Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Carolina Hurricanes
Posted on: September 20, 2011 9:52 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Daily Skate: Second Stars suitor; Sid's bodyguard

By Brian Stubits

INTEREST IN BIG D: The Stars sale is actually moving along, with the team agreeing last week to sell the team to Vancouver businessman Tom Gagliardi. Now, enter former Texas Rangers owner Chuck Greenberg and we might actually have a bidding war for the debt-ridden franchise on our hands. (Biz Journal)

SID'S BODYGUARD: There is a new enforcer in Pittsburgh, and he knows exactly what he is supposed to do. Steve MacIntyre, one of the game's most feared, says "My job is to make sure [Sidney Crosby's] transition back to hockey goes smoothly." (Pittsburgh Tribune- Review)

BROTHERLY LOVE: Rangers defenseman Marc Staal is struggling with post-concussion symptoms and is sitting out the first three preseason games for precautionary reasons. He seems to be OK, but that isn't helping the man who caused the concussion, his own brother Eric Staal with the Hurricanes, to feel better. (News Observer)

PLAYING THE GOAT: Todd Bertuzzi has a new role this season with the Red Wings, dropping down to the more defensive-minded third line. There he joins Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader, resulting in one of the better line names: the Two Kids and a Goat line. For Bertuzzi, it's a whole new world. (Detroit Free Press)

SOPHOMORE STEP UP: In the playoffs, the Bruins had to turn to rookie Tyler Seguin in the playoffs after Nathan Horton's injury sidelined him. The former No. 2 pick responded immediately but then went quiet. After an offseason of heavy work, the B's might be ready to count on Seguin more. (Boston Herald)

SUPER HUBER: The Florida Panthers' No. 3 pick in this summer's draft isn't likely to make the team as a rookie. But he's doing all he can to make the roster instead of going back to the junior level, scoring a goal and an assist in the Panthers' doubleheader game against the Predators on Monday. (Sun- Sentinel)

READY FOR MORE: Shea Weber took the role of captain last season and the Predators went further than they ever have before in the postseason. Now, armed with a huge new contract for this season, he's excited about Year 2 wearing the C having learned a lot already. (Hockey Night in Nashville)

HOCKEY CRAZE: Throw this under less-than surprising tid-bits: sports fans in Toronto chose the Maple Leafs' first preseason game over one of the Blue Jays' final home games of the season. More than 18,000 showed up to see the Leafs while just over 11,000 were on hand to see the Jays. (The Canadian Press)

CAPS GM DEFENDS SEMIN: Washington Capitals general manager took his chance to defend forward Alexander Semin after he took heat this summer from former teammate Matt Bradley, saying Semin is just a quiet kid and Bradley regrets having said it. You can watch the whole interview on NHL Live! below.

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

Posted on: September 13, 2011 7:56 pm
 

Rangers, 'Canes prospects play 3-on-3 overtime

By: Adam Gretz

One of the ideas that was tested at the NHL Research and Development camp earlier this summer was three-on-three overtime, which could potentially help cut down on the number of shootouts in the NHL.

The idea, which comes from Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, would feature four minutes of four-on-four hockey, and if no goal is scored, the two teams would switch sides and play three minutes of three-on-three hockey. If the tie still isn't broken after all of that, the two teams would then go on to a shootout.

This format woud not only potentially add two minutes to the overtime period (the current NHL overtime period is five minutes, all of which are played at four-on-four, assuming there are no penalties) but it would also create more space on the ice for a significant portion of it by taking four players out of the game for the three-on-three portion. Given the additional time, as well as the extra space on the ice, it would be reasonable to expect more games be decided before a shootout would be required.

During the Traverse City prospect tournament on Tuesday, the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers prospects were tied at the end of regulation, and used a variation of this overtime format (they actually played four minutes of three-on-three). The Hurricanes would win the game in the three-on-three portion, 4-3, thanks to a breakaway goal from Justin Shugg, the team's fourth-round pick in 2010 after a huge season with the Mississauga Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League.

I still like the three-on-three overtime proposal, mainly because I think the extra open ice and the level of talent in the NHL would create quite a few exciting moments, probably filled with up-and-down action and odd-man rushes.

