The big news out of the general managers' meetings this week in Florida involved the decision to clarify the rules so that some, but not all, hits to the head would be subject to in-game penalty and possible supplementary discipline. My colleague Jim Kelley offered up his well-considered views on the subject yesterday. No need for me to stir the same pot, especially since, like Jim, I'm baffled by the GMs' satisfaction over coming to unanimous agreement on what looks to be a limp bit of pseudo-legislation.
At first glance it sounds like something out of a Vince Vaughn movie: "Crease Crashers -- the sequel to Wedding Crashers and every bit as outrageous!" Except we're talking hockey here and running goaltenders in the crease isn't funny and it can be dangerous.
Coming into the season, the message of coach Todd McLellan to the San Jose Sharks was clear. Drop the sense of entitlement. If they wanted to get beyond their reputation as hockey's poster children for underachievement, his players were going to have to earn their ice time.
Woodridge, Ill. -- A year ago, new San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan was adamant about keeping Patrick Marleau as his captain. During a lengthy phone conversation prior to the start of training camp, On the Fly trotted out the argument that it would be the perfect time to shift Marleau from the prestigious but potentially onerous role -- a fresh start, reduced responsibilities that would allow him to focus on the ice etc. But McLellan, who had ties to the center/left winger from Saskatchewan, would hear nothing of it.
Gotta say this about Jeremy Roenick. He never lost sight of the fact that hockey was supposed to be entertainment. No surprise then that even his retirement announcement turned into something of a spectacle.
There is a popular misconception that the Red Wings are the oldest team in the NHL. In fact, they are not: the New Jersey Devils edge them with an average age of 31.3 years to Detroit's 30.7. But it's understandable why it's such a commonly-held notion. Certainly, no team that has 47-year-old Chris Chelios on their roster can claim to be young. But more and more, it's the Red Wings' younger players -- a gang of rookie 25-and-unders -- who are emerging from the shadows of the 30-something stars.
At some point, Jeremy Roenick's wildly flapping gums are going to make him some decent post-hockey coin. Unless, of course, he burns all bridges with comments like the ones he made on Thursday suggesting that Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is anti-American.
When the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup two years ago, the team attracted some familiar Hollywood faces who, in true celebrity bandwagon fashion, traded in their old silver and black Los Angeles Kings jerseys for more current Ducks gear. This year, despite being one win away from the Western Conference Finals, the Ducks haven't attracted as many celebrities to support them -- just yet.
Game Three of this series had a little bit of everything that makes playoff hockey the most hard-fought and compelling sports action there is. It also demonstrated how arbitrary the fate of competition can be.
1. Contrary to the certainty of conspiracy theorists across the land, Gary Bettman and his nefarious band of henchmen are not pulling strings to ensure a win for either Pittsburgh or Washington on Saturday. You can bet, however, that they're crossing their fingers for a specific result -- not so much an entertaining match featuring highlight reel moments from both Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. They're just praying that the game ends in regulation.
Sidney Crosby has a lot on his mind these days, what with nagging injuries and his Penguins struggling to stay within hailing distance of that final playoff spot in the East. But I hope he managed to take a few minutes out of his day to consider the contract signed this week by Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg.
Now that we're safely into 2009, here are a few New Year's resolutions that some players, coaches, GMs, teams and the league might want to make. Repeat after me: "I/We ... vow that in 2009, I/we will ... "
You'll have to forgive Dallas Stars fans for regarding the team's scorching 9-1 streak with more than a hint of skepticism. Although most of them reside in Texas, they've lived in a perpetual state of show-me since before the lockout.
Forty-five-year-old Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios came to training camp this week as the NHL's oldest player, but, says his trainer T.R. Goodman, "he has the body of a 30-year-old." This summer, six days a week, Chelios hit Gold's Gym in Venice Beach, Calif., where Goodman, a former college hockey player, trains more than 20 NHL players. Goodman's hourlong workouts include no rest between sets and emphasize correct form. On his strength-building day, Chelios does seven exercises -- those here as well as lateral raises and lunges -- repeated continuously in sequence until the hour is up.
Call it an awakening. The NHLPA came out of last week's meetings realizing that it has to engage as a membership. That means player reps will have to be more than mere vote-takers -- largely the view in the past for most -- and that the 'rank and file', if you will, must be more active when it comes to issues that concern its best interests.