

"We need him playing better defensively," Hunter said. "He's a defensive defenseman and the way we mark scoring chances [against] he's been involved in too many of them. That's why he was sitting out and that's why [Jeff] Schultz was sitting out before him.

"[Hamrlik] is backing in way too much. He's letting [forwards] come through and they're hitting the second tier. Sitting out is a humbling experience. We all went through it. If you played hockey or any sport you sat out. You've just got to go to practice and work hard like he did today. Watch video and learn from it and when you get the chance play well."

Hamrlik was asked about the words of the coach and the scratch after the team's skate on Thursday and, well, he wasn't very coy. Quotes courtesy of Sky Kerstein of 106.7 the Fan in D.C.

Hamrlik said he hasn't talked to Hunter on why he didn't play, asked why he might not of been in "I don't know, you should ask him. You should ask him [Hunter] about the penalties because when he played I think he [Hunter] make lots of penalties in himself so he should know better.

"I know I take bad penalty, but if that's reason I didn't play, but it's his decision"

Well then. I'm not sure how exactly that compares to Alex Ovechkin's infamous words behind Bruce Boudreau's back earlier this season that many think played a massive role in Boudreau's dismissal, but a player almost challenging a coach publicly? Gee, if Boudreau lost control of the locker room, what does that say for Hunter?

As for the trade rumors, Hamrlik shot down any notion that he wanted out. From CSN Washington:

"Nothing I can do about it. I'm happy to be here and do my job. I don't have control over that. I hope I stay here and make the team better and help them make the playoffs. I don't have reason to leave."

Adding to the drama was Hunter's frank assessment of the play of Tomas Vokoun, who was pulled for the second consecutive game in favor of Michal Neuvirth.

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“Tomas would like a few of them back. He wasn’t as sharp as he should’ve been and it was in the back of our net,” the Caps’ coach said. “We were playing well and it’s one of these things where you get deflated. ... We outchanced them, but we need our goaltending better and Tomas wasn’t sharp tonight.

“Just can’t get off to a bad start like that. If somebody’s not playing as well as they should, you have to block more shots and cover up for him more.”

Vokoun's agent Allen Walsh, never shy to stick up for his clients, added a little to the drama in an oh-so-subtle way.

“I’m not going to comment directly on what someone may have said after a game,” Walsh said in a text message to the Washington Times. “I will point out though that hockey’s great coaches throughout history never resorted to publicly singling out a particular player, blaming him for a loss. Where I come from, you win as a team and lose as a team. The oldest, most tired excuse in the book is to blame the goalie.”

But Vokoun didn't add fuel to any fire, saying it's not personal and he'd prefer too that his stats were better.

On top of all of this, Alex Ovechkin is day to day with a lower-body injury and didn't suit up on Wednesday in Ottawa.

When the Caps hired Hunter to replace Boudreau earlier this season it wasn't perfectly clear but it sure sounded like it was for the rest of the season and then they'd go from there. Neither the coach or the franchise knew how the fit would go. It's kind of safe to assume now that Hunter's odds of returning to the OHL London Knights are going up by the day.

By the way, the Caps are still only two points out of the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Thanks, Southeast Division.

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

Posted on: February 23, 2012 12:41 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 1:04 pm
 

NHL Award Races: Hart awfully tight, Vezina clear

Last year's winner Corey Perry poses with the Hart Trophy. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Welcome to Award Rankings. For every week the remainder of the season, we will break down two of the awards races at a time and see how they are stacking up as the NHL season hits the home stretch.

The Hart Trophy is the king of trophies, the biggest and best (outside of the Stanley Cup and playoff awards, of course) in the game. It goes to the league's most valuable player.

And here's the thing about it this season: It is going to be one heck of a race to the finish to determine it. The top of the points leaderboards are scrunched. So are the playoff pictures. That means the Hart race is in the same squished mode too.

The difference between a lot of guys right now in the Hart race is like differentiating between a Lamborghini or Ferrari, you really won't go wrong either way. Then you have Mercedes Benzs, Audis and Lexuses in the conversation too. So many great choices, so few winners. Just one, in fact. We aren't Jay Leno here and buying them all.

