By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:
• It’ll be fascinating to see what reaction, if any, the NHLPA has to the suggestion by prominent member Jonathan Toews that more testing for performance-enhancing drugs would be a good thing for NHL players. Toews threw out that hot sports opinion on a Toronto radio station on Wednesday morning, adding, “it would be naive to say there’s no one in the NHL trying to get that edge.” Good stuff.
• Later in the day, Captain Serious talked about the possibility of being named Captain Canada in Sochi. Sidney Crosby will have his supporters for the role, but I have to think Toews is regarded as a more unifying presence. I’d expect him to get the C.
• Speaking of the Olympics, Ryan Kennedy suggests their usefulness may be at an end for the NHL. Can’t argue his point — there’s no reason to believe the league will shut down to allow players to go to South Korea in 2018 — or his suggestion to bring back the World Cup as an alternative.
• Amazing how quickly the NHL can get a team sold when it’s in hockey country, eh? The transfer of the New Jersey Devils from Jeff Vanderbeek to Joshua Harris should be completed today for a price that could be as high as $320 million. Considering that Vanderbeek bought the club in 2004 for just $125 million, that’s a nice bit of capital appreciation there.
• Jane Sims has all the ugly details of the events leading up to the arrest of Montreal defenseman Nathan Beaulieu back in May. Beaulieu, a 2011 first rounder who pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of assault, sounds like he’s in serious need of counseling after smashing a bunch of kids’ sticks and then being the third man in on a couple of fights. It’s surprising that getting help wasn’t part of the very lenient sentence handed down by the judge in a London, Ontario court.
• Are we really sure that Roberto Luongo had his tires stolen? Perhaps someone just took them in to get them pumped for the netminder.
• Some NHL teams have gone to great lengths in the past to prevent fans of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs from dominating their buildings when those teams came to visit. Now, supporters of the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks are getting the Heisman treatment from the Nashville Predators.
• I’m not sure that creating a winning culture is as simple as printing up t-shirts, but changing attitudes is just one of the many challenges facing the Carolina Hurricanes this season.
• I’m not sure what’s more surprising: that Phoenix defender Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a budding clothing designer; or that he thought he could get away with modeling his line of underwear.
• Jamie Benn is expected to be named the new captain of the Dallas Stars at some point, probably early in training camp. You won’t find many who’ll say the 24-year-old is ready for the job now, but as GM Jim Nill pointed out, Steve Yzerman had to grow into the job in Detroit.
• Montreal coach Michel Therrien points to one key summer addition as a reason to believe that Carey Price will get his game back on track this season. Based on this guy’s recent track record, Mike’s faith seems well placed.
• Daniel Alfredsson will say his farewells to Ottawa at a press conference this morning. Will it be a love-fest for the former captain, or is that wound still a little too fresh?
• Alfie’s former teammate Patrick Wiercioch survived a busy summer with all his teeth intact for a change.
• Phil Kessel’s brother says the Toronto star may not have many friends, but he’s glad to see Leafs fans finally warming up to him.
• George Malik has the latest on UFA winger Damien Brunner, citing a Swiss report that suggests he’s ready to wait for the right opportunity, rather than just the most money. My gut says Dallas remains his most likely landing spot.
• “I’m going to play until they rip the skates off of me,” says Boston tough guy Shawn Thornton, who at 35 is getting up there for an enforcer, but he looked like he had plenty left in the tank last season.
• Tim Connolly might be having the skates ripped off him right now. The former Leaf and Sabre is waiting to hear from an NHL team that’s looking for some offensive help, but given how ineffective he’s been over the past few seasons, it’s hard to picture anyone giving him a serious look.
• Justin Bourne has some thoughts on the jersey number selection process. Me, I still can’t believe someone would intentionally choose 64.