Top Line: No NHL without fighting; best hockey product ever; more links

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An NHL without fighting would be like a diner without coffee. (Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)

Andrew Shaw of the Chicago Blackhawks fights Antoine Roussel of the Dallas Stars.

By Allan Muir

An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:

• NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says he "can't imagine" an NHL without fighting.

• Here's why Pavel Datsyuk blames himself for being elbowed in the head by Jared Cowen a couple of weeks ago.

• Datsyuk + dirty hands = the most brilliant hockey-related product ever.

• Larry Brooks says the Rangers "did what was right and what was necessary" in signing Henrik Lundqvist to a risky long-term extension on Wednesday. More importantly, they may have prevented his looming free agency from becoming a distraction that could have sabotaged New York's second half.

• And now, a reminder that Roberto Luongo is our greatest living treasure.

• Patrick Roy reveals two minor adjustments that helped Semyon Varlamov become the top goalie he is today, and says that the Avalanche keeper should be the starter for Russia in Sochi.

• He didn't exactly throw cold water on the idea of returning in time for Sochi, but Steven Stamkoslowered expectations at a press conference in Tampa on Wednesday. It's probably a smart move on his part. No one wants him to be a part of Team Canada more than he does, but he's wisely taking the long view on his recovery. The takeaway from this: if he's ready, he'll be there, but at this point it's just too soon to tell.

Evgeni Malkin's two-minute jersey tuck penalty last week couldn't have caught him by surprise, writes Chris Johnston, who also tackles the trade realities facing the Sabres, and a near-lock for Team Canada, in his catch-all column.

• Gord Stellick looks ahead to Sochi and says that Hart Trophy candidate Ryan Getzlaf and running buddy Corey Perry won't make the cut. Stellick's a smart guy, but not sure I'm with him on this one.

• P.K. Subban says he's never had to justify his game in the past and he won't do it now, even with an Olympic roster spot on the line.

• Canada won't have Nathan MacKinnon or Sean Monahan in the lineup when the World Juniors get underway in Malmo, Sweden, later this month, but the team might yet receive an early Christmas present from the Maple Leafs.

• Canada isn't the only country getting hosed because NHL teams are holding on to their top junior-aged players. Finland just lost a monster for its World Juniors team.

• Adam Proteau says that Ilya Bryzgalov's injury could force the Oilers into making a major trade to salvage the second half of the season. I'm thinking if you're 16 points out of the wild card on Dec. 5, you can pretty much write off this season and start focusing on what needs to be done to prevent 2014-15 from being more of the same.

• The death of his grandfather has put the game in a different light for Toronto's Nazem Kadri.

• A quick look at the Wild's power play numbers hints at a man-advantage unit that's rolling along comfortably. But the truth is that Minnesota's power play has been struggling for more than a month, and scoring with the extra man is only half the problem.

• Senators GM Bryan Murray says he's still happy with the deal that sent Ben Bishop to the Lightning. Honestly, with Cory Conacher still in the lineup, what else can Murray say?

• The Coyotes came up with a unique way to wish you happy holidays.

• Plans for an NHL-ready arena in suburban Toronto took a step back on Wednesday night when the city council in Markham wisely voted against using public funding to build it. The dream, however, is not dead yet.

• Brandon Bollig's hands aren't quite Patrick Kane-quality. This is funny stuff.

• Led by the red-hot Sean Couturier, the third line has become the Flyers' best line of late.

Mike Weaver

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