These rankings are reflective of where they stand now. They are certainly subject to change. For example, Steven Stamkos didn't crack the list here, but if the Lightning actually overcome their five-point hole and grab a playoff spot despite selling seemingly half their team, he'd have to be in consideration without a doubt.

Keep in mind the Hart race is incredibly tight with a ton of contenders at this point. There is an argument to be made for a lot of other players as well as for the order here to be changed. I'm sure you'll make those arguments below. This is just one man's opinion.

The Hart starts with a guy who hasn't won it yet despite some awesome seasons recently. But he was hindered by another spectacularly awesome teammate who hasn't been there much to help this season.

We also look at the Vezina, which isn't anywhere near as tight as the Hart race at the top but the fighting for the finalists is fierce.

Award watch
Hart Vezina
Evgeni Malkin The Penguins have had to deal with more injury loss this season than any other team, including two of their top three centers. The third is Malkin. He leads the league in points and is second in goals. He's been the best player in the league. But this race is very tight and has a long way to go. Henrik Lundqvist The Rangers are arguably the top team in the league and Lundqvist is a massive reason why. He is tops in the league in save percentage at a whopping .940 and has a goals against of 1.78. He's separated himself from the field ... and the Rangers from the East field as well.
Henrik Lundqvist Yes, I think he's been good enough to be seriously in this conversation. He's incredibly valuable to the Rangers, that's not a question for anybody. With scoring down so much in the NHL, this is a perfect year for a goaltender to win the Hart again. Jonathan Quick He means as much to the Kings as Lundqvist does to the Rangers and I'm not going to penalize a goaltender for his offense's lack of production. His 1.96 goals against and .931 save percentage are very good. He's the only reason Los Angeles is still fighting for a playoff berth.
Claude Giroux He was asked to carry a lot more of the load in Philadelphia this season and he has. Despite missing a few games with a concussion, the 24-year-old Giroux is set to pass his career highs very soon with 23 goals and 47 assists already despite playing just 55 games. He's had to with Philly's defense. Jimmy Howard Despite recently missing three weeks in February with a broken finger, Howard is still second in the league in wins with 32 (one behind Pekka Rinne). He is having a career season with a 2.03 goals against average and .924 save percentage and is a big reason why the Wings have returned to the top of the West.
Radim Vrbata Why not? He has 30 goals and counting on the season for the Coyotes, a team that otherwise relies on defense. That's 12 more than anybody else on the team. Aside from Ray Whitney, everybody on the team is at least 16 points behind Vrbata. For a team expected to be in the basement, he deserves a lot of credit. Brian Elliott The only thing keeping Elliott this far down the list is the fact that he splits almost 50/50 in St. Louis with Jaroslav Halak. But his 1.65 goals against average and .937 save percentage are obscene. However he'll be hurt by Halak's success as well as the Ken Hitchcock argument ... he makes all goalies look good.
Jason Spezza The assumption before the season was that the Senators were going to be in the running for the best lottery position, not the Northeast Division crown with the Bruins. But here they are and Spezza's 27 goals and 39 assists are a massive reason why. So is Erik Karlsson, but he'll show up elsewhere. Tim Thomas Last year's runaway with the Vezina, Thomas isn't having the season he did a year ago. But in his defense, nobody ever had before him either. He's still excellent with his .929 save percentage and 2.21 goals against. For now he barely beats out Mike Smith and Pekka Rinne in this race for me.

And for a quick look at the rest of the races we'll be checking in on every week.

Norris: Erik Karlsson, Shea Weber, Nicklas Lidstrom.

Calder: Adam Henrique, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Read.

Jack Adams: Ken Hitchcock, Paul MacLean, John Tortorella.

Selke: Patrice Bergeron, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews

Top GM: Dale Tallon, Glen Sather, Don Maloney.

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

Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:30 am
Edited on: February 23, 2012 11:07 am
 

Red Wings re-sign Bertuzzi for two seasons

By Brian Stubits

The Detroit Red Wings have re-signed veteran forward Todd Bertuzzi to a two-year contract. The team made the official announcement on Thursday.

The Wings released the terms on the two-year deal, calling for it to pay Bertuzzi $2.25 million per season.