Is it another gimmick? Sure it is, and it no doubt has its share of critics from hockey traditionalists that don't want to see any sort of radical change to the way the game has been played for the past 70-plus years. But it's not quite on the level of the shootout, which is also loathed by many hockey fans since it determines a winner and loser with a skills competition after 65 minutes (regulation and overtime) of hockey. At least with the three-on-three the game is still being decided with the two teams actually playing against one another.

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


Posted on: September 9, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: September 9, 2011 10:14 am
 

Daily Skate: Varlamov to attend Yaroslavl service

By Brian Stubits

UNFORTUNATE TRIP: Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov is a local hero in Yaroslavl, Russia. He is a product of the Lokomotiv team. Ironically enough, if the Avs didn't acquire him from the Capitals this offseason, he very well could have been on the Lokomotiv roster again this season. Naturally, the Russian tragedy has hit close to home for Varly and he'll be heading back for the memorial services. Adrian Dater at the Denver Post has more.

PTERODACTLY AIR: Much has been made of the flying conditions in Russia since the crash, and rightfully so. To get a further understanding, just read Coyotes assistant coach Dave King's take on Russian air service from his book King of Russia: "The charter craft have, for the most part, featured modern, up-to-date planes, but today we’re in a time warp, flying on a twin-propeller plane the players call Pterodactyl Air — for reasons that are self-explanatory." Here's the full section at the Edmonton Journal.

FIRST ACCOUNT: When the airline went down just after takeoff and landed in the water, there just happened to be a boat a few hundred yards away. Here's the harrowing account (Alex Ovetjkin) of their first response on the scene including their interactions with the crash's two survivors.

NEW ADDRESS, NEW NUMBER: After spending more than 11 seasons in Toronto to begin his career, Tomas Kaberle is now with his third team in a year, joining the Carolina Hurricanes in the offseason. And it's going to be a new start in more ways than one. With his number 15 already snagged by Tuomo Ruutu, Kaberle is going with the inverted look and will wear No. 51 (News Observer).

HOCKEY ON THE BOARDWALK: Despite not having an AHL team based in Atlantic City, the league will have its All-Star Game in the historic Boardwalk Hall (The Hockey News) next season. On a related note, next year's AHL All-Star Game will be one of the most attended and covered in the league's history.

NOT FINNISHED YET: Remember the name Jarkko Ruutu? The former Canucks, Penguins, Senators and most recently Ducks forward and brother of the aforementioned Tuomo Ruutu (two Ruutus in one post?) couldn't find a suitable offer in the NHL, so he's headed back to Europe, joining Jokerit of the Finnish league. Slava Malamud says Ruutu did have offers from the KHL worth more, but instead chose Finland.

THE NHL'S TIM TEBOW? That's the connection being drawn at PredGold between Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis and the former Florida Gators now Denver Broncos QB. Have a look at the list of similarities and see if you agree.

PERFECT PITCH: It's still the offseason, but camp is right around the corner so players are almost all on their way to the cities they play in, but still need a way to stay busy. John Carlson of the Capitals recently found something to do for a day, go to a Nationals game and throw out the first pitch. That's a nice arm on Carlson. Too bad nobody was in attendance to see it.

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

Posted on: September 8, 2011 9:48 am
Edited on: September 8, 2011 10:08 am
 

Stillman to retire, move into Panthers office

By Brian Stubits

There are still a slew of veterans sitting on the free-agent market, perhaps waiting for the middle of the year for a team waiting for a lift. Cory Stillman won't be one of them.

The 37-year-old winger will instead elect to retire and move into the front office, specifically returning to the Panthers to serve in a player development role.

Mike Davies at the Peterborough Examiner (h/t to Puck Daddy) had the full story.

Stillman, 37, will officially announce his retirement at a press conference Thursday in Florida where the Panthers will introduce him as a member of their player development staff. He will work under director of player development Brian Skrudland monitoring and working with Panthers prospects from the junior ranks to the minor pros.

Stillman says he had offers to return to the NHL, including from Carolina, but he felt, for a variety of reasons, the timing was right to move onto the next stage of his life.

