Top Line: No NHL without fighting; best hockey product ever; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says he "can't imagine" an NHL without fighting.
• Datsyuk + dirty hands = the most brilliant hockey-related product ever.
• Larry Brooks says the Rangers "did what was right and what was necessary" in signing Henrik Lundqvist to a risky long-term extension on Wednesday. More importantly, they may have prevented his looming free agency from becoming a distraction that could have sabotaged New York's second half.
• He didn't exactly throw cold water on the idea of returning in time for Sochi, but Steven Stamkos lowered expectations at a press conference in Tampa on Wednesday. It's probably a smart move on his part. No one wants him to be a part of Team Canada more than he does, but he's wisely taking the long view on his recovery. The takeaway from this: if he's ready, he'll be there, but at this point it's just too soon to tell.
• Evgeni Malkin's two-minute jersey tuck penalty last week couldn't have caught him by surprise, writes Chris Johnston, who also tackles the trade realities facing the Sabres, and a near-lock for Team Canada, in his catch-all column.
• Canada won't have Nathan MacKinnon or Sean Monahan in the lineup when the World Juniors get underway in Malmo, Sweden, later this month, but the team might yet receive an early Christmas present from the Maple Leafs.
• Canada isn't the only country getting hosed because NHL teams are holding on to their top junior-aged players. Finland just lost a monster for its World Juniors team.
• Adam Proteau says that Ilya Bryzgalov's injury could force the Oilers into making a major trade to salvage the second half of the season. I'm thinking if you're 16 points out of the wild card on Dec. 5, you can pretty much write off this season and start focusing on what needs to be done to prevent 2014-15 from being more of the same.
• The death of his grandfather has put the game in a different light for Toronto's Nazem Kadri.
• A quick look at the Wild's power play numbers hints at a man-advantage unit that's rolling along comfortably. But the truth is that Minnesota's power play has been struggling for more than a month, and scoring with the extra man is only half the problem.
• Plans for an NHL-ready arena in suburban Toronto took a step back on Wednesday night when the city council in Markham wisely voted against using public funding to build it. The dream, however, is not dead yet.Mike Weaver has a simple solution to address the Panthers' comical attendance woes.