Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators has, for the most part, achieved Beloved Player status in the National Hockey League: a veteran whose work ethic, results and dedication to the only franchise he’s played for makes him exempt from most criticism. So imagine, if you will, if Alex Ovechkin or Joe Thornton or Henrik Sedin or another captain who carries less respect than Alfredsson uttered the following when asked if it was feasible his team could win three in a row against the Pittsburgh Penguins after Wednesday's 7-3 Game 4 thumping: "Probably not.” Oh captain. My, captain.
Brian Burke was the architect of the USA Hockey team that rode the hot goaltending of Ryan Miller all the way to overtime of the 2010 gold medal match in the Vancouver Olympics. He was the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs then. Now, he’s out of a GM gig; according to Sportsnet 590 in Toronto, that’s the reason he won’t be back in the same capacity for Team USA in Sochi 2014. As reported on the “Brady and Lang” show by co-host Greg Brady, Burke will not be asked back as the team’s general manager. As Brady tweeted: “Burke was told, as suspected, USA Hockey wants a current NHL GM. [Nashville GM David] Poile a strong candidate. Burke definitely wanted the job - obviously he made a huge commitment to after his son's tragic passing. Might be a mistake by USA Hockey.” Burke’s son Brendan died in a car accident on Feb. 5, 2010; the Winter Olympic hockey tournament in Vancouver began on Feb. 13, 2010. Burke worked through his personal tragedy, which served as an inspiration for the American players. He also made some bold decisions at GM that helped Team USA earn silver: Most notably the addition of Chris Drury to the roster, as the veteran center had become a high-priced punchline for the New York Rangers. Drury was one of the team’s best players in the tournament, and rewrote the legacy of his latter years in the NHL. The notion that a general manager needs to be currently employed in the NHL to take the reins of Team USA seems a bit odd.
No. 1 Star: James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins As part of their 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 4, Neal scored twice, including a power play tally, and assisted on an another as the Penguins took a 3-1 series lead. The goal were Neal's first since Game 4 against the New York Islanders. No. 2 Star: Jarome Iginla, Pittsburgh Penguins Iginla netted a pair, including one of Pittsburgh's two power play goals. He's now put up points in eight of the Penguins' 10 playoff games. No. 3 Star: Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins Letang had a couple of bad turnovers, but did finish with four assists. He now leads all defenseman in scoring with 13 points.