"I can walk away knowing I wasn't pushed out the door," Stillman said. "I could still play. When I got traded back to Carolina I was reunited with some guys and we had a good run at the end. In the end, I'm not old, but I'm getting a little older, I'll be 38 in December, and I had a career I'm very happy with. Now it's time to move on to be with my family."

Getting to make the decision on his own terms was important to Stillman who has battled injuries in recent years.

Stillman spent two and a half seasons with the Panthers before being traded to Carolina, where he once won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes, last season. He also was with the Lightning for their Cup victory in 2003-04, putting him in rarified air by winning back-to-back Cups with different teams. Let's call it the anti-Hossa.

Watching Stillman in the final few years of his career, specifically thinking of his time in Florida, this always seemed like a natural. Stillman had a professional vibe that he gave off, somebody who would work his way into an off-ice position somewhere. The Panthers saw it, asking Stillman to let them know when he was ready to retire because they were interested in bringing him back to the organization in another position than winger.

Photo: Getty Images

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


Posted on: September 7, 2011 1:06 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2011 5:03 pm
 

Hockey world mourns KHL team plane crash



(Pavol Demitra/Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

For the fourth time this summer, tragedy has struck the hockey world. This time it comes in the form of a plane crash in Russia carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team of the KHL, a team that includes many former NHL faces.

Among those who were on the roster are former NHL players Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei Karlis Skrastins, Josef Vasicek and Karel Rachunek. The coaching staff was led by former Bruins, Whalers, Flyers and Red Wings defenseman Brad McCrimmon and also contained former NHL players Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev.

Plus, there were numerous others who were prospects for NHL teams. Among those was Devils prospect Alexander Vasyunov, who played in 18 games for the Devils last season.

"Words cannot express what has transpired," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said. "I knew a lot of players that were on that team. Nothing could prepare the hockey community for the devastating news ... [This] has left all of us beyond words.

More on KHL crash

"[Vasyunov] wanted to go over and play a lot and come back here. He was so proud to be a Devil. I can't say enough about him."

Riley Armstrong, brother of Colby Armstrong, is part of the team but was not on the plane. He tweeted after the ordeal that he was OK.

"I'm safe, but thanks for the kind words but pray and think of the players and their families on that flight."

As you can imagine, in a league that now contains many Russian players and has its ties grow every year with Russia's top league, the responses have been numerous and distraught. Alex Ovechkin simply said "I'm in shock!!!!!R.I.P ...."

Panthers defenseman and former Lokomotiv player Dmitry Kulikov was left stunned. "It's just an empty feeling. Words can't express how I feel."

Then there was Lightning defenseman Nate Thompson. "A tragic loss for the hockey world. Plane crash with an entire KHL team on board. Thoughts and prayers go out to there families and friends."

Perhaps Demitra is perhaps the best known former NHL player among the bunch. He spent most of his NHL career with the Blues, where he had his best seasons as a player. His best year was 2002-03 when he scored 36 goals and had 57 assists. He was named to three All-Star teams; 1999, 2000 and 2002. He most recently played for the Canucks in 2009-10 before moving on to the KHL.

Moreover, he developed some tremendous friendships in the NHL. The bond he created with Keith Tkachuk in St. Louis was tremendous and Tkachuk was predictably hurt.

"I am beyond devastated by the tragic news involving my good friends Brad and Pavol and the rest of their teammates in Russia. Brad was my teammate in Phoenix and later coached me in Atlanta and was truly a wonderful man who will be greatly missed. Pav was like a brother to me and I cannot believe that he is no longer with us. This is a terrible day for the hockey fraternity. My family’s thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time.”

Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star- Tribune penned this story back in 2007 (at the bottom of the entry) about the strong bond Demitra developed with Marion Gaborik when the two were playing together for the Wild.

Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins also had lengthy stints in the NHL, even being traded for one another at one point. In the 2007-08 season, the Avalanche sent Skrastins to the Panthers in exchange for Salei. In his one full season in Florida, Skrastins had his most productive offensive year, scoring four goals and 14 assists. The tough-nosed defenseman then played his final two NHL seasons with the Stars. Terry Frei of the Denver Post chronicaled Skrastins' trip to the NHL from Latvia.

