Lots of talk about visors and their advisability today.
Hands up everyone who's feeling a little deja vu.
Yes, back here again. Mats Sundin has escaped with his eyeball intact, but still may require surgery. The Leafs are without their captain and No. 1 centre for at least a month, and that's the best-case scenario.
It's all so preventable. All so repeatable, too, given the chirping out of Leafs practice yesterday: "As sick as I was watching Mats last night, I just don't believe it's for me," was Darcy Tucker's reaction, and to a man, the Leafs -- the shield-less ones, anyway -- nodded.
The question for you to debate today is -- is it time to make visors mandatory in the NHL? (It's long overdue, given the line stretching back from here thru Berard and Neely and beyond, isn't it?)
Paul Hunter takes a look at one central issue in that process: the NHL Players Association, which has to sign off on any such legislation. According to an NHLPA spokesman, the organization recently "advised player representatives to initiate conversations with their team on the use of visors". Continuing the diplomaticspeak in an email to Hunter:
"The union seemed amenable to giving the matter serious consideration but indicated there still existed fairly significant resistance from their membership."
Hmm. Do you get the impression, reading that, that the next line would be something about "frank and cordial" discussions?
The Sun's Lance Hornby notes the salary cap implications of bringing up a player to replace Sundin -- or bringing one in, as it were -- and talks to a doctor about the type of injury Sundin has, and the typical scenarios around it. And Steve Simmons takes us back full circle, and how avoidable this injury could/should be.
Hey, goaltenders equipment is mandated by the league. Helmets have been standard issue for 25 years now, after similar resistance leading to their legislated use -- the world kept turning. Citing studies and statistics that indicate the effectiveness of visors, just about every medical authority has called for mandatory eye protection, and for some time.
It's time, isn't it?
Some other items of interest this morning: Damien Cox goes over the NHL's "dizzying" opening, Rick Westhead looks at the fate of salary cap cheats in this new environment, and Mark Zwolinski reports on the AHL Marlies, set to open their season.
I'm off to JABS now. Spencer will be back a little later with some links from around the NHL. The Comments, meantime, are open. (CY)
Thanks, Chris. Some quick links so we can get right back to the visor debate.
Lost in the shuffle is the shoulder injury to Jeff O'Neill - we'll try and update that situation in this space if there's news. And here we were thinking that Lindros and Allison would be the ones going down quickly. In yesterday's posting on Sundin, Chris reminded us that Steve Thomas is standing by. We'll keep the Stumpywatch ticking here as well. (Update: The Leafs announced this morning they have recalled Kyle Wellwood)
Around the league:
The Ilya Kovalchuk situation isn't looking very good. He spoke for the first time in North America about his contract situation:
"It's my intention to go back to Russia on Sunday," he tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.I haven't heard from (Thrashers') management. I don't know (what is going to happen). If they call right now and offer something then maybe (a contract can be completed). But otherwise I'm going back to Russia."
Chris Zelkovich covers the NHL's glorious return to the tube in Canada. Zelko reports that TSN recorded its third-largest audience in the network's 21-year history. And from reports around the league, attendance was very good for opening night. In the U.S., not so much. According to the Washington Post:
The Capitals received more than 1,000 e-mails yesterday from DirecTV subscribers in the greater Washington area who were unable to watch Wednesday's season opener. The Capitals' first game in 18 months -- a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets at MCI Center -- was broadcast by Comcast SportsNet but was blacked out inadvertently by DirecTV because of a technical problem, according to Bob Marsocci, DirecTV's vice president of communications. DirecTV customers in parts of New Jersey, San Jose and Long Island experienced similar accidental blackouts.
Fans in Long Island had it worse. From Newsday:
Marsocci said customers were given a free look at games around the league under the NHL Center Ice package, and several fans who spoke to Newsday confirmed they were able to watch every opening night game other than Islanders-Sabres and Devils-Penguins.
On the local angle, thank goodness we don't have blackouts here and yes, I'm really enjoying the free NHL package right now.
In Boston, the Gah-den was rocking on opening night:
"I think the year away made a lot of people realize how much they missed hockey," Bruins play-by-play man Dale Arnold tells the Boston Globe. ''The game probably will take a hit in some markets, but Boston isn't one of them. I was shocked at how few no-shows there were (at the TD Banknorth Garden)"
TD Banknorth Garden. Suddenly the Rogers Centre isn't such a bad name. Television viewership in Beantown was another story, according to the Globe, the Bruins telecast was crushed going up against the Red Sox playoff game -- a much better excuse than those technical blackout problems.
Ratings in Pittsburgh, however, were a different story. According to the Post-Gazette:
Television ratings for the game on FSN Pittsburgh were an absolute smash. The overall rating number was 7.5, which comes close to tripling the number of viewers watching the team when it last played at the end of the 2003-04 season. The Pirates averaged about a 4.5 rating for their recently completed season.
Does Sidney Crosby get a cut? (SW)