Bertuzzi has fit in well with the Wings, developing his game to be more of a two-way player in Detroit, something that's more or less required if you're going to play there.

“We’re very happy to keep Todd in Detroit for another two years," GM Ken Holland said. "He [Bertuzzi] fits in really well with our group, both on the ice and in the locker room.”

But where Bertuzzi remains exceptional is in the shootout. For my money, there is no better player in the game right now than Bertuzzi in the skills challenge. He's as creative as it gets, flashing some awesome moves that are normally reserved for All-Star weekend.

But more than his outstanding shootout ability, Bertuzzi will forever be linked with Steve Moore and Bertuzzi's move that ended Moore's career when he was with the Canucks and Moore a member of the Avalanche.

With the news of a new contract and Bertuzzi playing next season, that means the long-awaited civil trial between Moore and Bertuzzi is expected to begin next year. From the CBC in September of last year:

The target date for the Ontario Superior Court trial to begin if necessary is Sept. 24, 2012 if Bertuzzi is still an active player, and Oct. 22 if he's not, according to court documents viewed by CBC.

Court-ordered mediation between the sides has failed to lead to a settlement.

Moore, now 33, has never played again since getting hit from behind in a March 8, 2004 game by Bertuzzi, who was on the Canucks. Moore was in his first full season with the Colorado Avalanche.

Bertuzzi, now 36, is entering his 16th NHL season.

Bertuzzi offered a tearful apology at a press conference a few days after the incident, and would ultimately serve a 20-game suspension. He has gone on to play 445 regular season and playoff games with Vancouver, Florida, Anaheim, Calgary, and his current team, the Detroit Red Wings.

Criminal charges filed against Bertuzzi in Vancouver resulted in a guilty plea and a sentence of one year's probation plus 80 hours of community service.

Like it or not, that will be as much of Bertuzzi's legacy as anything.

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

Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:01 am
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:40 am
 

Morning Skate: Playoff ramifications galore


By Brian Stubits

The Morning Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

In this day and age with only two teams -- two! -- in the entire NHL being more than 10 points out of a playoff spot, it's hard to find a game on the schedule that isn't carrying a huge impact on the playoff picture. Save for Edmonton playing Columbus, they all have an impact.

That holds even if you have two teams hanging on by life support. Which is just what is on the schedule on Thursday night.

7 ET, Anaheim at Carolina: This is pretty much hockey's equivalent of a loser leave town match. The Hurricanes are eight points back of a playoff position, the Ducks are six back. So, you know, you can't lose this game if you want to stay in the conversation.

To be sure, both face very long odds. More specifically, the 'Canes have a 2.94 percent chance of seeing the postseason according to sportsclubstats.com while the Ducks have a 5.52 percentage.

For Anaheim it brings an end to one hellacious road trip that has been going since what feels like the All-Star break. And they've done very well on it until their last momentum-killing game, a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And Carolina? Well they are actually starting to brim with confidence. They just smacked down the Capitals 5-0 -- then again, who isn't these days? -- and are finally getting the expected production from Eric Staal.

So we have two teams near (or at, in Carolina's case in the East) the bottom of the standings playing some of the best hockey in the league. The game is make or break for both. Should be fun.

7 ET, San Jose at Toronto: The Maple Leafs are still in the thick of the futility battle that is the race for eighth in the East/the Southeast Division. It's like everybody has hit a slump together, giving hope to teams that once appeared on the outs. Toronto is no different.

The goaltending was looking good not long ago. Now Leafs fans are begging for help. They are 1-5-1 in the last seven games. In the last six games -- one OT win in there -- they have yielded 27 goals. That's 4.5 per game. They need to take advantage of the home games they have left, starting tonight.

The Sharks, meanwhile, find themselves actually in a battle for the Pacific Division crown. As of now, they are tied with the surging Coyotes. Now the Sharks do have two games in hand on Phoenix, but those do you no good if you don't win them.

On their own whirlwind road trip, the Sharks are riding a four-game losing streak, three in a row without points. Apparently they think the race for eighth looks so interesting they thought they might play their way into it. As of now, they are only three points up on that eighth spot, but again, have games in hand.

