Archive for March, 2012

Zero.

As of this moment, that is how many suspensions Matt Cooke and Steve Downie have served together this season. No, it is not a typo and there should not be a one added to it. Suggesting, prior to the regular season, that neither player would be forcefully withdrawn from a game or involved in a serious incident from October to April would be classified as a pipe dream.

Lo and behold, it is now a reality. Cooke and Downie, both of whom got their Ontario Hockey League start-up with the Windsor Spitfires, toned down their physicality and adjusted their playing styles. In contrast to some of their previous on-ice choices, they couldn’t have timed this one any better. (more…)

Wrong guy, wrong place, wrong time.

This, or something along the lines of it, is the thought that races through the brain of anyone who Niklas Kronwall has caught with their head down. Unsuspecting of any danger, they look at the puck to collect it. Then, in a matter of seconds, No.55 lines them up and lays them out emphatically.

While the legendary Scott Stevens mainly put the hurt on forwards in the open ice, Kronwall’s heaviest and best-known hits have occurred close to the side boards. The puck will go around the net or there will be an outlet pass, which is when the target waits for the puck, glances downwards or both.

That first pass for the ongoing rush must be tape-to-tape, otherwise the player is destined for a thundering collision and a dizzy state that prevents them from regaining their feet immediately. If one did stand up and skate away unscathed, they should always consider themselves lucky. (more…)

For years, the Buffalo Sabres have built from within. One peek at their roster reveals a team that places extreme importance on drafting players and properly preparing them for the future. For better or for worse, it is a strategy that both the general manager Darcy Regier and head coach Lindy Ruff have stood by.

Strangely, and perhaps in desperation, Buffalo broke away from that tradition at this season’s trade deadline. Involved in two separate deals on the rather underwhelming day, their second one grabbed the headlines and was perceived to be the major transaction of them all. Before the deal in its entirety was shared, the two confirmed names that switched sides were Cody Hodgson of the Vancouver Canucks and Zack Kassian. (more…)

Some players, no matter how hard they try or how well they constantly perform, go through their careers as under-appreciated and overlooked athletes.  While the same superstars hog the spotlight year in and year out, their media attention is in stark contrast to others who silently finish their shifts on a positive note.

Take Kimmo Timonen for example, a defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers who is lauded by teammates and opponents alike. It’s his 13th year in the National Hockey League and yet he is still somehow hidden from the microphones and televisions too routinely. Maybe it’s his 5-foot-10 frame that makes him hard to find in a crowded dressing room. Maybe the reporters want to interview those with last names that do not have to be double-checked for spelling. We can’t all have fancy, simple names like Mike Richards and Bobby Ryan.

Although he may not mind his underrated label, it is unjust for a hardy veteran to be so overshadowed by better-known players. Perhaps Zdeno Chara will have improved Timonen’s publicity after he was the first rearguard to be hand-picked by the Slovakian’s team in this year’s All-Star Fantasy Draft. But the Finn is merely one of many.

Then there is Ray Whitney. (more…)