It would have been fascinating to be a fly (or more appropriately, a cricket) on the wall during the Columbus Blue Jackets’ second intermission tonight. What do you say to a team that fell behind 8-0 to the Philadelphia Flyers on its way to a 9-2 loss and 2-11-1 record?
In a way, that depressing locker room scenario mirrors the messy big picture in Columbus. By all reasonable measures of logic, GM Scott Howson and head coach Scott Arniel are on their way out. Jason rightly indicated that could happen anytime between now and their next game on Thursday (and that was before one of the worst beatings in franchise history).
Obviously, we’ll keep an eye out for an official decision during that period (or maybe beyond), but the Blue Jackets face some tough questions regardless of when the inevitable should happen.
1. The Blue Jackets are stuck at five points for the season while no other Western Conference team is below 11. Should they just “punt” 2011-12 anyway and hope for Nail Yakupov or some other top prospect to spearhead a new direction?
2. Steve Mason allowed six of those goals tonight. Is it best to give him time to turn it around under a new regime or should the team cut ties with their letdown in leg pads?
3. Is Ken Hitchcock the best man to do a Jacques Lemaire impression or would it be best to go in a different direction in the front office?
Those questions show why it’s often more complicated than just pressing the big red “fire” button. Still, sometimes the results are so stark that it’s the only thing to do – but how would you try to turn this moribund franchise around once that happens?
As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.
Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.
Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.
That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.
Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.
It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.
To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.
Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.
In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.
And then Stamkos took the warmup.
As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.
“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”
No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.
EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.
Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.
Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.
Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.