Things That Really Matter
Truly, it matters not whether Mark Bell skates for the Maple Leafs anytime soon.
At least not to me. It certainly matters to Bell and probably to John Ferguson, who'd like to see this part of the San Jose deal pay some dividends.
What really matters in this case are two things.
First, that the victim - remember, there's a victim here? - gets reasonable restitution for his injuries apparently suffered when Bell rear-ended him a year ago. Imagine what it was like for that fellow watching Bell play all last year. Imagine if it was your brother or your dad.
The second important matter is that Bell really gets help, which hopefully he is doing. But this isn't something that's just going to go away, and it isn't something that is going to be fine just because Bell says it is. Clearly, drinking is a problem Bell has been battling since he was in junior hockey, and that was a long, long time ago.
It's not clear whether he's an alcoholic. But he quite obviously struggles with the bottle.
So if it means he has to sit out all year to become a healthier person, I'm good with that.
Now on to on-ice matters that will actually impact the NHL season.
Like Scott Niedermayer. Like whether he's playing this year for the Ducks.
Niedermayer won't be there when the Ducks open training camp next week, and he and the team are expected to announce his intentions at a press conference today.
Can the Ducks win the Cup without Niedermayer, even after replacing him with the very capable Mathieu Schneider?
I say no.
Can they win if he shows up halfway through the season? Well, first there are some practical cap considerations, and second, there are very few instances in which a player has done this and his team has ended up winning it all.
Now Niedermayer's a special, special player, right behind Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey, probably, as the best-skating rearguard of all-time.
So if anybody can pull it off, it would be him.
But everything had to go right for the Ducks to capture the Cup last season, and being without Niedermayer for part or all of the season probably means a repeat will be out of the question.