Hockey Night's Take 5
HNIC's senior online reporter Tim Wharnsby dishes out the latest news, buzz and inside information from the hockey world.
1. Heads up
Head shots and blindside hits will be discussed Wednesday morning at the NHL general managers meetings in Toronto. The GMs are expected to review a video that will show a variety of recent head-shot incidents. However, there likely won't be any official recommendations emanating from the meeting because the GMs appear to be divided on the issue and there is a reluctance to make drastic changes. Remember, the death of Whitby Dunlops player Don Sanderson 10 months ago resulted in a call to eliminate fighting in the NHL. But there was no appetite among the NHL GMs to do so, and the media firestorm eventually died down.
2. Are the Olympics worth it?
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman doesn't want his league participating in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Some players, like Russians Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, have already chimed in that they want to participate. In Toronto this week, both Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman and International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel agreed that shutting down the league once every four seasons is worth it, and the NHL's participation in the Olympics should continue. But another factor worth considering is how much the condensed NHL schedule for the Olympics this season has contributed to the rash of injuries across the league.
3. Penguins bit by injury bug
Need proof that injuries are a problem? Just ask the Stanley Cup champions. After a stellar 12-3-0 start, the injury-depleted Penguins have slipped with three consecutive road losses against Los Angeles, San Jose and Boston by a combined score of 13-2. Defenceman Brooks Orpik was the latest Penguin to go down, exiting in the first period of Tuesday's 3-0 loss to Boston with an undisclosed lower-body injury. If the injury keeps him out of the Penguins' home game against the Devils on Thursday, Pittsburgh will be missing six regulars from the championship team. The others are Malkin (shoulder), Sergei Gonchar (wrist), Kris Letang (shoulder), Tyler Kennedy (groin) and Maxime Talbot (shoulder).
4. OK Andy
Andy McDonald has come a long way from his summer working on a turkey farm at age 16. He celebrated his 500th career game in grand fashion with a goal and two assists in the Blues' 6-1 win against Vancouver on Tuesday. St. Louis coach Andy Murray had played the 32-year-old on the wing earlier this season, but moved him back to his natural centre position between David Perron and Brad Boyes. The trio combined for five goals and 10 points in the rout of the Canucks, including McDonald's goal 18 seconds into the game. After spending four seasons at Colgate University, the native of Strathroy, Ont. was signed as a free agent by Anaheim in 2000 and won a Stanley Cup seven years later. Not bad for a 5-foot-11, 180-pound forward who suffered through concussion problems earlier in his pro career, and overcame knee surgery and a broken leg a couple seasons ago.
5. All in the family
Minnesota rookie general manager Chuck Fletcher received his Stanley Cup ring, along with Wild forward Petr Sykora, when Minnesota visited Pittsburgh last month. Fletcher was the Penguins' assistant GM last season, but left Pittsburgh in late May to join the Wild during the Penguins' Eastern Conference final series against Carolina. The Stanley Cup championship was the second in Fletcher's family. His father, Cliff, won a Stanley Cup as GM of the Calgary Flames in 1989.