Archive for August, 2011

Return date uncertain, Crosby’s plight reminds of concussion dangers

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Sidney Crosby’s return date remains unclear as he recovers from a serious concussion sustained in January. (Lou Capozzola/Sports Illustrated)

By Stu Hackel

The old joke was the three fastest forms of communication were television, telephone and tell someone in hockey. So the wildfire sort of Twitter activity that some believe accelerate stock market rises and tumbles are nothing new in this sport, just technologically enhanced.

The status of the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby got Tweeps all crazy on Sunday following a post by Josh Rimmer of XM Radio’s NHL Home Ice, who tweeted that he was “hearing from 3 sources now that Sidney Crosby won’t b ready 2 start season. I hope its not true because the NHL needs its best players!” Later in the day, Rimmer said Crosby was still training in Halifax but was experiencing headaches, and he added that he’d sat on the story for two weeks.

Since gossip is often treated like fact in our culture, it’s probably no surprise that Rimmer’s tweet was endlessly retweeted and inflated and the resulting rumor-fest caused the Penguins to schedule a news conference for Monday afternoon to clarify Crosby’s status.

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  • Published On Aug 15, 2011
  • New Winnipeg Jets logo starts a skirmish

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    Winnipeg Jets

    The Winnipeg Jets revealed their new team logo, drawing scrutiny for it’s militaristic design. (Winnipeg Jets)

    By Stu Hackel

    Everything about the new Winnipeg Jets, it seems, is going to cause a fuss, whether it’s their name, their roster, their history or their logo. Yes, their logo is now causing some quarreling up north. Can’t wait to see what happens when their sweaters and unis debut. These guys haven’t even played a game yet.

    This latest dispute began with a post for the online literary magazine, The Winnipeg Review, by John Samson, a genuine hockey fan and not someone who merely objects to the new Jets logo because he has a political agenda. Samson is a singer/songwriter for the Winnipeg indie-rock band the Weakerthans and composer of an exceptional and melancholy song/poem about Gump Worsley, the Hall of Fame goalie, that appeared on the group’s 2007 album The Reunion Tour. I spoke with him about the song for a story in The Hockey News back then (which sadly isn’t online) and learned Samson has real hockey cred. He can speak with intelligence about the sport, grew up playing goal himself on the frozen streets of the ‘Peg and watching lots of hockey on TV like most good Canadian boys.

    Samson contended in his Winnipeg Review post that he was hoping the new Jets would provide a unifying experience for “our awesomely varied city.” Instead the logo is a point of division.

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  • Published On Aug 12, 2011
  • Ovechkin’s chat, team auctions, and the NHL’s little town flirt

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    Coach Bruce Boudreau has Alex Ovechkin’s ear about being a better leader. (Mark Goldman/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    Reading the item today that The Washington Post’s Tariq El-Bashir wrote for the paper’s hockey blog about Alex Ovechkin’s new desire to be a better, more serious captain and leader reminded me of when a downcast Steve Yzerman approached Scotty Bowman after Detroit was defeated by the Devils in the 1995 Stanley Cup Final. Yzerman asked for Bowman’s advice about how he could become a champion. That turned out pretty well for Stevie Y, Scotty and Hockeytown fans. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Ovie will be holding the Stanley Cup as the Capitals parade through the streets of DC next June, but it does signal a new, more mature player who is willing to change for the benefit of his team.

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  • Published On Aug 11, 2011
  • Is Columbus the NHL’s next trouble spot?

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    Like the Islanders, the Blue Jackets are threatened by ongoing mediocrity and an onerous arena lease, (Matthew Emmons/US Presswire)

    By Stu Hackel

    New York Islanders owner Charles Wang may have retreated from his veiled threats to move his team unless he gets a new arena, but another NHL owner has now played the relocation card in his effort to reverse the financial plight of his franchise.

    It’s been no secret that the Blue Jackets have lost lots of money in recent seasons — reportedly a stunning $53 million over the previous three years with just under half of that amount, around $25 million, going down the drain last season alone. That’s what can happen when fans are disappointed and become disaffected after seasons of losing or, at best, mediocrity. But another major contributor to the Jackets’ red ink is their lease on Nationwide Arena, which they say makes up $10-$12 million of their losses annually.
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  • Published On Aug 10, 2011
  • Recalling hockey’s radio days and a mystery song

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    By Stu Hackel

    With the most important hockey story today apparently being Sean Avery getting busted for shoving a cop, which is barely a hockey story at all, the dog days of summer have officially settled in. So it’s safe to go somewhere else for our ruminations.

