Top Line: The NHL's real drug problem; Patrick Kane meets LeBron; more links
By Allan Muir
An annotated guide to this morning's short list of must-read hockey stories:
• It was amusing a couple weeks back when a high-profile Canadian track athlete took self-defensive shots at the NHL for not having had a single player test positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Fact is, Larry Brooks writes, the NHL doesn't have a PED problem. But it does have its own demons.
• Sharp, Kane and the rest of the Blackhawks aren't finished celebrating the Cup win just yet. Several team members spent Saturday sharing some of their experiences with the fans attending the annual Blackhawks Convention. Considering how well received this event is, it's amazing more teams don't do something like it.
• QMI's Sunday notes column touches on, among other things, the Tim Thomas situation. Like I wrote earlier this week, his chances of future NHL employment are looking pretty bleak right about now.
• Josh Cooper grades the offseason of the Nashville Predators. Not sure I'd be as generous with a team that didn't address an obvious need for front-line scoring talent, but hey, that's me.
• Have you ever been talking salaries or lockouts or whatever and found yourself saying you'd play in the NHL for free? Did you realize that some players already are doing that? Fortunately, Tennessee's jock tax, which charges NHL and NBA players $2,500 for the privilege to play against teams in that state is under review. It's an insane law for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that NFL players are exempt.
• Blake Wheeler knows he has a lot to live up to with his new contract, but the big winger couldn't be happier that he'll have to do it in Winnipeg.
• Former Pen/Hab/Leaf Colby Armstrong has officially signed on with a team in Sweden. It was kind of funny yesterday morning when the rumors started swirling--the first thing one of the papers mentioned in describing him was that he was Sidney Crosby's best friend. That's a roster hole most teams are looking to fill, right?
• Being removed from Sweden's World Junior camp roster is a strong indication that the former Washington first rounder will spend the season in the NHL with Nashville. How long you think until Caps' fans are pulling out their hair over the deal that sent him to the Preds for Martin Erat?
• Will a lack of lefties give Karl Alzner a shot with Team Canada? Probably not, but a lesser-known lefty who gets off to a good start might earn a surprise spot on the team. Right now, my money's on J-Bo or Marc Methot.
• George Malik isn't buying the rumors that suggest Jordin Tootoo is on his way back to Nashville. Not sure I do, either. Unless he's developed first-line skill all of a sudden, where would he play? • Helene St. James believe the aging and injury-prone Todd Bertuzzi still has something to offer the Red Wings. He might, but there are several kids in the mix for those bottom-six jobs, and how ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm?