Ottawa Senators v New York Rangers

With Michal Rozsival on the shelf tonight, Ryan McDonagh makes his Rangers debut on defense

Injuries are always part of the game in the NHL, as is disappointing performance. Both of those things are conspiring tonight to give former Montreal first round pick Ryan McDonagh the opportunity to play in his first NHL game tonight in Dallas.

McDonagh is cracking the lineup thanks to an injury to Michal Rozsival. McDonagh was called up last week when Michael Del Zotto was sent packing to the AHL to get his game straightened up. For the Rangers, McDonagh is the sixth rookie to suit up this season in New York. McDonagh joins Michael Sauer, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, Evgeny Grachev, and Dale Weise as first-time Rangers on the ice this season.

Even in spite of all that turnover, the Rangers have played strong this year and sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and are just seven points behind Pittsburgh for first place in the division and conference. McDonagh was obtained from the Montreal Canadiens in the dubious Scott Gomez trade which sent Gomez and his huge contract to Montreal for McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko. Valentenko nearly made the Rangers roster out of training camp but lost out to Michael Sauer for the job.

More than a few eyes in Montreal will be keeping an eye on McDonagh to see how he plays. With the questionable play of some defensemen in Montreal as well as injuries coming to starters like Josh Gorges, many folks will want to see what the Habs gave up in order to get the streaky Gomez.

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

Montreal Canadiens v Minnesota Wild
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Does the NHL have a cocaine problem?

TSN caught up with deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who provided some fascinating insight:

“The number of [cocaine] positives are more than they were in previous years and they’re going up,” Daly said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense. What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again.”


Daly said that he’d be surprised  “if we’re talking more than 20 guys” and then touched on something that may be a problem: they don’t test it in a “comprehensive way.”

As Katie Strang’s essential ESPN article about the Los Angeles Kings’ tough season explored in June, there are some challenges for testing for a drug like cocaine. That said, there are also some limitations that may raise some eyebrows.

For one, it metabolizes quickly. Michael McCabe, a Philadelphia-based toxicology expert who works for Robson Forensic, told that, generally speaking, cocaine filters out of the system in two to four days, making it relatively easy to avoid a flag in standard urine tests.

The NHL-NHLPA’s joint drug-testing program is not specifically designed to target recreational drugs such as cocaine or marijuana. The Performance Enhancing Substances Program is put into place to do exactly that — screen for performance-enhancing drugs.

So, are “party drugs” like cocaine and molly an issue for the NHL?

At the moment, the answer almost seems to be: “the league hopes not.”

Daly goes into plenty of detail on the issue, so read the full TSN article for more.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.