2010 NHL Entry Draft: Scouting Combine begins today

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Thumbnail image for hahatavares.jpgThe Scouting Combine for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft begins today, a mere day after Taylor Hall and the Windsor Spitfires won their second consecutive Memorial Cup. The Combine runs fro, May 24-29 and will give teams an idea about a player’s physical – and in the case of individual interviews, mental – attributes that on-ice play might not indicate.

For the NFL, the Combine (and draft in general) is almost an industry unto itself. (Heck, they even had the stones to run the draft against other sports’ playoff competition this year.) It’s a time in which football obsessives put far too much weight in 40-yard dash times while us normal folks ignore our own man boobs and laugh at Terrence Cody’s scary set.

The NHL’s version isn’t quite as glitzy or breathlessly covered, but that doesn’t change the fact that impressions made during the event could change the future of franchises. One odd wrinkle, though, is that hockey players don’t actually go on the ice to show their stuff. An interesting NHL.com article explains why they just stick to weight room showings and interviews, with thoughts from NBC correspondent Pierre McGuire.

McGuire said there are a number of reasons for not putting the prospects on skates. First, for the top players, teams likely have seen them multiple times in person or on video already.

“Is it fair to the kid whose high school season ended in February to stand next to the kid who played in a championship game on Sunday?” McGuire said. “It might be unfair to the Memorial Cup participant if the (high school) kid had just been doing the Combine tests, sprinting five times as week and not having to practice. That Memorial Cup guy, did he block a shot to win a championship and his ankle is sore?”

Instead, the players are put through their paces in a three-hour crucible which includes events as simple as the sit and reach, push-ups and sit-ups, right through a pair of high-tech stationary bike tests — Wingate anaerobic measure and an aerobic-max VO2 test.

Of course, as you can see in the photo that accompanies this post, the Combine also provides its fair share of hilarious and awkward photo opportunities. Perhaps the question isn’t “Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin?” or even “Which player will improve his stock or see it drop the most?” but rather “Which player will provide an image that immature bloggers can make jokes about?”

I mean, that’s what this is really about, right?

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Goalie nods: Jones makes Sharks debut against ex-Kings mates

Martin Jones
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News and notes from around the crease…

Jones goes for San Jose

Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.

Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.

For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.

Markstrom out for Vancouver

Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.

For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.


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