Henrik Lundqvist, the goalie for the New York Rangers, had a minor issue this week, and missed practice. The New York Daily News said it was a “minor issue.”
Kelly Chase, the former fighter who now broadcasts games for the St. Louis Blues, made the case that not enough fighting is causing mayhem in this year’s NHL. In his words (@Chasenpucks39): “Hits from behind UP! Injuries UP! Stretchers on ice UP! Number of suspensions at this of the year UP! Fighting DOWN! Hmmm”
Vanity Fair revealed its list of most stylish NHLers this — actually it was last week. “Arguably the most down-to-earth and least tabloid-friendly players, as a group, in professional sports, the men of the National Hockey League are usually lost under loose jerseys and protective masks during games,” gabbled the magazine. “Off the ice, their style may be noticeably more reserved than their football- or basketball-playing peers’, but they still know how to keep things cool, with looks that range from Power Broker to Nordic Gentleman.”
Henrik Lundqvist — “shows no fear of experimenting with color and pattern”— ranked at the top. Philadelphia’s Vincent Lecavalier ranked second (“tasteful use of open collars and V-neck shirts”) while Ottawa Senators Erik Karlsson (“defies the thuggish-defenseman cliché during his off hours in Ottawa with Euro-cut slim suits and button-downs that pop with color”) and Jason Spezza (“accessorizes his classically cut suits with polka-dot ties, candy-stripe shirts, and Don Draperian pocket squares”) rated seventh and ninth, respectively.
The goalie who stopped the pucks in 1980 that helped the USA’s “Miracle On Ice” team win Olympic gold was blogging this week for the Russian newspaper RIA Novosti. “As we get ever closer to the Olympic Games in Sochi in February,” wrote Jim Craig, “I want you to stop for a moment and think about your family.”
Sidney Crosby continued to lead the NHL in scoring this week and as he arrived in Toronto to play the Leafs, Damien Cox from The Toronto Star said that he was at the peak of his powers, now that all the concussion-related uncertainty that clouded the air just two-and-half years again has passed.
For his part, Crosby wanted to talk about Pittsburgh’s goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, who wasn’t one of those invited to Canada’s Olympic orientation camp in August. “He’s played really well,” Crosby said. “He’s definitely earned the right to be considered.”
Asked about the struggles of the New York Rangers, the team he used to coach, John Tortorella said, “I don’t work there anymore. I’m certainly not going to criticize. That’s not fair.”
Earlier in the week, the Rangers had waived their back-up goalie, the 16-year veteran Martin Biron, with an idea of sending him to minor-league Hartford. Biron: “This is not a fun feeling.”
Said Henrik Lundqvist, “Every time something happens with guys on the team that you’ve been playing with for a long time, they’re good friends obviously. I think about it less as a teammate and more as a friend. When something happens, it’s never a fun feeling, but at the same time everyone understands the business, too, and how it works.”
Clearing waivers, Biron decided Hartford wasn’t for him. “After thinking about it with my family,” he tweeted, “I’ve decided to retire as a player and move on to a new chapter. Thank you all for your support.”
“One of the most gregarious players in history” was a tribute paid on Twitter; “class guy,” “beloved teammate,” “great storyteller” were others. Larry Brooks from The New York Post called him “one of last of dwindling breed who enjoy talking hockey.”
“End came fast,” wrote someone else.
Montreal defenceman Douglas Murray waited for doctors to tell him that the upper body he hurt in training camp was healed enough that he could play. “In my mind,” he told reporters, “I’m a hundred per cent.”
The Phoenix goalie Mike Smith scored a goal against the Detroit Red Wings in a 5-2 win. There was a tenth-of-a-second left in the game and Detroit’s net was empty when Smith became the 11th goalie to score in NHL history (Martin Brodeur has done it three times). “I don’t know what to say, really,” Smith told The Arizona Republic.
Czech defenceman Roman Hamrlik retired, too, after 20 years in the NHL. Drafted first overall in 1992 by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Hamrlik went on to play for five other teams before ending up, last year, with the Rangers. He said he never imagined, growing up in communist Czechoslovakia, that he’d ever get to play in the NHL. “I will always cherish the wonderful memories I have of my time spent in North America playing the game I love,” he said, “making sacrifices and pursuing my hockey dreams.”
Colorado’s J.S. Giguere, goalie, played as big as a house in shutting out Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. That’s what Pierre McGuire said, anyway, on NBC.
Louis Jean from TVA Sports in Montreal was one who reported that NHL linesman have been instructed to break up fights before they get going if the fighters remove their helmets when they drop their gloves, as happened to the Canadiens’ Travis Moen and Luke Gazdic from Edmonton this week. The NHL said it was nothing new: as always, they said, they were just trying to keep players from getting hurt.
Jeremy Rutherford reported in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on a visit the St. Louis Blues made this week to Charleston, South Carolina. The team had six days off between games and someone decided it might be good for the players to get away together. Rutherford:
Captain David Backes was one of eight players who traded in his hockey stick for an ocean rod. They went 25 miles off the Charleston coast — about an 1½-hour ride — into the Atlantic Ocean with Captain David Yates of Yates Sea Charters.
“We went into the real stuff,” Backes said. “It was awesome. The sun was out the whole time … King mackerel, amberjack, bonito, barracuda … Some other guys that were with us caught a shark. It was a good day. Six hours on the water. It drained us, but it was a good day.”
Jaroslav Halak puked. He was on another boat, with Jay Bouwmeester, Roman Polak, and Vladimir Sobotka.
“We all caught some pretty big fish and made fun of the guys taking a long time to reel the fish in,” a goalie, Brian Elliott, said. “We got some good pictures, some good memories and I’m sure the guys on the golf course did the same thing.”
Players strolled from their hotel to the nearby farmers’ market, and to King Street, where the shops are. “It’s a nice town,” said Barret Jackman. “You can see why it’s a destination for a lot of people. It was nice to be able to walk around and relax and get your mind away from hockey for a few days.”
Halak and defenseman Jordan Leopold went to a Tom Hanks movie, Captain Phillips.
“It was good,” Leopold said. “I can’t tell you the last time I saw a movie.”
Coach Ken Hitchcock hoped it was a useful break.
“We’re hoping that we put the balance in between rest and work,” he said, “so that we’re ready, but you don’t know until you play. We’ve put the work in, now we’re going to put the rest in and we’re hoping that we’ve got the right balance going. The biggest fear in coaching is, you don’t know. You think you’ve got it figured out, but until we drop the puck on Friday, you don’t know.”
Buffalo’s coach Ron Rolston spoke of the dangers of playing the Boston Bruins: physical, detailed, they don’t beat themselves, very good in transition, strong PK.
Sean Monahan was scoring and skating well, so the Calgary Flames decided not to send him back to junior, this week. “It still doesn’t feel real,” he said. Roger Millions from Sportsnet reported that there was a condition attached: he had to live with a billet. To soften that blow — or make it sting the worse? — Flames’ GM Jay Feaster said that Monahan is “19-year-old going on 29 years old.”
Asked ahead of Montreal’s game with Edmonton, Lars Eller of the Canadiens said they play like a junior team. “They take a lot of risks, a lot of chances, they’re a little all over the place. There’s not a lot of structure, always, in their game.”
Fair enough. Later, once Montreal had lost the game, 4-3, the Oilers’ coach said that Eller had been a big help.
“It’s games like that where you don’t even need to go play them,” said Dallas Eakins.
“You’ve got a player like Lars Eller his mouth before the game. It makes for great banter in our dressing room and a great motivation. So we thank Lars Eller for his comments before the game. Awesome.
“They might as well have sent me over a fruit basket and a bottle of wine. I was like, man, that is just perfect. That was a really great present that Mr. Eller laid on us today.
“I knew it was going to turn. That is a total hockey god thing, and I’m sure that young man has learnt his lesson and I highly doubt that you’ll see anything like that out of his mouth again.”
“I hate not playing,” said Martin Brodeur, who’s been watching teammate Cory Schneider guard the New Jersey net.
Hall of Famer Bernie Parent headed out this week on his annual hunting trip to South Carolina this week. Some free advice before he got going: “The greatest weapon against stress is your ability to choose one thought over the other. Have a great day thinking positive thoughts.”
Roy MacGregor called Buffalo’s John Scott “a 6-foot-8, 270-pound giant with no discernible hockey skills.”
Scott, if you missed it, was suspended indefinitely by the NHL for a hit to the head of Boston’s Loui Eriksson. Ryan Lambert at Yahoo! Sports described it this way:
The incident in which Scott tried to hit Loui Eriksson’s head, in such a way that it screwed up and off his body like a bottle cap, is just the latest point which highlights why the Sabres don’t deserve to even compete in the National Hockey League this season …
Watching the game as a commentator for NBC, Mike Milbury called for quick action. “This guy is a predator,” he said after the game.
He was put out there to seek and destroy, and in this case, with his team down two goals, he destroyed a pretty good player well after he’d released the puck. He was looking for trouble, he’s been looking for trouble every shift he’s been on the ice because he can’t do much of anything else.
He should be fired. It should be the guy who owns the team, who keeps the general manager accountable, who says, ‘Get this guy off the roster. He doesn’t belong in the National Hockey League.’
Milbury thought Buffalo’s coach, Ron Rolston, should be gone, too. “That’s a bush league play by a coach that doesn’t know any better and doesn’t have enough experience in the league and shouldn’t be afforded another game — not one. That’s an embarrassment to the league and to the Buffalo Sabres, and I’m saddened by it.”
Loui Eriksson stayed overnight at a hospital in Buffalo before flying the next day to Boston. “After an examination by team doctors in Boston,” said Bruins’ GM Peter Chiarelli, “he has been diagnosed with a concussion and will be out indefinitely. The team will provide a further update on Loui’s status when appropriate.”