"The Dallas Stars are saddened by the loss of former defenseman Karlis Skrastins in today's tragic plane crash in Russia," the team released in a statement.

Salei spent nearly a decade playing for the Ducks in Anaheim before he was signed by the Panthers. Like Skrastins, he had his best offensive season playing with Florida, scoring six goals with 26 assists in 2006-07 before being traded the next season to Colorado.

He was playing with the Red Wings just last season, playing 75 games with Detroit.

Vasicek played parts of seven seasons in the NHL, six of those with the Carolina Hurricanes. Team captain Eric Staal had this to say about Vasicek: "Joe was an awesome guy, always in good spirits, always smiling. It's just a tragedy."

Chad LaRose echoed those sentiments. "It's a shocker, a tragedy. Joe was a great guy. A life ended too early."

Vasicek's final season in North America was with the Islanders where he played alongside Radek Martinek.

"He was one of my best buddies. He was in my wedding. I can't believe this," Martinek said.

Among the confirmed dead is former Red Wings and Flyers defenseman McCrimmon, Lokomotiv's coach. The news was just as somber in Detroit with Wings coach Mike Babcock.

McCrimmon had been an assistant with the Red Wings the past three seasons, having spent time wit the Thrashers, Flames and Islanders as an assistant as well. He left Detroit to lead the KHL team in hopes of becoming a head coach in the NHL some day.

As a defenseman, he put up some absolutely unbelievable numbers in his career. In only two of his 18 seasons did he ever record a negative plus-minus mark and he posted a career-high plus-83 in 1985-86 with the Flyers. He ended his career with a plus-444, the 10th best mark in NHL history. Each of the nine players ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame.

This will go down as one of the biggest, if not the biggest sports tragedies we've ever seen. About the only things I can think that compare are the plane crashes that affected the Marshall football team and Oklahoma State basketball teams. Hopefully, and we hope with every bone in our body, this is the end of what will be known as the Summer of Sorrow in hockey. This has truly been an offseason from hell and hopefully one that we never see again.

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

Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:43 am
Edited on: September 6, 2011 10:45 am
 

Daily Skate: Ference's Cup day includes flash mob

By Brian Stubits

FLASH IN THE PAN: Andrew Ference recently took his time with the Stanley Cup and had said that his time would one-up everybody else's. Boy did it. In Boston's North End at the celebration, a flash mob busts out dancing and the show ends with a triumphant Ference standing amid the dancers holding the chalice high above his head (h/t to Puck Daddy). No word if this guy made it in the routine (I still love this).

CAN'T CUT IT: The Washington Capitals made a small move on Monday, waiving one-time hot prospect Dmitry Kugryshev (via DC Pro Sports Report), who will soon be on his way to NHL free agency. The Russian prospect had shown tremendous promise in lighting up the QMJHL, tallying 87 points in 66 games his last season there. But life in the AHL was a lot tougher and apparently the Caps have seen enough. You can surely expect some team to try and take a flyer on Kugryshev.

TESTING TIME: A few Carolina Hurricanes are taking part in an experiment from Nike, requiring the players to wear goggles while they train and setting them back in the disco era. From Chip Alexander at the News Observer: "use of the glasses can improve peripheral vision, reaction time, perception and focus. The disco reference? To the strobe effect of the glasses. Ah, the things people do for scienece.

REMEMBERING BELAK: Wade Belak's memorial service was held over the weekend and among those on hand were his former teammates with the Predators to honor the fallen player. “He was happy to be retired," Ryan Suter said. "He was happy to be moving on, because he had played for so long. He was going to finally be able to relax and enjoy it.” Josh Cooper at the Tennesseean has the full story.

IRONWOMEN: In Burnaby, Britich Columbia, a group of women finished playing the longest hockey game in history, going 243 hours and five minutes of consecutive (minus occasional zamboni appearances) of action to break the Guiness world record (via CTV news). The reason? To raise money for cystic fibrosis. The game that stretched 10 days had almost 2,500 goals scored. I guess nobody will complain about hockey being low scoring after that.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 29, 2011 2:26 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 2:59 pm
 

Eastern Conference spots seem set for some time

By Brian Stubits

Sometimes simple and obvious things just hit you. Things you had realized before but for some reason they jump to your attention again. It tends to happen a lot more often during the lazy hockey days of summer.

