Dany Heatley

Dany Heatley suspended two games for headshot

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While the NHL general managers met in Florida, word came down from the powers-that-be that Dany Heatley will sit for two games for his elbow to the head of Steve Ott. The star right wing is the Sharks’ second leading scorer with 24 goals and 34 assists in 71 games this season. So much for the NHL taking a stand on headshots.

Two games while similar cases received three games earlier this year. Two games while the GMs JUST SPENT days talking about headshots and what they can do to protect players’ safety. To punish him, he’ll miss games against the Wild and Blues—the two easier games left on the Sharks schedule. Good thing he’ll be back for those games against the Coyotes, Kings, and Flames. Otherwise, this punishment might have sent a message.

From the NHL’s official statement:

“San Jose Sharks forward Dany Heatley has been suspended for two games and will forfeit $80,645.16 in salary for delivering an elbow to the head of Dallas Stars player Steve Ott in NHL game #1049 last night, the National Hockey League announced today.”

The questionable suspension will be hard for some to digest because of the climate the judgment was delivered in. There are debates all over North America between fans, players, and executives discussing the state of the NHL and where the game should go from here. Is the league doing what it needs to do to protect the players? Is there enough respect between the players today? Some have gone as far as suggesting that all headshots should be banned. Then, in this atmosphere, the league hands down a decision that is WEAKER than the available precedent.

Let’s be clear—there is no gray area here. It was a dirty play that encapsulates everything that people are trying to get out of the game. Just because Steve Ott was able to walk away from the hit doesn’t change the fact that the hit was out-of-bounds.

Even media members in the Bay Area are mocking the decision:

“By then, everyone should have figured what is and isn’t allowable. Depending on time, place, officials, and the value of the head in question. But for now, Dany Heatley can breathe a sigh of relief. At a time when the NHL said it would crack down on head shots, it decided to hold the crackdown another day.”

The problem is there is no excuse for this kind of play. It’s a shot to the head. It’s a clear elbow with the worst of intentions. It’s not a “hockey play.” Yet with all of those key hot-button issues encapsulated in one play, the league still refuses to send a message.

Like Mr. Ratto said, maybe next time.

Some tough decisions await the Blues

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Yet again, the St. Louis Blues failed to achieve their ultimate goal.

And boy does it hurt right now.

“We’re all hurting,” coach Ken Hitchcock said last night after getting eliminated by the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final.

“You don’t want this to be our best opportunity. You want this to be a building block. In this game, in this era, in this cap world, you don’t know where you’re going to be a year from now.”

Indeed, GM Doug Armstrong has some tough decisions to make this offseason.

At the top of the list is whether to bring Hitchcock back. Yes, the Blues did better than 26 other teams, and yes, they finally got past the first round. Still, there are people who believe this will be it for the head coach, that a new voice could help. Overall, Hitchcock has done a great job in St. Louis. But then, so did Todd McLellan in San Jose. Sometimes, change can be good.

Then there are the unrestricted free agents. Both captain David Backes and winger Troy Brouwer need new contracts. The former is 32, the latter 30. The former had seven goals in the playoffs, the latter eight. How much money will they want? How much term? The second question might be the most important.

On the back end, it’s Kevin Shattenkirk that will garner the most attention. He’s signed through next season before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Just 27 years old, and considering the demand for what he does, he’ll be very expensive to keep. And with the emergence of Colton Parayko, trading Shattenkirk could probably be justified, especially if the return is good. A team like the Boston Bruins might be willing to pay up.

Right now, the pain is still fresh for the Blues.

“It’s so hard to win in the league right now,” said Hitchcock. “It’s so hard to win a series. So hard to just get in the playoffs. When you get this far, you get this close, you think you got the opportunity.”

The challenge for Armstrong will be to give his team another opportunity next season. And with the draft less than a month away, all these tough decisions will need to be made very soon.

Goals of the Week get tougher as Cup Final approaches

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The Stanley Cup Final is almost upon us and picking the very best Goals of the Week is a tough task. See how we did on this edition!

Just for Men: Mike Commodore

RALEIGH, NC - JUNE 14:  Mike Commodore #22 of the Carolina Hurricanes warms up before game five of the 2006 NHL Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers on June 14, 2006 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Getty
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Maybe one would argue that time hasn’t been kind to the 2006 Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes (at least compared to the pedigree of other winners), but Mike Commodore’s incredible red afro and beard rank as one of hockey’s most timeless combinations.

Seriously, just take a step back from your monitor* and bask in the splendor of that carrot-topped Commodore.

Even then-President George W. Bush remarked on Commodore’s bushy hair and beard (or its tragic absence) when the Canes visited the White House:

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. Have a seat. It’s a pretty big deal for a guy that doesn’t know how to ice skate — (laughter) — to welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to the White House. We appreciate you coming. You know, I’m not sure what is prettier, the Stanley Cup, or Mike Commodore’s hair. (Laughter.) A little disappointed you got a haircut. (Laughter.) But, welcome.

Good stuff.

And it really is kind of disappointing any time you see Commodore relatively clean-shaven. It’s like Superman without a big “S” on his chest or Metallica with short hair or any number of not-quite-right sights.

* – If you’re doing the Rumsfeld-style “standing at your desk” thing then … kneel for a second maybe?

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

Stanley Cup
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There’s nothing better than a Game 7, especially when a spot in the Stanley Cup Final is up for grabs. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins will battle in a do-or-die game for the right to play the San Jose Sharks with Lord Stanley on the line. You can watch the game via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh (8:00 p.m. ET)

The television broadcast of Game 7 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the Live Extra app, click here.

Here’s some reading material to get you ready for this one:

Penguins, Lightning prepare for ‘roller coaster’ Game 7

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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