When Rob Blake played in the NHL, he was one of the more feared defensemen on the ice. He’d find a way to make a perfect pass out of the zone just as much as he could make a crushing hit to end a scoring threat. His brand of smarts and gamesmanship that brought him success on the ice for 20 seasons now has a new home.
Today, the NHL announced that Blake will join the NHL’s Hockey Operations staff as a manager joining up with Colin Campbell, Mike Murphy, and Brendan Shanahan in that department. As we’ve seen with the changes in the NHL All-Star Game this year with Shanahan, it’s possible to jump in right away and produce instant results. Blake is looking forward to the opportunity to help grow the game.
“I am delighted to be joining the NHL’s Hockey Operations department and at having this opportunity to continue to have an impact upon the game that has been such a major part of my life. The chance to continue to enhance an already great on-ice product at the League level is especially intriguing after so many years spent focusing upon individual team success. And I am excited to be working with Colin Campbell, Mike Murphy, Brendan Shanahan and the entire Hockey Ops team.”
The bulk of what we see on a daily basis from the Hockey Operations department deals with either the war room in Toronto on goal reviews or on matters of discipline decisions for those that may or may not have run afoul of the law. Where Blake will make his mark in this manner will be with the competition committee as well as with the NHL’s Summer Research and Development Camp where they test out and see if certain tweaks to the rules can be applied successfully to the league.
Getting another former player, one who just recently got out of playing especially, will do wonders for that as he’ll have a better idea for what players are looking for and what they’d like to see. Growing and evolving the game is important for the NHL and getting Blake in there as another set of executive eyes helps. If he can do the sort of things that Shanahan’s been able to do in such a short time, the NHL will be better off for it.
Of course, with Blake now in the NHL front office we wonder if Kings GM Dean Lombardi will get to air his own grievances over that the way he did with Mike Murphy. After bolting Los Angeles for San Jose, Blake wasn’t exactly warmly received by fans in L.A. after that. Let the conspiracy theories commence!
While much has been written about the Boston Bruins’ depleted defense, there’s also a good amount of intrigue about the forward group, which will look dramatically different tonight compared to last year’s season opener.
Here are the Bruins’ expected lines versus the Jets:
Brad Marchand–Patrice Bergeron–Loui Eriksson
Matt Beleskey–David Krejci–David Pastrnak
Jimmy Hayes–Ryan Spooner–Brett Connolly
Chris Kelly–Joonas Kemppainen–Zac Rinaldo
The line most under the microscope may be that second one. In today’s Boston Globe, there’s a lengthy story on Krejci. The 29-year-old center with the big contract only played 47 games last season due to injuries. He finished with just 31 points.
So, where is Krejci’s game now?
Then there’s free-agent addition Matt Beleskey, a.k.a. Milan Lucic‘s replacement. Prior to scoring 22 times last year for the Ducks, the 27-year-old Beleskey had never tallied more than 11 goals in a season.
So, is Beleskey a legitimate top-six forward?
On the other wing, it’s David Pastrnak, the 19-year-old who, somewhat surprisingly, emerged as one of the top rookies in the league last year.
So, can Pastrnak take another step forward?
“It’s been a good three plus weeks where we’ve been able to kind of work individually, as a group, as a line, with different players and different personalities,” said coach Claude Julien. “We’re pleased with it. We’re optimistic and we just have to let things work themselves out too.”
Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.
Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.
This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.
“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”
While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”
And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.
Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.
In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.
Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks