An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Uh-oh. Buzzfeed has seen through the carefully crafted facade and figured out that hockey players aren't ill-mannered knuckle walkers, but actually big, cuddly sweethearts. Quick … someone sneak James Neal into a game before anyone else finds out!
• Or even David Clarkson, who is headed to his second meeting of the season with the Department of Player Safety after as a result of a nasty hit on St. Louis' Vladimir Sobotka. Not very cuddly at all, that one.
• Scientists* have discovered that hockey players communicate with one another by banging their sticks on the boards.
*Note: not real scientists.
• New Florida Panthers owner Vinnie Viola compares the learning process since taking over the team to "drinking out of a fire hose." He opens up about the team's culture, his thoughts on the coaching change and the future of the Panthers in this wide-ranging interview.
• He offered no take on this, however.
• Chris Stevenson explains why this summer will be a good time to be a free agent.
• It's a pretty good time to be a team with its hopes set on re-signing a trio of top stars, too.
• While the Sabres and Flames clash on the ice today in Buffalo, the real battle between the two teams is the race to beat the other to the best GM candidate available. It's not certain that both are pursuing the same men, but you can bet one doesn't want to be caught standing still while its top choice is snatched away by the other.
• Someone at the CBC worked up an amazing infographic capturing the eye-popping spectacle of a year's worth of Don Cherry's suits. Here's hoping OHIP covered the retinal damage they must have suffered during the process.
• Tim Wharnsby considers a stellar field of backup goaltenders and determines the three most likely to go on to successful careers as No. 1s.
• When Nashville GM David Poile talks about taking time to determine exactly what kind of team these Predators are, he sounds perfectly content to write off this season. Yes, they've had injuries, but after 30 games it's clear that this group doesn't have anywhere near enough horses to compete for a playoff spot. And he's not going to do much of anything about it, believing that he can sell the team's long-suffering fans on the value of patience for another year. At some point though, the absence of progress is going to catch up to Poile.
• I'm sure this has happened before in hockey, but I've never seen it:
• Here's hoping the NHL's slate of outdoor games offers the atmosphere and action of last night's outdoor thriller between AHL Rochester and Cleveland. It was postcard perfect.
• If you can't catch the rebroadcast of the game today on NHL Network at noon EST, here are the highlights.
• Roy MacGregor offers a harrowing story of a hockey player whose life was nearly ended by hazing. It's a long read, but well worth the time invested.
• You know Nathan MacKinnon must be doing pretty well to earn a profile piece in The New York Times. His admission of being homesick stands out as a stark reminder of just how young this kid is, and how far he has yet to go. • Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad have put the draft out of their mind to focus on team success for Canada at the upcoming World Juniors.