Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:25 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The Hall of Fame class of 2011 was gathered in Toronto on Saturday as Ed Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour and Mark Howe were all honored in anticipation of Monday's induction ceremony. They were all on the ice at the Air Canada Centre before the Maple Leafs-Senators game, and the biggest talking point to come out of the evening seems to be Belfour's wardrobe, which certainly made him stand out from the rest of the group.
Belfour, of course, is the second one from the right in the above picture, rocking the leather bomber jacket and blue jeans looking like he's ready to head on out to Bob's Country Bunker after the game.
Jokes have been made regarding his selection, mainly on Twitter, but hey, you are who you are. We're curious to see if he upgrades for the actual ceremony on Monday.
You can click here for the footage of Saturday's pregame festivities.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: November 7, 2011 4:55 pm
The surgery will take place in Philadelphia (cue the conspiracy theorists!).
The folks in Ottawa might call this a case of poetic justice. Wolski did not face any supplementary discipline for his collision with Daniel Alfredsson a little over a week ago, a hit that concussed the Sens captain. Brendan Shanahan explained it as an accidental collision where Wolski was bracing for a hit.
In six games this season, Wolski has two assists. His first game back from the injury will be his 400th of his career and he is nine goals away from 100 for his career.
Rangers fans were hoping this would be the season Wolski showed the form he flashed in Phoenix when he had career highs with 80 games, 23 goals and 45 assists two seasons ago. Instead, he's dealing with his second injury of the young season (a groin issue sidelined him previously).
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: November 3, 2011 3:52 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2011 3:56 pm
By: Adam Gretz
When Brendan Shanahan handed out nine suspensions during the preseason the biggest question on our minds was whether or not that torrid pace would continue in the regular season, or if that was simply the message sending and adjustment phase.
A month into the regular season and, as of Thursday morning, Shanahan has issued just four suspensions that have totaled 11 games, while also issuing just two fines. For a comparison, on the same date last season under former NHL disciplinary czar Colin Campbell, the NHL had issued seven suspensions during the regular season that totaled 17 games, along with six fines.
After four suspensions for an illegal hit to the head during a one-week stretch in the preseason, we didn't see our first suspension for a similar play until this week when Edmonton's Andy Sutton received a five-game banishment for his hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche rookie Gabriel Landeskog. Are the players getting the message that was sent out during the preseason and starting to figure out what they are and aren't allowed to do? Or has Shanahan simply softened on what's worthy of a suspension? I think it's a combination of the two, and according to players like Nashville's Mike Fisher, who was on the receiving end of a questionable hit this past week, there is still some confusion from the players perspective.
I do think, simply based on nothing other than my own observations, that we have probably seen a bit of decrease in the number of blatant hits to the head. Whether or not that's because of the run of suspensions during the preseason, combined with the steady stream of video's breaking down each punishment, as well as the videos sent to each team demonstrating legal and illegal hits, is certainly up for debate. There just doesn't seem to be quite as many questionable hits as there were in recent seasons that have left us asking, "is this guy going to get suspended?"
But while they don't seem to be as frequent, they do still exist. Over the past week, for example, there have been a couple that drew some attention that resulted in no punishment from the league, including a play that involved Fisher getting hit by Francois Beauchemin, as well as Rangers forward Wojtek Wolski and his hit on Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson.
Shanahan appeared on NHL Live on Wednesday afternoon and addressed them.
"The first thing players want to know is what can't I do," said Shanahan. "And then the next, maybe just as important question is what can I do. And so we worked really hard in the offseason, players wanted us to get rid of illegal head shots, general managers wanted us to get rid of illegal head shots and I think the fans do to. And I think it's going to trickle down into minor hockey as well, so we talked a lot about this and we worked with the NHLPA, and players contributed to this, we talked about making a full body check."
