Thornton hearing Friday; Neil on Neal; cap rising to $71 million (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.

How Pavel Datsyuk spent his concussion vacation. [Pavel Datsyuk]

• Shawn Thornton's in-person hearing goes Friday, unless he grows impatient and pulls Shanahan out of a meeting by his collar before then. [NHL]

• James Neal finally fesses up on going knee to nose with Brad Marchand. “It’s not the smartest decision I ever made, looking back on it. I’m glad he’s OK, but going forward, I need to learn from it." [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

• Unsurprisingly, Chris Neil and Jay Rosehill, other members of hockey's Fighting Tough Guy Club Presented by The Code, feel more strongly about what James Neal did than what Shawn Thornton did. Company men, all these guys. [Ottawa Citizen]

• Speaking of enforcers, the New York Rangers simply aren't the same since they lost Brandon Prust, says Larry Brooks. [NY Post]

• Next year's salary cap is projected to fall somewhere around $71 million. [Canadian Press]

• Patrick Kane, asked who drank more alcohol out of the Cup -- him or Toews: "Well, as the captain, [Toews] had two days with the Cup." [ESPN]

• Adorable alert: Martin Erat teaching his toddler son to play hockey. It's only a matter of time before the kid starts demanding trades. [DC Sports Blog]

• Nick Cotsonika on Tim Thomas's comeback and Olympic hopes. [Yahoo]

• Marc Staal has a concussion. [Blueshirt United]

• Pierre-Marc Bouchard clears waivers. [Islanders Point Blank]

• When will the NHL adopt advanced statistical analysis? This is the 'are we there yet' of the stats community. When you stop asking, one imagines the NHL responding. [Washington Post]

• James Neal's suspension means Pascal Dupuis is a pretty good fantasy option for the next little while. [Dobber Hockey]

• Tim Leiweke talks about adapting from working for the Kings to working for the Leafs. ""It's very different just trying to understand the 100 years of history and tradition," he said. "I now understand. We had a great run in '62, '63, '64 and '67 and haven't won a Cup since then, so there's a lot of pressure on us because this is what they think about. This is what they do. This is what they dream of and it's just so amazing because here in Toronto, the hockey team is everything." [LA Times]

• Dmitry Orlov hits the 30-game mark with the Washington Capitals, meaning the out clause in his contract has elapsed. He's here for awhile. [RMNB]

• In addition to their other problems, the Toronto Maple Leafs are taking too many penalties. [Leafs Nation]

• Katie Baker on hockey's billet families. Great stuff here. [Grantland]

• Jim Nill's big gambles in his rookie season as Stars' General Manager are all paying off. [Eye on Hockey]

• Finally, the Ottawa 67s Christmas video is pretty great. [Buzzing the Net]

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