Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy 7 hrs ago
Brendan Shanahan was five months into his stint as the NHL’s vice president of player safety when we asked him how the department’s mission could be described.
"We're not in the business of punishing. We're trying to change behavior," he said.
Four years later, it’s obvious that the education facet of that mission has been successful. Blindside hits, thanks in no small part to Rule 48, are rare. Hits that target the head significantly are rare – many suspensions seem like they’re on head-shots caused by a combination of factors rather than Matt Cooke-ish head-hunting. Stretchers on the ice, thank the gods, are rare.
But let’s be honest: It was true four years ago as it is today that the NHL Department of Player Safety is in the business of punishing.
Then Kris Letang was given a one-game suspension for his hit on Marcus Johansson. The NHL said there was no injury on the play, but Letang was banned for a late, high hit that didn’t earn a major for interference in the game. Was this an attempt to change behavior? Was this a punishment that went beyond the ruling on the ice? Was this evening things out after Orpik?
Court of Appeals
When we last heard hockey talk from WFAN radio icon Mike Francesa, a.k.a. The Sports Pope, he was trashing the New York Islanders’ public relations efforts and calling it a “third rate” organization.
That prompted Rick DiPietro, former Islanders goalie-turned-radio host on rival 98.7 FM, to fire back that Francesa was a “fatso.”
On Tuesday, it was Francesa’s turn to lob some grenades in this New York sports talk radio war, first taking a shot at the Islanders, saying tickets were still available for their Game 3 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“They don’t know how to market, and the rink is run by a bunch of clowns. But otherwise, I think they’re OK,” he said.
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was suspended one game on Tuesday by the NHL Department of Player Safety for illegally checking Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson in the first period of Game 3 of their conference semifinal series.
Hence, Letang will miss Game 4 of the their series. Which is pretty significant when you consider defenseman Olli Maatta is also likely out for Game 4 after Brooks Oprik delivered a head-shot on him in Game 2, earning a three-game suspension for the Capitals defenseman.
That suspension prompted Washington coach Barry Trotz to hint that the NHL gives the Penguins preferential treatment. Less than 24 hours later, Letang gets a one-game suspension.
Here’s the NHL suspension video:
But as it stands, one game is about right.
And what a huge game it now becomes for the Capitals.
Matt Murray, Game 4 is in your hands.
The Boston Bruins announced some significant injury news on Tuesday. Since it’s May, we suppose it’s good news. Outside of the whole “missing the playoffs allows for longer recovery time” thing.
Center David Krejci is expected to have five months of recovery time after surgery on his left hip. He led the Bruins with 46 assists and was tied for second on the team with 63 points.
Not for nothing, but he had three goals in his last 23 games this season.
“It’s been bothering me for 20 or so games,” Krejci said during the team’s breakup-day media availability at TD Garden, via NESN. “I felt like I was still in decent shape to play games and help the team, and there’s been games where I’ve felt pretty good."
His hope is that he’s ready not only for Bruins camp, but for the World Cup of Hockey, having been named to the Czech Republic team.
Krug, meanwhile, had right shoulder surgery and will need six months to recover. Krug had career highs with 81 games played, 40 assists, 44 points and 33 penalty minutes.
He had two goals from Dec. 5 to the end of the season.
So did Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving fire his coach Bob Hartley on Tuesday because Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau became available roughly three days earlier?
“Today’s decision wasn’t based on anyone sitting in the on-deck circle. Today’s decision isn’t ‘is there a prettier girl at the dance?’” he said.
But seriously, was it about Boudreau?
“I don’t know Bruce,” he said. “We did this decision today with nobody else in mind. We’ll do a full search.”
Even if the availability of other candidates wasn’t a significant factor in the (convenient) timing of this decision, there were other reasons why the Flames decided to end their time with Hartley, who coached the Flames for four seasons and went 134-135-25 in winning the Jack Adams Award last season.
Like, for example, Treliving’s realization in speaking with the players after the season that Hartley had reached the end of the road with them.
“Bob has taken this team as far as I think he can take it. Every coach has his own style, his way of doing things. Bob is able to get a lot out of players, but I felt for us to move forward, it was critical and important for us to make this decision,” he said.
