Top Line: Milan Lucic bar fight update; Antti Raanta "killed" 'em; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• More details have emerged about the late-night incident involving Milan Lucic and an unnamed assailant. Looch looks better by the minute.
• The Lucic incident is a reminder that players are always under scrutiny when they're out in public and that any misstep is a potential YouTube nightmare.
• Legal analyst Eric Macramella takes a look at the process and ramifications of Shawn Thornton's decision to appeal his 15-game suspension.
• What a lede: "On the day Blackhawks rookie goalie Antti Raanta got everybody killed, he had two rifles and a massive rocket launcher strapped to his back as he desperately clung to a motorcyclist driving upwards of 60 mph ..."
• Adam Oates found a way to get Alex Ovechkin's offensive game back on track. Now, he's trying to teach the star forward about the defensive side of the puck. If Oates can succeed at that, let's not even bother voting on the Jack Adams Award, OK?
• One veteran Olympian knows exactly what Steven Stamkos is going through. He made it back in time to represent his country, and believes the Team Canada hopeful will, too.
• A chance meeting with the legendary Badger Bob Johnson led this woman to become one of hockey's most effective coaches.
• Keep yer head up, rook!
• Could this be another big injury just ahead of the Olympics? David Backes of the Blues left last night's game against Ottawa with an upper-body issue. We should know more about the severity today.
• Steve Mason may be Philadelphia's MVP of the first half, but he's hit a rut, allowing four goals in each of his past three road games. The Flyers would be clearing space for Aaron Ekblad if not for Mason's play, so getting him back on track quickly is key to staying in the Metropolitan Division race.
• Here's a good news story: it looks like Canadian hero Paul Henderson has received a Christmas miracle in his long battle against cancer.
• There's a scale to these things. There are bad hits, cheap shots ... and then there are the really dangerous plays. Corey Potter shoving an off-balance Nick Bonino from behind into the boards? That was a very dangerous play. The Edmonton defenseman got off easy with his Shanaban.
• Top prospect Darnell Nurse almost made the Oilers out of camp this fall, but his game has fallen on hard times back in the Soo. Growing pains or a mental lapse after being passed over by Team Canada for the World Juniors?
• Florida's new owner Vinnie Viola says he wants "to patiently win now." Translated: top free agents can expect an aggressive offer from the Panthers this summer. The question is, how much money will it take to convince someone who is interested in winning that they are a viable option?
• The nutty decision to name his unqualified 25-year-old son as the team's VP of Hockey Ops notwithstanding, Viola has stabilized the situation in Florida. And that leaves Gary Bettman with no significant brushfires to put out for the first time in his tenure.
• It wasn't the prom, but it might have been the next best thing for Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
• Malmo, Sweden is hosting the World Juniors later this month. Could it be the home of a KHL team in the near future? Yes. Yes it could.
• Sergei Gonchar is on the verge of making Russian hockey history in Sochi. • Team Canada is expected to name a new head coach for its women's team today. Just a hunch, but I think former NHLer Tim Bothwell could get the call. Whoever gets the gig, though, is immediately behind the eight ball with less than two months to go before the start of the hockey tournament in Sochi. It'll be nearly impossible to get this program back on track in time to defend its 2010 gold medal.