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Top Line: NHL's krazy sticks; Alex Ovechkin accountable; more links

Phil Kessel's wand is harder, and harder to use for puck control, than the sticks that most NHL players prefer, but he likes it because it gives him a quicker release. Photo:

Phil Kessel's wand is harder, and harder to use for puck control, than the sticks that most NHL players prefer, but he likes it because it gives him a quicker release.

An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:

• Nobody else in the NHL could use Phil Kessel's stick. Justin Bourne explains why it, and the twigs of four other NHL players, are so unusual.​

• In a sitdown with NHL.com, Capitals coach Barry Trotz talks about making Alex Ovechkin more accountable, identifying a second-line center and the future of Evgeni Kuznetsov. I like how Trotz repeats his controversial quote about Ovie: “He's got a lot of glide in his game.” Trotz isn't backing away from what he said, but he does take the opportunity to explain exactly what he means.

• The NHL life isn't all glamour and fat paychecks. Sometimes players have to sit through interviews like this one. Gotta give Steven Stamkos credit for being gracious, eh?

• Our buddies over at Extra Mustard have compiled a list of the biggest homer announcers in sports. Two hockey legends made the cut.

On the 80th anniversary of Cannonball Pitre's death, Dave Stubbs offers this throwback piece on the first member of the Canadiens.

• James Reimer says he has no problems with coach Randy Carlyle and is looking forward to battling for the Maple Leafs' No. 1 job after signing a two-year deal last week. This isn't just the high road for Reimer. After surveying the landscape, he probably realized that Toronto was his only road and he'd better figure out how to play nice.

After spending most of his first year with the Blue Jackets watching games from the press box, Nathan Horton is ready to be an impact player. If he can stay healthy, he can play a significant top-six role. If ...

What impact will Tomas Tatar's new contract have on the Red Wings' ability to re-sign Daniel Alfredsson this summer? And what do you mean Mike Babcock is in the market for another assistant coach?

Ken Hitchcock says the No. 1 job in St. Louis is Brian Elliott's to lose, but the Blues' goalie is taking nothing for granted. Despite the assurances of his coach, the veteran keeper will be pushed hard by rookie Jake Allen and he knows his leash will be short.

The folks over at Icethetics put together a great piece explaining the origins of one of hockey's most iconic logos, and revealing how the designers are still making a profit off the Whalers today.

• An Australian man was dragged, kicking and screaming, to the finale of the Canada-U.S. exhibition series in Sydney. He left wondering if he had just watched the glorified chasing of a frozen urinal cake.

Defenseman David Warsofsky signed a new deal with the Bruins last week knowing full well that he may be traded before he puts on the black and gold again.

A die-hard Flyers fan got an assist from a team legend to help celebrate her 104th birthday last week. Pretty awesome:

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