7:30 ET, Vancouver at Detroit: Here's the game of the night without a doubt. Neither team is fighting for their playoff lives, instead they are fighting each other for the top seed in the Western Conference.

Oh, and there is something about a 23-game home winning streak being on the line for the Red Wings? I suppose that might garner some interest here too.

But in reality this game is massive on many levels. In addition to the two-point discrepancy between the teams in the standings, it would do the Canucks a world of good to knock off Detroit at the Joe, prove to themselves that they can do it in case it comes up again at playoff time.

Unfortunately for the Wings -- and fans -- Pavel Datsyuk won't be in the lineup for the Wings, sitting out a couple weeks after having his knee scoped.

9 ET, Phoenix at Calgary: This is the West battle being waged in Calgary right here. The Coyotes have been on fire, winning eight of their last nine games and shooting into not only seventh place in the West but in a tie with the Sharks in the Pacific. And they just added Antoine Vermette.

If Phoenix takes two points tonight, you start to wonder if they can prepare for some playoff games in the desert again. Of course that's no guarantee, but they'd be in one good position for it.

But don't sleep on the Flames. They enter the day in ninth place, one back of the Kings and this will be their one game in hand. Here's what makes the Flames a real threat for a playoff berth, if you can believe that. They have 22 games remaining, 14 of them come at home. That's as favorable as any playoff hopeful down the stretch run.

Also worth watching: The Panthers host the Wild with Florida still clinging to the Southeast lead and Minnesota still clinging to their playoff hopes.

The Blues and Predators renew acquaintances in their continued battle for that crucial fourth seed in the West. The Preds have just owned the Blues this season.

The Stars visit the Blackhawks where Chicago has reeled off four in a row after the nine-game losing streak. Dallas is another team that's hanging within striking distance in the West.

The Lightning visit the Jets with Winnipeg entering in a tie for both the Southeast lead and the eighth spot in the East. They need to win these games since they've played more than any team. But the Lightning are still clawing, hanging five points back of the playoffs.

Your promised miscellany

  • Capitals coach Dale Hunter was hard on goaltender Tomas Vokoun after Washington's second big loss in a row on Wednesday. Of course, without Vokoun, there's no telling how low the Caps would be this season. He's been good for them the majority of the season. (Washington Times)
  • Here's a good read from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun about the always interesting P.K. Subban of the Canadiens. (ESPN.com)
  • Now this is entertaining. Check out Maxime Talbot of the Flyers taking on a fan in a Just Dance 3 challenge at the team's recent fair. (Puck Daddy)
  • While Milan Michalek scored one very pretty goal against the Capitals, Mathieu Perreault had one ugly goal that tried to make him ugly (the puck went in off his face). Guess what? They both counted as one score.

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

Posted on: February 22, 2012 5:19 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 4:04 pm
 

Nash Dash: How would Nash fit with Kings?

What Nash would look like in L.A. 

By Brian Stubits

In the days leading up to the trade deadline (Monday, Feb. 27) we're going to keep tabs on the biggest name on the block, Columbus Blue Jackets star and captain Rick Nash.

The list of teams rumored to be in on Nash isn't incredibly long and it's the usual suspects that you'd expect to be in on a big-name, high-priced star like Nash. His wish list -- put into song so wonderfully -- was supposedly five teams long with possible Wild cards in the mix too.

We're going to take a look at each of the rumored wish-list teams and how Nash would fit, looking today at the Los Angeles Kings.

There aren't a whole lot of certainties in this Rick Nash trade saga. Who's really on the list of teams he'd OK a trade too? Is that list exhaustive? Would anybody actually pay the Blue Jackets' asking price? They go on.

But if there is one thing that we can pretty much say without hesitation it's that no team involved in this conversation -- except for maybe the Blue Jackets themselves -- need Nash more than the Kings. It's been argued that nobody needs to get Nash more than Kings GM Dean Lombardi. His job literally could depend on it.

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The Kings are an embarrassment to offense. Sorry Kings fans to put it so bluntly, but with 2.07 goals per game that's something you already know. The Kings are in the process of letting an exceptional season from goaltender Jonathan Quick go to waste. If they could have given him just a little more offense this season -- I'll be kind and say about half-a-goal more per game, which would put them in the middle of the league -- he'd be firmly in the Vezina conversation.

