Archive for January, 2011

Will Crosby’s concussion be a game changer?

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As the NHL’s premier player, Sidney Crosby’s voice is more likely to be heard on the scourge of headshots. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

By Stu Hackel

The outcry against hits to the head in the NHL has increased this month, in no small measure because an elite player, Sidney Crosby, has been sidelined by concussion problems.
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  • Published On Jan 19, 2011
  • Skating Around: Head shot beat goes on; the forgotten game; a revealing time of year

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    By Stu Hackel

    Headshot Theater rolls on with this offering from the Sharks’ Scott Nichol, who leaped into the Coyotes’ David Schlemko on Monday night and was given a four-game, no expenses paid vacation by the NHL. Schlemko left the game after the hit in the third period and didn’t return. “He got one in the head pretty hard there,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said after the game. “He got his bell rung pretty good.”
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  • Published On Jan 18, 2011
  • Caps’ Leonsis could learn from Lombardi

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    Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis (with Alex Ovechkin) wears his heart on his blog, Ted’s Take. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    If you’ve yet to see the HBO documentary on the life of Vince Lombardi, which (at least on my cable system) ends at midnight as an On Demand selection, you might want to wedge it in between Monday’s NHL schedule of daytime and evening games. It’s an effective portrait of one of pro sports’ all-time great coaches and it offers some cautionary lessons for today’s NHL, particularly the owner of the Washington Capitals.
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  • Published On Jan 17, 2011
  • Rangers find recipe for cooling Canucks

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    Aspiring to be an elite team like the Canucks, the young Rangers used disciplined play to knock off Vancouver in a game that had playoff intensity. (Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    On cold winter nights like Thursday’s, when bundled-up Manhattan pedestrians must navigate mounds of ugly gray snow, the local hockey team has provided little solace during the past few seasons. For some Rangers fans, there was little reason to think last night would be any different.

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  • Published On Jan 14, 2011
  • Two minutes for booking: Canucks and Sabres celebrate 40 years in the NHL

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    Goalie Richard Brodeur, in the Canucks’ distinctive sweater, and Sabres forward Mike Foligno, who had a distinctive way of stealing goals, are featured in two fine new books. (B. Bennett/R. Stewart/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The Canucks are the NHL’s hottest team, incredibly hot, with only one regulation loss in their last 22 games (18-1-3) and points gained in each of their last 17 (31 of a possible 34). They’re first overall in the NHL and play the Rangers tonight (Thursday) in New York.

    The Sabres are only modestly hot by comparison, grabbing seven of eight points to start the New Year, only to fall flat against the Flyers on Tuesday and surrender five straight goals after going up 2-0. Buffalo hosts the Hurricanes tonight and is 10 points out of the playoffs. Local columnist Jerry Sullivan of The Buffalo News is hoping the team’s potential new owner takes control before the Feb. 28 trade deadline so he can “begin cleaning house and put to rest any notion that this ill-conceived team is a contender.”

    But while these two teams seem to be going in opposite directions, what they have in common is they are expansion cousins celebrating their 40th anniversaries this season with two excellent books that commemorate their colorful histories.
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  • Published On Jan 13, 2011
  • Sharks swimming against the playoff tide

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    Patrick Marleau (12), Dan Boyle (22), Joe Thornton (19) and Jason Demers (60) are in uncharted waters for the Sharks, who are ordinarily a regular season powerhouse. (Don Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The San Jose Sharks lost again on Tuesday night, their fifth straight defeat, this time to the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Hey, that’s four wins in a row for T.O. — waffles for everybody!)

    So are the Sharks just playing it coy, hiding among the plankton, getting ready to attack in the playoffs, trying a new approach after years of being a top team only to be ousted early each postseason?

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  • Published On Jan 12, 2011
  • NHL All-Star Game may always be a turkey

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    Bring back the Cold War! This year’s schoolyard pickup team format pales by comparison to Rendez-Vous ’87′s Wayne Gretzky and the NHL All-Stars vs. the Soviets format. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    The NHL announced the rest of the All-Star rosters today and while that might have some people excited, we haven’t written a word about the game. Why? Because in the last 20 years, the NHL All-Star Game has become nothing more than a glorified pond hockey match that does nothing to showcase what makes the sport great.

    Hockey is speed and skill vs. resistance, and if you remove one half of that equation, you kill the appeal. In the All-Star Game, there’s no resistance, so there’s no intensity. That’s been true regardless of the format changes over the years and there’s absolutely no reason to think that this forthcoming choose-up-sides format is going to produce a different result.
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  • Published On Jan 11, 2011
  • Confusion reigns at Headshot Theater

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    Bloodied Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart had to be helped off the ice after his jaw was broken by a blindside hit by Calgary’s Tom Kostopoulos – that wasn’t technically a blindside hit. (Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    Welcome to Headshot Theater, where we put some of the latest hits to the head, and the comments about them, under scrutiny.

    Headshots were once lots of fun. Then those killjoy scientists, doctors and do-gooders started pointing out that players could actually be seriously and permanently injured by them. So the hockey community responded — some folks more slowly than others — and rules were passed.

    But that doesn’t mean that everyone fully understands the new rules. Nor does it mean everyone, even those who understand them, appreciates the risks of brain trauma to players’ health.

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  • Published On Jan 10, 2011
  • Blackhawks maintain link to past with class

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    Members of the 1961 Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks (left to right) Rob Crawford, Eric Nesterenko, Bill Hay, Stan Mikita, Glenn Hall, Bobby Hull, Ab McDonald, Pierre Pilote, and Wayne Hicks were honored by team chairman Rocky Wirtz and president John McDonough in a pregame ceremony on Sunday. (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    Among the major team sports, only baseball rivals hockey when it comes to celebrating the past, and in our disposable culture of planned obsolescence, it’s always heartening when clubs maintain their connection with fans by saluting the players who have brought honor to the sweater and team crest.

    The Blackhawks paid tribute to their 1961 championship team on Sunday night, marking the 50th anniversary of Chicago’s third Stanley Cup, before a 5-0 shutout of the Islanders and you don’t have to be a Blackhawks fan to appreciate the significance of this franchise’s gesture to its history and its fans.
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  • Published On Jan 10, 2011
  • Final thoughts on HBO’s admirable 24/7 Capitals-Penguins series

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    By Stu Hackel

    Some observations on HBO’s 24/7 series “Road to the NHL Winter Classic,” which concluded on Wednesday night.

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  • Published On Jan 07, 2011


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