Stempniak comes out of nowhere … again


Stempniak.jpgAll the way back in the 06-07 season, the popular blog Battle of Alberta morphed Lee Stempniak’s last name into a verb.

“Term: Stempniaked
Definition: To be unexpectedly defeated by the singular efforts of a player on a sub-standard team.”

At the time, Stempniak was an obscure forward for the St. Louis Blues. He since bounced to Toronto and then was shipped to the Phoenix Coyotes during this year’s trade deadline. The change of scenery has been so profound for Stempniak that he played well enough to earn the league’s second star for last week.

Perhaps now we should just go with this SAT-style analogy: Lee Stempniak; Guillaume Latendresse.

Think of it this way, both funny-named forwards showed flashes of brilliance but never really “got it” in their former homes. Both made it to their new teams in moves that barely elicited a yawn from the general hockey public. Most importantly, both have been on fire after a change of atmosphere.

Stempniak’s career high is 52 points, but he already has 7 in only 5 games in Phoenix. Could this be a sign that the forward has found his rhythm, or could it be that – like Scott Walker “doubling” his career total of 2 goals in 3 games right after a trade to Washington – Stempniak simply is taking advantage of some fortunate bounces and the boost of changing uniforms?

Who knows. It might be time to change the definition of “Stempniaked,” though.

(Thanks to Kent Wilson for the correction.)

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One
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Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.