But they aren't scoring that man. And it's starting to increase the heat in L.A. Before the season this was seen as a team ready to make that jump, possibly compete. By so far falling short of those expectations, Lombardi's leash is getting tight.

In spite of it all, the Kings are still in the playoff picture, holding the eighth spot in the West. The postseason has to be the goal at this point to hopefully try and keep the momentum going. That's why Nash has L.A. hockey fans salivating.

The great thing about possibly going to L.A. is that it would give Nash the centermen he was waiting so long for in Columbus. He finally got one in Jeff Carter this season but injuries didn't allow them to play together for very long before the trade talk started up. But in L.A. he'd have a couple of quality centers in Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards to play alongside.

From L.A.'s perspective the fit is great. It's not just that Nash is a scorer, but he plays on the left wing. The assumption would be he would join Kopitar and Dustin Brown on the No. 1 line which all of a sudden doesn't seem so bad.

But of course it's all easier said than done. Because as we've noted, the Blue Jackets want a lot for Nash, as they should. The package from L.A. to get a deal done has long been rumored to be Jack Johnson, Jonathan Bernier, probably another prospect and a high pick.

As the Nash world turns, the indications are getting stronger that L.A. is a less and less likely landing spot for Nash at this time. There are other options that might pop up like Ales Hemsky or possibly even some of the Sabres. So as nice as he might fit and go a long way toward solving L.A.'s scoring issues, the asking price might prove too much for even a desperate GM like Lombardi.

More from Eye on Hockey

How would Nash fit with Blueshirts?
San Jose stepping into Nash talks?
Update on Nash, other rumors
Nash down to five teams?
Nash not untouchable for Columbus

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

Posted on: February 22, 2012 3:47 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 3:51 pm
 

Ruutu off the market, re-signs with Hurricanes

Ruutu's career high was 26 goals in 2008-09 with Carolina. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Just the same as they did with Tim Gleason a few weeks ago, the Carolina Hurricanes took another player off the trade market by instead signing them to an extension. This time it's forward Tuomo Ruutu.

It wasn't long ago that Ruutu was being described as one of the top names on the trade market this season. It wasn't saying a whole lot for the market as a whole with so few sellers, but Ruutu was going to garner interest as an available top-six forward.

Just five days from the deadline and with him still in Carolina, you can scratch that. There had been increasing talk that the 'Canes were going to re-sign Ruutu instead of trading him and that's exactly what they have done.

The deal is for four seasons and will pay Ruutu $4.75 million per season. That's from GM Jim Rutherford courtesy of Chip Alexander of the News & Observer. The 'Canes are one of the few teams that releases contract information. It will also reportedly include a no-movement clause for the first three seasons.

"He's an important player to our team," Rutherford said. "He's the type of player that, long term, would be hard to replace."

That does underscore a valuable point this trade season. So often teams trade away a star for prospects and a pick and so often it's almost impossible to get the same production in return. Sometimes you need to take the sure bet and keep the player who you know.

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The deal seems a bit high to me, personally. Ruutu is a good forward and supposedly very good as a team presence, but with that kind of money he's going to pick up the scoring a little bit. This season he has 17 goals and 13 assists in 57 games. To make the contract worth it for a team that is often on the short end of the payroll scale, you'd like to see him consistently score in the high 20s or even the 30s.

He was already carrying a cap hit of $3.8 million this season, so a rise was coming anyway. Now he's a Hurricanes through the 2016-17 season, the same length as captain Eric Staal.

More from Eye on Hockey

Ruutu to miss three weeks
Gleason re-signs for four seasons

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

Posted on: February 22, 2012 1:14 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 4:16 pm
 

Coyotes acquire Vermette from Blue Jackets

Vermette had been with the Jackets since being traded from Ottawa in 2009. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Blue Jackets fire sale has begun with the trading of center Antoine Vermette to the Phoenix Coyotes. Bob McKenzie of TSN broke the news of the deal.

Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports that the return to Columbus is a second-round draft pick, a fifth-round (possibly fourth) and a goalie too in Curtis McElhinney.

