It's almost November and that means we're about one month into the season. Teams are already racking up the injuries and struggling to put a decent product out on the ice. It's soon to be crunch time for general managers and coaches. Now is the time that is there aren't results, someone will be getting the ax. Bob Hartley felt the pressure in Atlanta. Who will feel the pressure next? Tom Renney? Michel Therrien? Wayne Gretzky? Points you drop in October are points that can affect you from playing hockey in late April. Let's check out the past week in the National Hockey League
We're nearing the end of the first month of the NHL season and youth is being served. The league is a youth-driven product right now. Look at the players you're watching on a nightly basis have an impact on their teams: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Mike Cammalleri, Paul Stastny, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Pascal Leclaire, and Erik Staal are just some of the names that are not Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin. While most other sports teams rely on veterans, it's hockey that's relying on youth. With players entering the league as young at 17, they learn on the job and on most teams, have the ability to lead at an early age.
Where would Chicago be without Kane and Toews right now? Would Pittsburgh even be staying in the Steel City without Sidney Crosby? We're seeing a large influx of not just youth, but talented young players entering the league on a yearly basis that are having major impacts with their clubs. The "new" NHL is suiting many of these players well as the focus has shifted to fast skilled players as opposed to hunking mammoths (see 2005-06 Philadelphia Flyers).
As hockey fans, we should all be excited because we will be able to watch the current crop of young stars grow up over the next 15-20 years. We'll see them succeed, fail, break records, and eventually, be replaced by another group of youthful, skilled players.
NEWS AND NOTES
After an emotional departure from Edmonton last spring, Ryan Smyth returned on Tuesday night, this time as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. The Oilers had a nice video tribute to "Captain Canada" before the game, which of course opened the water works for Smyth. He did receive a nice ovation from the crowd showing there is no love lost between the two sides. More importantly, the Avs won the game 4-2.
The Washington Capitals this week helped secured some of their future "signing Alexander Semin to a two-year extension." The forward will be paid $9.2 million over the length of the contact which will expire in 2010. The 23 year old scored 38 goals last season and is really going to give Alex Ovechkin and Glen Hanlon another scoring option to help the growing Capitals.
After the ugly hit from behind yesterday, Patrice Bergeron was released from the hospital today after suffering a broken nose and concussion. Luckily, it wasn't as worse as it looked. Despite the other two Philadelphia ugly hits of late, it was clearly not intentional and Randy Jones was very effected by the play.
""Words really can't express the way that I feel right now," Jones said. "I am very apologetic for the hit and what I did. It was not intentional. It is something that I have never done before and it is not part of my character. I am extremely sorry. I hope he does ok and everything works out for him. I wish him nothing but the best in his recovery."
Jones will probably face a suspension, but I would predict nothing like we've seen given to Jesse Boulerice or Steve Downie. I would say maybe 8-10 games would suffice and hopefully hammer into the heads of players that they need to stop with the hits from behind along the board, not to mention making players also realize they should keep their heads on a swivel when facing the boards.
Darius Kasparaitis is going to be the next Russian player to head home to play. Kaspar has been playing with the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Ranger minor-league club, all season after clearing waivers. The Rangers have told him that they will not bring him on board and will not block his move to play for SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian Elite League.
AROUND THE BLOG WORLD
We get an update o the RBK-Edge jersey disaster from James Mirtle who reports that RBK will provide a new jersey to any player who requests it. After complaints of pools of sweat in their gloves and skates as well as the material tearing easily, this who new jersey thing is blowing up in the NHL and RBK's face. You would think more testing would have gone into this, no? Sounds like both sides were a little too eager to get the product into circulation and to begin the cash grab.
On Frozen Blog points out a recent Washington Times article giving a thumbs up to the relationship between bloggers and Capitals. It's definitely a great thing what owner Ted Leonsis has started down there and it's obvious that bloggers are gaining more and more real estate in the media world.
A week can't go by without an update on the Nashville Predators situation and On The Forecheck has all the up-to-date details. It appears as there could be some hope that things will get resolved and the team will remain in Nashville...then again, we heard a lot of things over the summer, so let's not jump to conclusions just yet.
The gang over at Melt Your Face Off explains to us how Mats Sundin would have scored a goal if hockey had suddenly become soccer.
Barry Melrose Rocks gives us yet another reason to realize that Dan Le Batard 1) is a jerkoff and 2) should stick to sports that are not hockey.
LET'S GO TO THE VIDEOTAPE!
Highlights of last night's wild Penguins-Canadiens game which featured Pittsburgh coming back from 3-0 down and then an eight round shootout to decide it.
A tribute to the legendary Maurice Richard who, on October 19th, 1957, become the first player to score his 500th goal in the National Hockey League.
This week's "Coach's Corner" featuring Don Cherry and Ron McLean from Hockey Night in Canada
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Rod Brind'Amour finished his week in style notching a hat-trick in an 8-3 victory over the Islanders on Saturday night. The Hurricanes captain had 5 goals, 4 assists, and was a +5 during four games this week.
UPCOMING GAME OF INTEREST
Pittsburgh Penguins at New York Islanders, Saturday, November 3rd, 7:00 p.m. EST
It will be a special day inside the Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night. The coach that led their team to four consecutive Stanley Cups will return for just one game, his 1500th in the NHL. Over the summer, Isles coach Ted Nolan extended the invitation to Al Arbour who had retired after the 1993-94 season. On Friday, the Hall of Fame coach will sign a one-day contract and lead the team against Sidney Crosby the following night.
I will be attendance during the game and while I won't be rooting for the Islanders, I will however give Arbour a nice ovation. I had the opportunity to work with Arbour a few years back in previous job, and I couldn't have liked the man more. He was very engaging, charming and told some of the funniest stories that I won't share here. It was quite a thrill for me to spend so much time with a legendary coach and see how much his players loved him (I also had worked with Bobby Nystrom and Kenny Morrow, who still called him coach). Congratulations to Mr. Arbour and this honor is well deserved and it truly is a wonderful gesture on the part of Ted Nolan.
GRATUITOUS PITTSBURGH PENGUINS RELATED AWESOMENESS
In honor of Darius Kasparaitis leaving North America for Russia, here is his greatest NHL moment in my opinion...scoring the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Buffalo Sabres in 2001.
I'll check ya out next week!