Written by: Matthew Blunk
The Philadelphia Flyers aren't the only NHL team keeping busy this summer.
One week after locking up left wing Taylor Hall with a seven-year contract, the Edmonton Oilers signed forward Jordan Eberle to a six-year, $36 million extension. The newly "man-strong" Eberle posted 34 goals and 76 points in 78 during the 2011-12 season, in a breakout campaign for the 22-year-old right wing.
Oilers GM Steve Tambellini appears dedicated to ensuring the future of the franchise with these two long-term deals with youthful, potential cornerstone players. Edmonton also boasts the previous two no. 1 overall picks in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (who displayed glimpses of greatness as a rookie) and Nail Yakupov.
Defense and goaltending remain concerns for the Oilers, but there's plenty of reason for optimism. With Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, and Yakupov, Edmonton's offensive attack could closely resemble a well-oiled machine (see what I did there?).
But with the NHL and NHLPA still arguing and not bearing fruit, yet another North American sports league could go through an ugly lockout. Let us hope cooler, more fruit-conducive heads prevail.
Written by: Matthew Blunk
Amidst the uncertainty of this NHL offseason, with murmurs of a potential lockout to come, the Philadelphia Flyers have signed two more players to long-term deals.
Philadelphia signed forward Wayne Simmonds to a 6-year, near $24 million extension on Aug. 16. On Monday, the Flyers agreed to extend forward Scott Hartnell with a 6-year, $28.5 million deal. Both Simmonds and Hartnell had career-best seasons in 2011-12 with the team, posting 49 and 67 points, respectively.
Simmonds is only 23 years old and has plenty of potential to get better. Hartnell became one of the most important players on the Flyers last season, with a great motor and hard-nosed, agitating style. And he does an uncanny Hulk Hogan impression.
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren has taken this sort of approach this summer - he doesn't seem overly concerned with the ramifications of a potential lockout or new collective bargaining agreement. Philadelphia is moving forward, business as usual. They aggressively pursued (and missed out on) former New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise in free agency, then moved on to signing Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber to a whopping 14-year, $110 million offer sheet in restricted free agency.
The Flyers also extended winger Jakub Voracek earlier this summer. Voracek got a 4-year, $17 million extension, after his 49-point 2011-12 season. Head coach Peter Laviolette also received a two-year contract extension soon after Voracek.
Needless to say, the Flyers are ready to play hockey in 2012-13, and look prepared to be contenders for the Stanley Cup once again.
Written by: Matthew Blunk
1) Evgeni Malkin, C - Pittsburgh Penguins
2) Sidney Crosby, C - Pittsburgh Penguins
3) Claude Giroux, C - Philadelphia Flyers
4) Steven Stamkos, F - Tampa Bay Lightning
5) Jonathan Quick, G - Los Angeles Kings
6) Alexander Ovechkin, F - Washington Capitals
7) Henrik Lundqvist, G - New York Rangers
8) Pekka Rinne, G - Nashville Predators
9) Zach Parise, F - Minnesota Wild
10) Jonathan Toews, C - Chicago Blackhawks
11) Henrik Sedin, C - Vancouver Canucks
12) Ilya Kovalchuk, F - New Jersey Devils
13) Pavel Datsyuk, F - Detroit Red Wings
14) Shea Weber, D - Nashville Predators
15) Daniel Sedin, F - Vancouver Canucks
16) Ryan Suter, D - Minnesota Wild
17) Rick Nash, F - New York Rangers
18) Jarome Iginla, F - Calgary Flames
19) Anze Kopitar, F - Los Angeles Kings
20) Eric Staal, C - Carolina Hurricanes
21) Drew Doughty, D - Los Angeles Kings
22) Joe Thornton, C - San Jose Sharks
23) Jordan Staal, C - Carolina Hurricanes
24) Ryan Getzlaf, C - Anaheim Ducks
25) Dustin Brown, F - Los Angeles Kings
26) Corey Perry, F - Anaheim Ducks
27) Ryan Kesler, F - Vancouver Canucks
28) Patrick Kane, F - Chicago Blackhawks
29) Jason Spezza, F - Ottawa Senators
30) Martin Brodeur, G - New Jersey Devils
31) Marian Gaborik, F - New York Rangers
32) Marian Hossa, F - Chicago Blackhawks
33) Erik Karlsson, D - Ottawa Senators
34) John Tavares, C - New York Islanders
35) Henrik Zetterberg, F - Detroit Red Wings
36) Duncan Keith, D - Chicago Blackhawks
37) Phil Kessel, F - Toronto Maple Leafs
38) Bobby Ryan, F - Anaheim Ducks
39) Marc-Andre Fleury, G - Pittsburgh Penguins
40) Dion Phaneuf, D - Toronto Maple Leafs
41) Jack Johnson, D - Columbus Blue Jackets
42) Mike Richards, F - Los Angeles Kings
43) Vincent Lecavalier, F - Tampa Bay Lightning
44) Shane Doan, F - Free Agent
45) Martin St. Louis, F - Tampa Bay Lightning
46) Patrice Bergeron, C - Boston Bruins
47) Zdeno Chara, D - Boston Bruins
48) Brad Richards, C - New York Rangers
49) Jeff Carter, F - Los Angeles Kings
50) Tyler Seguin, C - Boston Bruins
Written by: Matthew Blunk
King Henrik, help is on the way.
