Archive for November, 2011

NHL GMs address the 1-3-1

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In one of the season’s most bizarre scenes, Braydon Coburn and other Flyers defensemen simply held the puck while waiting in vain for the Lightning to abandon their 1-3-1 trap. (Photo by Chris O’Meara/AP)

By Stu Hackel

One of the most anticipated topics discussed at the GMs meetings in Toronto on Tuesday was the fallout from the Flyers-Lightning game last week.  The managers declined to consider any new rules in response to the bizarre scenes  in which Philadelphia refused to advance the puck after Tampa Bay went into its 1-3-1 defense. No Lightning player pressured the puck and the closest Tampa Bay skater was back on the offensive blueline, but the Flyers refused to move. That could change if we see a re-run of that strangeness in the future.

Most interesting were the remarks of Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, who indicated that he was not comfortable with the passive way his team responded to the trap. “To me, it just didn’t sit right,” he said of the  ploy.
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  • Published On Nov 16, 2011
  • NHL grapples with retaliation dilemma

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    Key question: Who is the most effective at policing the modern game on the ice – the NHL or the players? (Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE)

    By Stu Hackel

    In the aftermath of the Milan Lucic-Ryan Miller incident last Saturday, the Buffalo Sabres have come under heavy criticism for not pushing back against the Boston Bruins, either by challenging Lucic or by running goaltender Tim Thomas in retaliation. We showed video earlier this week of a 1987 game between Buffalo and Detroit that featured goalie-running and line brawls, but those sights are rare these days.

    Should the players take matters into their own hands more than they do now?
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  • Published On Nov 16, 2011
  • GMs take a stand to protect goalies

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    The next time a goaltender is flattened the way Ryan Miller, there will be consequences for the checker. (Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    When we first wrote Monday about Milan Lucic’s hit on Ryan Miller in last Saturday’s Sabres-Bruins game, the gist of that post was that the decision taken that day by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety would be pivotal in helping clarify what is permissible with regard to contact with goaltenders. The rules themselves are pretty straight-forward, but as we wrote, “Whether the NHL will back them up here is the issue.”

    However, it wasn’t the Player Safety boys who backed up the rules — they didn’t; they gave Lucic a free pass. It turned out that the NHL’s general managers — who purely by coincidence were scheduled to meet on Tuesday and who provide direction to Brendan Shanahan’s group — defended the rule and instructed the league to be more forceful next time when dealing with hits like Lucic’s.

    And that is a boost not just for goaltenders, but also for player safety in the NHL.
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  • Published On Nov 16, 2011
  • Shanahan’s Lucic ruling rings hollow to many

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    Many fans outside Boston don’t buy Milan Lucic’s claim that he couldn’t avoid colliding with Ryan Miller. (Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    If the Brendan Shanahan era was the dawning of a new day in NHL player safety, some clouds obscured the sun on Monday when he found no reason to take further action against the Bruins’ Milan Lucic, who freight-trained Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on Saturday.

    It was a decision that felt like a product of the old Colin Campbell era.

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  • Published On Nov 15, 2011
  • Lucic disciplinary decision may prove pivotal

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    Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was angry about his team’s tepid response to goaltender Ryan Miller being run by Boston’s Milan Lucic, but real fireworks may be in store if the NHL doesn’t clamp down. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    Milan Lucic gets hauled in front of the NHL’s justice system Monday afternoon after the big, tough Boston winger ran Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on Saturday night, a play that some considered the turning point in the Bruins’ 6-2 dismantling of Buffalo. Miller is out indefinitely with a concussion after Lucic plowed into him like the 6:46 from Haverhill to North Station.

    It might be an overstatement to say that what Brendan Shanahan and company decide on Lucic will be a defining moment in this new era of player discipline; in fact, it may end up being more of a defining moment for the Sabres. But Department of Player Safety rules may help clarify what is and what is not considered “a hockey play” in the current scheme.

    UPDATE: The NHL announced Monday afternoon Lucic would face no disciplinary action, citing a lack of intent on his part.

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  • Published On Nov 14, 2011
  • Did the Lightning trap the entire NHL?

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    By Stu Hackel

    Isn’t that video above terrific? On Wednesday night, Tampa Bay’s 1-3-1 defense against Philadelphia forced Mike Milbury to storm off the set in Versus’s studio during the second intermission, and that’s reason enough for us to nominate the Lightning’s Guy Boucher as not just NHL Coach of Year, but also for the The George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished and meritorious public service to television.

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  • Published On Nov 10, 2011
  • OHL still leading way with stiff headshot bans

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    OHL Commissioner David Branch has become the face of his league’s zero tolerance policy on headshots. (Photo by Leon T Switzer/ Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    Another stiff suspension for a headshot in the Ontario Hockey League has been handed down and, as in all consequential rulings anywhere in the game, there are aftershocks for the NHL to consider.

    The OHL, the NHL’s top source of junior players, has suspended Tom Kuhnhackl, a Penguins draft pick, of the Niagara IceDogs 20 games for his hit last Friday that was delivered to the head of Kitchener Rangers defenseman Ryan Murphy, a Hurricanes pick who nearly made the NHL club in training camp. The OHL has been a leader in player safety during the last five years, especially hits to the head, and its Board of Governors last summer instructed the league to step up its punishment of players for dangerous play. On this hit, the OHL acted strongly.
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  • Published On Nov 09, 2011
  • The NHL’s early surprises

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    The hot-starting Toronto Maple Leafs have gotten some surprisingly substantial contributions from players such as Mike Komisarek, David Steckel, Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul (19). (Photo by Rich Kane/Icon SMI)

    By Stu Hackel

    The season is now a bit more than a month old, and while smart hockey guys still think it’s too early for big pronouncements, it is the right time for determining who has gotten off to an unexpected start. So here are some of the big early surprises, in no particular order.

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  • Published On Nov 08, 2011
  • New coach Ken Hitchcock, the Blues, and the NHL’s 200-foot game

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    Ken Hitchcock is a Stanley Cup-winning taskmaster expected to whip the underachieving Blues into shape. (Jeff Roberson/AP Photos)

    By Stu Hackel

    Sunday evening, the axe fell for the first time this season on an NHL coach: Davis Payne, who told Jeremy Rutherford of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch the move was “shocking and disappointing.” Other than Payne, not very many people were shocked because the only disappointing thing was his Blues’ record (6-7-0). The bigger surprise to some is that Ken Hitchcock has replaced Payne, because the NHL rumor wire — which has only a fleeting relationship with fact — had Hitchcock resuming his old job as coach of the Blue Jackets.
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  • Published On Nov 07, 2011
  • NHL will get no assist from NBA lockout

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    Like the NBA, the NHL has Kings, but basketball fans usually would rather watch anything but hockey. (Jayne Kamin Oncea-US PRESSWIRE)

    By Stu Hackel

    This would have been the first weekend of the NBA’s regular season which, as everyone knows, is in limbo and threatened by the owners’ lockout. Inevitably, the question arises, what does it mean for the NHL? Does the absence of pro basketball realistically present an opportunity for the NHL to capitalize on the situation?
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  • Published On Nov 04, 2011


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