Top Line: Fallout from Canucks-Flames line brawl, more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• Sabres coach Ron Rolston was fined during the preseason for his player selection after he kept enforcer John Scott out for a face-off following a goal. Steve Ewen argues that the Rolston precedent makes Flames coach Bob Hartley liable for the starting lineup he iced ahead of Saturday night's brawl with the Canucks.
• Hartley is maintaining his innocence, saying he had no idea that things would get out of hand just because he started his fourth line against Vancouver.
• Calgary assistant Clint Malarchuk said he was ready to punch his old buddy John Tortorella in the face if he'd gotten to him in that hallway melee.
• Dejan Kovacevic went the stream of consciousness route in working out his feelings after the donnybrook between the Flames and the Canucks. He's not too happy with Gary Bettman, ESPN or Peter Gammons, among others.
• Cover your eyes, tree huggers. Another NHL star has come out in favor of fighting, even as he recovers from an injury suffered in a bout.
• A study by a British medical journal says that the NHL and insurers paid out $653 million to players who were sidelined by concussions during the past three seasons. If player safety isn't already a top priority, the author says, the financial hit should force the league to get serious about reducing head trauma.
• Born within 10 months of each other in 1984 and '85, the five players at the core of Team USA were singled out to lead the Sochi squad long before the roster was chosen.
• Dave Stubbs is dead on target here: In a league where head shots and blindside hits are everyday occurrences, why are we getting bent out of shape over a player who tugs at the crest on his jersey in celebration?
• On the one-year anniversary of the return of NHL hockey, Scott Burnside looks at a league that is in a much different, and much better, place than anyone would have imagined.
• Matheson also takes a look at the slow development curve of goaltenders and wonders why teams bother to draft them in the first round.
• Ken Campbell looks at the drain of a recent tournament weekend and says that minor hockey players spend too much time at the rink. My kids, who somehow were off the ice this past weekend, would respectfully disagree.
• Stars GM Jim Nill is surveying the landscape ahead of the NHL trade deadline in March and sees a very tight market. Nill has some interesting pieces -- including Vern Fiddler, Ray Whitney and Erik Cole -- that he could move if Dallas doesn't quickly break out of a 1-7-1 skid.• Jack Todd takes issue with the self-aggrandizing Hockey Day in Canada telecast, arguing that this exercise in self-reflection doesn't spend enough time considering the problems of the game at the grassroots level.