Minnesota Wild might be able to suspend James Sheppard for ATV accident-related injury

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sheppardtakesanotherhit.jpgAn unfortunate ATV accident could rob Minnesota Wild forward James Sheppard of as many as four months of hockey, but it’s quite possible the incident might also make an impact on his $800K-plus salary.

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out the fact that there is a provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that could allow the team to suspend Sheppard for engaging in a dangerous activity, thus recouping quite a bit of money from the middling depth player.

However, Fletcher did contend there are provisions in the collective bargaining agreement and the standard player contract to deal with such issues. It would be up to the Wild, and not the NHL, to decide whether or not it wants to suspend Sheppard and that remains a possibility.

Players are paid on a per-day basis and with the 2010-11 season spanning 186 days, Sheppard is scheduled to earn about $4,319 per day. The Wild might not think it’s worth creating bad feelings with the player for such a relatively negligible amount, but if it does, it could rely on provisions of the standard player contract.

In the SPC, it states that, “If the player, in the judgment of the club’s physician, is disabled or is not in good physical condition at the commencement of the season or at any subsequent time during the seasons (unless such condition is the direct result of any injury sustained during the course of his employment as a hockey player with the club, including travel with his team or on business requested by the club) so as to render him unfit to play skilled hockey, then it is mutually agreed that the club shall have the right to suspend the player for such period of disability or unfitness, and no compensation shall be payable for that period under this SPC.”

It goes on to say that, “In connection with a disability which is not caused by an injury sustained in the course of his employment as a hockey player…he shall not be entitled to the benefits of this agreement until he has been declared to be physically fit to play.”

Things weren’t that great for Sheppard to begin with, as many fans were irate that the team decided to give their first round pick gone awry another chance in the first place.

Suspension or not, this could end up being a career ending injury for Sheppard, at least when it comes to the NHL. Even if he plays again, my guess is that Minnesota’s patience is wearing very thin.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.