A links blog this morning, because sometimes, you know, my brain hurts:
|Paul Coffey strikes the pose.|
That was some trick from Wayne Gretzky last night, stealing into his old rink on Paul Coffey night and making off with two points -- just like old times, that's two-for-two in Alberta for the Great One. Coffey, on Sportsnet, back in uniform for a victory lap after his number 7 went up to the rafters: "What did I think? I couldn't think anything. I was bawling like a baby."
Stats pack: The Leafs lead the league in goals (4.5/game) and are second in power-play percentage (only that offensive powerhouse in Minnesota is more efficient).
Damien Cox made the case yesterday, and today comes the news from Mark Zwolinski that yes, Bryan McCabe is on Team Canada's list (there's 60 on there, mind you, so don't go breaking out the flags just yet). Zorro also has a Mats Sundin update:
"Despite feeling much better, (Sundin) has not cleared all medical concerns about his injured left eye and potentially could undergo retina surgery."
The truth is out there, and Trent Klatt thinks he has it at "the home page of the quest for NHLPA Democracy".
A couple of weeks ago over at JABS there was the Best Worst Hockey Media Guide Covers Ever. Now comes this from Red and Black Hockey, the worst sweaters in NHL history.
Gary Bettman did a pressroom Q and A in Florida, and the Miami Herald has a transcript. Not surprisingly, everything's great in Gary's World:
"Overwhelmingly, the fans are enjoying the rule changes; all of them, particularly the shootout. Also what's particularly gratifying to see is the two-line pass: there were two camps on that, either good or bad, and most people seem to think it's working out. Great, as half expected, and better than anticipated by the others. Attendance is up by about four percent over 2003-04, despite the predictions of doom and gloom of how bad things were going to be, we've actually come back stronger."
Tom Benjamin has already given his take on the the hooey behind the "come back stronger" line (that's two links to Tom in as many days. I gotta cut down!). Bettman points to a Decima poll that suggested Canadians were (surprise) happy that NHL hockey is back and happy about the changes to the game (you know, Decima is the same company that polled hockey fans last year and found, what a surprise again, that they didn't miss it at all). And he had this to say about the rule changes:
"Everyone has bought into it. We're going to see it through. The game is better for it."
I'm glad the commissioner is glad -- and that everything's great.
It's the league I'm not quite sure about.
(Oh, and for the poolies, final numbers from the commissioner: 8 "goods", 8 "betters", 5 "strongs", 3 "greats", 2 "enjoys", 2 "gratifyings" and 1 "terrific".)
Thanks, Chris. Great post. Strong. Really enjoyed it. It was gratifying, you know? Just terrific.
What's on my mind today? Hazing. We got a double dose of retribution yesterday from incidents involving the Windsor Spitfires and football's McGill Redmen. Covering the OHL beat with her usual aplomb is Sunaya Sapurji, with the Windsor story and fallout in today's paper. For more on this read her excellent blog, today complete with her qualified psychiatric assessment of Sean Avery.
You have to like what OHL commissioner David Branch has done. As Sunaya wrote today, he's shown us what the league's "zero tolerance" policy means with the fines and suspensions.
"We had serious concerns about the team's leadership and the lack thereof regarding these issues," Branch tells the Windsor Star. "We felt the appropriate steps weren't taken. ... We must send a very clear message that we don't condone hazing. We feel we took very significant steps to reinforce our values and principles."
Why is nudity and sexuality always the main theme of these incidents? I can think of a million ways to have fun with this and keep my pants on. It all sounds a little homoerotic to me. I just don't see the point. Or maybe I do ... and it scares me.
Back onto the ice:
Ray Bourque may be back with the Bruins soon.
Leafs fans will get a treat on March 3 when the Sabres retire Pat Lafontaine's number 16 before a Toronto-Buffalo game.
After Chris Draper's close call, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland says he will encourage, but not force, his players to wear visors. Steve Yzerman, who has elected to wear a shield after being struck in the face with the puck almost a year and a half ago, says he would support mandatory visors.
"I would support it," he said. "The game is totally different now, it's a different mentality on the ice."
Has anyone asked Bryan Berard? Oh, they did.
Finally, sure it was disappointing to see Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk leave Toronto for Florida, but the reality is they're just not playing. Nieuwendyk missed his first game of the season last night due to those back spasms, and Roberts has played just 4 of their first 8 games and is on injured reserve with a groin injury.
Besides, after watching last night's Bruins-Habs game, the guy I really miss is Brian Leetch. He's 37 years old, but he's still one of the best. (SW)