Fighting in the NHL is always a hot topic for debate. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• There'll never be a last word on fighting in the NHL, but this lengthy, thoughtful and eloquent defense of its place in the sport written by Bobby Orr is the closest thing to it. There will be few conversions in a debate as polarized as this, but when the greatest player who ever lived speaks up, his opinion deserves full attention.
• Roy MacGregor responds, through not directly, that just because fighting worked in the past doesn't mean it works today and suggests the onus for keeping the game safe and honest falls on a different group.
• I don't want to speculate on Mike Heika's state of mind when he worked up his late thoughts on last night's win by the Stars in Winnipeg, but this piece is all kinds of genius. I am concerned, though, that his musical sphere of reference seems to extend from 1963-1979.
• The buzz is growing around Jonathan Bernier in Toronto, but it's a little early to be building statues, writes James Mirtle. No arguing how great he's looked early on but Mirtle's right--tap the breaks a bit on the hype and give the kid a chance to develop into the player he can be.
• Eric Duhatschek explains why the lure of the motherland is impossible to ignore for many Russian players these days.
• Jeff Zatkoff's long-awaited NHL debut did not go well. Honestly, his Penguins teammates owe him one after this poor effort against the Panthers.
• They've made some snazzy improvements to the building in Florida, but the fans says it's the product on the ice that will, or won't, win them over. They got a decent return on their investment last night, anyway.
• Losing another game is hardly a headline generator in Philly these days, but losing Scott Hartnell and Vincent Lecavalier sure is. Both top-six forwards left last night's game against Phoenix with undisclosed injuries and are said to be sidelined for at least a week.
• Bobby Ryan says he's happy to get his return to California over with this weekend so he can finally move on from that stage in his career.
• Montreal captain Brian Gionta is out for tonight's game in Vancouver after returning home to attend to a family matter. Coach Michel Therrien said he doesn't know when Gionta will be available to the team again. Here's hoping it's nothing serious.
• A red-hot start has Avalanche fans seeing why the team was willing to trade two high picks to acquire goaltender Semyon Varlamov back in 2011. Tonight, he gets a chance to show his old team why they never should have let him go as the Avs meet the Caps in Washington.
• Nikolai Khabibulin came up big to win his first game with the Blackhawks since 2009.
• Here's John Tavares performing a bit of self-dentistry on the bench last night. Yep.
• The Blues are charting hybrid icing calls and so far they're not thrilled with the new rule. Ken Hitchcock explains here how it might hurt the game, and especially teams with quick forwards like the Blackhawks. Oh, and for the record, the Blues voted 20-3 against implementation.
• Sure, the Devils are winless in five after losing last night in Calgary, but Patrik Elias says not to worry--it's a long season. The way things are going for Jersey, it'll feel even longer.
• Tomas Hertl may be getting all the press right now, but how amazing has Sean Monahan been for the Flames? Four games, four goals, including the winner last night. Probably time for the 2013 first rounder, who turns 19 today, to make plans to spend the season in Calgary.
• Here's a great piece from George Johnson on Cory Schneider playing Steve Young to Martin Brodeur's Joe Montana.
• NHL Director of Player Safety Patrick Burke opens up about his battle with depression. Nice work here by Adam Proteau.
• Patrick Kaleta has been suspended indefinitely by the league pending an in-person hearing with Brendan Shanahan on Tuesday. With three priors on his record, the over/under has been set at five games.
• If you're not tired yet of the debate over the decision to publish
Joe Thornton's colorful quote, here are the thoughts of Kevin Allen, the head of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, and esteemed scribe Scott Morrison. Fascinating stuff, if you're interested in media ethics. Or if you like watching video of radio broadcasts.
• The Bolts threw a lot of money at Valtteri Filppula to convince him to play hockey in Tampa. So far, he's delivering on the investment.
• Jeff Carter closed the second game in a row
for the Kings