    This post was inspired by the news that a giant of jazz, Frank Foster, had passed away in late July. Now, you’re saying, “What does that have to do with hockey?” Just be patient; I’ll get there. For me, it has more to do with hockey than Sean Avery’s arrest.
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  • Published On Aug 05, 2011
  • The fallout from Weber’s award

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    All eyes are now on the contract negotiations between the Kings and RFA defenseman Drew Doughty. (Jason O. Watson/U.S. Presswire)

    By Stu Hackel

    Now that Shea Weber’s arbitration award is settled, what will the immediate ripple effect be on the remaining top unsigned NHL defensemen – Drew Doughty of the Kings, Luke Schenn of the Maple Leafs, and the Jets’ Zach Bogosian?

    The one-year $7.5 million salary that Weber received is the largest arbitration award in NHL history and it makes him the NHL’s top-earning defenseman, bypassing the Florida Panthers’ Brian Campbell, who pulls down slightly over $7.1 million per season. That in itself is crucial because it will provide a standard for all other defensemen contracts going forward.

    More immediately, there had been speculation that the three above-named RFA players, teams and their agents were waiting for Weber’s salary to be determined before moving forward with deals for the other RFA defensemen, figuring that Weber’s payday would provide something of a guide for what a top young blueliner should earn in the salary cap NHL.
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  • Published On Aug 04, 2011
  • Perron’s stalled recovery, NHL rule tests, a new White Shark

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    David Perron was at the center of a contentious concussion debate last season. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    David Perron has the potential to be exactly what the St. Louis Blues need: an exciting, high-scoring winger who can create and finish scoring plays. He hit the 20-goal mark in his third NHL season at 21 years old, and last season had five goals in his first 10 games as the Blues went 7-1-2.

    Perron was concussed in his 10th game on a blindside hit by the Sharks’ Joe Thornton and the Blues were never quite the same again. They missed the playoffs and Perron missed the rest of the season. Now the word out of St. Louis is that he won’t be ready for training camp and that’s just not good news.

    Perron’s plight hasn’t gotten the attention some other more well-known concussion victims (like Sidney Crosby and Marc Savard) received, but his injury was no less devastating and it seems to have had a larger impact on his team. It has served as a flashpoint for how the NHL sometimes negatively reacts to change, although this incident certainly played a role in the league recognizing the need to make Rule 48 stronger for next season.

    And Perron’s situation also serves as an important reminder of why concussions are so insidious, because every one is different and they sometimes can be very difficult, if not impossible, to immediately detect and diagnose.
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  • Published On Aug 03, 2011
  • Predators at a turning point with Weber

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    The Predators run a tight financial ship that Shea Weber’s new deal could rock. (Paul Hebert/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    What is going to happen to the Predators and Shea Weber? A salary arbitration ruling will be made in the next 48 hours and it should prove pivotal for Nashville. [UPDATE: TSN reports Weber was awarded a one-year, $7.5 million contract.]

    First, the Preds and their outstanding blueliner were unable to negotiate a contract before their hearing Tuesday morning in Toronto. As we’ve noted earlier this summer, avoiding arbitration is the path that RFAs and their teams usually travel; it’s not worth the risk of exposing themselves to the uncertainty of an arbitrator’s decision and the potential hard feelings from the testimony about the player’s perceived worth.

    Why couldn’t the Preds and Weber agree when so many others did? A few factors seem to be at play here. First, there are two other core members of the team who will be UFAs next season: goalie Pekka Rinne and Ryan Suter, Weber’s defense partner. Nashville GM David Poile can’t open the vault too wide for Weber, much as he might like, because he’s got two more big contracts coming up and Weber’s deal is going to be a benchmark for the organization’s other stars.
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  • Published On Aug 02, 2011
  • Islanders are going nowhere

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    The Isles are stuck in the Nassau Coliseum until their lease runs out in 2015. (Rich Stieglitz/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    On Monday in New York’s Nassau County, a mere 104,000 voters — or about one-tenth of the population – turned out to turn down a new arena for the Islanders, among other projects.  [UPDATE: The final official voter turnout was 154,549 voters, around 11.4 percent of the population, and about 17 percent of the registered voters.] Team owner Charles Wang didn’t say much after the results were clear other than to express his disappointment and heartbreak, and promise to honor the team’s lease at crumbling Nassau Coliseum until it runs out (video).

    That leaves the distinct impression in many quarters that the Islanders won’t be around after that. They’re going to Brooklyn! They’re going to Kansas City! They’re going to Quebec! They’re going to Portland! They’re going to Seattle! They’re going to Hamilton! They’re going to Hartford!

    They’re going nowhere.

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  • Published On Aug 02, 2011


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