Is Ted Nolan a victim of racism or his own reputation?

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There aren’t many head coaches who are wallflowers. After all, it’s their jobs to wear suits and make split second decisions and yell at people who either could be close to their own age or young enough to be their sons. This is not a career path for the meek, weak-willed or shy.

Still, even within that strain of hockey society, few coaches can match the tumultuous path taken by former Sabres and Islanders coach Ted Nolan. He’s dealt with ownership squabbles, personality clashes and widespread rumors regarding him sleeping with the wife of one of his players. In the mean time, he also managed some impressive results with some wildly mediocre teams in only four scattered years of NHL coaching.

Yet, the one thing that makes him truly unique – his First Nation* Native American heritage – is what Nolan claims is holding him back. In a sport better known for its European diversity than (necessarily) its racial diversity, Nolan says that racism explains why he cannot find another head coaching job in the league.

“I’m different. I didn’t go to their hockey schools, I don’t look like them. Racism, when I was younger, was in your face. And I almost preferred that. When you become an adult it is less pronounced but it’s there, just not to your face. It’s hard to deal with.”

As usual, the truth is likely somewhere in between when it comes to Nolan. There’s certainly something odd about the fact that Nolan went a decade (96-97 season with the Sabres, then 06-07 campaign with the Islanders) before he received another opportunity. After all, Nolan won the Jack Adams award as coach of the year during the 96-97 season.

But you can’t completely blame NHL teams for hesitating to hire him, either. He’s known for being combative. His career 147-140-19-21 record isn’t going to get him in the Hall of Fame. While some teams show the stones to make visionary moves, most teams take the sheep mentality with their decisions. Hiring Nolan is risky while making a bland decision such as giving the keys to Mike Keenan will keep the sharks from circling (even if Keenan will also keep your name off the Cup, unless you find another Mark Messier).

So what do you think? Is Nolan the victim of racism or his own renowned temper? Will he get another chance to turn a team around? Does he deserve one? Feel free to discuss this issue in the comments.

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner)

* Thanks to Justin Megahan for catching that factual error.

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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NBCSN screen
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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.