Top Line: Suspensions looming after hockey's night of shame; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• A Saturday night that featured everything that's good about hockey was marred by moments of idiocy, including a cheap shot by Brooks Orpik on Loui Eriksson, a retaliatory mugging of Orpik by Shawn Thornton, a knee to the head of Brad Marchand by James Neal and, in Dallas, Zac Rinaldo's assault of Antoine Roussel.
• I can't disagree strongly enough with Ken Campbell's assessment in the previous link that Orpik's hit on Eriksson was clean--the Bruin didn't yet possess the puck and wasn't eligible to be checked at all in my book. He suffered his second concussion in just 45 days on the play, potentially putting his season in jeopardy. If ever there was a hit that called for some on-ice accountability, this was it. Thornton, however, went completely beyond the pale in assaulting a defenseless Orpik.
• After the game, Thornton said he felt awful about injuring Orpik.
• Stephen Harris slaps a ribbon on the mayhem from the Boston point of view, while Dave Molinari offers the Pittsburgh side of things and Edmonton-based John MacKinnon has it from the angle of the distant but interested third party.
• Don Cherry talks the hits on Coach's Corner and rips the selection process employed by Team Canada for the World Juniors.
• Jane Gerster grades out Grapes' performance.
• After all that ugliness, let's cleanse the palette with this moment of beauty.
• At the 20-game mark, Ottawa coach suggested holding off on assessing his team until they reached Game No. 30. There was really no need to wait. The Sens, so full of promise after a gritty, all-hands-on-deck performance in 2013, are officially the season's most frustrating, disappointing team.
• Arthur Staple says it is time for a rebuild of the rebuild on Long Island. Not sure how easy it would be to trade Thomas Vanek, unless the Isles are willing to assume some of his salary, but getting Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome into the lineup for some regular work makes a lot of sense.
• What do players do with their massive salaries to make their lives better? Fluto Shinazawa has some answers to that one, along with a look at the unusual way one player is spending his time while convalescing from an injury in a terrific Sunday column.
• Bruce Garioch's Sunday Column explains why trades are so difficult to make this season and touches on a couple of the rumors making the rounds.
• Adam Erne accused Jonathan Drouin of taking a dive rather than accepting responsibility for the play in which he assaulted Drouin from behind, sending him headfirst into the boards. So, now we know he's not just cheap, he's also an idiot. Drouin for his part, is concussed--must have been some dive--while Erne, somehow, won't face supplementary discipline. Shame on the Q for letting that hit go unpunished, all but forcing Drouin's teammates to seek their own retribution the next time Halifax and Quebec met up. Don't be surprised if it gets ugly.
• The Flyers are set to move on without the man who reined in Paul Holmgren. President Peter Luukko resigned last week, leaving a void in the team's leadership structure that, apparently, won't be externally filled. An unfettered Holmgren? Should be interesting...
• Andrew Peters fought his way into an NHL job. Would he do it again if given a second chance?
• Here's a nice piece from Lance Pugmire on the Ducks spreading a little holiday cheer at a local children's hospital. There are stories like this all around the NHL this time of year, and it's a credit to the guys who make the effort to spend a rare day off this way.
• Plenty of hot sports opinions emanating from Denver, where Mark Kiszla says it's time to nail Semyon Varlamov to the bench and get Jiggy between the pipes, and Adrian Dater argues that the Avs need to do something about their defense, but shouldn't mortgage the future to do it.
• Neil Greenberg spins the numbers to justify his claim that Subban and Andrei Markov are the NHL's best defensive pair. Not the first time I've said it, and probably not the last: Markov is the straw that stirs the drink there. Think about all the other players that have looked great skating alongside him in Montreal who never quite reached the same glories once they signed elsewhere. • I ripped Alex Goligoski's play earlier in the season, so it's only fair to recognize him for getting his game back in order for the Stars. Mike Heika does it for me here.