Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter is set to be a healthy scratch again today making it four games in a row the 19 year-old rookie has gotten to hang out in the press box. Benching a kid that young without an injury being given as the reason starts to arouse suspicion as to what’s going on.
Katie Strang of ESPN New York digs in wondering if perhaps Niederreiter is destined to be sent back to junior hockey. After all, Niederreiter has only played in three games this year so he’s still eligible to go back, but Isles GM Garth Snow says he’s not going back.
Some think that something else is afoot here, however. Kevin Schultz of Islanders Point Break thinks that something else a bit bigger is going on with Nino. Schultz says that there’s no good reason for making Niederreiter a healthy scratch unless there’s something else going on behind the scenes. Meanwhile, the New York Times’ Chris Botta tweets that Niederreiter’s benching could just be part of a cost-cutting move for the Isles.
One thing’s for sure, Niederreiter is part of the Islanders’ future one way or another and keeping a talented kid on the bench while the team stinks out loud on the ice and can’t score doesn’t make much sense. If he’s hurt again (he spent a month on the shelf with a groin injury) the Isles should say so. If there’s something else going on here though, leaving everyone to speculate does more harm than good.
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 ESPN.com 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.
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.