At that point Shanahan went into a full description of why there was no discipline for Beauchemin:
"We felt that Beauchemin worked hard, right here he's blowing snow, he actually gets in front of Fisher, and he's blowing snow and digging in and he's hitting him in the chest, shoulder and unfortunately there is some incidental contact to the head, but we feel that's a full body check. We've asked the players to do hat, Beauchemin worked really hard to get in front of Fisher, maybe a year ago he doesn't and he hits him from the blindside. Even though he approached from the blindside he didn't deliver the hit, you saw the snow blowing, he got in front of him, stopped, dug in, kept his elbow down, kept his feet on the ice and delivered a hard hit."And then on the on the Wolski/Alfredsson hit:
"Wolski's not a dirty player, and has no history of being a dirty player. There are collisions that occur on the ice where, unfortunately, one player sees it just prior. On this play here, Wolski has got to get out to his point. You see here, Gaborik, the left winger, has to come all the way to Wolski's point on the right side because Wolski's not there. He ran into Alfredsson trying to get there."Shanahan's emphasis on prior history, and whether or not a player has a reputation for being a dirty player or a track record of illegal hits has sparked some discussion as well as the concern that there is still way too much inconsistency when it comes to player discipline. Should it really matter if a player has or has not been guilty of an illegal hit in the past when he does eventually commit one? Of course not. An illegal play is an illegal play whether or not it's delivered by Wojtek Wolski, a player with no prior history, or Daniel Carcillo, a player with a lengthy history. Not suspending a player like Wolski because he's never done it before almost seems as if it's giving players one free pass before they get punished.
It's either legal or it's not.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: November 2, 2011 4:11 pm
The Winnipeg Jets came about so quickly this summer, they barely had time to design jerseys for the team to wear. Obviously they did, but there wasn't enough time to come up with an alternate. But you can always go back and create a third jersey.
That's what the Jets are reportedly looking into at the moment. While it was made clear that the Jets wanted to create a new identity rather than go back to the old Jets logo. Makes sense, even if fans wanted to see the retro design come back.
The designer has created a sweater design for the Jets to mull over. I'll just let him describe it (image and text from www.icethetics.info)
Check the icethetics page for more details.
It's a solid, solid design and I love the touch of crossing the then and now. I have a feeling that these would be wildly popular in Winnipeg, as if Jets stuff isn't already.
What say you?
Posted on: November 1, 2011 2:32 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The first month of the NHL season is in the books and we're still trying to figure out which teams are good, which teams are bad and which hot start is for real and which one is simply an early season mirage. Let's check in with a progress report on some notable players and teams for the month of October.
Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs: Let's pretend, just hypothetically, that Phil Kessel is able stay near the top of the NHL's scoring list all.
Now, you shouldn't expect him to maintain his current pace (his shooting percentage is currently 26 percent -- that's probably not sustainable for a full season), but what if he were to do something completely unexpected like, say, win the NHL's scoring title and help lead the Maple Leafs to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. Would that do anything to change your opinion of the the trade that brought him to Toronto? Should it? Brian Burke has already said Boston won the trade because it has a Stanley Cup, but that trade -- which landed the Bruins two first-round draft picks, including a No. 2 overall selection used on Tyler Seguin, and a second-round pick -- had little to do with that championship. Seguin played about 12 minutes a game and scored 11 goals during the regular season, and only appeared in two postseason series. It's not like he was the driving force behind that cup run. The steep price Toronto paid still overshadow the fact that Kessel is a pretty darn good (three straight years of 30-plus goals) player and still only 24 years of age.
Even if he doesn't maintain this current pace he's been the most dangerous offensive player in the NHL this season and one of the biggest reasons the Maple Leafs are off to their best start in a decade, and that's worthy of a top-grade for the first month.
Other players and teams earning A's for the month of October
Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings) -- had one of the best months of any goaltender in the NHL, including three consecutive shutouts; James Neal (Pittsburgh Penguins) -- for a Penguins team that continues to deal with injuries, Neal has been their best overall player and looks to be the young goal-scoring winger they've been searching for for years; Nikolai Khabibulin (Edmonton Oilers) -- He leads the NHL in save percentage and goals against average for what has been, so far, the toughest team in the NHL to score against; and the Dallas Stars -- winners of eight of their first 11 games, thanks in large part to the play of Kari Lehtonen.
Ottawa Senators: For the first two weeks of the season the Ottawa Senators looked to be every bit as awful as they were expected to be.
