Boudreau, Knuble reflect on Ovechkin hit

gabbyandovie.jpgAmid the deluge of opinions on blogs, Twitter and newspapers, certain voices standout. Fellow teammates of the “victim” will usually make safe but critical comments. The most interesting perspectives often come from teammates and coaches of the “accused” though.

First, let’s take a look at Bruce “Gabby” Boudreau’s perspective on Alex Ovechkin’s two game suspension. Tarik El-Bashir caught up with the Capitals’ coach in the late afternoon. Here are some excerpts from Boudreau’s reactions. (H/T to Puck Daddy by way of Chris Burton)

“The decision has been made. I don’t agree with it. But maybe if I was [Chicago Coach] Joel Quenneville, I wouldn’t think it wasn’t enough …”

“I watched [the hit] frame by frame, trying to think what they would think. To me, there’s no way that was anywhere near a vicious as [Colorado enforcer David] Koci’s hit on Mike [Green on Dec. 15].”Alex pushed [Campbell]. He pushed him. If he doesn’t fall awkwardly into the boards, a) Is it a penalty? b) Are we having this discussion? … Alex is so much stronger than everyone else. So we’re penalizing him for being strong. …

“I was so upset for him. I told [GM George McPhee], ‘I can’t tell him.’ I feel so bad for the guy. All he wants to do is play hockey and play the game hard.”

On the other hand, Mike Knuble seemed to pull a mild “Bill Guerin” by sharing some mild concerns about his teammate’s style of play. Read more about his comments after the jump.


Earlier today, Knuble told El-Bashir that he had spoken to Ovechkin about toning down his all-out physical style to “save himself.”

“He has the reputation that he plays hard,” Knuble said. “But things seem to be happening around him. You would like to see him being more careful because, number one, you don’t want to see him hurt himself and, number two, so he doesn’t miss games — for our benefit.”

Knuble also said he spoke to Ovechkin about doing a better job picking his spots during a blowout victory in Denver on Dec. 15.

“There was something in the corner with maybe five minutes left,” Knuble said. “[Ovechkin] kind of went at a guy. [The score] was 6-1. I was kind of like, ‘Slow down a bit, just for your own sake. You don’t need to accidentally catch your knee on somebody.'”

Ovechkin’s joy for the game and willingness to put his body on the line make him easy to admire. That being said, could his physical style of play end up hurting him in the end, even if it’s just someone else writhing around on the ice?

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    Despite Canadian dollar, Bettman still expects ‘revenue increase’

    NHL commissioner Gary Bettman answers a question during a news conference before the NHL All-Star hockey game skills competition, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    The Canadian dollar is trading at around $0.77 USD today. While that’s up considerably from where it was a few months ago, the damage has already been done to NHL revenues.

    “If the Canadian dollar was still at par, we would be $100 or 200 million higher perhaps than we may find ourselves,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Bloomberg Television today.

    Having said that, Bettman still expects there will be a “revenue increase” compared to last year, adding that “we continue to grow year after year and set new records.”

    More from Bloomberg:

    Bettman said that while the NHL’s revenue growth has come across the entire business, the league has seen its biggest boon in its digital platform. The league last year signed a six-year, $1.2 billion contract with Major League Baseball’s interactive media and Internet arm, or BAM, to operate the its digital operations, streaming services and TV network. The NHL got a 10 percent stake as part the deal.

    The NHL playoffs are currently in the middle of the conference finals. The NHL’s fiscal year ends June 30.

    League revenues, of course, have a direct impact on the salary cap, and let’s face it, that’s the only thing most fans care about.

    As of March, the cap was expected to grow from $71.4 million in 2015-16 to $74 million next season.

    However, that projection assumed the NHLPA would accept the CBA’s standard five percent growth factor, and with escrow topping the list of player concerns, that’s no given.

    The players’ association will discuss and make a decision on the growth factor at some point before July 1.

    Related: Bowman noncommittal on Shaw and Bickell, needs to know salary cap first

    Devils’ Merrill undergoes shoulder surgery, out four months

    NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 04: Jon Merrill #7 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Detroit Red Wings at the Prudential Center on January 4, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Red Wings defeated the Devils 1-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    New Jersey d-man Jon Merrill, who struggled through an injury-riddled campaign, has undergone successful shoulder surgery with an expected recovery time of four months, the club announced on Wednesday.

    Merrill, 24, only appeared in 47 games this year, first missing time with an arm injury, then suffering a shoulder ailment late in the year.

    There was no clear indication if the two ailments were related, but Merrill’s arm injury was on the right side, and surgery was on his right shoulder.

    A former University of Michigan standout taken 38th overall in 2010, Merrill enjoyed solid rookie and sophomore campaigns in New Jersey. His second year was especially solid — 14 points in 66 games, averaging over 20 minutes per night — and he boasts good size, going 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.

    Based on the four-month timetable for recovery, Merrill will likely miss parts of New Jersey’s training camp and preseason action.

    Max Talbot mulling European options for next season

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    After a 10-year career with over 700 games played and one Stanley Cup, Maxime Talbot could be done in the NHL.

    Per RDS, Talbot — who’ll hit unrestricted free agency on July 1 — has “some options in Europe” for next season, and is contemplating a move overseas.

    In his prime, Talbot was a gritty, hardworking forward with decent touch around the net. He scored double-digit goals four times, including a career-high 19 in ’11-12.

    The 32-year-old split last season between Boston and its AHL affiliate in Providence, scoring seven points in 38 games at the NHL level.

    Talbot did acquit himself very well with the P-Bruins — 21 points in 26 games — and has some experience playing abroad, having suited up for Finnish League club Ilves Tampere during the lockout.

    Based on how things went last year in free agency, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Talbot land in Europe.

    The likes of Maxim Lapierre, Curtis Glencross and Marcel Goc all failed to score NHL contracts last summer — Lapierre and Goc proceeded to sign overseas, while Glencross opted to retire.

     

    Ex-‘Hawks coach Suhonen takes Austrian national team job

    SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13:  Thomas Raffl #5 of Austria celebrates with his teammates after Thomas Hundertpfund #27 scored a goal in the first period against Tuukka Rask #40 of Finland during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Alpo Suhonen, who became the first European-born NHL coach in over 50 years upon taking the Chicago gig in 2000, has been named the new bench boss of the Austrian men’s national team, per IIHF.com.

    Suhonen, 67, takes over from former NHL defenseman Dan Ratushny, who was splitting duties between Team Austria and Lausanne of the Swiss League.

    Suhonen takes over the national team at a critical juncture. Austria finished a disappointing fourth at the 2016 World Hockey Championship Division 1 tournament — meaning the country finished 20th overall. As the IIHF websites notes, that’s the worst finish for Austria in 86 years of WHC competition.

    Looking forward, Austria does have a chance to make amends this summer, when it will play a series of contests to prep for Olympic qualification.

    Suhonen inherits a roster with decent NHL pedigree as Thomas Vanek, Michael Raffl and Michael Grabner are all eligible to participate.

    That said, Vanek was named to Team Europe’s initial 16-man roster for the World Cup of Hockey, and it remains to be seen how that will impact his national team commitments.