hirt: The Rangers
have to do what it takes to protect Rick Nash
(61) when he returns. (Ric Tapia/Icon SMI)
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• With Rick Nash on the verge of returning to action, Larry Brooks says the Rangers need to subscribe to a new Code to protect their oft-injured superstar. Wait...is this another writer suggesting there's a place for fighting in the NHL? I like it...of course, now the Rangers need to employ a couple of players who are at least willing to drop the gloves.
• The NHL has realized that you can't have too many outdoor games...and you can't have too many behind-the-scenes TV series. With so many big events to promote this season, the league is crafting its own "24/7"-type show that will air on NBCSN. Basic cable...guess that means we won't be seeing much of Bruce Boudreau.
• The Wall Street Journal offers up a list of reasons why Team USA is unlikely to medal in Sochi. This should be well received.
• Tim Thomas says the chance to play in Sochi was a major reason for his return to hockey this season, and that he still has his sights firmly set on making Team USA. With his game starting to round into form, it's fair to say he's in the mix.
• Speaking of the Olympics, it appears that yesterday's quote from Russian GM Vladislav Tretiak about the roster deadline being moved was a bit of wishful thinking on his part. Looks like Jan. 1 is still the date for final rosters to be submitted.
• Patrick Roy is leaning on an old coach and his proven blueprint for success as he guides the Avalanche toward prosperity.
• Noting that a few of his team's younger players "need a hug and tender care," new Sabres coach Ted Nolan is ready to send a few kids packing and replace them with NHL-ready Amerks. Smart move for the long term, although kids like Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov might not share that opinion.
• Ilya Bryzgalov met the media in Edmonton yesterday. Surely, some sort of craziness ensued, right?
• Looking for a unique holiday gift for the Blackhawks fan on your list? This should do the trick. And hey, only $99!
• The Winnipeg Jets can't figure out on their own that competing hard, controlling the puck and good goaltending are sort of important if you want to come out on top. So, clearly, the referees are at fault when the Jets don't win. Seems about right.
• The Florida Panthers had to be thrilled about this.
• Yes, we're now at a point in time where even beer league goalies are getting custom paint jobs. Can't imagine there'll be many sweeter than this tribute to Breaking Bad.
• Attendance concerns are being raised in two unlikely NHL cities.
• It's just Corey Perry being Corey Perry. Even if you're a 'Canes fan, you gotta admit this is pretty funny.
• The Canadiens are shaking up their lines in search of offense after scoring just 18 goals in their last 11 games.
• Now this is a fancy stat I can fully support: the Bieska Rating.
• The Predators think they might have something in rookie goalie Marek Mazanec. He was pretty salty in his NHL debut, and put up some terrific numbers in Milwaukee. This team desperately needs some stability in net--if Mazanec can provide it, maybe they can get things turned around before it's too late.
• A couple of weeks ago, rookie Olli Maatta wasn't even sure he would stick with the Penguins. Now, he has an NHL superstar pimpin' him for Sochi.
• Here's an absolute beauty from Monday night's opener of the annual Subway Super Series between Team Russia and the QMJHL. Get a load of Vladimir Tkachev, all 140 pounds of him:
• Finally, we have a winner in CBC's Battle of the Blades