Over the next two weeks? They won six games in a row and end the month two game over .500. Even through the awful stretch to start the season the Senators were impressive with their determination to never quit in a game, regardless of the score, resulting in acouple of late come-from-behind victories (against Minnesota and the Rangers).
They've been outscored 27-15 over the first two periods but have outscored their opponents 21-18 in the third period. It's not likely they'll be able to continue to rely on huge third period comebacks to get wins, and they're going to have to start getting some better starts in games so they're not constantly trying to play catch up, but a 7-5 record at this point is more than could have (or should have) been expected.
Other players and teams earning B's for the month of October
Pekka Rinne (Nashville Predators) -- He's been the best player on a Nashville team that is losing the possession battle just about every single night and is facing more shots than any other goaltender in the league. He's keeping the Predators in it while they search for some offense; Jaromir Jagr (Philadelphia Flyers) -- Three years away from the NHL and at 39 years of age Jagr opened the season and showed everybody that he can still play at the highest level with a point-per-game pace for the Flyers.
Detroit Red Wings: The A-plus honor student that brings home the rare and unexpected C. You know they can do better, and you expect them to do better. (And they will do better.) But after starting the season 5-0 the Red Wings dropped four in a row by a combined margin of 16-4. That streak includes a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of the Washington Capitals, a game that was followed by a 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets for their first victory of the season. Their defense definitely took a hit when Brian Rafalski retired over the summer, and they're not the defensive stalwart they were a few years ago, but they should be better than they've looked over the first month.
Other players and teams earning C's for the month of October
Montreal Canadiens -- Injuries to their defense, as well as top forward Michael Cammalleri, didn't help, but a rather uninspiring start for the Canadiens that only started to turn around when an assistant coach was forced to take the fall.
Ville Leino, Buffalo Sabres: Terry Pegula spent a ton of money this summer in an effort to make the Sabres a Stanley Cup contender, and one of his biggest investments, Ville Leino, has been a complete non-factor through the first month of the season. In 10 games the 28-year-old Leino has scored just one goal to go with one assist and has recorded just five shots on goal, or one every other game. He's definitely talented, but based on what he's actually produced at the NHL level the six-year, $27 million contract was, at the very least, one hell of a gamble. And so far it's a losing one.
Other plays and teams earning D's for the month of October
Jaroslav Halak (St. Louis Blues) -- And he's probably right on the line between D and F. Let's just say this: the only goaltender in the NHL that has a worse save percentage entering November is Ottawa's backup, Alex Auld.
Columbus Blue Jackets: An offseason with such excitement and a season that seemed to have so much promise was opened with … the worst start in franchise history and the worst record in the NHL. There is obviously time to turn it around -- and I still believe the Jackets can -- and the two big offseason acquisitions have been limited so far, which isn't helping things. James Wisniewski was suspended for the first eight games of the regular season, while Jeff Carter, acquired from the Flyers, was limited to just five games in October due to a foot injury, scoring zero goals. Still … the worst start in franchise history?
Other players and teams earning F's for the month of October
The Boston Bruins -- Defending champs with the second-worst record in the league.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Adam Gretz, Boston Bruins, Brian Burke, Brian Rafalski, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Edmonton Oilers, James Neal, James Wisniewski, Jaromir Jagr, Jaroslav Halak, Jeff Carter, Jonathan Quick, Kari Lehtonen, Los Angeles Kings, Michael Cammalleri, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, Nikolai Khabibulin, Ottawa Senators, Pekka Rinne, Phil Kessel, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tyler Seguin, Ville Leino
Posted on: November 1, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 12:37 pm
He might be more than a mustache as a hockey player, but it's pretty darn defining. Heck, even Parros' popular Twitter account is @stache16.
Really, it will go down in the sports annals of great upper lip hair history. Personally, I'm not convinced Parros' is even the best in the NHL right now thanks to Senators coach Paul MacLean, but that's no slight. Parros' 'stache is in the running for a spot on the Mt. Rushmore of hockey facial hair.
“It’s burly,” Parros told Puck Scene of his mustache. “It’s manly. It demands respect.”
