After the Whistle: Who's the top all-star pick?
Each week hockey columnist Scott Morrison and his protegé, senior hockey writer Tim Wharnsby, exchange (mostly) friendly banter on the latest storylines in the NHL.
1. With the NHL approaching the all-star break and the 50-game mark, has Rule 48 that penalizes blindside and lateral hits to the head working?
WHARNSBY: When you consider only four players have been suspended for blindside hits and two more fined, that’s a solid start for four months. The problem has been too many head-on headshots, like Calgary’s Tom Kostopoulos on Brad Stuart of Detroit or Toronto’s Mike Brown on Ed Jovanovski of Phoenix. Headshots merit more discussion at the general managers' level, and I would like to see — like Ken Hitchcock suggested last week — a league like the AHL experiment with zero tolerance on headshots to see what the game would look like at a level just below the NHL.
MORRISON: There is no doubt the hockey operations department believes they are making progress with Rule 48, that the number of instances of players avoiding head shots has risen. So they feel players are catching on. I think we need to gather recent former players, current players, players who have been concussed, coaches and managers at put them together for a few days to discuss the issue. Every action has a reaction and these are the stakes holders who should figure out the best plan moving forward. Meantime, we can only hope players figure out head shots help no one.
2. What's been your favourite story in the past week?
MORRISON: It would be hard to top the Saku Koivu return to Montreal, but I have to admit I really enjoyed a little story Patrick Kane shared on Saturday after he was named an alternate all-star captain on Team Lidstrom. The Hawks and Wings played Saturday afternoon and Kane said Lidstrom asked him on the ice who they should pick first. Kane said "anyone but Toews." At least guys are having fun with this new format, so maybe it will be a better all-star experience.
WHARNSBY: I was glad to see Peter Forsberg skating again with the Avalanche over the weekend. He is a Stanley Cup and Olympic champion who can’t but help squeeze out more from his career because of all the games he’s missed due to injuries. By my calculations Forsberg missed 326 games that he was eligible for between the 1994-95 and 2007-08 seasons. Why not, at age 37, give the game another shot?
3. Who would you select first in the NHL all-star game draft?
WHARNSBY: My first thought was to take a goaltender like Tim Thomas. But they play only a period and when was the last time a netminder was a factor in the all-star game? So give me the game’s best finisher right now, Steven Stamkos. No player has scored more times than the Tampa Bay youngster since the beginning of last season and he has been on quite a run lately with seven goals in six games.
MORRISON: You are right, it's all about the goal scoring in this game. Stamkos would have been my choice, so the coin toss will matter when we do our mock draft at CBCSports.ca on Friday night. So I will then make Daniel Sedin my first pick. He has been on fire since returning from his ankle injury last season and went into Monday night with 27 goals, just behind Crosby and Stamkos.