Wendel Clark: NHL players think they're invincible

Yesterday I talked about how the old ‘hockey code’ seemed to have
disappeared from the NHL, after Edmonton Oilers coach Pat Quinn spoke on
how he never worried about dangerous hits to the head in his playing
days, when players didn’t even wear helmets.

Thanks to Chris
Johnston and the Globe and Mail
, we have some more thoughts from former
players on how much the attitude in the NHL is changing.

“Very rarely you saw guys when I played get knocked out with bodychecks
to the head,” said former NHL defenceman Bob McGill, who appeared in 705
games between 1981 and 1994. “It’s just funny how the guys today
certainly don’t have any problems trying to take each other’s heads off.
It’s a little disappointing because now you’re starting to see star
players being knocked out for the course of the season. …

“How long’s it going to take before it stops?”

“You think you’re invincible because you grow up with all this
equipment,” said [former Toronto Maple Leafs Captain Wendel] Clark. “In
the old days, you didn’t grow up with
facemasks and shoulder pads and elbow pads like you see today. The
better equipment you wear, the more fearless you play.

“Football and hockey have the same (issue) — the better equipment you’re
wearing the faster you can go into the corner because you know you’re
not going to hurt yourself.”

The equipment issue, along with the competitive nature of sports
these days, is what has me concerned the most. Players just don’t
realize the damage they’re capable of. Players in the NHL are also
getting paid a lot of money to perform at the highest level possible,
and not only that but to win at all costs. Clark later makes a great
point that not performing will get you sent down to the AHL, where most
players with two-way contracts will see their salaries drop
precipitously.

This isn’t something that will change overnight.
Instituting a couple of new rules won’t change anything, other than
actually having rules in place for dangerous hits that should have
always been illegal.

You can’t tell me that hockey can’t be safe
and entertaining at the same time. I watched the Olympics; that was some
of the best hockey I’ve ever seen — and played on an NHL regulation
rink.

Scroll Down For:

    Should Erik Johnson be suspended for ugly play on Namestnikov?

    Leave a comment

    Vladislav Namestnikov has been the Mikael Renberg equivalent on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Legion of Doom with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov for much of this season, complimenting those two scorers with strong work of his own.

    The Lightning were lighting up the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night, perhaps frustrating Erik Johnson and others. Whatever the explanation might be, it was a pretty ugly sight when Johnson slashed and then boarded Namestnikov, earning those two penalties plus a game misconduct.

    Plenty of people believe that supplemental discipline would be merited for Johnson’s actions. For what it’s worth, “Names” did return to action in the third period. We’ve seen instances where players return only to be hurt anyway, so we’ll see if the nifty winger sees any delayed issues.

    Johnson, 29, was suspended for two games by the NHL back in 2014, but has a generally clean history otherwise.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Senators blank Canadiens in NHL 100 Classic

    Leave a comment

    One win, even in the frosty outdoors for the NHL 100 Classic, only means so much.

    Still, the Ottawa Senators probably experienced some ice-cold relief on Saturday, beating the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 during a tightly defended outdoor bout.

    It was 0-0 for much of the game until Jean-Gabriel Pageau tipped an Erik Karlsson shot for the first goal with about five minutes remaining in the second period. Bobby Ryan then capitalized on a rough Jonathan Drouin turnover to make it 2-0, while an empty-netter iced the icy evening for Ottawa.

    For a night, it was a fun time, and Karlsson reminded us what all the fuss is about, as he logged a ridiculous 32:55 of ice time. And he seemed to be having a good time doing it.

    This night laid the “Canadian” on thick, with Bryan Adams performing during the event, and Gary Bettman posing for photos with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?

    via Getty

    Weird, but OK then.

    Generally speaking, things haven’t been that OK for the Senators lately. Such headaches did surface during this frosty-mug-on-ice event, as owner Eugene Melnyk inspired a #Melnykout hashtag on Twitter, not to mention icy barbs like these.

    Fair criticisms about the Sens’ bigger picture aside, Ottawa looked nice tonight, with Karlsson shining and Craig Anderson pitching a rare shutout outdoors (shutoutdoors)?

    Carey Price generated some nice saves of his own, but couldn’t will Montreal to win in his 10th consecutive start. The Habs rarely got things going against the Senators, seen most easily in Ottawa’s 38-28 advantage in shots on goal.

    Nights like these make a bigger impact on fans’ memories and bottom lines, but this marks consecutive wins for the Senators either way. Considering the fact that the Senators hadn’t put back-to-back wins together since they faced the Avalanche in two contests in Sweden, it might not be a big deal, yet it’s far better than the nothing they’ve been coming up with far too often lately.

    Also

    In other news from the event, Mario Lemieux’s “five goals, five different ways” was named as the NHL’s greatest moment, voted by fans:

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Sadly, Capitals aren’t selling this collection of Christmas songs

    via Capitals
    2 Comments

    Let’s be honest, virtually any time a team gets its players to embrace a holiday theme, it’s in the name of goofiness. And bless NHL teams for this.

    When it comes to Movember, you get the fantastic combination of mustaches and charitable contributions.

    The holidays are rapidly approaching (hey, I see that Amazon tab open), so we’ll start to see various New Year’s/Christmas/Festivus/etc.-themed fun. Even with that in mind, the Washington Capitals will be tough to top with their collection of Christmas tunes.

    Sadly, there’s no Volume 1:

    Question: which performance stood out to you the most? While Braden Holtby was fantastic (with a Tomas Plekanec-level turtleneck game), the simple entertainment of watching Alex Ovechkin sing is tough to top.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

     

    Video: Michael Grabner totally meant to do this for Rangers

    6 Comments

    Depending upon how things go for each team, the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins may very well grapple for a wild-card spot in the East.

    Thankfully, it won’t come down to Michael Grabner‘s deeply weird, memorable, and fun goal against Tuukka Rask, a “bank” goal that Grabner totally meant to do. Right?

    (Watch that goal in the video above this post’s headline.)

    That was Grabner’s 16th goal of 2017-18, which isn’t half-bad for a guy carrying a $1.65 million cap hit this season. Prediction: the speedy winger will cost quite a bit more than that in 2018-19.

    As you can see in this video, Alain Vigneault points to Grabner gathering steam in his second season with the Rangers as part of the reason this team is turning things around:

    J.T. Miller added a beauty of a goal to make it 2-0, but the Bruins dug deep to tie it 2-2, so we’ll see how the rest of that game goes.

    Update: The Rangers ended up edging the Bruins 3-2 in overtime thanks to Mats Zuccarello‘s patient, OTPPGWG.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.