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Top Line: Do suspensions work?; Talk of expansion; Iginla returns; more links

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Shawn Thornton of the Boston Bruins is facing suspension for his attack on Brooks Orpik.

A suspension for attacking Brooks Orpik may force a contrite Shawn Thornton to clean up his act. (Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

An annotated guide to this morning’s must-read hockey stories:

• Are players changing their approach to the game as a result of suspensions? Several NHL GMs seem to think so.

The Board of Governors is happy with the way suspensions are being doled out. Interesting stat in this one from Sheriff Shanny: of the approximately 55,000 hits that are delivered over the course of the season, only about 50-100 are problematic.

• The NHL is willing to field inquiries about expansion, but there’s no rush to push the league to 32 teams. “Everything in due time,” said Gary Bettman, who probably wants to enjoy having 30 stable owners for perhaps the first time in his tenure before he decides to add to the family.

• Is there a mechanism in place to ensure the financial stability of small-market teams as the salary cap rises during the next few years?

• Jarome Iginla’s return to Calgary made for an emotional, surreal and unforgettable tribute to his iconic career with the Flames.

• Below is the video that Calgary played pre-game to honor Iggy. It’s every bit as good as you’d imagine.

• This might have been the best moment of the night, though.

• Calgarians are set to become Bruins fans, at least temporarily, this spring.

• Alexander Ovechkin was in Russian Machine-mode last night, scoring four times to lead the Capitals to a 6-5 shootout win over the Lightning. Can we all just agree that he’s back now?

• It’s no longer just a narrowly held theory, but an actual, provable fact: The Islanders are indeed capable of winning hockey games. Of course, it took a superhuman, 46-save effort from Kevin Poulin, but New York escaped the Shark Tank with a 3-2 victory last night.

• Steve Yzerman is coming to the reunion after all. After much debate, the Tampa Bay/Team Canada GM is putting aside his other duties for a day or two to skate for the Red Wings at the Winter Classic Alumni Game. It wouldn’t have been the same without him.

• Maybe someone wised Yzerman up to how critical these outdoor events have become to the marketing of the game. This winter is a key test for how often (or even if) the success of an event like the Winter Classic can be replicated.

• Jonathan Bernier has been one of the Maple Leafs’ most important players so far, but did Toronto do the right thing in trading for him last summer? That’s the question as the Leafs line up against former teammate Ben Scrivens and the Kings tonight.

• At least Toronto doesn’t have to face Los Angeles’ history-making third stringer tonight.

• The Wild seem to be built to win games on the road. So why are they such patsies?

• Injuries are forcing the Blackhawks to rely on their third and fourth-string goalies for the next 10 games or so. They passed the first test last night.

• A supporter of advanced statistical analysis asks, “When will the NHL adopt advanced statistical analysis?”

• You don’t need to tell Stephen Weiss that he has sucked so far this season. He knows. He really knows.

• Rookie Valeri Nichushkin sounds pretty cocky about his chances to make the Russian Olympic team. Not sure I like his odds as much, but I can say that three Russian scouts watched him in action twice over the last week, so he’s at least getting a good look.

• Ilya Kovalchuk says Semyon Varlamov should reunite with the woman accusing him of domestic abuse and help her get what she really wants: a green card. Yep, that’s really what he said.

• Former Olympian Marty Turco explains what went wrong for Team Canada in Turin in 2006 and lays out how those problems can be avoided in Sochi. Pretty interesting to hear him say that not everyone on the team was committed to the program.

This is what it looks like when they change the glass in Florida. The good news? It didn’t block the view of any paying customers.

  • Published On Dec 11, 2013
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