That it does. It commands so much respect, that Parros was able to convince every player in the Ducks locker room to show their support for the Movember movement, an attempt to raise funds and awareness for men's health, particularly prostate cancer through the power of mustache. To do so, Parros actually had to chop of the big bristling 'stache to begin anew for the start of the month.
"Well the stache has been cut!" Parros tweeted. "They broke a few razors but made it through. the race is on...may the best mo win!!!"
Looks weird, huh?
You can hardly recognize him without his furry friend. And soon enough, you might not be able to recognize the other members of the Ducks in their mustaches either. Even goaltender Jonas Hiller, who originally elected to have a special mask made for the month instead of growing out his own mustache, is reconsidering.
“I haven’t decided,” Hiller said. “I originally planned not to and instead to wear the mask. No one sees it and it’s itchy and bothers me anyway, but now with everyone else doing it I almost have to grow one.”
When the power of the 'stache can't convince him, there's always peer pressure. And don't get discouraged.
“Everyone’s able [to grow a mustache],” Parros said. “Whether or not he can grow a successful one is a different story.”
For more excellent Parros wisdom on facial hair, including his own beard and trimming techniques, read the whole story at Puck Scene.
With that, we present a very Bleacher Report-esque best mustaches in hockey lineup. Enjoy. (*Disclaimer: This list is not exclusive. There are surely some terrific mustaches not included. Thanks you.)
Here is George Parros with his mustache in full bloom.
Next we have aforementioned Senators coach, Paul MacLean.
How about the mustache that Parros calls underrated, Terry Rushkowski?
Here's some appreciation for the referees, specifically Bill McCreary.
One of the most fondly remembered mustaches the ice has ever seen, Wendel Clark.
Last but certainly not least, the near consensus No. 1 mustache in hockey history (and maybe in sports history), Lanny McDonald.
Photos: Getty Images
Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:11 pm
Alfredsson took a hit from Wojtek Wolski of the New York Rangers in Saturday's 5-4 OT Sens win in New York. The league decided not to take any action against Wolski for the hit, concluding he was bracing in anticipation of contact.
Sens GM Bryan Murray was less than pleased with the decision and shared it with Allen Panzeri of Senators Extra.
Speaking for myself, I concur with Murray on this one. It seemed like a hit that was worthy of further punishment, and I explained more why here. But what I find most interesting here is that this is the most vocal criticism -- even if it is mild in this case -- of Shanahan from inside an organization.
But getting back to Alfredsson, he will now be out until his post-concussion symptoms disappear. There never is any way of truly telling when that might happen, so while the Senators are enjoying a six-game win streak, in the back of their minds they will be thinking of their captain.
In the Sens' start, Alfie has scored four goals and contributed with three assists.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: October 30, 2011 8:01 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2011 8:03 pm
Wolski's hit in question came in Saturday's tilt with the Senators in New York. In the play, Wolski hits Alfredsson high on the play away from the puck and drew a minor penalty for the hit that left Alfredsson down on the ice.
Alfredsson missed Sunday night's game against the Maple Leafs because of the hit.
So what was the reasoning the league isn't acting further on the hit? Here's the explanation from Kevin Allen at USA Today: "The league view on the Wolski hit was that Wolski was bracing for impact when Alfredsson skated into him."
Plays like this one not getting more discipline will likely only confuse people as to what is and is not a bad hit. The line seemed to be coming into clarity, but this will only blur it once again. This seemed like a textbook suspension hit at first glance.
The Beauchemin hit on Fisher is much easier to see as not being worthy of discipline.
Here is the hit for your digestion.
Here is the reasoning from Allen in Beauchemin's case: "The league's view was that Beauchemin's hit was a full body check with incidental head contact."
Now this one I can agree with. It is a vicious-looking hit, especially with Beauchemin going airborne on the hit. However, the main contact definitely looks to be on the body, not the head.
For his two cents, Beauchemin said after the game he wasn't concerned about a suspension.
“I’m only concerned about his health," Beauchemin said. "I’m just hoping he’s OK because I think that was just a clean hit shoulder to shoulder. Looking at the replay myself, I think his head might have hit the ice when he fell down. And that’s probably how he got hurt.”