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Debating Alex Ovechkin’s star status; NHL in Olympics; Darche hangs up skates via Twitter (Puck Headlines)

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

Here are your Puck Headlines: a glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

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• The image above was tweeted by Mathieu Darche today with the message “Time to make it official! Moving on to second career.” So he’s either returning or going to work in a Bauer factory. One of the two. [@Matdarche52]

• Down Goes Brown offers the seven levels of dirty hockey, from the snow shower to Bertuzzi/Moore. [Grantland]

• Elliotte Friedman on the Olympics: “I still believe NHLers will go to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Everyone got together last week to air their official positions. My bosses won't be thrilled, but it sounds like the NHL and NHLPA are going to be able to show video and get access that was previously unobtainable. Insurance remains a major issue, though. It costs about $7 million to cover player contracts, which the International Ice Hockey Federation and International Olympic Committee are being asked to pay. Another issue is the current package only covers about 80 per cent of a player's salary. That's a significant difference for a player like Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin.” [CBC]

• The Guardian on Alex Ovechkin: “But while there's been a bit of improvement, things for Ovechkin still look stalled. The comparisons with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have stopped. Meanwhile, he's been eclipsed by the likes of Steve Stamkos and Jonathan Toews. It's difficult to believe this is truly the new Ovechkin, that this is the status quo that we should expect from now on, but perhaps that's the expectation we should have of his North American play. One more question: Is Ovie still to be considered a superstar?” [Guardian]

• Stu Hackel on Ovechkin: “But the fun has been leaking out of Oveckin's game for a while. We've waited through two seasons and a quarter of a third to see the old Ovie. After watching him on Sunday, I'm not sure he's ever coming back.” [SI]

• Japers’ Rink thinks Alex Ovechkin is neither trending up nor down at the moment. “Needs to be more focused in his own end of the rink and needs some help at the other end; the effort is there.” [JP]

• That AHL game that was stopped after Wade MacLeod’s seizure has been rescheduled. “The Springfield Falcons, AHL affiliate of the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, announced that they will finish their suspended game from Sunday, Feb. 17 against the Adirondack Phantoms on Friday, Mar. 1 at 6:05 p.m. prior to that evening's scheduled contest between the two clubs, which will now begin at 7:30 p.m. The game will resume with 3:42 remaining in the second period with Adirondack leading, 2-1, and Springfield commencing a two-minute power play. The public is invited to attend the conclusion of the Feb. 17 game free of charge. After that game has ended, fans will be asked to exit the MassMutual Center before reentering the building to have their tickets for the 7:30 p.m. contest scanned.” [SportsNetwork]

• Nikolai Khabibulin draws the starting gig against the Los Angeles Kings tonight, marking only the second start of the season for the 40 year old. [Edmonton Journal]

• Only you can help Japandroids defeat Nickelback and save hockey. [Spin]

• “Jack Johnson likes carrying load in Columbus.” [CBC]

• The Kings Garden offers an NHL realignment plan. [My Hockey Buzz]

• Ryan Kesler would like to stay healthy in order to avoid the tedium of injury rehab: “Mentally, for me, it was tough. It was very tedious work basically to go to the gym every day and just grind it out over and over and over again and skate by yourself, because I wasn't allowed to skate with any of the guys.” [ESPN]

• Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has acquired defenseman Scott Ford from the St. Louis Blues for forward Jani Lajunen. [Tennessean]

• Milan Lucic said “personal reasons” took him off the road with the Boston Bruins this weekend. [Boston.com]

• Here’s a theory you have to love: Jay Bouwmeester’s lack of any playoff experience is actually something that’s helped along his ironman streak: “Flames defenseman has had a bit more time to recover from the rigors of the regular season. His lack of playoff appearances, though, does raise another point. Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin, the player with the second-longest games streak, has played more consecutive games in the same time thanks to the postseason. Sedin currently trails Bouwmeester, with 595 consecutive games in the regular season vs. the defenseman’s 602. When you factor in playoff games, Sedin has played an extra 71 games over that stretch, bringing his unofficial total to a devilish 666 consecutive games.” [Hockey Writers]

• “How covering the Houston Aeros has made me never want to have children.” [Hockey Wilderness]

• Does the NHL have an allergy against technology? “Is there something about the culture surrounding the sport of hockey that makes it more resistant than the other professional sports to new ideas, new applications of technology, and change? At the moment, it certainly seems like it. On the one hand, there are clubs like the Sharks, Penguins, Kings, Canucks and Bruins all of which are admittedly at the forefront of using advanced analysis (of various kinds) to improve player readiness and personnel decisions.” [Vice, via Wayne from Tuskegee]

• Lepore on how to make Hockey Day in America even better: “Make the NBC and NBC Sports Network games the only show in town that day, unless there's a game between two Canadian teams. Why distract people in Boston and Dallas (who both played at the same time as Washington-NY Rangers) from the event?” [SB Nation]

• Finally, via Buzzing The Net, an indefinite suspension from juniors:

Whatever the Moncton Wildcats' Ross Johnston meant to do with his stick when he broke the Halifax Mooseheads' Brian Lovell's jaw on Saturday, he wasn't in control of it.

Was this intentional or incidental? It happened so fast that none of the four on-ice QMJHL officials in the game called a penalty, but the Mooseheads video crew caught it and the clip went viral.

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