millennia centuries years months, the Columbus Blue Jackets have finally traded star forward Rick Nash.
Midway through last season, the Nash trade rumors began, and by the trade deadline, a deal seemed inevitable. Talks focused mainly on the New York Rangers, but Columbus GM Scott Howson could not find the deal he wanted.
Now, in the wake of the Philadelphia Flyers signing Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber to a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet, the Blue Jackets and Rangers have come to terms on a trade that will send Nash to New York in exchange for centers Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, defenseman prospect Tim Erixon, and a first-round draft pick.
Did Rangers GM Glen Sather feel a little push to keep up with talented division rival Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins? You bet. The Blueshirts needed a goal-scorer the caliber of Nash. They were an excellent defensive hockey team in 2011-12, along with Henrik Lundqvist's impeccable Vezina Trophy goaltending. It was enough to win the ridiculously-stacked Atlantic Division, lock down the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and reach the Eastern Conference Finals. But when it came down to it, the Rangers could not match the New Jersey Devils' dynamic playmakers and goal-scorers, and were eliminated in six games.
Nash scored 30 goals and finished with 59 points last season with the Blue Jackets, which would have put him third on New York's roster in points. The Rangers' leading scorer was Marian Gaborik (with 76), who may miss some time early in the 2012-13 season while recovering from shoulder surgery. So Nash will be relied on to make up for the loss of Gaborik early on.
But once the Slovakian returns to health, the Rangers should be able to score with the best of them. You know the John Tortorella philosophy of defense, shot-blocking, and goaltending will be there. But you've got to believe we'll be hearing a lot more "Whoa-oh-ohhhh!" next season as well.
Written by: Hunter Lyons
23 years ago this June, a player out of Vasteras, Sweden, was selected with the 53rd overall pick in the NHL draft by the Detroit Red Wings. The once storied franchise had been struggling to return to its once prestigious title as "Hockeytown," stemming from its heyday in the 50s with Hall of Famers like Gordie Howe, Sid Abel and Terry Sawchuck. Being picked in the 2nd round of the entry draft, the Red Wings obviously thought very highly of the Swedish offensive-defensemen and expected him to man the D-line for the Wings for years to come.
What they probably didn’t expect was that Nicklas Lidstrom would play 20 seasons, winning four Stanley Cups, be a 12-time All-Star and win seven Norris Trophies as the NHL’s "top defensive player," but that is exactly what they got. Yesterday, the Red Wings captain of 6 years retired from the National Hockey League at a press conference at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Members of the media packed the presser to get one last glimpse of the player many referred to as "Mr. Perfect" or "The Perfect Human." A title like that isn’t bestowed upon a person like that unless he displays consistent traits of production, leadership and longevity, something Lidstrom more than did in his years with the winged-wheel on his chest.
The 42-year old, who many believed could still compete in the league, decided to walk away from the game while he was still at his best, which is evident from his records as the oldest player to win the Norris Trophy and to record a hat trick. His presence in the locker room, on the ice and in the community was undeniable in his time with the Red Wings. Lidstrom entered the league in a time where European players weren’t as prevalent in the league as they are today, something many attribute to him. He holds the record for most regular season games played by a European player at 1,564 and was the first European-born player to win the Norris Trophy, as well as the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the Stanley Cup Finals MVP.
