Pat Burns should make the Hall of Fame alive

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Really, there are more depressing things in life than a person being elected to a Hall of Fame posthumously. All I need to do is write “Haiti” or “Chile” or “Katrina.” Still, a person worthy of honor shouldn’t hear the news in the afterlife. That’s just way too big of a bummer for what should be a happy time.

Pat Burns deserves to be in the NHL Hall of Fame. He deserves to do it in his lifetime. Open the doors early if you have to. After all, the league clearly bends the rules sometimes – just look at the early admissions of Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

My timeline of Burns’ career displays all of the number-based credentials. The 500 (OK, 501) win career. Three Jack Adams awards and a Stanley Cup. But according to Steve Ovadia of Puck Update, his superlative Bill Parcells-ian mind games during the 2002-03 New Jersey Devils’ Cup run are what makes him truly worthy.

The thing I love most about NHL coaching is that in a lot of ways, it’s really more about persona and performance than Xs and Os. You can have no understanding of hockey and still motivate your players, probably relying on your assistant coaches to handle the tactical issues, and you can probably have a decent team. But if you’re a brilliant hockey mind and can’t motivate your players, odds are, your team is going to be pretty bad.

For my money, no one was a better coach/performer than Pat Burns when he was with the Devils. The man started out the 2002-03 season demeaning the players, putting them through tough drills, and making their lives miserable. During the course of the season, Burns would ever so gradually take his foot off of his team’s neck, so that by the time the playoffs came around, the players loved him, simply because he stopped torturing them. The team hung on his every word and were ready to follow him anywhere, simply because he let up on them at just the right time in the season.

It’s heartening to see the momentum build up for Burns. Puck Daddy noted that building interest, which includes a growing Facebook group devoted to the movement. If you’re with me on this, I highly recommend joining the group and supporting the efforts to get the great coach in the HoF before he dies.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)

Lightning lament life as a .500 team

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have plenty of time to rise above mediocrity, yet it still must be deserving to finish at .500 for two straight months.

After last night’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, that’s exactly where they find themselves:

Record at the end of October: 5-5-2

Record at the end of November: 11-11-3

As of this writing, the Lightning found themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It all stands as a pretty tough thing for the reigning Eastern Conference champs to swallow.

The uncomfortable-yet-vital question is: can the Lightning break out of this funk?

Looking at their schedule, it won’t be easy, at least not right away.

They crawl through California during a three-game road trip to start December, and they also face six of eight on the road from Dec. 2 – 18.

The Lightning soak up home dates to finish 2015 after that, but what damage will be done by then?

Frankly, the Bolts will need to dig deep to break this pattern. If nothing else, they’ve fought with their backs against the wall before.

Dubinsky won’t change, and he won’t go easy on Crosby


Sometimes a suspension will shame a player, or at least inspire him to change the way he plays.

That apparently won’t happen regarding Brandon Dubinsky‘s one-game timeout session for cross-checking Sidney Crosby.

Dubinsky told Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch that he won’t alter his style, whether it’s against Crosby or someone else.

“Nope,” Dubinsky said. “You know, I’ve played the same way my whole career and I’m not going to change. The next time I have an opportunity to play (Crosby), I’m going to play him hard.”

In case you’re wondering, that next opportunity comes on Dec. 21 in Pittsburgh, assuming that both players are healthy and not suspended.

One can understand Dubinsky’s perspective, although such honesty would be that much more interesting if there’s another incident with Crosby. His initial reaction to the hit was interestingly candid, admitting that his “stick rode up” on his adversary.

Would that stance – which, from a harsher view, might seem flippant to Dubinsky’s critics – open the door for a bigger future bit of a discipline?

Maybe, maybe not … but at least his comments aren’t as inflammatory as what John Tortorella said (at least on the record).