Columbus GM Scott Howson told the Dispatch on Tuesday that the team was getting closer to a deal. No kidding.

The Coyotes get themselves a good center who had hit a rough spot in Columbus this season. He has just eight goals and 19 assists this season but it was only two years ago that he scored 27 goals while recording 38 assists for the Jackets. There isn't any reason to think a change of scenery and the jolt of joining a playoff race could spark him back to those bigger offensive numbers.

“We are extremely pleased to acquire Antoine,” Coyotes GM Don Maloney said. “He is a smart, skilled, two-way center who will be a great addition to our lineup.”

What makes the deal a bit more interesting for Phoenix is that Vermette, 29, isn't a rental player at all. In fact, he's kind of pricey, and for a team that is being run by the NHL, you don't necessarily expect that. Vermette still has three years left on his contract after this for $3.75 million per season.

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It also makes it very clear that the Coyotes believe this recent hot streak of theirs can last. They have won eight of nine and vaulted into a tie with the Sharks in the Pacific Division. Now they want to make sure it can last and acquire Vermette to help.

Really, it's another shrewd move for one of the better GMs in the game, Maloney. Considering the high prices that players have been going for or rumored to be going for, this is a reasonable price for Vermette. The fifth-round in the draft can often just be a crap-shoot and the second round surprisingly can be too, as Adam Gretz detailed.

The Jackets get those two draft picks but also get McElhinney, an AHL goalie for the Coyotes who has spent some time in the NHL. Spanning five seasons, McElhinney has played 69 career games with a career save percentage of .899 and a 3.10 goals against average. Not a whole lot to inspire Columbus fans that he can be their next starting goaltender.

Of course with the season Vermette is having, Howson likely wasn't going to be able to get a big bounty, so in that regard it's not bad. He gets three assets and maybe more importantly gets Vermette's contract off the books as the team looks like it is heading toward scrapping the organization and starting over.

"This gives us more flexibility," Howson told the Dispatch. "It's never fun trading anybody. I don't think any GM enjoys that. But this is about us moving the team forward."

Maloney talked about the trade a little later on Wednesday and sounds like one pretty happy GM.

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

Posted on: February 22, 2012 1:06 pm
 

Ribeiro takes victory lap in return to Montreal

By Brian Stubits

I'll admit here to having been an on-again, off-again fan of wrestling since I was a child. I usually find it to be entertaining and fun to follow. I was always particularly attracted to the heels, the bad guys. The Rock before he was popular, back when he was Rocky Maivia and joining the Nation of Domination? The best.

Now why do I bring this up? Well because if I didn't know better (and I don't) I'd think Mike Ribeiro took some lessons on how to be a perfect heel.

Making his first regular-season return since he was dealt away from his hometown Montreal Canadiens, Ribeiro relished the evening. He scored one of the Stars' three goals on the night, helping Dallas not only stay in the Western Conference race but add to the misery of the Habs fans.

He was later named the No. 1 star of the night and took one heck of a victory lap for the fans still left in the stands.

Montreal Gazette Habs writer Dave Stubbs dubbed the spectacle a Mickey Mouse act.

To say there are some hard feelings would be fair. His exit wasn't the best and he didn't appreciate the way he was treated by the media on his way out of town. He made that pretty obvious with his comments before Tuesday's game.

“Most of the time the job of the media is to research negative and sell it,” he said. “A lot of times, you get better as you grow and learn the game. A lot of times here, you have to win now. Young kids aren’t [always] ready to win now, [management] gets impatient and trades them.”

He was as straight forward with the media about the Canadiens and the decision to trade him for Janne Niinimaa (and a couple of picks swapped too).

“I’m sure they know they made a mistake,” Ribeiro said with a shrug of the Canadiens’ decision to move him. “But who would have said that I’d play this way? My first game back in six years. People have probably forgotten.”

It didn't sound like during Tuesday's game. And it was pretty obvious that Ribeiro hadn't forgotten either.

Personally, I love this stuff. Nothing is more boring to me than players never showing emotion or any semblance of being controversial in any way. So good for Ribeiro I say for taking the moment and having some fun while sarcastically playing to the Montreal crowd.

Everybody loves a bad guy. Ribz just played it perfectly.

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