Top Line: Patrick Burke says no Olympic boycott; Columbus shock; more links
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• "A boycott won't change anything," Patrick Burke tells Kevin Allen. The You Can Play founder believes that athletes can make a more powerful statement about Russia's discriminatory anti-gay laws by participating in the 2014 Sochi Games than by staying at home, and I'd have to agree. The threat of protests breaking out against the laws every day of the Games is exactly the sort of embarrassing pressure that could force the Russians to abandon their stance. Burke also said he is making himself available to Hockey Canada and USA Hockey to talk to players about the current situation.
• Russia's sports minister says everyone in the West needs to chill out about the whole thing. They're just thinking about the kids!
• What once was a little fan gathering took a serious turn for the cool yesterday in Columbus when a surprise guest showed up.
• It's hard sometimes to accept that D2: The Mighty Ducks was based on a lie. Iceland isn't a world hockey power to be feared. It's a program that's still taking baby steps, but apparently there is hope . . .
• The Washington Capitals paid a steep price -- first rounder Filip Forsberg -- to acquire Martin Erat at the deadline. The veteran winger didn't bring much to the table down the stretch, but is expected to make his presence felt this year.
• Shawn Matthias was a second-round wild card when the Florida Panthers acquired him as part of a deadline trade package for Todd Bertuzzi back in 2010. Three years later, he's on the verge of becoming a reliable NHL power forward. The Cats are counting on him stepping up to help them step out of the Eastern basement.
• You know how it goes. Sometimes a triple murder keeps you away from the rink, am I right?
• We know the heart is willing, but is there anything left in Ryan Smyth's legs? David Staples abandons sentimentality and considers what the veteran winger may be able to bring to this year's Edmonton team.
• Jonathan Willis believes that Denis Grebeshkov is a better bet than last year's long-shot signing, Cam Barker. As long as the Russian vet kind can reliably identify what color sweater his teammates are wearing, I'd say that's a safe bet.
• Leo Komarov ditched the NHL for the KHL, but the former Maple Leaf says he has his eyes set on returning to North America after this season.
• Looking to bounce back from an injury-riddled 2013 season, Jaroslav Halak has spent the summer training in St. Louis with Blues strength and conditioning coach Nelson Ayotte. Sounds like he's tired of splitting time with Brian Elliott and is looking to resume his place as the team's No. 1 stopper.
• Turns out that Ian Laperriere competed in his first triathlon after all. Pretty amazing. • A nonsensical rumor suggesting that Jose Theodore was about to sign with the Bruins made the rounds for about 10 minutes on Sunday night before being debunked by TSN's Bob McKenzie. These truly are the dog days . . .