Growing up being a defensemen in the Southeast Michigan area, it was easy early on in my career who I wanted to emulate my game after. His steadiness, ability to play both ways and his overall ability to make those around him better is the reason I wore #5 throughout my college hockey career. Nick says he plans on returning to his native Sweden with his family but hopes to be involved with the Red Wings in the future, where he will be welcomed with open arms when he decides to do so. With all the accolades, records and even a 2006 gold medal to wear around his neck, Lidstrom’s legacy will live on far beyond the goals he scored, as well as stop. He has a number of charities in his name in the Metro-Detroit area spanning from youth hockey initiatives to cancer research. Next season Lidstrom’s #5 will undoubtedly be hung from the rafters next to the greats like Howe and most recently Steve Yzerman, but in my belief his biggest legacy will be left on the logo at center ice that reads "HOCKEYTOWN," a name he helped restore and give meaning to once again.
Written by: Sean McEachern (@sportsfanspeaks)
There was a time back in the annals of NHL history – say 3 or 4 years ago – when you geared up for the postseason hockey pool with the list of the top 30 or 40 point-getters on the season, made the standard in-depth analytical guess as to the Hot Goalie Du Jour, formatted overly predictable brackets with maybe one 3/6 seed upset and threw your $50 in the old jam jar and knew you had a better shot than your clueless Maple Leaf fan buddies of taking home the loot. Now? I prefer the tried and true method of launching three 27-gram tungsten-tipped darts at a copy of Inside Hockey pinned to a Don Cherry replica jacket and hope some idiot analyst isn’t busy extolling the virtues of Ilya Bryzgalov’s eclectic goaltending style on the middle pages. Whichever method is currently sinking your playoff zamboni beneath the center ice circle, it will take more than photocopies and a signed affidavit for me to believe that you had picked a Kings/Coyotes Western Conference Final and had the Devils waiting in the East for the Rangers/Capitals victor. If by some John Edward/Mentalist miracle you had this bracket breakdown, I will safely assume you were laughed out of your local “Owl and Pussycat Pub” at first and are now being hailed as hockey’s Frank Rosenthal by your pool partners who prior to the playoffs thought Yandle and Doan were purveyors of fine pharmaceuticals to athletes everywhere. And Mike Smith…really, give your head a shake. I’m not picking a guy whose name fills the ledger of every Pink Flamingo Motel with hourly rates, from here to Glendale, Arizona!
Written by: Keith Ricci
Well that was Quick, wasn’t it?
No pun intended. The first round of the Western Conference playoffs didn’t quite live up to expectations. In three of the series the losing team only managed to win one game and the other the loser only won 2. The East on the other hand, where most thought the gap in talent and teams was much wider saw three Game 7’s and a Game 6. This round in the West promises to be different. I think.
Nashville Predators vs. Phoenix Coyotes
Both of these teams have been on the “verge” for the last few years and both have shed some pretty big demons by getting to the second round. Phoenix finally gets out of the first round for the first time ever, vindicating coach Dave Tippett and Nashville breaks through in a big way by dumping long time division bully Detroit. One of these teams is going to the Western Conference Finals and while each would consider that accomplishment a great season neither should be disappointed if they don’t quite make it that far. They have overachieved and will be considered legitimate contenders for the foreseeable future.
Each has a fantastic goalie and their team philosophies start from the net out. Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne was nominated for the Vezina Trophy for his performance in the regular season and continued that strong play in the first round stopping 160 of the 169 shots he saw. On the other end Mike Smith is showing the promise that once saw him traded for New York Rangers All-Star and big money center Brad Richards. There were other pieces to the trade but make no mistake those two were the centerpieces. Tampa needed to unload salary and Dallas had a very talented young goalie stuck behind an entrenched starter in Marty Turco. Smith faded out in Tampa, was put on waivers, sent to the minors and then signed a two-year deal last offseason in Phoenix, reuniting him with Tippett, his coach while in Dallas. The two have found the same mojo they had years ago in the Lone Star State and are rolling. Smith posted better numbers in both Goals Against and Save Percentage than Rinne.
Each was fantastic in the first round and carried their teams for long stretches but Smith was better. Chicago hammered him relentlessly and he never broke, posting a shutout in the final game, on the road, despite facing 39 shots. Rinne was good with a 1.81 GAA but that was identical to Smith. They are both gargantuan, very sound positionally; cover a lot of net and oozing confidence. The matchup is salacious and is only the second best of this round.
The difference in this series is going to be some kind of intangible. A power play is going to get hot or a third line winger will have the best games of his life and find himself in free beer and steak forever after scoring three game winners on the road to the Cup.
Nashville on paper has the better defensive corps and are marginally deeper at forward but Phoenix seems to be a team that just has it together right now. The Pacific Division was brutal this year and they have been playing playoff hockey for months. They were in ninth place two weeks before the end of the season and won the division. Nashville is the more talented team but I just think that Tippett has figured this team out and will know all the right buttons to push. Mike Smith will continue his Zen-like mastery of all things projectile and the ‘Yotes will advance in 6.
