NHLPA proposes 'band aid solution' to head-shot rule

You had to know that the NHL players on the competition committee
would not just outright accept the league’s proposal for a rule change
to take effect this season, that would deem blind-side head shots

Today, word came down that the players on the competition
committee — Jason Spezza, Ryan Miller, Mathieu Schneider, Jeff Halpern
and Brian Campbell — have proposed a temporary, ‘band-aid’ solution
for the rest of this season before revisiting a more permanent rule
change this summer.  From
the Canadian Press, via Sportsnet.ca

The NHLPA first expressed a desire to see a head-checking penalty in
March 2009. Spezza indicated that the players are in favour of tweaking
the current proposal.

“It’s very similar,” he said. “We’re looking for a Band-Aid fix for the
rest of the year in case something happens, but in the long term, we
have to sit down together and find a better solution than just tweaking a
little rule. It has to be something that’s talked about. It can’t just
be sprung on

“It’s too bad because we’ve been talking for two years to try to get
something in place, but it’s hard to find the proper language and the
right rule.”

I can respect the players’ view on this. The proposed rule change is
part of something that the NHLPA has been trying to institute for couple
of years now, and all of a sudden the NHL proposes something that is
really just a minor tweak to the existing rules.

Making blind-side head shots illegal certainly addresses a very
specific problem, but it is far from taking on the bigger issue of head
shots in general.

David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail feels
a bit differently.

Call me a cynic, but I can’t help
think that the NHLPA’s unofficial response today to fast-tracking the
new headshot rule is nothing but an up-yours to the league.

With the headshot rule being a huge
issue with the public, the NHL wanted to get it into effect right away
but now the players are essentially saying, “Hold on just a minute.” By
saying they are willing to approve a temporary rule for the rest of this
season, they are trying to avoid a public backlash.

But the players know the league is highly unlikely to go along with
that. They will say, all right, let’s follow the process and bring it in
next season, and then turn to the public and say, “Hey, we tried.”

I think the players have the right to approve or disprove any rule
changes of this nature, especially when they are off-the-cuff, knee jerk
rule changes by the NHL as the league tries to save face in light of a
PR nightmare.

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    WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Bruins in the ’15 Thanksgiving Showdown

    Ryan McDonagh, Brad Marchand
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    The Boston Bruins are hosting the New York Rangers in this year’s Thanksgiving Showdown on NBC — but if you’re unable to watch on TV, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

    You can watch the game online via NBC Sports’ Live Extra. Coverage begins just prior to puck drop at 1 p.m. ET.

    For the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in goal, looking for redemption after he got the hook in his last outing, a 5-1 drubbing against Montreal.

    Boston will counter with Tuukka Rask, who stopped 39 of 42 shots in his last start — a win over Toronto on Monday.

    While their starting goalie remains the same from the Habs loss, the Blueshirts will make chances elsewhere. On defense, Dylan McIlrath draws in for Dan Boyle while at forward, Emerson Etem with take Viktor Stalberg‘s spot.

    For the Bruins, Kevan Miller — the defenseman that’s missed the last four games with an upper-body injury — could draw back into the lineup. Miller practiced this week and appears primed to skate in a pairing with Dennis Seidenberg.

    Replacing Beauchemin with Bieksa hasn’t worked out so great for Anaheim

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    Are the Anaheim Ducks missing Francois Beauchemin more than they thought they might?

    It’s a question we’ve been hearing more and more lately, as the Ducks’ goal-scoring woes of October have been replaced by defensive issues in November.

    Anaheim is 3-4-2 in its last nine games. The Ducks have allowed 27 goals in regulation during that stretch — that’s three per game on average — plus two more in a pair of overtime losses.

    In a related story, per the O.C. Register, here’s what coach Bruce Boudreau said the other day about offseason acquisition Kevin Bieksa:

    “He’s a veteran guy that has to fight his way out of this. We count on him to not make mistakes. We will go as far as guys like him take us.”

    Bieksa, 34, is minus-7 in his last four games combined. True, he’s forced to play a lot of hard minutes against good players. But then, that’s exactly what he was brought in to do. The Ducks even gave him a two-year, $8 million extension, locking him up through 2017-18.

    Now consider what Boudreau said during last year’s playoff run, about the guy Bieksa was brought in to replace:

    “He’s the voice. Everybody else is so young. [He] is the voice back there.”

    And Beauchemin was more than just a talker. He led the Ducks in ice time. He had nine assists in 16 playoff games. Bottom line: he was a big part of a team that fell one win shy of making the Stanley Cup Final.

    Beauchemin, of course, signed a three-year deal with Colorado on July 1, for a cap hit of $4.5 million. So far, he’s been as advertised for the Avs. The 35-year-old has two goals and 10 assists. He gets the most ice time on the team, an average of 23:33.

    Looking back, Anaheim GM Bob Murray never did want to lose Beauchemin. The Ducks just weren’t prepared to offer what the Avs did.

    “Beauch’ has been a pretty good warrior for us,” Murray said in June. “He has a one-time chance for free agency and maybe somebody will give him $5 million.… I couldn’t do that.”

    One has to wonder now if Murray wishes he’d found a way.

    The Ducks host the Blackhawks tonight on NBCSN.

    Devils sign veteran Kennedy to one-year, $600K deal

    Tyler Kennedy, Lee Stempniak
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    A second forward has converted a PTO with New Jersey into a shiny new contract.

    Tyler Kennedy, who’s on his second professional tryout with the club, has agreed to a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level, the Devils announced on Friday.

    Kennedy, 29, first caught on with the Devils in the preseason, only to be released in early October. He then rejoined the club on a second PTO in mid-November, and earned himself a deal from GM Ray Shero (previously, the two were together in the Pittsburgh organization).

    A former 20-goal scorer with the Pens, Kennedy fell on hard times last year. It began in San Jose — where he never fit in Todd McLellan’s plans — and ended on Long Island, where he sat for over half of the Isles’ opening-round playoff loss to the Caps.

    As for where he’ll fit in the Devils lineup?

    Kennedy said he’s ready to play tonight — the Devils take on Montreal — and it’s possible Stefan Matteau could be scratched, allowing Kennedy to stpe into a bottom-six forward role.

    As for how the Devils will free a roster spot — Jiri Tlusty remains on IR with a shoulder issue, while David Schlemko could be away from the club for a bit, as his wife is due to give birth.

    Rangers park Boyle, Stalberg in press box for Thanksgiving Showdown

    Washington Capitals v New York Rangers - Game Seven
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    I’m not going to make the “it really is Black Friday for Dan Boyle and Viktor Stalberg” joke, but had to recognize it as a semi-viable lede.

    So that’s out of the way.

    Now, onto the business at hand — per the New York Daily News, Boyle and Stalberg will be scratched today when the Rangers take on the Bruins in the annual Thanksgiving Showdown (1 p.m. ET, NBC). Dylan McIlrath will draw in on defense for Boyle, while Emerson Etem will take Stalberg’s spot up front.

    It’s not really surprising Alain Vigneault made some lineup changes.

    The Blueshirts’ last outing was arguably their worst of the season — a 5-1 home loss to the Canadiens, a game in which Boyle finished minus-2 and Stalberg played the least among all Rangers skaters, with just 11:20 TOI.

    More: Dan Boyle isn’t thrilled with all these healthy scratches

    What’s more, McIlrath hasn’t played in nearly two weeks (Nov. 15, versus Toronto). It’s been even longer for Etem — he’s been out of the lineup since a win over the Blues on Nov. 12.

    Related: Just a friendly reminder about Friday’s Bruins-Rangers Thanksgiving Showdown, on NBC