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The Calgary Flames fired coach Bob Hartley on Tuesday morning, along with associate coach Jacques Cloutier.
Why was he fired? Who might replace him?
It might be the same answer for both questions.
According to Eric Francis, Flames GM Brad Treliving didn’t leave with Team Canada for the IIHF world championships this week, opting to remain behind for an “emergency meeting” on Monday. Why the sudden decision?
Well, something happened on Friday that might scuttle a few plans: Bruce Boudreau was fired by the Anaheim Ducks.
Boudreau told the OC Register that his phone has been blowing up even since.
The Minnesota Wild have spoken to Boudreau about their opening. The Ottawa Senators have an opening and have spoken to him. And now, quite conspicuously, so do the Calgary Flames.
Which, they did: Calgary was 35-40-7 with 77 points, missing the final wild card by 10 points.
He’s also the first to admit the three-headed goalie monster to start the season wasn’t handled properly
The NHL Department of Player Safety announced on Tuesday that Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang will have a hearing for his hit on Marcus Johansson of the Washington Capitals.
Which means that the Penguins playing Game 4 without arguably their most important player (at this time) is a very real possibility.
Here’s how I understand the NHL sees the hit:
It’s late. Not as late as Brooks Oprik’s hit on Olli Maatta, but without question one that was initiated after the puck is gone.
The first standard is always “what rule did he break?”
Letang isn’t going to be flagged for charging – his skates come off the ice on contact, and it’s not a “leaping” hit as many screengrabs might indicate. He isn’t going to be flagged for an illegal check to the head (more on that in a moment). He’s going to be flagged for interference, given how late the hit was.
So, again: It’s when Letang delivered the hit that’s the real kicker here. If there’s one consistent thing about Player Safety, it’s punishing hits that simply shouldn’t have been attempted.
Throughout this controversial season for the Chicago Blackhawks, there’s been talk about fans who may have left the fold and talk of that talk being poppycock public posturing.
So it was interesting to see Monday’s farewell note from Hockeenight, one of the most popular and hilarious Blackhawks fan blogs. (And a collection of writers who have previously worked on our Eulogys.) Here’s what they wrote:
The last year brought rape allegations, revenge porn, homophobic slurs, and countless dudebros defending the indefensible simply because the perpetrators happened to play sports for a team they supported. What had once been a pleasure became a labor.
And this year had a “staying together for the kids” feel to it. We didn’t recap at all, until we saw where we could provide a little levity to some friends going through a tough time, but I’m sure you’ll agree that our hearts clearly weren’t in it. And you guys deserve better.
As Julie DiCaro noted:
One of John Tortorella’s favorite conspiracy theories is that the Pittsburgh Penguins get preferential treatment from the NHL when it comes to suspensions. Like, for example, when then-Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik laid out Marian Gaborik in 2012 with a knee-on-knee hit.
“I wonder what would happen if we did that to their two whining stars over there. I wonder what would happen?” said Tortorella. “It’s one of the most arrogant organizations in the League. They whine about this stuff all the time, and look what happens. It’s ridiculous. But they’ll whine about something else over there, won’t they? Starting with their two [expletive] stars.”
Fast forward to the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it’s another coach slyly making that claim.
Ironically, he’s the guy currently coaching Brooks Orpik.
When asked to clarify those comments, Trotz said: “Take it for whatever you want.”
Here’s how we’ll take it: Trotz isn’t exactly Donald Trump when it comes to off the cuff remarks. He’s measured and smart. So this was by design.
Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said that defenseman Olli Maatta, last seen struggling to leave the ice after Brooks Orpik’s head shot, will not play in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Sullivan didn’t say if it’ll be Derrick Pouliot or Justin Schultz replacing him in the lineup, but the Penguins told the Tribune-Review they’re ready:
“We've been working hard, the guys that haven't been playing,” Schultz said after Sunday's practice at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry. “Obviously, it's different being in a game situation, but you have to get ready. It's playoff time. If I have to go, I'll be ready.”
“We have a lot of depth,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “We have two guys who are practicing every day in Schultz and Pouliot. They're pretty good players. Whoever comes in, I'm pretty sure they'll accomplish a great job and help our team to succeed.”
Which brings us to an uncomfortable question: If Fleury can play again, should he play again?