The NHL’s crackdown on blindside hits has gotten plenty of discussion this year thanks to the addition of Rule 48 to the NHL rulebook. Calgary’s Tom Kostopoulos got to find out just how serious the NHL is taking things regarding things as he’s been given a six-game suspension for delivering a blindside shot to the head of Detroit defenseman Brad Stuart. Stuart’s jaw was broken by the hit and he’s out for 6-8 weeks.
In the NHL’s statement on why they levied such a harsh punishment on Kostopoulos, there’s a snippet in there that’s making our collective eyebrows raise. From the NHL’s press release:
“A number of factors were considered in reaching this decision,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell.
“Kostopoulos delivered a blow to the head of an unsuspecting and vulnerable player. As well, he targeted the head of his opponent and, while the hit was not from the blindside, the head was the principle point of contact. The fact that Brad Stuart was not in possession of the puck when the blow was delivered and the serious nature of the player’s injury were also considered in my decision.”
The key for any and all punishment handed out by the NHL is that it’s the action that should be punished and not the result. The result in this case was a heinous injury to an unsuspecting player. The action, of course, was a disgusting act of gross negligence on the part of Tom Kostopoulos in taking a run at a player that had no way of protecting himself from the hit during the course of play.
Considering that the league made it apparent that they took Stuart’s injury into account when handing down this action is just mind-numbing when you consider previous instances where players suffered a horrible injury and the offending players came away with a slap on the wrist because taking the after effects into account wasn’t fair to make a clear judgment.
So which is it then? The NHL can’t have their cake and eat it too when it comes to these sorts of things. We all want the league to be able to get things right when punishing players that run afoul of the law, but when you see guys like Matt Cooke get away with knocking Marc Savard out for months without so much as a one-game punishment and then see a hit like this on Stuart and Kostopoulos get hammered for it you have to wonder just how smokey the smokey room is where Colin Campbell and Mike Murphy make these decisions.
Again, it’s tough to get crazy about how the NHL goes about making these decisions because it’s always something new and different in each situation. After all, we’ve seen three different players sucker punch an opponent and all three players received different punishment from the league. All we’re looking for is consistency from the front office on these matters and the fact is that there is none. In this case, Calgary loses a fourth line player for six games while the Red Wings are without a top four defenseman for up to two months. The NHL may think they’re sending a message on this punishment, but it might not be the one they’re intending.
After a few early exits from the Stanley Cup playoffs, the St. Louis Blues were finally able to make a long run. Granted, they didn’t win the Stanley Cup or make it to the final, but they did manage to reach the Western Conference Final.
Unfortunately for the Blues (and a lot of other teams), the NHL’s salary cap number didn’t increase very much and it forced the organization to part ways with a number of key veterans. Gone are captain David Backes, winger Troy Brouwer and goalie Brian Elliott.
There could be even more change between now and the start of the year, as Kevin Shattenkirk could find himself elsewhere.
Those key departures mean that the Blues will need some of their younger players to step up and take on more of a leadership role starting this fall. How will the team respond? Nobody knows, not even GM Doug Armstrong.
“It’s going to be an interesting case study on how quickly this group takes up the leadership,” Armstrong said, per the Boston Globe. “Can they do it in September? Or does it take them a year? There’s certainly a faith that over time, they’re going to pick it up without any issue. Obviously you want them to pick it up as quickly as possible. We don’t want to take any backwards movement in our organization. But sometimes you do expose yourself to maybe taking half a step back to take a couple steps forward.”
Young leaders like Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo will need to “step up” in the leadership department, but the Blues aren’t completely out of veterans. Jay Bouwmeester, Paul Stastny and Alex Steen are all still on the roster. Still, it’ll be interesting to see if the Blues take that “half step back” that Armstrong was talking about.
—Jake Allen still needs to prove he’s a ‘legit’ number one goalie
—Blues sign Schwartz to five-year deal
—Backes doesn’t want to ‘sling mud’ at Blues on his way out
Since coming to the NHL as an 18-year-old in 2008, Luke Schenn has had the opportunity to play in Toronto, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Playing in cities that love hockey is great, but it also comes with a certain amount of pressure.
Schenn, who is a former fifth overall pick, hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status and when you underachieve in Toronto and Philadelphia, the fans and media make sure you know it.
On Saturday, Schenn signed a two-year deal in Arizona, which is a non-traditional hockey market. It sounds like it may have been done by design.
“I’m looking forward to coming to a market where I can just worry about playing hockey and not outside added pressure, and hopefully growing with the team,” Schenn said of signing with the Coyotes, per the team’s website. “I know they have a lot of upside and I still feel like I’ve hopefully got some upside, too. (I’m) still at a good age where I can continue to grow with them and evolve.”
The Coyotes have Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Alex Goligoski who are more than capable of moving the puck up the ice and players like Schenn and Zbynek Michalek will be counted on to provide some defensive stability.
“They’ve got a lot of guys who can shoot the puck and move the puck well and (who’ve) got a good offensive instinct for the game, so I just want to try to play solid defensively and help out in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill and play physical,” added Schenn. “Obviously, the way the game is now there’s a lot of skating so you’ve definitely got to pick your spots to be physical, but I still think there’s definitely still a need for that.”
Arizona still needs to work out deals with restricted free agents Michael Stone and Connor Murphy. Even if both players return next season, Schenn should still have a role as a four, five or six defenseman with the ‘Yotes.
Most people will never be able to say they have a street named after them, but Flyers center Sean Couturier isn’t most people.
The 23-year-old’s name is now on a street sign in his hometown of Bathurst, New Brunswick. Sean Couturier Avenue leads to the rink where he began his minor hockey career.
“It’s special, it’s a great honour,” Couturier said, per CBC.ca. “It’s not something you dream of growing up, but if you can be an example for other young kids and remind them even coming from a small town like Bathurst, anything is possible if you make the sacrifices and believe in what you can do.”
The month of July has been kind to Couturier for the second straight year. Last year at around this time, he signed a six-year contract extension worth $26 million. The new deal kicks in at the start of the upcoming season.
(Image credit: Radio-Canada)
The chaos of free agency has subsided. And the list of notable players out there has thinned down as the summer has carried on.
Still looking to sign an NHL deal is veteran center Dominic Moore, who is about to turn 36 years old next month and is coming off a two-year deal with the New York Rangers that paid him an AAV of $1.5 million. It was evident way before free agency that Moore likely wouldn’t be back in New York, and would go to the open mark.
“The free agency period goes in fits and starts. Things open up and close along the way. You just try to be proactive but patient. You also don’t want to put yourself in the wrong spot, so you wait to find the right fit, the right role,” Moore told Sportsnet.
“You want to be on a good team that has a great chance to win but you also want to have a responsibility, some value on that team. It’s about marrying all of those factors and making the best decision.”
Moore has never been known for offence. With the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010-11, he hit 18 goals. That was a career high. His highest point total? Forty-one in 2008-09 with Toronto.
But a team looking for a veteran player in the middle, on a reasonable contract and among the bottom six group of forwards, that can have success in the faceoff circle and play on the penalty kill may eventually get him under contract.
According to Sportsnet, there have been offers made to Moore. Now, it appears, the ball is in his court.
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