Puck Headlines: Pittsburgh, Detroit lead NHL in local recognition

Here are your Morning(-ish) 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.

• Yes, honey: Sidney Crosby is going to skate over to the glass, doe-eyed, mouthing the words "Do you really mean it?" Because there's nothing a 21-year-old multi-millionaire likes better than a random puck bunny from Buffalo who fashions a declaration of love from something that looks like the bottom of a concession stand drink holder.

• Anyhoo, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings are both ranked in the Top 10 in the 2008 Turnkey Team Brand Index, which measures strength of team brand in its local market. From the AP: "The online survey measured such things as team popularity, fan loyalty and assessments of owners. It asked participants about their perceptions of teams - How entertaining it is to attend games? Is the organization's appreciation of fans genuine? Does the team have likable players?" So there you go: Two likeable, genuine franchises. Even if Red Wings fans complain about the team pricing them out of the arena. [AP]

UPDATE: Sports Business Journal has opened up its article on the Turnkey Index for Puck Daddy readers; as you can see, the Montreal Canadiens (12th), Buffalo Sabres (13th) and Carolina Hurricanes (20th) have cracked the Top 20 for the NHL. Meanwhiile, only the NBA's Pacers, Nets, Knicks and relocated Supersonics rank below the New York Islanders (118th overall).

• Smith College economist Andrew Zimbalist believes that we'll see "a few teams change hands and several clubs may end up relocating to other cities" as the financial crisis hits the NHL. Several? [Financial Times]

• More sunny news: ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna says that the fate of the Augusta Lynx, which has a few players from the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, could be decided in the next week. "Perhaps it gets the financing, perhaps it is sold or simply goes out of business." Ouch. [Lightning Strikes]

Atlanta Thrashers Coach John Anderson wanted to send a message to his team. So he slapped a red sweater on Ilya Kovalchuk during practice today. Red sweater equals fourth-liner. Quite the message there. [Thrashers Blog]

• Has Brendan Shanahan waited himself out of the NHL? From Steven Ovadia: "You can be picky about where you play and you can play in the NHL, but you can't be picky and play in the NHL. At least not when you're pushing 40. It's kind of a sad end to a great career." [Puck Update]

Adam Mair and Derek Roy, captured forever in free-hand drawing. No artistic license taken on the Buffaslug, eh? [Hockey in Art]

• Malarchuk Alert: Goalie Kury Jory of the Brock University Badgers suffered a severed vein in his neck after being cut by a skate during a scramble in the crease. [Canadian Press]

• Also awful: "Hubert (Pit) Martin, a four-time NHL all-star in the 1960s and '70s, is feared dead after his snowmobile plunged into an icy lake." [Sportsnet]

• The New Jersey Devils could have Brian Rolston and John Madden back in the lineup for their game against the Philadelphia Flyers this Thursday. [Fire & Ice]

• If the Ottawa Senators didn't have Alex Auld, they'd be "in the basement of the cellar, without a candle or flashlight or directions or even a clue as to the whereabouts of the steps to the door of the playoffs." At least they'd have Marty Turco to keep them company. [Sun Media]

• Former NHLer Jere Karalahti has been fined 1,490 euros by a Finnish court for using cocaine, based on a photograph found on a laptop of a friend. Well, at least he wasn't showing his junk. They actually give you 1,490 euros in a Finnish court for that. [CP]

• Throw a bone to our buddy B.D. Gallof in the 2008 New York Islanders Blog Awards. His blog is one of the nominees; voting rules can be found here.

• Finally, Devin Setoguchi and Brad Lukowich are among the locker-room models for Jeremy Roenick's movie-inspired T-shirts in this goofy local news look at the San Jose Sharks. That "dance with the devil in the pale moonlight" shirt is pretty wicked. We ask that of all our prey ... we just like the sound of it.

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