Top Line: Cory Schneider's Groundhog Day; Thanksgiving mystery; more links
By Allan Muir An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories: • You have to feel for New Jersey netminder Cory Schneider. Ostensibly acquired over the summer to step into the No. 1 role, he's instead playing backup to a veteran, just like he did in Vancouver. "It's Groundhog Day for me. I can't seem to escape it," he said. The onus now falls on coach Peter DeBoer to find the balance that keeps both goalies happy and gives the Devils the best chance to win. • Thanksgiving is a uniquely North American holiday, making it a bit of a mystery to European-born NHLers. • So this is what it's come to in Vancouver: John Tortorella is asking Roberto Luongo to be more like Ben Scrivens. Schneider may have gotten out of there just in time. • Cam Cole says the concussion suit initially filed by 10 players against the NHL will be easy for the league to defend, although a possible future case led by modern players might pose a different challenge. • Sidney Crosby says his focus is on the Penguins, but he's starting to get in a Sochi frame of mind. He's playing his best hockey since his 2011 concussion, setting him up to make a bigger impact than he did in Vancouver where, Golden Goal aside, he was pretty quiet. • Elliotte Friedman discusses the impact of the new Canadian TV deal on the salary cap, Martin Erat's trade value and a possible impact player in Florida's system in this week's 30 Thoughts column. • The new deal, and its impact on "Hockey Night In Canada", proves that even the most storied institutions are not impervious to corporate shakeup. Sure, having more hockey available on TV is a good thing, but HNIC is more than just a broadcast. It's a cultural touchstone that deserves to be preserved. • Curtis Rush has a breakdown of how the deal to save HNIC was brokered over a frantic 72-hour period. • Did the arrogance of TSN's negotiators scuttle their chances of securing the NHL broadcast deal? • Brenda Branswell offers up a great piece that highlights how the fan experience has changed over the years. Her story of a legendary Montreal superfan who came to the point where he no longer follows the team is a must read. • Antti Raanta woke from a nap thinking he was in Dallas and down 3-0 early. Instead, Chicago's rookie netminder was in Calgary to make his first NHL start. Here's how it went. • Getting benched once or twice could just be a wake-up call. But when Michael Del Zotto was scratched for the fourth time this season, it was an undeniable sign that coach Alain Vigneault doesn't believe the player fits into his system. It's only a matter of finding the right deal now for the Rangers. • Maybe the Sens will come calling. Owner Eugene Melnyk confirmed Wednesday that he's willing to commit the money to add a player to bolster the team's playoff hopes. He also said the team would honor returning legend Daniel Alfredsson before Sunday's game with a tribute video. Seems like that shouldn't have needed to be said, but given the bad blood between the two sides after Alfie bolted last summer, the tribute wasn't a sure thing. • Finally, a decent special event jersey. Kudos to the Sens for keeping their Heritage Classic sweater truly classic. Nice to see, also, that the Canucks are bringing back the Millionaires jerseys. Such a great look. • Knowing they can't - well, shouldn't - trot Kari Lehtonen out for 14 straight starts in the future, the Dallas Stars are looking for goalie feng shui. • Ilya Bryzgalov makes his debut tonight with the Edmonton Oilers. He looked okay in relief the other night against the Hawks, but now he has a chance to prove he can do more than mop up in a hopeless situation. • The mother of a former Peewee player is suing Hockey Canada for an alleged attack that occurred in 2010. This is the sort of case we could be seeing more of in the near future. USA Hockey introduced a mandatory two-and-10 penalties for any incident involving head contact this season, but I'd expect both that group and Hockey Canada to take it a step further next season--perhaps an automatic five-minute major and a game misconduct.