By now, you’ve almost certainly heard the war of words between the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators, ignited by Eric Gryba’s open-ice check on Lars Eller in Game One of their first round series.

Brandon Prust likened the Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean to a walrus and Michel Therrien was not pleased either, pointing out a lack of respect shown in MacLean’s comments.

“(If I’m Eller), I’m really mad at player 61, whoever he is, because he passed me the puck in the middle of the rink when I wasn’t looking,” said MacLean. “That’s always been a dangerous place as far as I know. Ever since I’ve been playing this game, that’s a dangerous place to be — bad things happen.

“I think it’s a hockey play that ended up going badly for Lars Eller.”

Whether or not MacLean was unconcerned about Eller’s condition is up for debate, as he simply voiced his opinion on the sequence that left Montreal’s third-year center lying in a puddle of his own blood.

What is certain, however, is that MacLean was impudent towards Raphael Diaz and the number 61, as he did not even bother to learn the defenseman’s name. He addressed him as if he were a replicant that Harrison Ford should be hunting down in ‘Blade Runner’, rather than a hockey player.

Had MacLean known that Eller once wore No.61 on his jersey during a brief stint in St. Louis, he may have taken it further.

“I’m upset that player 61 sent a daring pass to that other individual who used to wear No.61.”

With that in mind, we creep inside the heads of some stand-out players who once bore this jersey number and uncover the thoughts that would surface in the event of being called out as Diaz was. Read the rest of this entry »

Nobody is very fond of hearing about a condensed hockey season, unless of course they already lived through the agony of a cancelled year, which is what NHL fans were treated to in 2005.

After months of frustration that mounted from endless meetings that saw issues between the league and players’ association continually unresolved, the thought of  a 2013 season beginning in January was embraced.

And what a season it turned out to be. Read the rest of this entry »

Let the words ‘lock-out’ and ‘Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations’ never be uttered again.

News of a pending work stoppage for the National Hockey League in September was catastrophic, coming eight years after the previous period of such circumstances. Days quickly escalated into months, but we can be thankful that it did not require a full season to solve the dispute between the owners and the Players’ Association.

With the madness behind us and the National Hockey League’s return just days away, fans can relax and finally enjoy the action, soon. On Saturday, 26 clubs are slated to start their campaign, starting at 3:00 P.M. An observer will have the option of seeing the Philadelphia Flyers renew their rivalry with Pittsburgh, a promising all Canadian match-up between the Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets or the Los Angeles Kings raising their Stanley Cup banner prior to hosting the Chicago Blackhawks—the choice is yours.

While some will be bemoaning a 48-game season, there are a few benefits to a campaign of this length for the rabid fan base and the players themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

February 21, 2003.

In front of 11,866 fans, which makes up 63.5% of HSBC Arena’s offered seating, the Buffalo Sabres are embarrassed by the Los Angeles Kings, losing 4-1.

Zigmund Palffy opens the scoring and puts the nail in the coffin with a third period shorthanded marker, the 11th such goal the Sabres have allowed already. As the center of recent trade suggestions, the Slovakian silences the discussions with his performance and gives the Kings further incentive to hold on to him.

But there is no quieting the anguish that exists for the Buffalo Sabres. Wins are scant, empty seats are visible in their home arena, Dominik Hasek’s withdrawal to Detroit remains a lingering problem, Martin Biron is overwhelmed by the increase in his goaltending workload and the allegations that team owner John Rigas committed fraud with his two sons casts a dark shadow over the club.

Bankruptcy declarations are uttered as a possibility while the National Hockey League controls the team. Everything is spiraling out of control in every way imaginable and the season cannot finish fast enough. Read the rest of this entry »

Joffrey Lupul’s career took a dramatic reversal in 2006 and the worst part is that he had no way of knowing it was in the works or that it would cause a damaging chain of events.

The Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks were Western Conference finalists a few years after their shocking appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, which was pushed by a goaltending feast from Jean-Sebastian Giguere.

A big role was played by Lupul in their 2006 postseason, as the sophomore scored nine goals, four of which arrived in one game against the Colorado Avalanche. In the words of Ian Laperriere, then a forward for Colorado, Lupul was “making a name for himself.”

Anaheim was a well-built club and despite losing out to the Edmonton Oilers in five games, their postseason mettle was growing and another run for the Cup was on the horizon—just not for Lupul. Read the rest of this entry »

Certain players could not care less that yet another lock-out is plaguing the National Hockey League. Why is that? They already took the liberty of joining various leagues across Europe before the issue became inevitable and forthcoming.

There have been some incredible talents to come and abruptly go in the NHL, as money, playing time and a lack of consistency persuaded them to continue their careers elsewhere.

Tax-free terms on a contract, which the Kontinental Hockey League offers, are something most of us can only dream about. You can’t blame a guy for trying flying to those stipulations. Read the rest of this entry »

If Teemu Selanne is the ‘Finnish Flash‘, Ville Leino is coming dangerously close to being recognized as the Finnish flash in the pan.

Undrafted, but an accomplished player in Europe, Leino’s first North American contract was with the Detroit Red Wings. Those days in ‘Hockeytown’ didn’t last long and he has since received a look from two other organizations, showcasing mixed results.

Hardly a model of consistency, this puck-mover has played with the emotions of clubs that seen him as a suitor and for the most part, hasn’t warranted a place in their line-ups. While the Philadelphia Flyers saw Leino at his best, at least so far in his career, Detroit and Buffalo cannot share the same opinion.

Obviously, Leino’s status as a controversial and confusing figure aren’t without reasoning, which is why we shall dissect the curves in his National Hockey League dossier.

How does one exactly summarize a career that is merely 220 games old?

Honestly, it’s like one of the rides available at a fair or carnival being held in a mall parking lot: you get excitement, uncomfortable feelings and the occasional vomiting. Read the rest of this entry »