Top Line: Sidney Crosby talks Sochi; records for Jagr, Jones; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Crosby delivered the best line in the second episode of HBO's "24/7." Not much of a Nazem Kadri fan, it seems.
• Nine years after the first one changed the face of the game, Larry Brooks makes the case that now is the time for another Shanahan Summit. It's time, he argues, for all the shareholders in the game to sit down with an eye on improving player safety.
• Don Cherry brings up one of the topics that committee would need to discuss--the return of the red line--in this week's episode of Coach's Corner:
• Patrick Kane says he became a better shooter by watching Patrick Sharp, a better backchecker by watching Marian Hossa, a better puck-protector by watching Jonathan Toews. Putting all the pieces together has him on track to become the league's most valuable player.
• Here's Adrian Dater with a top-notch profile of one of hockey's most influential, and secretive, personalities, Colorado goaltending coach Francois Allaire. The man himself is silent, as usual, but this piece offers a look into who he is and how he revolutionized play at the position.
• The news isn't all bad in Columbus, but it's lousy in New Jersey and potentially disastrous in San Jose.
• Steve Simmons argues that a hockey player should carry Canada's flag at the opening ceremonies in Sochi, but it's probably not the one you're expecting. He also talks about the next Jonathan Toews, the best part of "24/7" and names four Canadians who deserve a ticket to Sochi based on their play this season. Lots of good stuff here...except for that last bit. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: anyone who was actually watching Jamie Benn play during the last month instead of staring at his stats will tell you that he doesn't belong in Sochi.
• And speaking of Benn's unimpressive play, he was one of several Stars who failed to put down the Sharks when they had the chance on Saturday night. Mike Heika shares his frustrations with a team that continues to fritter away points it had in hand.
• Just because NHL teams will receive the first payment from the league's new $5.2 billion Canadian TV deal next season doesn't mean they're not planning on raising ticket prices. In fact, the rising salary cap means that many teams almost certainly will, especially in towns where teams count on a league revenue-sharing check. John Vogl explains why.
• Jimmy Howard expects to return to action just ahead of the Winter Classic. But even if he is healthy enough to get in a start against Nashville on Dec. 30, he isn't a shoo-in to start in The Big House. Jonas Gustavsson has outplayed Howard this season, and he gives Detroit a better chance to win the big game, so Howard's efforts may just land him a very cold seat on the bench.
• Steve Conroy and I are singing from the same songbook when it comes to both the place of fighting in the game and the problems caused by the latest generation of equipment. The debate over violence isn't going away any time soon, but at some point the issue of too much body armor can, and should, be addressed. Maybe the NHLPA will step up and take point on this issue...aw, who am I fooling?
• Are you kidding? Eight goals on his last 12 shots?
• The Vancouver Province had some fun with Photoshop. This is a quality time kill right here.
• The best preview for the 2014 Olympic tournament took place nine years ago this month in Grand Forks, North Dakota.• Bruce Bennett may have captured the hockey photo of the year.