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.

Scroll Down For:

    Blues to retire Bob Plager’s No. 5

    ST. LOUIS - APRIL 9:  Former St. Louis Blues defenseman Al MacInnis #2 and his family watch his banner being raised during his jersey retirement ceremony prior to the game between the Blues and Edmonton Oilers at the Savvis Center on April 9, 2006 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Leave a comment

    The St. Louis Blues will commemorate their 50th anniversary with a special ceremony on Feb. 2, retiring the No. 5 jersey worn by longtime defenseman Bob Plager.

    More, from the club:

    Plager, who was acquired by the Blues on June 6, 1967 and has been with the organization for all 50 years, will become the seventh player in Blues history to have his number retired, joining No. 2 Al MacInnis, No. 3 Bob Gassoff, No. 11 Brian Sutter, No. 16 Brett Hull, No. 24 Bernie Federko and his brother, No. 8 Barclay Plager.

    Bob and Barclay Plager join Maurice and Henri Richard (Montreal Canadiens) as the only brothers to have their numbers retired by the same team in NHL history.

    Plager played 10 seasons with the Blues, then transitioned to a number of front office and coaching roles within the organization.

    In a unique twist, his No. 5 was never taken out of circulation and subsequently worn by another staple of the Blues organization — Barret Jackman, who recently retired after spending 16 years in St. Louis, appearing in over 800 games.

    Prior to the February retirement ceremony, Blues fans will be able to recognize Plager this Saturday when St. Louis hosts Los Angeles at Scottrade.

    Flames can get back to .500 with win over Sens

    CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 24: Matt Stajan #18 and Lance Bouma #17 of the Calgary Flames congratulate Brian Elliott #1 after a shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on October 24, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Flames defeated the Blachawks 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Leave a comment

    The Calgary Flames have won two in a row, but they’re still a losing hockey club heading into tonight’s home game against Ottawa.

    That’s the message head coach Glen Gulutzan has been preaching after encouraging back-to-back victories in Chicago and St. Louis.

    “We’re still below .500,” Gulutzan said. “We can’t rest at all. We haven’t accomplished anything yet. We’ve played two good games. That’s what we’ve accomplished. You need to get on a roll and you need to keep pushing. Keep the focus and keep pushing.”

    The Flames (3-4-1) did not just get lucky in their last two games. They were especially good Tuesday in St. Louis, outshooting the Blues, 30-24, in a 4-1 win. Meanwhile, goalie Brian Elliott has bounced back after a tough debut for his new team; he’ll get a third straight start tonight.

    Suffice to say, the mood around the team has improved considerably.

    “My lips were getting sore from sucking on the exhaust pipe,” GM Brad Treliving jokingly told the Calgary Sun. “It was never as bad as it seemed, but it’s a stark change to how we played. … It’s a relief to stop the bleeding. We were disciplined, the power play worked, we limited chances, we didn’t turn the puck over and the goalie found his groove.”

    Related: The Flames are still learning their new system, and it shows

    Goalie nods: Kinkaid makes season debut for Devils

    New Jersey Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid (1) watches a shot on goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in Newark N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
    1 Comment

    There’ll be a new look in goal for New Jersey this evening, as backup Keith Kinkaid gets his first start of the season as the Devils host the Blackhawks.

    Kinkaid will give Cory Schneider the night off, after Schneider started New Jersey’s first six games of the year.

    This promises to be a game worth monitoring. Kinkaid spent last year as Schneider’s backup — going 9-9-1 with a 2.81 GAA and .904 save percentage — but, this year, had to beat out Scott Wedgewood for the gig during training camp and the exhibition campaign.

    What’s more, Kinkaid is being thrown into a difficult matchup, taking on a Chicago team that’s averaging 3.43 goals per game this season. The ‘Hawks are busting out new lines tonight, too, as Patrick Kane will skate alongside Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik.

    Corey Crawford will start for Chicago.


    Cam Ward will start for the Hurricanes, who are playing their first home game of the season. Henrik Lundqvist goes for the Rangers.

    — It’s Michael Hutchinson versus Semyon Varlamov as the Jets take on the Avs in Colorado.

    Andrew Hammond, now Ottawa’s No. 1 with Craig Anderson away dealing with a personal issue, gets the nod in Calgary. He’ll be up against Brian Elliott, who has rebounded from a poor start to win both of his last two starts.

    — The red-hot Cam Talbot goes again for Edmonton tonight in Vancouver. The Canucks will counter with Ryan Miller.

    — No confirmed starters in Anaheim yet. Sergei Bobrovsky played in last night’s loss to San Jose, and John Gibson has been carrying the load lately with Jonathan Bernier out injured.

    Marchessault, Pirri providing great bang for buck

    SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 13: Jonathan Marchessault #81 of the Florida Panthers celebrates a goal during Opening Night of the 2016-2017 NHL Season against New Jersey Devils at BB&T Center on October 13, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    This summer’s free agent class was highlighted by a number of big-money deals.

    Yet through the first month of the season, the real highlight has been the guys that came on the cheap.

    Nowhere is this more true than in Florida, where Jonathan Marchessault — signed to a two-year, $1.5 million deal with a $750,000 cap hit — has been a revelation. The undrafted free agent, who spent time with the Rangers, Blue Jackets and Lightning, has five goals and 10 points through seven games with the Panthers.

    Marchessault is playing on the club’s top line with Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr, and leads the Panthers in scoring.

    “It’s been a wonderful find for us,” team president Dale Tallon told Sportsnet. “He’s real tricky and good down low. Sees the ice well. He’s not the biggest guy. Some guys slip through the cracks. Some guys are late bloomers.

    “It’s not necessarily a bad thing to not get drafted.”

    In New York, one of Tallon’s ex-players is providing equally good value.

    Brandon Pirri, who went most of the summer without a contract before signing with the Rangers in August, is off to a terrific start. Inked to a one-year, $1.1 million deal, Pirri has four goals and six points in seven games, and leads the team in power-play markers.

    “I’m glad we’re the ones who got him,” Derek Stepan said, per the Associated Press. “He’s got a knack for the net. It’s not easy to score goals in this league and he seems to be in those areas to score.

    “That’s a difficult thing and, to me, that’s a skill. If you have it, it’s special and it’s rare.”

    Some other under-the-radar signings that have stood out:

    — The backup goalie position in Montreal was a disaster last season, so full credit to GM Marc Bergevin for solving it on the cheap. Al Montoya was brought aboard for $950,000, and all he’s done is go 3-0-1 with a .955 save percentage and 1.47 GAA. He also provided crucial stability at the start of the year, too, when Carey Price was sidelined with the flu.

    — In Dallas, Adam Cracknell has capitalized on the opportunity provided by all the club’s injuries at forward. Signed to a two-way deal with a $600,000 cap hit, 31-year-old has two goals and three points through seven games, appearing in every contest for the Stars this season while averaging over 10 minutes per.

    Patrick Wiercioch, who didn’t even get a qualifying offer from Ottawa, signed with Colorado for $800,000. The 26-year-old d-man has been great offensively, with five points through five games, leading all Avs blueliners in scoring.

    — Speaking of Ottawa, GM Pierre Dorion did well to sign Tom Pyatt out of the Swiss League. Inked to a one-year, two-way deal worth $800,000, Pyatt returned to the NHL after two years abroad and “has been really good for us on both sides of the ice,” according to head coach Guy Boucher. Pyatt has three points through six games and is one of the club’s top penalty killers.