That's exactly what happened when I began to think about the makeup of hockey markets/organizations, particularly in the Eastern Conference. What popped into my head was the fact that the contenders this season are likely to be the same as they were last season, and for the most part the same they were the season before that. And it's likely they will remain the contenders for the season after next, too.

At that moment I realized the NHL is starting to resemble the NBA in a way. And that's not good. One of the biggest reasons the NBA is in a lockout that seems to have no end in sight (Ken Berger and the Eye on Basketball guys have that covered) is the very issue that only a handful of teams enter every season with a chance to win the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Everybody's favorite stat about the (lack of) parity in the NBA is the simple fact that since 1984, only eight different organizations have won the championship. That's eight teams in 28 seasons.

Now look at the Eastern Conference in hockey. The Capitals have been atop their division for four straight seasons. The Penguins and Flyers are perennial contenders. Same goes for the Bruins while the Rangers, Canadiens and Sabres are regulars in the 5-8 range in the standings.

Of course that leaves teams like the Islanders (four-year playoff drought), Maple Leafs (six-year drought), Jets/Thrashers (one appearance in franchise history), Hurricanes (perennial contender for first runnerup these days) and the Panthers (10-year drought) to fend at the bottom.

So where do these teams fit? When you have a team like the Islanders seeming ready to step up and compete for the playoffs, who are they going to surpass? The Eastern Conference is full of traditional hockey markets in the American northeast and Canada, big markets either in hockey-crazy cities and ones with rich histories. The West has a few of those as well -- namely Vancouver, Detroit and Chicago -- but not as many as the East.

But have a look at the chart below detailing the past four seasons. Five teams have made the playoffs in each of those seasons and four teams have failed to advance beyond the regular season even once.

Last four seasons
Team Average finish (Eastern Conference) Playoff appearances 2011-12 payroll (capgeek.com)
Capitals 1.75 4 $65,190,128
Penguins 3.5 4 $62,737,500
Bruins 4.5 4 $56,682,976
Flyers 5 4 $64,124,761
Devils 5 3 $58,429,167
Canadiens 5.75 4 $59,770,510
Rangers 7.25 3 $62,935,334
Sabres 7.5 2 $67,895,357
Hurricanes 8.75 1 $49,775,000
Senators 9 2 $51,845,834
Lightning 11.5 1 $59,326,083
Maple Leafs 12.25 0 $59,115,000
Jets/Thrashers 12.25 0 $48,284,166
Panthers 12.25 0 $49,882,042
Islanders 13.75 0 $45,970,166

You get the feeling that at least five spots are locks in the East this year with two more almost assuredly the same. In the lock category you start with four of the five teams that have been staples: The Capitals, Penguins, Flyers and Bruins. Add in the up-and-coming Lightning for good measure. Hard to imagine any of those five not making it this season. In the next two spots I think you can add the Rangers and Sabres. With new owner Terry Pegula, the Sabres seem destined to become another playoff regular. These are teams that all improved (or in the case of Boston, didn't have to improve, but more or less stay in tact after winning the Stanley Cup) and were already playoff caliber.

By my stellar mathematical abilities, that leaves one spot essentially up for grabs. Among the group fighting for it will be the Canadiens (the other team to make it each of the past four seasons), Devils and, well, the rest of the conference. Outside of the Senators who are building for a few years from now and maybe the Jets, every team in the conference looks to be better now then they were at the end of last season.

And here's the thing: I don't see how it will be easy to unseat these teams at the top of the conference. Sure, you will have the occasional team slipping through like the Lightning. To extend the analogy back to the NBA, that's like the Oklahoma City Thunder building after years of struggle to a competitive level. But they still have to fight through the Lakers, Mavericks and Spurs, all of which are almost guaranteed to be in the hunt. It's hard to imagine a time when the Lakers won't be contenders, and when they have been (post-Shaquille O'Neal) they rebuilt in a hurry and won the title shortly thereafter.

