Debating NHL realignment; Sens Suck hat controversy; Evgeni Malkin to IR (Puck Headlines)

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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.

• From Sens Town, a rather shocking development in the Battle of Ontario: “Clubhouse, an Ottawa sports merchandise company with 4 Ottawa locations, including one just a few steps away from SBP, has tried to cash in on the rivalry with Leafs Suck hats in Sens red and Sens Suck in Leafs blue lettering. It's one thing to sell some Leafs stuff, I understand why, but it's another to sell hats hating on your own local team. That is unacceptable.” [Sens Town]

• Philadelphia Flyers right wing Jakub Voracek, Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos and Ottawa Senators goaltender Ben Bishop have been named the NHL's 'Three Stars' for the week ending Feb. 24. [NHL]

• Evgeni Malkin had a concussion and was put on the IR. "The short-term memory in instances he didn't remember is returning,” said Coach Dan Bylsma. [Pensburgh]

• How the Penguins will react to Malkin’s injury. [From Russia With Glove]

• Elliotte Friedman with a realignment thought: “A few of you pointed out a Phoenix move, or expansion to Quebec City or Toronto is ignored by this setup. I assume the league has contingency plans, but, if there is expansion, it isn't happening in the next year or two. As for Phoenix, you have to suspect commissioner Gary Bettman has a pretty good idea of the scenarios for next season, at least.” [CBC Sports]

• Steve Lepore on the TV implications for realignment: “The teams this realignment helps the most (besides Winnipeg) are the Western Conference teams who switch into more time zone appropriate conferences. Detroit and Columbus won't have to make multiple long trips to the west coast for games that start at 10 p.m. ET or later, no more than any other team on the "East Side" at least. Plus, as I already mentioned, Columbus gets more games against teams like Pittsburgh -- who will no doubt increase their ratings -- and Detroit gets a plethora of marketable teams.” [Puck The Media]

• ESPN’s Craig Custance: “According to one NHL source Sunday, the realistic timeline for a realignment agreement is still sometime in the next two weeks. The expectation is that it will be completely settled by the time the GMs meet in Toronto on March 20.” [E$PN]

• How does realignment affect the Toronto Maple Leafs? “At a first glance, I’d argue that this alignment increases the Leafs chances at leaping back into the playoffs. While the addition of Detroit may appear intimidating, it’s less so when you look at the rapid decline that they are experiencing in their post Lidstrom world.” [Maple Leafs Hot Stove]

• Realignment concerns and considerations: “Until expansion brings the NHL up to 32 clubs, two conferences will have seven teams while two have eight. The primary complaint is that teams in the smaller conferences will have an easier road to the playoffs, under the proposed format of teams 1-4 in each conference making it in. To offset the disparity, the league is discussing some sort of wild card playoff for the eight-team conferences. In short, this would attempt to fix one mistake with another. Here’s where the NHL is wrong on realignment: conference playoffs.” [OGA]

• The Washington Capitals sign Braden Holtby to a 2-year extension. The deal will pay Holtby $1.6 million for the 2013-14 season and $2 million for the 2014-15 campaign. [Dump ‘N Chase]

• The Capitals’ John Erskine signs 2-year, $3.9 million contract extension. [RMNB]

• Ian Laperriere met with the media to talk about his health, his family, dancing with Megan Fox, going to the Oscars, Luc Robitaille, concussions in today’s NHL, memories of his time in Los Angeles. [Mayors Manor]

• Looking back at James van Riemsdyk’s legacy with the Philadelphia Flyers: “Sometimes JVR played smaller than his size might otherwise suggest. Sometimes he was inconsistent. How much of that was injury-related is open to speculation. And the Flyers really did need a defenseman. Even thought van Riemsdyk is sixth in the league this season with 11 goals, the story of this trade cannot yet be written.” []

• Cam Charron on puck possession. [Backhand Shelf]

• Damien Cox on a potential Phil Kessel trade: “What will the reaction be if the Leafs are in the playoff hunt and trade Kessel? The market for his services is likely never going to be as good as it will be by the April 3rd trade deadline.” [The Spin]

• Brian Lashoff to a three year contract extension with the Detroit Red Wings. [Malik]

• Finally, here’s a massive line brawl from the CHL: It took place 6:28 of the 3rd period Saturday night between the Fort Worth Brahmas and Allen Americans of the Central Hockey League. The Brahmas led 6-1 at this point. The box score of the game is below as well. A combined 200 penalty minutes were assessed in the game (150 Allen, 50 Fort Worth), 190 of which came in the 3rd period. 6 players were ejected (including both goaltenders). Both head coaches were also ejected.

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