Los Angeles Kings vs. St Louis Blues
Big Jon Quick made very short work of the defending Campbell Cup Champions and #1 seeded Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks were a bit banged up but the Kings, much like the Coyotes, have been playing playoff hockey for months and embarrassed the Canucks in 5 games. They were bigger, faster and ran circles around the President’s Trophy winners. I picked Vancouver in 5 or 6 based on the fact that Van needed to switch to Cory Schneider and while they did switch in Game 4, it didn’t matter. Schneider was good but not any better than Sweet Baby Skip to Toronto my Lou. The Canucks didn’t score and while the Kings defense was good Big Quick was the reason they won. LA got timely goals from players up and down the lineup but those chances were generated from quality stops that create even better scoring chances. It was text book shut down hockey and what LA was expected to play all year long. They faltered a bit during the season and then figured it out when it mattered most. Surprising? Maybe. Entertaining? Without a doubt.
The Blues are a machine. Ken Hitchcock has these kids rolling like his old Dallas Stars teams of the late 90’s with one major difference. Those Stars teams were loaded with multiple Hall-of-Famers. This version of the Blues has no Modano, Hull, Belfour, Nieuwendyk or Zubov. They are running out a backup goalie who happened to lead the league in the shutouts. Hitch has conjured up magic. I just can’t pick against them. The Kings are deeper at forward. Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams could run roughshod over David Backes, T.J. Oshie and David Perron. The former led the Kings in points during the first round while St Louis’s front three only had two goals combined. After scoring 64 in the regular season the B.O.P. line should rebound for the Blues and create some serious scoring chances.
On the defensive side the Kings have a couple of big names that will eat up a lot of minutes in Rob Scuderi and Drew Doughty. They played well in the first round but didn’t put a lot of points on the board. Their job was shutting down the Sedin’s and Ryan Kessler. They succeeded. They were more than impressive in neutralizing some of the top point producers in hockey but St Louis will be different. They attack from all four lines and will make the guys who play the other 35 minutes skate twice as hard.
Vancouver failed by not playing a full team and trying to rely on their big guns who ended up being tired and overmatched. St Louis has no big guns, will roll four lines and has a defense that is as unflappable as Ivan Drago’s face in the first 10 rounds of action in Rocky IV. They have no weakness as I see and will win this series. Mr. Quick has a chance to steal the show with the help of Dustin Brown but upsetting the top two seeds in the Western Conference one after the other might be a bit of a stretch.
St. Louis in 6. Let’s all enjoy the ribs afterwards.
Written by: Melissa Harder
Game 5 – April 22
Current Mood: Disappointed and sad
Current Song: Nothing. This one I had to write in silence.
I woke up at 9 am yesterday and realized that playoff hockey was already on. It is totally weird to watch hockey in your pyjamas (and yet I am happy to watch NFL football in my pjs. But playoff hockey so early in the morning? It seems just bizarre). I turned on the TV and saw that the Pittsburgh Penguins were going to fail in their quest to become the 4th team to come back from a 3-0 deficit. We all knew it would be hard to do but even more difficult for two teams to do it in the same playoff year. What did the Penguins loss mean for the Canucks? Good omen or bad?
It started out well. Vancouver was able to fight off two early penalties in the first period and hometown fans were treated to a little “Sedinery” with the twins pairing up for a beautiful power play goal. Cory Schneider stood tall on a last second breakaway save right at the end of the first that made everyone, including me, hold our collective breath. Both goalies played well in the second and kept the game at 1-0. (A small note: Slava Voinoff sounds like “Slababoinoff” and every time Kirk and I heard it during the game we giggled like children. It helped to ease a very tense third period. I don’t know why we thought it was funny. We just did.) But then Richardson scored on a power play goal where no one picked him up in front of the net and suddenly the game was tied and the Canucks were facing and early exit in overtime. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you face series ending OT as a fan (I know, I know, imagine how the players feel! But still. It feels more stressful to watch OT than play it, I’m convinced.) I remember how it felt to watch the Canucks-Blackhawks in Game 7 last year and the elation when Alex Burrows scored. This time the outcome was very different.
The Vancouver Canucks, President’s Trophy winners, and the team that went all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals last year is out of the playoffs and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this isn’t something anyone expected. I suspect it doesn’t matter to the players whether you make it to the end and lose or lose early – this loss probably hits them the same way. And while the players will be out golfing far sooner than expected, the Canuck front office has some soul searching to do and some big decisions to make this offseason.
