Top Line: Couture's heart still aches; Ovechkin plays it safe; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• No one can accuse Alex Ovechkin of setting off a Twitter firestorm via his use of the favoriting feature. Peter Hassett takes a look at what's earned his approval, and that of other Washington Capitals, on social media.
• Kevin McGran examines the impact of economic sanctions and regional instability on the future of Russia's KHL. The league's sole Ukrainian team is on hiatus for the upcoming season, but tensions don't see to be scaring players away from the world's second-best circuit. Could it really be business as usual?
• William Douglas has the story of how Edmonton prospect Darnell Nurse was saved from a life in football by a father who had played in the CFL. Prepare to be left slack-jawed by athletic accomplishments of Nurse and his extended family.
• James Reimer may have a new two-year contract with the Maple Leafs but Brian Costello warns that he might not want to want to sign any long-term leases in Toronto. His $2.3 million AAV is a steep commitment to a back-up goaltender, but it's a commitment that gives possible trade partners (paging Kevin Cheveldayoff) a handle on what it'll take to slide him in under their cap.
• Not sure this obituary is legit, but if it is this parting shot at the Maple Leafs shows an appreciation for the classics.
• Wait...this guy was serious.
• With 14 forwards signed to one-way contracts, the New Jersey Devils need to thin out the herd up front. And with just three attackers under the age of 28, they'd benefit from getting a little younger as well. Think Lou Lamoriello could find a taker for Michael Ryder or Steve Bernier? Naaah.
• Here's a sneak peek at Henrik Lundqvist's new goalie mask. Not one of my favorites, but then again I'm writing this wearing a 2009 Memorial Cup t-shirt. I probably shouldn't argue style with Hank.
• Minnesota's Stephane Veilleux reminded everyone he's the best ping pong player in the league—no small bragging rights, those—but the real winner of Smashfest was Dominic Moore and his efforts to raise money for cancer research.
• First-rounders Sam Bennett and Jake Virtanen signed entry-level contracts yesterday, keeping them in line to start the season with Calgary and Vancouver, respectively. Doubt either player sticks, but a nine-game trial is within reach for both.
• And finally, This Week's Sign of the Apocalypse, Online Edition: the NHL has released an ugly Christmas sweater collection. This surely heralds the death of ironic fashion.