Lupul: Shoulder hits to head just a part of hockey

Everyone is weighing in on the issue of hits to the head, with most
in the camp — including me — that believes that any and all hits to
the head should be illegal. This includes direct shoulder hits to the
head, such as the Mike Richards hit and the latest transgression by Matt

Count Anaheim Ducks winger Joffrey Lupol as someone who doesn’t want the NHL to
go in that direction.
From Lupul’s twitter feed
(and it must be noted that this is NOT a
verified Twitter account, but it certainly seems legit) —

Hitting people in
the head w/ ur shoulder is part of NHL hockey. We’re big boys. Discuss..

…but the game moves
fast out there. Late hits should be punished. Shoulder hits should not

My point is it’s a
split second decision and we don’t want to lose hitting from the
game.As a player I hate seeing injuries but..

point about late hits is interesting, since that is part of the issue
surrounding the Cooke and Richards hits. It’s not just the fact that the
hits were directly to the head, it’s that they were blind-side hits
that caught the injured players vulnerable and exposed well after
releasing the puck. That there was direct contact with the head just
adds to the debate.

I understand what Lupul is trying to say, that we should not
be trying to take hitting out of the NHL. I don’t think anybody is
wanting that to happen, but at the same time there has to be a way to
protect the players better. This isn’t just a matter of someone breaking
a bone or tearing a ligament in their knee — concussions can have
lasting effects that a player will have to deal with years after the
original injury. Just ask Mike Smith.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.