Vancouver was the third President's Trophy winner in four years to be knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.
"We had expectations and hopes to go far in this playoff," Schneider said. "It seems like around the league, parity is running wild. Look at Pittsburgh, ourselves, Detroit, San Jose. New York's facing elimination, Boston held it off today. We can't take anything for granted. Anyone is capable of winning in this league." (from si.com)
Canuck fans are left wondering what might have been. What if Daniel Sedin had scored on that breakaway late in the second? Would a two-goal lead have been safe? What if that wraparound shot attempt early in the OT period bounced off someone, anyone and went in? What if Dan Hamhuis didn’t lose an edge and have his pocket picked by Jarret Stoll who scored at 4:27 of overtime for a 2-1 Los Angeles series clinching win? What if Vancouver had held onto their home ice advantage instead of losing three times at Rogers Arena?
But what ifs aren’t going to cut it. The fact is the Canucks didn’t deserve to win the series but they put up a good fight, especially in the last two games. When your back is against the wall, you find out who you can count on, and who will bring their best and who shrinks from the limelight. And in the end, I’m proud of what the team accomplished this year and say what every fan says when a season ends in disappointment: There’s always next year.
Written by: Ray Hagan (@rayhagan19)
Raffi Torres just got 25 games for something nearly identical to the same hit that James Neal delivered to Sean Couturier of the Philadelphia Flyers. Take a look at the two hits, here and here. Now I'm not advocating that Raffi Torres didn't deserve the suspension, he did. As a matter of fact, I'm of the opinion that he probably didn't receive enough of a suspension. Part of his discipline was based on previous conduct, and the fact that Marian Hossa was injured. Neal has also been the recipient of previous discipline, though not to the degree of Torres. If you watch those two videos you'll see the similarities are astounding. Both checked players have and lose the puck, and are then blindsided by an opponent who leaves his feet to deliver the illegal check.
The fact that Neal on the same shift delivers an illegal hit to Claude Giroux in a game that was out of hand after the hit on Couturier shows that the first hit was intentional, despite his claims that it wasn't. You can actually see that he changes direction while curling away from Couturier to deliver the leaping check. Brendan Shanahan accepted Neal's assertion that he leapt to brace himself for the impact. I call shenanigans. Neal got 1 game. I repeat: Torres got 25. The fact that Giroux and Couturier were not injured doesn't change the fact that Neal's intent was the same as the intent of Torres. Neal was out to hurt both players. Now look at this video. I'm not a Blackhawks fan. I understand that Shaw took the route towards the goaltender, and that he could have taken a different route, that said, he clearly had no way to avoid the collision once he had reached there. The hit was not as hard as many other hits and the acting job of the netminder is impeccable. He acted as if he'd been shot in the head, not caught with a glancing blow by a player who did not have much of a way to avoid him.
If you watch the videos, at the end they explain the "key points" that lead to the discipline. Case 1: Penalty of Charging No Injury to recipient Previous disciplinary action for illegal hits. Case 2: Penalty of Charging No Injury to recipient No Previous disciplinary action for illegal hits. Case 1 got 1 game…case 2, Andrew Shaw, got 3 games. Based on the recent, in many cases, overly aggressive play in the NHL Playoffs, the suspension for Raffi Torres comes as no surprise. He's a career goon with a history of illegal hits. This was Shanahan's chance to send a message to the whole league. The problem is that Shanahan did not give Neal the suspension he deserved. And when you compare the second illegal Neal hit with the one by Shaw, the penalty of one game for Neal versus three for Shaw seems totally absurd. This complaint probably comes as the whining of a Flyers fan, and sour grapes. It's not. The problem is that the whole NHL supplemental discipline program is completely arbitrary.
Arron Asham of Pittsburgh cross-checked the Flyers' Brayden Schenn in the chest…not in the face. He followed that with a punch to the back of the head of the downed player, a glancing blow, with the glove still on and Schenn wearing a helmet. There's no defense for these actions. The key points by Shanahan:
Case 1 - Match Penalty for Crosschecking (to the chest), no Injury to the recipient, no previous disciplinary action for illegal hits. Case 2 - Match Penalty for Crosschecking (to the head), no Injury to the recipient, no previous disciplinary action for illegal hits. Case 1 (Asham) received a 4 game suspension. Case 2 (Nicklas Backstrom) received a 1 game suspension. That's right, a cross check to the chest followed by a glancing punch is worth four times the discipline of a cross check to the face. That's absurd. I'm not contending Asham didn't deserve 4 games. I don't know what the proper discipline was for Asham…what I do know is that for Asham to get 4 games to Backstrom's 1 game is ludicrous. I'm calling for an overhaul of the NHL supplemental discipline system. There's no question, that like in the NFL, there is a need for someone to oversee discipline beyond the penalties that are given out on the field, or ice. The NHL system really seems to be completely arbitrary, and that is my issue. The Torres/Neal hits, while not identical, are eerily similar. Torres gets 25 games, and Neal skates away on a very weak explanation, despite the fact that he delivers another dirty hit less than 50 seconds later. That illegal hit has similar circumstances to the Andrew Shaw hit, though Shaw did NOT leave his feet to deliver his check…yet somehow Neal gets 1 game to Shaw's 3. When you include the Backstrom/Asham penalties for similar plays being as different as they were…it's clear that Shanahan is overmatched as the head of NHL discipline.
As the lone man delivering these punishments, Shanahan is the only one to blame. I'm frustrated seeing penalties that seem like they were decided by throwing darts at numbers on a wall. It's like giving one student a detention, and another a suspension for the same infraction. That cannot be acceptable to NHL players, coaches, or fans. The thought process behind delivering this supplemental discipline as the NHL calls it is twofold. 1.) The player receiving said discipline acted in a manner which requires that they be penalized beyond what occurs on the ice. 2.) The discipline should be seen as a precedent, and as a warning for players who make similar actions in the future. There needs to be some uniformity in discipline, otherwise you're not getting the second part of that thought process across. What Shanahan has told NHL players is that they are better off cross checking to the face, than to the chest. He's also told them that they are better off delivering a flying check to a forward than they are making incidental contact with a goaltender. Finally he's let them know that you can throw yourself in the air and blindside an opponent, as long as you make an excuse, and that player doesn't get seriously hurt. Otherwise you receive 25 games. Intent means absolutely nothing, it's only the end result that matters. That doesn't make sense.
As silly as it sounds, the old saying "it's the thought that counts" really does hold weight here. Neal's intent is clear, he was trying to deliver a cheap shot to, and injure Couturier. He succeeded only on the first part of that. What I wonder is if Couturier had been injured like Hossa if Shanahan would have accepted his flimsy excuse, or had Hossa not been injured if Torres would have been able to claim the same. I believe that there should be clear guidelines for supplemental discipline with a committee doling out the punishment rather than an individual. I lobbied before the start of these playoffs that the NHL playoffs were the best in all of sports, and I stand by that. Sadly for me, this year they have been marred by players going above and beyond taking their games to another level. Certain players have elected to take dirty play to another level as well. I can't justify, nor support the behavior of Neal, Asham, Torres and Backstrom. I refuse to put Shaw in that group. He was clearly a victim of a goaltender who acted like he was looking for a Roughing the Kicker flag. The outrageous discipline administered to Shaw is another reason that one man shouldn't be delivering these penalties.
If the NHL decides that the current system isn't broken, that one person can dish out the punishments, it absolutely shouldn't be Brendan Shanahan. He is making arbitrary decisions that are unfair to the players. He's under qualified, and overmatched. NHL supplemental discipline is a necessary evil. Brendan Shanahan's version of it, and vision of it, is not.
Written by: Sean McEachern (@sportsfanspeaks)
Wednesday, June 9th, 1993, and Kirk Muller bangs home the winning goal at 3:51 of the 2nd period to see the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-1 Game 5 win and series victory over the upstart Gretzky-led Los Angeles Kings. It had been a ridiculous run for Les Habitants, getting Conn Smyth-goaltending out of Patrick Roy and winning 10 consecutive overtime games with clutch scoring from the likes of John Leclair and Eric Desjardins and the anniversary of the 100th presenting of Lord Stanley was celebrated on St. Catherine St. with a Molson Export fuelled/inspired riot which left most other Canadians explaining to all who would listen why the Habs “are not really Canada’s team.” What a crock. As Canadians we distanced ourselves from that team based on the emerging Quebec political situation which would come to a head with a separatist referendum in 1995 and of course because of the riot which always offends our delicate north-of-the-border sensibilities. But that team, the last Stanley Cup Champion to be composed purely of North American players, while not being traditionally tough, was gritty and determined and worthy of capturing the imagination on their improbable Cup run… and let me remind you… I am a Bruins fan!