That's what I'm seeing for the Eastern Conference, that kind of perennial favorite similarity. It makes sense, obviously. The best free agents will want to go to the best teams in the best hockey cities and the biggest pay checks. That's to be expected. And that's a huge reason why these teams are able to stay above the equator. It doesn't hurt to have the infrastructures they all have at their disposal, too. From fan support to smart organizational minds and moves, they win more often than not. Success begets success. It's no coincidence that these are also the teams most heavily featured on national TV.

Let's look at the Capitals. Owner Ted Leonsis has been mentioned his 10-to-15-year plan ... not a plan that calls for 10-to-15 years to win the Cup (although it's starting to look that way) but instead to keep the Caps a Cup contender for that time. And because Washington D.C. has shown itself to be a strong hockey market and is appealing to free agents, it's easy to see how the Caps can sustain that. You have a young Alexander Ovechkin on your roster? Lock him up! Just throw a 13-year contract in front of one of the sport's best players and he's aboard for the long haul. Try and do the same when you're in Tampa Bay and you have a situation where you are only able to secure Steven Stamkos for five seasons.

The reasons are obvious, much the same as the Yankees in baseball (and now the Red Sox). You can pen each of those teams into the playoffs before the season even starts and you are most likely going to be right. But this isn't supposed to happen in hockey, not with a supposedly game-evening hard salary cap. It's just the inherent advantages are too tough for a lot of teams to compete with. Essentially, the margin for error is razor thin for the lesser markets/organizations.

Toronto is the exception (sorry Leafs fans) to the big-market success model. It is probably the best hockey market in the NHL, has an incredibly devoted fan base and has not been afraid to spend. But even the Leafs are struggling these days to break that glass ceiling and butt their way into the playoffs. They couldn't beat out the Rangers for Brad Richards' services in free agency.

Now this is why they play the game. You can't lock in these teams to the playoffs. After all, who saw that Devils season coming last year? You still have to earn your way into the postseason. But if you are a fan of one of the bottom-feeders in the East, I'd suggest you cool your jets. The East's upper echelon is pretty well full of NHL aristocrats. The competition will be better and the spots will likely be more fiercely fought for, but it will be hard to break through.

In the West you can hear the mid-level teams saying "welcome to our world."

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: August 29, 2011 9:43 am
Edited on: August 29, 2011 9:46 am
 

Daily Skate: Penguins coach Bylsma eyes U.S. job

By Brian Stubits

NATIONAL DREAM Dan Byslma isn't on any sort of hot seat as the Penguins coach, but he is looking for his next job. That's because Disco Dan has indicated he's interested in coaching the U.S. men's national team (via Sporting News) when the 2014 Olympics come around. ""I'd be more than willing to be a part of a staff, but my goal isn't just to be a part of a staff," the Michigan native said. "At least, the written goal is not just to be part of the staff."

CONCUSSION TALK CONTINUES: In the two-day Molson Export Quebec Hockey Summit in Quebec, the primary point of conversation surrounded the ongoing concussion talk (via Globe and Mail) and what some would call an epidemic in the NHL. With the possibility of Sidney Crosby missing more time, executives are perhaps looking at this issue even more seriously. Not that they weren't before, but Crosby's possible further absence seems to have spurred talks with one goal in mind: reducing concussions. Here's what Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier had to say: "“There are kids who suffer two or three concussions in a year and are pushed to keep playing. I can tell you that if one of my sons gets a concussion, his season is over.”

CAN KESSEL GET OVER THE HILL?: Obviously the Maple Leafs gave up a lot for Phil Kessel, so there expecting a lot from him. He's been an all-star since he came to Toronto, but the fans there are waiting to see more from their top player. That leads us to Maple Leafs Host Stove's burning question ... can Kessel score more than 40 this season? They take a stab at answering that question.

'CANES QUESTION: The Hurricanes was a middle-of-the-pack team as far as scoring last season, so it's not as if there was a drought in Carolina. But with one of the team's three 20-plus goal scorers from last season (Erik Cole) out of town, Chip Patterson at the News Observer wonders who will do the scoring for the 'Canes this season outside of Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner?

SIGN OF THE TIMES: Yes, the season is getting closer. Much closer. Just take a look at what's going on in Columbus' Nationwide Arena ... the ice is coming back (from @ddawley twitpic).

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